Tag Archives: Resurrection

Was Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the First Person to See the Risen Lord Outside the Empty Tomb?

by John Fotopoulos | ελληνικά | Română | српски

In Orthodox icons of Jesus’s empty tomb and resurrection, it is common to see Mary the mother of Jesus depicted as one of the myrrhbearing women. A related theme, although perhaps depicted less frequently in icons, is that the Virgin Mary saw the risen Jesus outside the tomb. Indeed, some Orthodox Christians today insist that Mary the mother of Jesus not only saw the risen Jesus outside the tomb, but that she was the first to see him there. Where did these traditions about Mary at the empty tomb originate, and are they corroborated by evidence from the four canonical gospels? 

It is probable that these traditions about Mary the mother of Jesus at the tomb originated from the Diatessaron (attributed to Tatian c. 160-180), a harmony of the four gospels widely used by churches in Syria until the 5th century. Because the four gospels contain differences as well as contradictions that are difficult to reconcile, the Diatessaron selectively combines material from the four gospels to create a single, cohesive gospel. In the Diatessaron, the identities of Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus seem to have been fused intentionally so that Mary the mother of Jesus—rather than Mary Magdalene as in John 20:1-18—can be understood as going to the tomb alone, where she saw the risen Jesus. One possible motivation for this fusion of Mary Magdalene with Mary the mother of Jesus may have stemmed from a desire to counter certain Gnostic groups that emphasized a special love Jesus had for Mary Magdalene. Nevertheless, the presence of Jesus’s mother at the tomb and her encounter with the risen Jesus also became elements in some apocryphal and Gnostic writings from the 2nd-4th centuries.

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The Resurrection of Christ

by Petros Vassiliadis  |  ελληνικά

What is the reason for defining the event of the Resurrection of Christ as “Radiant”—“Lampri”? And what makes the faithful exclaim in the words of Saint John Damascene: “This is the day of resurrection, let us be radiant O people: Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha. For Christ our God has passed us from death to life, and from earth to heaven, we who sing the song of victory” (Katavasia of Pascha)?

It is undoubtedly, the conviction of the Orthodox the world over, but also of all Christians, that fear of death was vanquished: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life,” triumphantly exclaims one of the oldest, together with the Phos hilaron (Gladdening light), hymns of the Christian Church.

However, the true fact of death, the result of man’s fall, and of his free choice to disobey God and thus break communion with Him, was not abolished. Death, as human being’s ultimate enemy, “will be the last enemy to be destroyed” in the words of Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:26). By means of their faith in the Resurrection of the Son and Word of God, the faithful will be able to live true life, “in abundance of life” according to John the Evangelist: (I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly, John 10:10). This is the life, rid of the catalytic influence of the devil, that God gave to humanity by the Resurrection of Christ, who “did trample down death and did abolish the devil” (the correct wording of the euchologion in the funeral service).

By His death Christ did abolish the devil that until then had the power of death, thus liberating humanity that used to be enslaved by their fear of death. Continue reading

The Politics of Pascha

by Fr. Aidan Kimel

resurrection-icon

Since November 8th, 2016, contributors to Public Orthodoxy have advanced various responses to the unexpected victory of Donald J. Trump. Fr John Jillions proposes that the Church needs to practice a politics of communion, which includes charitable works, prophetic political witness, and renewed ascetical life. Aristotle Papanikolaou asserts that the Church needs to vigorously denounce racist, sexist, and xenophobic rhetoric. Samuel Bauer maintains that before the Church can effectively contribute to the healing of our country, she must “seek forgiveness from the marginalized of society, the very individuals whose dignity it has at times assailed.” Each proposal has merit, but each lacks that one needful thing, the proclamation of the gospel itself. The Church has one word that she, and she alone, can speak to the world–Jesus is risen! There are many penultimate words that the Church may and must speak; but if she does not proclaim Pascha, not just one Sunday a year but every Sunday, all other prophetic and pastoral words are emptied of significance.

Since my retirement I have heard numerous Orthodox homilies. With few exceptions, they have been horrid—poorly constructed, poorly delivered, and lacking in substance. But bad technique may be forgiven if the preacher is at least attempting to proclaim the good news. Alas that has not usually been the case. What I have heard is exhortation … to imitate Christ, obey the ten commandments, be nice to my neighbors, pray more often, confess my sins … even a lengthy harangue scolding the congregation for its failure to support the parish festival. Exhortation and more exhortation—dreary, impotent words that do not convert, do not heal, do not transform, do not deify. Continue reading