Rowan Williams on Resurrection
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JAT – Williams on Resurrection Rowan Williams on Resurrection Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his book Resurrection: Interpreting the Easter Gospel, presents us with a useful deliberation about the difficulty of understanding the nature of resurrection as a process: “Even in the Gospels, one thing is never described. There is a central silence…about the event of resurrection. Even Matthew, with his elaborate mythological scenery, leaves us with the strange impression that the stone is rolled away from a tomb that is already empty…It is an event which is not describable, because it is precisely there that there occurs the transfiguring expansion of Jesus’ humanity which is the heart of resurrection encounters. It is an event on the frontier of any possible language because it is the moment in which our speech is both left behind and opened to new possibilities. It is as indescribable as the process of imaginative fusion which produces any metaphor; and the evangelists withdrew as well they might. Jesus’ life is historical, describable; the encounters with Jesus risen are historical and (after a fashion) describable, with whatever ambiguities and unclarities. But there is a sense in which the raising of Jesus, the hinge between the two histories, the act that brings the latter out of the former: it is not an event, with a before and after, occupying a determinate bit of time between Friday and Sunday…however early we run to the tomb, God has been there ahead of us…he decisively evades our grasp, our definition and our projection.” From: Resurrection: Interpreting the Easter Gospel, 2003 Caution is in order. Williams, who is decidedly theological in this interpretation, is not proposing something radically new. He is appealing to expand how one thinks about the Resurrection. It is useful to recognize that the Resurrection might be “not describable . . . not an event, with a before and after, occupying a determinate bit JAT – Williams on Resurrection of time.” The best understanding of the ‘nature’ of the Resurrection may be recognizing how much one cannot presume anything about its nature as an event. Points to consider • • • What ‘sort’ of Resurrection do we envisage Williams is suggesting above? To what extent does this fit with other views we have encountered? Look back at the Biblical examples and creed and see to what extent such points are reflected above.