Sunday, April 4, 2010

Born Again

John 3: 3 tells us that "no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." The meaning of what it means to be "born again" still remains unclear for Christians today. Early Christian martyrs who were in the face of persecution tended to conceive the resurrection as pertaining to the body, for this point of view proved meaningful for their circumstances. But does salvation actually comprise of new embodiment or does it constitute a kind of postmortem bliss, free from the constraints and limitations of the physical body? Ancient Jewish and Christian ideas concerning personal resurrection were surrounded by debate over the precise nature of the post-resurrection body. Some anticipated another flesh-and-bone body immune to physical decay and death while others presumed that God's followers would adopt bodies like those of angels. During the Roman period, many others viewed the human body as a prison from which the soul would finally be liberated at death and therefore looked upon bodily resurrection as a repugnant proposal. In Jesus' time, however, resurrection was not universally affirmed as some devout Jews, particularly the Sadducees, scoffed at the idea and considered it to be ludicrous. In Mark 12: 18-27, the Sadducees taunt Jesus with the question of whose wife a woman who has married seven times will be after the Resurrection. Jesus strongly affirms resurrection and portrays the Sadducees' question as a reflection of their ignorance of God's power. Regardless of the differences, and sometimes contradictions, among Christians' views of resurrection, Jesus was seen as the paradigm in all cases, and believers hoped for a similar fortunate fate to befall them.

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