By John Reban
for a very fine understanding ot a body's resurrection in "flesh and bone" how Jesus said in Luke 24:39, we have to go inside the various facts of Resurrection. Or we have to believe: Jesus Christ was after his Resurrection only an undefined spirit. I am not wrong it I say that most Christians believe this after nearly 2000 years.
But the Apostles reports stay definite against an ''undefined spirit". Historical tacts: On the evening of the same day of the Resurrection. Jesus was on his way to Emmaus, a village near Jerusalem, when he caught up with two disciples going in the same direction. Jesus did indeed look strange. The last two days had obviously wrought changes in his physique and his features, and his strange clothes gave him a different appearance. For a long time previously he had been known to wear rather good ciothes, so expensive, indeed, that the soldiers under the cross would not divide his coat but cast lots for It. No wonder the disciples did not recognise him. As it Was written: 'But their eyes were holden that they should not know him'.'
The Apostles were confused. From the way they talked it was clear that they did not know what was happening. and their interpretations differed. Jesus listened with great interest but finally exclaimed — across the centuries his cry still rings in our ears: '0 fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his gloryrt And he explained what the Scriptures had said about him beginning with Moses and taking them through all the prophets What did the prophets say? The Dead Sea Scrolls and other new dis coveries have revealed fresh facts All the prophets predicted that Jesus would be saved by God; that he would have to suffer. But there was no mention of death in the whole of the Old Testament, where there appears to be, it is due to incorrect translation.
He had to 'lace death" or "God wounds him, wants him to suffer', so we find it in Isaiah 53:12 in the 1947 found Dead Sea Scrolls of the time of Jesus. The usual Isaiah translations are all from more than one thousand years after Jesus Christ.
'0 fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Thus they approached the village of Emmaus which was as far as the Apostles wanted to go. Jesus was about to move on but they urged him with these words: 'Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day Is far spent.' And he went in to tarry with them ... as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and bra e it, and gave to them.'
Now they recognised him. Jesus's manner of praying and biassing was inimitable: 'Arid their eyes were opened, and they knew him, and he vanished out of their sight'.' Now it was time for Jesus to go to the other Apostles and disciples so they, too, could become witnesses of his Resurrection.
The two Apostles who remained behind were gripped by excitement: Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures? And they rose Up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem and found the eleven gathered together. and them that were with them.' imagine the excitement when they pined the gathering and told what had passed on the way to Emmaus, and how they had recognised Jesus by the way he broke the bread. They did not recognise him by anything else — how much his appearance must have changed! There was much agitation and discussion until suddenly 'Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you' and calmed their fears. But when they, too, did not recognise him at once and thought it was a stranger who had surprised them, Jesus spoke to them again The Bible goes on to say: 'But they were terrified and afrighted. and supposed that they had seen a spirit' a reaction which Is quite understandable because they had not expected such a complete physical resurrection. They must have looked distressed and doubtful for Jesus said: 'Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet. that it is I myself: handle me, and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me have
It was manifestly important for Jesus to establish before witnesses that he existed again physically — in flesh and hone, as the prophets had predicted and the Scriptures put it. The Nicene Creed (AD 325) says . resurrected according to the Scriptures', and that means 'bodily resurrected.'
But when the Apostles seemed to remain doubtful, in spite of having 'handled and seen' hire, Jesus gave them further incontrovertible proof of his physical existence We can take it that non-physical beings cannot destroy physical matter. Non-physical beings can move physical objects but only a physical body can eestroy things, or change them to an extent tantamount to destruction. Food is a case in point. Only physical bodies are capable of destroying — in this Instance — edible objects In a natural process, that is, by eating them.
This is the classic test for ghosts and it is to this test that Jesus took recourse. As the Bible says: 'And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here -any-meat) And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish ... And he took it,
and did eat before them."
At last they understood. Now they were convinced and able to accept Jesus's complete physical existence, for they had witnessed a physical test. Not so Paul, who was still Saul. He was not present at any of the physical tests which Jesus performed for the benefit of his Apostles. Henceforth the 'Sect of Christians' asserted that Jesus had risen. Many tried to suppress their statements, and among those who tried very hard was Saul of Tarsus. Only when it proved impossible to still the voices did he himself begin to wonder.
