Peter Steinfels: Resurrection Is Often Misunderstood by Christians and Jews

Five years ago, Bishop Wright, whose important contributions to the scholarly debate over the historical Jesus have emphasized Jesus’ place within Judaism’s expectations for a divine restoration of Israel, published “The Resurrection of the Son of God” (Fortress).

Although both books emphasize resurrection as the final expression of divine power, vindicating those faithful to God’s promises and regenerating all creation, neither is indifferent to the question of the immediate destinies of the departed.

Professors Madigan and Levenson do not think that their explanation of resurrection entails “a disbelief in the immortality of some aspect of the person or in the notion that the departed righteous even now enjoy a blissful communion with God.” And though Bishop Wright can be rather impatient with much of the talk of “souls” and “immortality” and “heaven” thoroughly embedded in Christian prayer and ritual, he has no problem when heaven as a “postmortem destination” is seen as a “temporary stage on the way to eventual resurrection of the body.”

This eventual resurrection, he writes, is not “life after death” so much as “life after life after death.”

Read it all.


Posted in Eschatology, Theology

8 comments on “Peter Steinfels: Resurrection Is Often Misunderstood by Christians and Jews

  1. Brien says:

    I’ve heard Bishop Wright lecture on this subject, and the article’s suggestion that many Christians (and Jews) are confused on this is certainly true in my experience. Bishop Wright has helped me to see that when I teach the Creed I must put emphasis on “resurrection of the body” (a belief I’ve taken as given and understood). I’ve always taught it, but I’m not sure my classes have listened beyond the popular notion of being happy in heaven forever. Thanks for posting this one, Kendall. I linked to it and sent the link to my parish.

  2. Ross Gill says:

    Excellent article, a bit of teaser too for Wright’s latest book, ‘Surprised by Hope’ which in my humble opinion should be in every pastor’s library.

  3. Harvey says:

    “..absent in the body – present with the Lord…” I’m looking forward to seeing my daughter Debbie. We have been apart for nearly 50 years. I know she is with the Lord and I’m certain she’s waiting to meet with me. I asked a Christian friend of mine what she might look like and if I would recognize her. His reply was; ” you’ll know when you meet her”. I’m looking forward to seeing Jesus first but I willing to say that He will understand that I want to hold her close too!

  4. physician without health says:

    As the Scripture is an organic whole, it is not surprising that the hope of the Resurrection is found in Judaism as well as Christianity. I thank God that there are now popular works that speak to the truth, in light of the recent spate of works aimed at tearing down the Gospel.

  5. Florida Anglican [Support Israel] says:

    The book “90 Minutes in Heaven” by Don Piper helped me get a better (meaning more than just intellectual, but even an emotional) grasp on the whole life after death thing. I recommend it, especially the book on CD read by the author himself.

  6. Todd Granger says:

    Surprisingly good article, and timely as well. Affirming bodily resurrection strikes directly at the heart of the essentially gnostic “eschatology” (and anthropology?) of liberal protestantism and liberal Judaism.

    Quite agree with you about [i]Surprised by Hope[/i], Ross52.

  7. Timothy Fountain says:

    If you wanna burst your congregation’s bubble, just remind them that angels are NOT the ascended spirits of dead humans.

  8. Stuart Smith says:

    #7: What an insult to an angel!

    And…for us…who have been made “a little lower than the angels”, what a happy distinction: no…we don’t have the orginal glory of the Holy Angels. But…Glory to God! We do have the adopted Glory of the Son of God Himself! [not a bad deal for us, what?]