The Resurrection

A detailed look at the various passages in the Gospels. A series of post-Easter talks by Canon Robert Cotton of Holy Trinity and St Mary’s.

Week II John and four paintings.

Anyone who knows God cannot describe Him. Anyone who can describe God does not know Him. — Paulo Coelho

If you can’t find god in the next person you meet, it’s a waste of time looking for him anywhere else —- Gandhi

When we look at painting of the resurrection, we have to ask ourselves: Did they read the Biblical passages, did they comprehend, how did they interpret?

Francesca, Piero Della - Resurrection - Renaissance (Early Italian, "Quattrocento") - New Testament - Fresco

Resurrection – Piero Della Francesca

A fresco, that when seen in situ, appears to leap out at you. Christ depicted rising, soldiers either asleep or looking fearful. The dress of Christ could be that of a Roman Senator, indicating someone of importance.

Noli me tangere - Alexander Ivanov (1835)

Noli me tangere – Alexander Ivanov (1835)

Noli me tangere, meaning “don’t touch me” or “touch me not”, is the Latin version of words spoken, according to John 20:17, by Jesus to Mary Magdalene when she recognised him after his resurrection. The original Koine Greek phrase, Μή μου ἅπτου (mē mou haptou), is better represented in translation as “cease holding on to me” or “stop clinging to me”.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church the Gospel lesson on Noli me tangere is one of the Twelve Matins Gospels read during the All Night Vigil on Sunday mornings.

Supper at Emmaus - Caravaggio (1606)

Supper at Emmaus – Caravaggio (1606)

Two of the disciples are looking at the bread. Know me by how I break bread. The third is looking at Christ with a puzzled expression. Christ female?

Emmaus - Emmanuel Garibay

Emmaus – Emmanuel Garibay

A seedy Filipino bar, lots of fun, the risen Christ a woman. Much focus on on pain, suffering, but here the focus is on joy. The painting formed part of an exhibition called Jesus Laughing and Loving.

 an exhibition called Jesus Laughing and Loving

an empty tomb

An empty tomb, the grave garments cast to one side.

In the first passage in John, we have the tomb found empty Mary Magdalene arrives first, then the men, a slight squabble between the men as to who got there first saw what.

But the men they arrive they see they go home. Is this not something of a let down? They find the tomb empty then simply go home!

Mary sees angels, has a chat with who she assumes to be a gardener. Do you not know who I am Mary?

Is there some significance in gardener? Is it not natural to assume the gardener, or a groundsman looking after the grounds?

Jesus appears before the men who are locked away in hiding. Thomas is not there, but when he is told, he wants to see some evidence. Is it fair to call Thomas doubting? He has been told an incredible story, is it not reasonable to ask for some hard evidence, to see with his own eyes?

The Gospel accounts differ on detail, which makes them more credible.

That it is women who are the first witnesses, also makes more credible, as they could not have given testimony in court. If wished to fabricate a story would have had men first on the scene.

Emphasises the importance of women, especial of Mary Magdalene.

In the beginning was the word. The word has no gender.

In the Koran the first word is read, all on its own. That it is all on its own, it is interpreted as a command. But it does not say only men read. To read you need an education.

His friends, his comrades, do not recognise Him. They know Jesus the Man, but do not know the Risen Christ, the Christos. They walk with him, sit down to eat, it is only when he breaks the bread, they recognise who he is. Mary Magdalene was the closest, and she does not recognise, she mistook for the gardener.

Has there been so much change? Or maybe they were in a state of shock. They have seen a close friend, comrade, travelling companion brutally executed. Why would they recognise a few days later, if approached by someone they knew to be dead? It is something the mind would not accept.

Men and Women were created equal in his image. What is that image? Is it like one of those strange images that flips between two states as you look at it? If created equal in the same image, can the Risen Christ not be female?

Jesus the Man v the Risen Christ, a dichotomy that was to spilt the Ancient Church over the next few hundred years and much blood shed.

When he was alive, Jesus asked of his disciples: Who do they say I am?

Doubt, as expressed by Thomas, is to question. We should always question. Those who do not are bigots and fundamentalist, who kill and maim others because they do not share the same world view.

Last year BBC Radio 4 had an excellent series on doubt presented by a former Scottish Bishop, but sadly like many good programmes, they did not keep on-line, though I believe there may have been an accompanying book.

The Gospels speak of the Resurrection of Jesus, not of us.

Relevant Biblical passages: Mark 16:1-8, Matthew 28:1-20, Luke 24:13-35 and John 20.

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One Response to “The Resurrection”

  1. keithpp Says:

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