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Resurrection: Myth or Reality? (1994)

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A daring examination of the foundational event of Christianity, and an inspiring vision for reconciliation between Jews and Christians.

Using approaches from the Hebrew interpretive tradition to discern the actual events surrounding Jesus’ death, Bishop Spong questions the historical validity of literal narrative concerned the Resurrection. He asserts that the resurrection story was born in an experience that opened the disciples’ eyes to the reality of God and the meaning of Jesus of Nazareth. Spong traces the Christian origins of anti–Semitism to the Church’s fabrication of the ultimate Jewish scapegoat, Judas Iscariot. He affirms the inclusiveness of the Christian message and emphasises the necessity of mutual integrity and respect among Christians and Jews.


From Publishers Weekly

Continuing his project of making Christianity viable in a secular world, Bishop Spong here pursues the mystery of Easter. The solutions he proposes are not grounded in a literal understanding of the Bible; nor are they based in a quest for the historical Jesus. Easter, for Spong, was not a supernatural event that occurred inside human history. He asserts that even though Jesus was of history, we will never know all that Jesus was or meant. Most especially, we will never know exactly what happened on that moment that is called Easter. What we can know is that the first Christians became convinced that Jesus did not die and, to express the intensity of their experience, they used the language and style of midrash. Thus, Bishop Spong believes that to enter the meaning of the Gospels, to enter the experience of Easter, it is necessary to enter the tradition of midrash. His book, consequently, is a long and complex journey into the images of the biblical texts, the midrashic vehicles employed to carry the transcendent meaning of Easter.

Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Episcopal Bishop and prolific author Spong examines the Christian doctrine of resurrection and its biblical evidence to discover its true meaning beneath the legends and myths that encase it. Written for the lay reader, Spong’s book has the tone of personal quest, but his actual findings are similar to those of recent New Testament scholars. This book will appeal to those wanting a reasonable, nonliteralist faith grounded in the mystery of reality beyond time and space. Highly recommended.

Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Resurrection happened . . . but it didn’t. He’s alive . . . but he isn’t. Through a series of convoluted theological suppositions, Spong, an Episcopal bishop, attempts to show that Jesus’ resurrection was not a real event, but simply a legend recounted in the Bible. Arguing that this perspective is more believable than objective biblical literalism, Spong uses the very tactics for which he criticizes literalists. For example, since the Bible doesn’t say Jesus “rose from the dead” but instead that he “was raised from the dead,” Spong claims that the Resurrection was only a spiritual experience or belief of the disciples, rather than a bodily resurrection. The bishop insists that no reasonable person could believe literal interpretations of the Bible, and claims that this impending death of literalism has caused him to transcend chronological time when viewing the gospel. This is more believable? The troubling thing about Spong’s book, nonetheless, is that a great deal of it makes sense. Although flaws in Spong’s theory may be found, readers who believe in literal Bible interpretation had better expect to be challenged. Virtually all of Bishop Spong’s books have been controversial. This one will be no different. Patty O’Connell

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