He had more food for thought then 'there shined round about him a light from Heaven.''° which was long after the Ascension. As the Acts of the Apostles says about Paul: 'And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him. Saul. Saul, why persecutist thou me, And he said 'Who are thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutist . .
This was an appearance totally different from Jesus's encounters with the Apostles after the Resurrection. Paul's decisive mistake was the view he formed later that the Apostles had also seen Jesus after the Resurrection in this shape and manner. Frequently in his letters he mixes up these two completely different encounters which were also different in character. It must be borne In mind that the Scriptures in which the Apostles described their ex periences were as yet virtually nonexistent, and that their message was passed on from mouth to mouth. By the time these events were put down in writing, which was many decades later, Paul had already spread the story of his encounter with Jesus far and wide, describing the Resurrection as a transfiguration, not a complete physical resurrection. It was what he imagined what he left out of account was that it occurred altar the Ascension.
Paul actually projected his experience into the period of the Resurrection, into the time between the sepulchre and the Ascension, a mistake which prevailed for almost two thousand years. For Jesus was resurrected to his old life in completely unchanged physical and material form. Only when he ascended did he assume the new form which Paul described Jesus himself provided evidence to contradict Paul on this point and insisted against all doubters that ha was resurrected in 'flesh and bones', emphasising it time and again. He arranged the food test and, as recorded in several chapters of the Bible, succumbed to the human need to eat. right up to the time of the Ascension.
But Jesus did much more. On the first evening-of the week, the evening of the day on which Jesus showed himself to his disciples, one of them was missing — Thomas, the man whose name has become synonymous with doubt. Thomas wanted to be absolutely clear about it. Those who had been present gave accounts of what they had seen and heard but many points about this unlikely story remained obscure.
Thomas told them: 'Except I shell see in his hands the print of the nails . . and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.'" Jesus neither repudiated nor blamed Thomas but helped hint to overcome his doubts. And eiutit days later the disciples were with him again, end Thomas was among them. 'Then came Jesus . (We must interpolate at this point that there is nothing in the original Scriptures to say that Jesus came through closed doors, It is correct that the doors were closed; they were bound to be to keep out strangers and Jesus came, the guatd at the door let him in; and he began to talk to Thomas. 'Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands: and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it Into my side: and be not faithless but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God." Thomas had perceived Jesus physically, in a physical state precisely as the prophets had predicted.
Think what you will of Thomas; he has become for all eternity the principal witness that Jesus existed with the same physical body as before the execution. The same wounds which Thomas wanted to touch and was allowed to touch imply that it was the same body; According to other, extrabiblical accounts, when the Apostles met Jesus again some time Jaw. the wounds had become scars, as happens in the case of a normal body with flesh and bone. Firm tangible flesh and bone, with wounds one could thrust a hand into — these were the things with which Jesus demonstrated for the benefit of his Apostles But he went further still.
With the Resurrection, a new era dawned for the Apostles. The walks together and the teaching among the people were over. Jesus walked alone. met his confidants here and there. He wanted to he alone, He was preparing for his ascension. In future he would give guidance from above. Matters which belonged to the sphere of Jewish religious politics no longer concerned him. Some of the Apostles turned to their fishing again. There were seven of them: Simon Peter and Thomas, Nathaniel from Cana in Galilee. John and James, the sons of Zebedee, and two others. After all, they had toscatch and sell fish for a living. it they and their families were to eat.
Simon Peter said to the others: 'I go a-fishing. They say unto him, we also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately: and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus -stood on the shore . . . Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him. No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship and ye shall find.'"4 The disciples dld as they were told, in the meantime.Jesus made a fire on the land and laid bread on it and a fish he had brought with him. Now, success crowned their new attempt. Jesus, who had never been a fisherman, had once more used his power to help his disciptes. They 'came in a little ship . . . dragging the net with fishes', And John who was with them goes on to say: 'Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.' This they did. After a while, Jesus said: 'Come and dine . . Jesus than cometh. and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise." This, according to John. was the third time that Jesus showed
himself to his disciples after the Resurrection.
