[Tema kristologi: Tron på den uppståndne Kristus]
[Christ is Risen! - an existential interpretation


Länk till webbplatsens förstasidaPaul Tillich

Ur Systematic Theology. Volume Two





It is the certainity of ones's own victory over death of existential estrangement which creates the certainity of the Resurrection of the Christ as an event and symbol; but it is not historical conviction or the acceptance of biblical authorithy which creates this certainity. Beyond this point there is no certainity but only probability, often very low, sometimes rather high.
        There are three theories which try to make the event och the Resurrection probable. The most primitive theory, and at the same time most beautifully expressed, is the physical one. It is told in the story of the tomb which the women found empty on Easter morning. The sources of this story are rather late and questionable, and there is no indication of it in the earliest tradition concerning the event of the Resurrection, namely 1 Corinthians, chapter 15. Theologically speaking, it is a rationalization of the event, interpreting it with physical categories that identify resurrection with the presence and absence of a physical body. Then the absurd question arises as to what happened to the molecules which comprise the corpse of Jesus of Nazaret. Then absurdity becomes compounded into blasfemy.
        A second attempt to penetrate into the factual side of the Resurrection event is the spiritualistic one. It uses, above all, the appearance of the Resurrected as recorded by Paul. It explaines them as manifestations of the soul of the man Jesus to his followers, in analogy to the selfmanifestations of the souls of the dead in spiritualistic experiences. Obviously, this is not the Resurrection of the Christ but an attempt to prove the general immortality of the soul and claim that it has the general ability after death to manifest itself to the living. Spiritualistic experiences may or not be valid. But, even if valid, they cannot expalin the factual side of the Resurrection of the Christ symbolized as the reappearance of the total personality, which includes the bodily expression of his being. This is so much the case that he can be recognized in a way which is more than a manifestation of a bodiless "spirit".
        The third attempt to approach the factual side of the Resurrection is the psychological one. It is the easiest and most accepted way of describing the factual element in the Resurrection. Resurrection is an inner event in the minds of Jesus' adherents. Paul's description of the resurrection experiences (including his own) lends itself to the psychological interpretation. And - if we exclude the physical interpretation - Paul's words, like the story of his conversion, points to something which happened in the minds of those who had the experiences. This do not imply that the event itself was "merely" psychological, namely, wholly dependent on psychologial factors in the minds of those whom Paul enumerates (e.g., an intesification of the memory of Jesus). But the psychological theory misses the reality of the event which is presuposed in the symbol - the event of the Resurrection of Christ.
        We must ask anew what this reality is? In order to describe it, we must look at the negativity which is overcome in it. Certainly, it is not the death of an individual man or his reappearance as a spirit cannot be the event of Resurrection. The negativity which is overcomen in the Resurrection is that of the disappearance of him whose being was the New Being. It is the overcoming of his disappearance from present experience and his consequent transition into the past exept for the limits of memory. And, since the conquest of such transitoriness is essential for the New Being, Jesus, it appeared, could not have been its bearer. At the same time, the power of his being had impressed itself indelibly upon the diciples as the power of the New Being. In an ecstatic experience the concrete picture of Jesus of Nazareth became indissolubly united with the reality of the New Being. He is present whereever the New Being is present. Death was not able to push him into past. But this presence does not have the character of a revivied (and transmuted) body, nor does it have the character of the reappearance of an individual soul; it had the character of spiritual presence. He "is the Spirit" and we "know him now" only because he is the Spirit. In this way the concrete individual life of the man Jesus of Nazareth is raised above transitoriness into the eternal presence of God as Spririt. This event happened first to some of his followers who had fled to Galilee in the hours of his execution; then to many others; then to Paul; then to all those who in every period experience his living presence here and now. This is the event. It has been interpreted through the symbol "Resurretion" which was readily available in the thought forms of that day. The combination of symbol and event is the central Christian symbol, the Resurrection of the Christ.
        The preceding theory concerning the event which underlies the symbol of Resurrection dismisses physical as well as spiritualistic literalism. It replaces both by a description which keeps nearer to the oldest source (1 Cor. Chap. 15) and which places at the center of its analysis the religious mening of the Resurrection for the diciples (and their followers), in contrast to their previous state of negativity and despair. This view is the ectatic confirmation of the indestructible unity of the New Being and its bearer, Jesus of Nazareth. In eternity they belong together. In contrast to the physical, the spiritualistic, and the psychological theories concerning the Resurrection event, one could call this the "restituion theory". According to it, the Resurrection is the restitution of Jesus as Christ, a restitution which is rooted in the personal unity between Jesus and God and in the impact of this unity on the minds of the apostles. Historically, it may well be that the restitution of Jesus to the dignity of the Christ in the minds of the diciples may precede the story of the acceptance of Jesus as the Christ by Peter. The latter may be a reflex of the former; but, even if this is the case, the experience of the New Being in Jesus must precede the experience of the Resurrected.
        Although it is my conviction that the restitution theory is most adequate to facts, it must also be considered a theory. It remains in the realm of probability and does not have the certainity of faith. Faith provides the certainity that the picture of the Christ in the Gospels is a personal life in which the New Being has appeared in its fullness and that the death of Jesus of Nazareth was not able to seperate the New Being from the picture of its bearer. If physical or spiritualistic literalists are not satiesfied with this solution, they cannot be forces to accept it in the name of faith. But they can perhaps grant that the attitude of the New Testament and especially of the non-literalistic Apostle Paul justifies the theory of restitution." (s.155-158)




Paul Tillich. Systematic Theology. Volume Two., The University of Chicago Press, 1957. Paul Tillich, 1886-1965, är en av 1900-talets mest välkända teologer. Tillsammans med Rudolf Bultmann, 1884-1976, är han banbrytare för vad som brukar kallas 'existentiell teologi'. Hans inflytande sträcker sig utanför fackteologin, bland annat har hans existentiella teologi haft stor betydelse för Rollo May, en av den humanistiska psykologins förgrundsgestalter. Paul Tillich teologi presenteras av Alf Ahlberg i en av essäerna som ingår i Troende utan tro, Natur och Kultur, 1966. På svenska finns Modet att vara till, Studentlitteratur, 1977. Denna bok är en analys av människans existentiella situation, den ger dock inte några vidare inblickar i Paul Tillich's teologi. Paul Tillich presenteras också i ett kapitel i Modern Teologi. Del I., Verbum, 1991. Men det är värt att notera att hans uppståndelseteologi inte berörs i denna presentation.


[Christ is Risen! - an existential interpretation
[Tema kristologi: Tron på den uppståndne Kristus]
[Språk, tro och religion - webbplatsens förstasida]
[Fyra klassiska bekännelsetexter]


Till sidans början