Robert W. Jenson on the Resurrection

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4 Responses to Robert W. Jenson on the Resurrection

  1. David says:

    Amazing insights, though I have difficulty reading this in a way that doesn’t reduce to the claim that the ascended Jesus has pretty much ceased to be a spatiotemporal being. I’m sure Jenson would have disagreed, given that on his scheme the risen Christ can still be identified by a kind of physical locatableness and presence, particularly in the Lord’s Supper (I believe Jenson understood the key property of bodies to be the capacity to communicate one’s presence) – so Jesus is still identified by certain spatiotemporal properties. But to me it still sure sounds like Jenson is saying that Jesus no longer experiences events successively, one after another – where is the human soul, grounded in a changing material body, that has different conscious experiences along with this change?

    If there is such a changing material body, then surely Jesus has a ‘circumscribal’ body after all? If there no such change, then I’m not sure how Jesus is really human – or what the implications are for our own resurrection. I take it as pretty axiomatic that human beings are essentially embodied beings, and that therefore even in the resurrection life we should hope to experience events successively and to move from one location to another. If Jesus doesn’t do that, I’m not sure how he counts as one of us. I’m not sure what Jenson’s take on the parousia is, which might shed some light here. Does Jesus’ body, or our relationship with it, change once Jesus comes again? What is the nature of the relationship between our resurrection bodies and the resurrection bodies of others, including Jesus – is there any ‘bodily overlap’? I for one think (and hope!) we won’t all be equally present in all space and all time at once anyway.

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Excellent comment, David. You raise questions that need to be addressed. I imagine that Jens would direct us back to his demythologizing concern: Where is heaven? In the old cosmologies, heaven enjoyed a spatial relation to the earth; in the post-Copernican cosmology, it doesn’t. Is this a problem for us? Should it be a problem for us?

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      • David says:

        I am hoping that your excellent series on the body addresses them 🙂

        Certainly, we need to avoid thinking of heaven as a divine theme park run by angels sitting on clouds etc. But I would be disappointed if it ended up being reduced to a kind of metaphor for humanity being forever remembered in God’s eternity or whatever, or alternatively the idea that we end up experiencing a purely spiritual ‘heaven’ as a kind of ‘atemporal vision’ without the experience of succession and change. That would be to cease to be temporal, to cease to be bodily, to cease to have a future – in short to cease to be a human being.

        On the other hand, I sure don’t expect to find heaven (or hell) hiding in some far-flung distant corner of the universe. Perhaps heaven is a universe in itself, with no spatio relationship without own. Perhaps the timestream of heaven does not match up with that of this world either, but I think time of some sort should pass. And if not in heaven, then certainly in the resurrection world of the New Creation – a resurrected body requires resurrected space and time in which to act, for it is those spatiotemporal properties that makes it a body in the first place.

        From what I can see Chalcedon, if we are also classical theists accepting divine timelessness etc., ends up implying that Jesus has two distinct ‘minds’ or ‘ranges of consciousness’ – Jesus divine range of consciousness (i.e. the atemporal infinite conscious act of God) alongside his developing, fallible, human consciousness. Jesus suffers and dies with respect to that second layer of consciousness – the spatio-temporal consciousness – but not the first. One person but two natures, you know the drill.

        So I feel like in order for Jesus to be human – for him to have a ‘human nature’ – he must continue to undergo spatiotemporal change, i.e. he must continue to have a human range of consciousness. A related issue is whether we can say that the resurrected human Jesus is omniscient *with respect to his human nature* – does Jesus hear all our prayers with respect to that human consciousness, or is that a function of Jesus’ divine properties? Perhaps? Mary is just a human and clearly has no divine nature to help her out, but many Christians she hears and responds to millions of prayers simultaneously. I’m not sure what Catholic and Orthodox explanations for how that works actually are come to think of it. But it seems that we are already used to assuming quite a radical change in the form and abilities of the human being after death – a kind of enlargening of the body so that it reaches out across space to hug a million souls. But surely time must continue to pass for us to be able to say that the soul experiences anything at all, and if time passes for us then so it must for Jesus, and we again arrive at the problem that it is not clear what the ‘time passing’ bit of Jesus is doing and what the ‘timeless’ bit is doing.

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  2. Dan says:

    David, It may not be satisfactory, but I imagine Jenson saying, because of the communicatio idiomatum, Yes, both/and, simul.

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