There are bound to have been corresponding or similar accounts from other sources describing Jesus's activities after the Resurrection but they have not been discovered. Whenever the Gospels deal with the period after the Resurrection they sound jerky, and there is a reason for this. It would seem that at a later stage the Idea of a Jesus physically so complete after the Resurrection became unacceptable. The inescapable conclusion which emerues from a critical analysis of the Scriptures is that extensive passages in John, chapters 14 to 17, and 26, refer to events which occurred shortly before the Ascension, and not in the period before his arrest in which they have been placed. They do not square with this period but fit almost perfectly into the time preceding the Ascension. For the period between Easter and the Ascension, church liturgy makes ample use of those sayings of Jesus which have been mistakenly associated with the time before his arrest.
Expert Investigation clearly shows Jesus to have been resurrected to a complete physical existence, a fact of great consequence for Christians because it derives from the Bible. It is of equal consequence for the Israelites.
Now back to our time and to facts of the Holy Shroud. The body in this shroud have had blood circulation, but please no misunderstanding if we inside the very fine events of a really resurrection of a body in the medical sense — "We must not associate the events of Golgotha with the phenomenon of 'apparent death' or 'suspended animation', because it would be scientifically inaccurate. In exact scientific terms 'apparent death' means the greatest possible reduction of breathing and heart activity but not the end of either.
"In the case of the crucified, however. breathing had stopped. If this did not occur earlier as a result of pneumothorax lie, the presenLe of air in the cavity of the thorax), it was caused by the stab with the lance, while the heart continued to beat. In medical terms. It was a tremendous battle with death, but, If we accept the accounts of the resurrection, death was defeated and after a comparatively short interval breathing started again In the tomb.
"In the medical view it is by no meerfs impossible that the exudation from the spices which. according to the Bible, were attached to the body, caused a constant agitation of the respiratory channels and a consequent resumption of breathing. To this can be added that oxygen pressure in the circulatory system contributed towards the resumption of breathing — so to speak -from the inside,
"The problem remains as to how we should describe such a condition on the fringe of death. Apparent death? This is scientifically impossible. Medical death? No, because the heart was still active. Alive? Hardly, because without breathing and without the functioning of the central nervous system, man is not alive "Almost two thousand years ago the
Evangelists put it-this way: gave up the ghost'. a uniquely clever and correct description."
What is death? Who knows it absolute final: nobody' Sure, death in the
tints of Jesus as the cessation of breathing. Today we have another kind of death and medical death. But, perhaps. the real death is to 'give up the ghost', and what we call death is only a destroy of a body? God did not want to destroy the body of Jesus, that is why 'they brake not his legs' on the cross (John 19:33) and 'a bone of him shall not be broken' (Ex 12:46). John said: that the scripture should be fulfilled (John 19;361. Everywhere we can see: God would not to let destroy the body of Jesus. Easy to understand why, because God would the Resurrection of Jesus in flesh and bone. But this—we know and understand it today — needs blood circulation in the body, to be incorruptible in the tomb.
In this context, incidentally. the Evangelists' own alleged opinion is Immaterial. They were influenced by the Holy Spirit when putting down their words. It is evident at any rate that 'He gave up the ghost' did not necessarily imply medical death. We scientists are thus in a position to say that, in spite of our discoveries In respect of the Shroud, neither we nor the Shroud are at variance with the Scriptures.
1. Luke 24:16.
2. Luke 24:25-6. 3, Luke 24:29-30.
4. Luke 24:31, 5. Luke 24:32-3.
6. Luke 24:36. 7 Luke 24:37. U. Luke 38-9, 9. Luke 24:41-2, 10. Acts 9:3, 11. Acts 9:4-5, 12. John 20:25. 13 John 20:27-8, 14. John 21:3-6 15, John 21:12-13.