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Sheehan: Ressurreição

sexta-feira 15 de abril de 2022


Resurrection. In the Greek New Testament, two main verbs are employed to express the rescue of Jesus   from the dead, and both of them are metaphors. First, egeiro   : God   “woke up” Jesus from sleep; and second, anistemi  : God “stood Jesus up again” after his fall. Wake up, stand up: note that both verbs have God as the agent of the action, with Jesus as its object. Here’s the point: in English translations of the Bible  , and in Wright’s own text, both of these rich metaphors get erased—only to be replaced by the cover-all verb “to raise” and the noun   “resurrection.” Let’s examine the “wake-up” metaphor first and the “stood up” metaphor second.

Wake up (egeiro). The earliest Christian scripture we have is 1 Thessalonians, dating to about 50 CE, twenty years after Jesus’ death; and there we find the first-ever mention of God rescuing Jesus from death. Paul writes:

You turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true

God, and to wait for his son from heaven, whom God

awoke from the dead. (1 Thess 1:9-10)

The verb here is egeiro, to wake someone up. But open any New Testament in English, and you will not find that metaphor. The New Revised Standard Version, for example, follows the lead of the King James and translates it as “whom God raised from the dead.” In other words, the metaphor of awakening   someone from sleep is entirely suppressed.

Likewise, at 1 Corinthians 15:4, where Paul recounts the formula he learned at his conversion in the thirties. The Greek reads, “I handed on to you what was handed on to me, that Jesus was awakened on the third day.” Same Greek verb, and the same eliding of the metaphor in the NRSV: “[Jesus] was raised on the third day.”

“To sleep” was a common Jewish metaphor for being dead, and later in 1 Corinthians 15:20 Paul places the verb egeiro in its full metaphorical context when he writes that “Christ has been awakened as the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” The NRSV doubly bungles this sentence by translating: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.” (That’s the equivalent of taking Hamlet’s “When we have shuffled off this mortal   coil” and substituting for it “when we die.”) So yet again, the metaphor is suppressed in translation.

Did God wake up Jesus from sleep? Or did he “raise” him from the dead? This is not a minor point. A good deal of Christian hermeneutics rides on this difference. Both the English translations we have and Dr. Wright, who reads Greek, allow this rich apocalyptic trope to slip through their fingers. And with the metaphor lost, so too is the awareness   that God’s rescue of Jesus is being presented in die specific literary form of apocalyptic. What Wright offers instead is a flat-out historical account of spatial-temporal events that allegedly transpired in Jerusalem  , just outside the Chain Gate, on 9 April 30 ce. For our purposes at the moment, the advantage of translating egeiro as “to wake someone up from sleep” lies in what the verb does not say. “Waking someone from sleep” takes no position on the physics or metaphysics   of the rescue of Jesus.