THIS is one of those schol
. arly works in which one cannot help feeling that "scholarship" has got in the way of the obvious. Professor Marxsen is attempting to explain, i.e., explain away the faith of the early Christians in the physical resurrection of Christ.
Sentences such as: "it would be dangerous to speak here of a 'historical event'. for the ideas which we now associate with this concept were then unknown" imply that the early Christians, not least those who were responsible for the Apostles Creed, could hardly distinguish between fact and fantasy. But some at least of the evidence of the Gospels suggests quite the contrary.
When Our Lord appeared in the upper room, at first "they thought they were seeing a ghost" and had to be convinced of his reality; similarly Thomas's doubt was overcome by physical evidence.
The truth is that the whole "form-critical" approach to the Gospels has become se fashionable in some quarters that many a twentieth-century exegete regards himself as more competent to decide about what really happened than were Our Lord's disciples and their successors.
Of course there are discrepancies of a minor sort in the various accounts of the first Easter Day. It would be surprising and indeed suspicious if there were not. Where human testimony is involved, especially in connection with a highly emotional occasion. every kind of inconsistency must be expected. To take a modern parallel. We know how difficult it has been to establish the whole truth about. the circumstances surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy. But even if we cannot establish precisely how or why President Kennedy was shot. this does not lessen our belief in the central fact. At one momcnt he was alive: the next he was mortally wounded.
The reverse is true of Christ. At one moment he was dead; the next he was alive. And that is what he had to convince his followers of.
Thomas Corbishley, S.J.