In die Skriflig
On-line version ISSN 2305-0853
Print version ISSN 1018-6441
VAN AARDE, A.G.. Texts, co-texts, and con-texts of the empty tomb in the Jesus tradition. In Skriflig (Online) [online]. 2011, vol.45, n.2-3, pp.329-360. ISSN 2305-0853.
An investigation of texts, co-texts and con-texts of the empty tomb in the Jesus tradition provides a "situation-specific common background knowledge" (Auer, 1996:18-19) from which perspective this article is written. The article aims to argue that the myth behind the empty tomb in the Jesus tradition deploys a trajectory of five links. Its origin, the first of the five links, is to be found in the metaphorical use of the motif of recreation analogous to the foundational narrative in Israel's historical memoirs of God's "creatio ex nihilo". The foundational narrative consists of a collective anthropological facet and an indivdual psychological facet. The anthropological facet is manifested in the memoir of the suppression of Israel as a downtrodden nation. The individual facet pertains to the martyred heroes in Israel's history. In this article the five links of the trajectory are conceptualised in five chronological phases represented by specific textual evidence. They are, firstly, the descent of a corpse into the sheol; secondly, the objectifying of metaphorical language about the resurrection of the dead, which refers to either Israel as a "corporate personality" or individuals; thirdly, the Hellenisation of the resurrection belief-pattern which existed in the Semitic, Eastern-Mediterranean world, in the light of the theology of apotheosis/divinisation and ideas about immortality and reincarnation; and fourthly, the empowerment of suffering righteous mortals when participating in the renewed life of resurrected/ascended divine heroes. The fifth phase pertains to the period when the other four phases reached an apogee and resurrection belief served as a kind of coping-healing. The article aims to argue that the hermeneutical significance of the empty tomb in the Jesus tradition is to be found in the third phase. The modes in terms of which Jesus' empty tomb were interpreted by the first "Christ-followers" are to be found in phases four and five.