Some readers may be wondering why so many of these "Flashes" are being spent in reconstructing from the gospels a tenable account of the 40 days between .Resurrection Fnd Ascension. Well, here's why.
Not-long ago. a pen-friend of mine, with some reputation as a scripture expert, wrote in a Catholic periodical that the New Testament accounts of the Appearances could not be "har!lionized(as he called it).
I took him upon this privately and queried the statement. He replied immediately that what he had meant was that the at at harmonizing ought not to be made. Well, hut why not? So I queried that too, and we began a correspondence on the subject, but he was too busy to keep it up. But I still think my friend w;is voicing what seems In me just an unthinking convention held hi; the critics: a spineless surrender to takeover by the Huhn-la/ins and the Marxsens.
Why do we believe in Our
ord's Resurrection? in the final resort, because the Church tells us about it. She saw him, and cannot forget. Still, we have It) pass the news on, to unbelievers. and to our children. They will naturally ask about evidence. Is the Church just imagining, just wishfully-thinking it? Or do we mean that the Resurrection is really historical. as much so as the Crucifixion, though both of course have an inward aspect also?
Yes. that (with all due reverences towards industrious German scholars and their English regurgitat ors) is the claim. The events Of the Risen Life are just as "historical" as the Cruel fi v ion, though admittedly they happened in a rather "underground," a hidden and intimate way, far different from the roaring publicity of the Crucifixion as staged by Caiphas and Pilate.
A purl from the permit-. nen( winless of the Church
tradit ion, the ‘sfitien evidence is rather incomplete and scrappy, consisting chiefly of a valuable bit of early reporting by St Paul. (I don't mean so much about the road to Damascus, but about what the original apostles were teaching about that time) and a few actual tippearance•stories. sonic of them brier sommarizings and some more mid and detailed, as told during Mass and collected by the evangelists just as they xi. ere, wit 1-1 110 committee-vv kirk or briefmaking. Not exactly court-oil:1w evidence, 2,000 years afterwards.
Still. there it is. real e klence. that confirms the witnessing of todav's Church: not only considered as inspired scripture, hut also considered like any other ordinary writing cooling down to us from the (hiss of Nero or Domitian.
If therefore the Resurrection is to he called historical, it ought to be possible to reconstruct. tentativel■ at aro rate. the actual 14 rs■l: ole ve its through
Easter day and the period before the apostles began their preaching.
The New Testament presents
LIN S ilhi r-U-ChVell CCM! Ills ol the Appearances, evidently cmhod ing two or three streams of the earliest oral traditions. It would he unreasonable to expect all the aCe01.111k 10 talk eX
ZIC1.11. it Ill ight eVerl rook suspicious ii they did.
There might he knotty problems. But surely we must want to .stud v the accounts. tr.), Iii eel behind them and to form Ml Ill C 111COR' Wilk+ s ill inehide thCrIl all Lind give its a connected narrative of what seems to have happened.
Now this is precisely where the scripture-experts let to down. Their erevailing mood tit present (the only exception I can think of at the moment is Professor C. I-. D. mould) is to decline this obvious task. Hence the present modest and no don hl attempt ill a rel.:num 1.1 ci ion or those utterix riL-x,;),..ftitionari, if restful Forty )i