Monday, 6 June 2011

Cosmic Christ or Cosmonaut?

There's been a bit of bloggery on the events associated with Ascension Day (Himmelfahrts in German).  James McGrath got the ball rolling, and Scott Bailey has joined the fray.  In the original story, the resurrected lord hops on a slow-moving cloud (helicopters being unavailable at this point in history) and is wafted up, up and away in clear view of all.  The tale derives inspiration, in part, from the earlier ascension of the angel Raphael in the book of Tobit (12:15-22) which is a personal favourite of mine in the deuterocanonical literature (man, would it make a great graphic novel!)

James McGrath puts it in a nutshell: "Ascension day is a perfect day to draw attention to the fact that literalism is not only problematic, but impossible," and he cites Dunn and Ward in support.  Scott Bailey goes further by pointing out the cosmology: "we can’t really take this story literally for a variety of reasons. Literally Jesus goes up to heaven in the story. This ‘perspective’ is built on the cosmology of first century persons".  He also provides this nifty diagram, which is one of the better representations I've seen, which answers other equally head-scratching puzzlers like, "where did all that water come from to float Noah over the top of Everest?


  1. I believe the Gospel writers knew they had to get the "resurrected" Jesus off the scene. He just could not be walking around resurrected forever.

    The Gospels and Acts give differing accounts. One Gospel even recognizes the need to get Jesus outside of the room to go up or explain how he gets through the ceiling. He had to be gotten outside so they could watch him "go up." Of course, Acts puts it weeks later and they can't both be right.

    I don't think we could tolerate "He left right after supper remember??!!" "He did not...He left 40 days after that..sheesh."

    The Apostle Paul's Jesus probably never spent one day on the earth anyway but was simply Mr. Cosmic Christ in the Gnostic sense and was the original idea before Christ was brought down to earth in the form of the Gospels, which Paul was not familar with in any way since he died before they hit Barnes and Noble.

    It's an invention to get Jesus up to heaven so the church get on with its down to earth business.

    The Ascension contradictions should give one pause as to it's merely being a stage trick. Today we would have to envision Jesus rising, and rising and rising and rising much like what we see when we watch the Space Shuttle take off. Where would this heaven be??? Just keep going "up"?? Up to what?

    At 22,000 miles Jesus could stop and just be stationary over the earth like a satellite :)
    Breathing, gamma radiation and sunstroke might a problem along with freezing solid, but I guess he would just twinkle out into another dimension.

  2. "The Ascension contradictions should give one pause as to it's merely being a stage trick."

    Which would be why the WCG never preached, nor worshipped, the pagan Ascension holiday, practiced by the Constantinian church.

    As for the "contradictions" between the Gospels and Acts...redacting the longer ending of Mark certainly clears that up. (Which the Church never preached, although it was preaching, decades before that became fashionable and "edgy" about the falsehood of the Johannine Comma.)

    For those of you out there now wailing with much gnashing of teeth, "But you've just taken The Great Commission out of the Bible!" No. No, I haven't.

  3. Oh come now Dennis, we all know that all things are possible for those who believe.

    Just because we aren't seeing any evidence of that doesn't mean that it might not happen some day (you know, like the cable guy coming on the scheduled day -- an event that no one truly knows the day or the hour. Faith is the evidence of things not seen, you know.

  4. This "miracle" is easily explained by science. In fact, someone performed this feat just a scant few years ago.

    Jesus took sufficient helium filled balloons and attached them to an aluminum lawn chair.

    See -- it's no trick at all.

  5. Now Dennis, you know full well that Jesus ascended on a cloud, so heaven must be amongst the clouds.

    Heaven is probably hidden behind a big cumulus cloud - up there beyond the rainbow. See it? Right there, just above what looks like a clown's head.

  6. You guys are hilarious. I have studied the enigmatic ending or non ending of Mark and there is a view that, for lots of linguistic and political reasons, as well as evidence in the story itself, John 21 is the real missing ending of Mark. Mark has no good ending and John has two, Chapters 20/21

    Some feel it was added to the end of John by Peter's community of believers to undo John's Peter bashing throughout his text and idea that "Judas betrayed Jesus and Peter denied difference, don't follow Peter." John 21 forgives Peter and reinstitutes him and fits the "tell the disciples AND Peter I will see them in Galilee" etc.

    Fascinating topic. There is nothing inspiring in Mark with the women running from a tomb frightened. Later in the gospels they run frightened but joyful to clean that bit of embarassment up.

    If you add John 21 to Mark fits perfectly in theme (fishermen) and context, (Be sure to bring Peter).

    Great stuff!

  7. geez, what are you guys, my mother????? :)