Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Jesus, the Jumper!

In the quest for the historical Jesus over the years, various elements of Jesus identity, mission and message have been emphasised.[1] I am convinced now, that we have missed a significant part of Jesus’ identity as a JUMPER. Jumper's are a peculiar breed in Scripture, and because there are not many of them, this is often overlooked when studying Jesus. But before we look at the Hebrew background, let us offer some definitive gospel passages that suggest Jesus’ identity as a Jumper.
Luke 24:31 αὐτῶν δὲ διηνοίχθησαν οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ καὶ ἐπέγνωσαν αὐτόν καὶ αὐτὸς ἄφαντος ἐγένετο ἀπ' αὐτῶν.
Luke 24:35-39 "καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐξηγοῦντο τὰ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ καὶ ὡς ἐγνώσθη αὐτοῖς ἐν τῇ κλάσει τοῦ ἄρτου ταῦτα δὲ αὐτῶν λαλούντων αὐτὸς ἔστη ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς εἰρήνη ὑμῖν πτοηθέντες δὲ καὶ ἔμφοβοι γενόμενοι ἐδόκουν πνεῦμα θεωρεῖν καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς τί τεταραγμένοι ἐστέ καὶ διὰ τί διαλογισμοὶ ἀναβαίνουσιν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν ἴδετε τὰς χεῖράς μου καὶ τοὺς πόδας μου ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι αὐτός ψηλαφήσατέ με καὶ ἴδετε ὅτι πνεῦμα σάρκα καὶ ὀστέα οὐκ ἔχει καθὼς ἐμὲ θεωρεῖτε ἔχοντα."
Lukan scholarship is more hesitant to state a fully fledged “jumper” identity, even though scholars like Nolland will reference Philip jumping as a parallel.[2] Even the superb commentary by Green fails to interact seriously with this issue.[3] Time did not permit me to further analyse other commentators, but it is unlikely that they have given this much thought! John 20:19 οὔσης οὖν ὀψίας τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ τῇ μιᾷ σαββάτων καὶ τῶν θυρῶν κεκλεισμένων ὅπου ἦσαν οἱ μαθηταὶ διὰ τὸν φόβον τῶν Ἰουδαίων ἦλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ ἔστη εἰς τὸ μέσον καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς εἰρήνη ὑμῖν
John 20:26 καὶ μεθ' ἡμέρας ὀκτὼ πάλιν ἦσαν ἔσω οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ Θωμᾶς μετ' αὐτῶν ἔρχεται ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῶν θυρῶν κεκλεισμένων καὶ ἔστη εἰς τὸ μέσον καὶ εἶπεν εἰρήνη ὑμῖν.
Johannine views of Jesus are more definitive in noting Jesus’ identity as a Jumper. Thus, Craig Keener, commenting on John 20:19 notes that:
John may wish to underline the nature of the resurrection body – corporeal (20:20) but capable of acting as if incorporeal (20:19), though presumably not like the “phantoms” of Greek though that could pass through the thong of a bolt in a door (which would contradict the image of 20:20)… the repetition of the closed doors in 20:26, again as the context of Jesus’ sudden appearance among them, is emphatic; John wishes to underline that Jesus appeared despite closed doors and to the disciples’ astonishment.[4]
Ben Witherington suggests that:
Although, the Fourth Evangelist does not engage in speculation about the matter, he clearly portrays Jesus in all the Easter stores as having differing properties from those he had before the crucifixion. He is seen as still a physical human being, but one who is also much more, and can appear in or disappear from a room without using a door.[5]
Beasley-Murray notes that this incidence “shows the ability of Jesus to presence himself in any place.”[6] This final quotation from Beasley-Murray concludes our scholarly evidence for the notion of Jesus as a “jumper”.
My case is simple. Having seen the movie: Jumper, on Saturday night, I am convinced that this is not only our destiny but a common scriptural phenomenon. Scripture is full of Jumpers! The first of course is Enoch (Gen 5:24); then Elijah (2 Kings 2:11 ); Jesus (Matt 28:9; Luke 24:35-39; John 20:19) and finally Philip (Acts 8:39-40). There don’t appear to be any references to Paul jumping, unless one counts 2 Cor 12:2. But this would have to be a “in body” experience for it to count as “jumping”.
Recognising that Jesus is probably the more difficult case to prove, it nevertheless appears to be the case. Questions however do remain. When did he become a Jumper? Was it only after the resurrection, as Witherington suggests? Whatever the explanation, given the reasons listed above, I submit to you that the BEST explanation is that Jesus was a jumper. Thus, Jesus, and then the first followers, are following in the prophetic steps of the past, possibly claiming their mantle of gifting. This suggests a strong intimacy with the Spirit as the means by which people JUMP. And because Jesus was a jumper, that is our destiny. And that looks FREAKIN AMAZING!
So where would you jump to?
For those of you who have not seen the movie, can you please do the appropriate research as to times and venues and make a point of seeing this. If for no other reason than to give yourself a break from reading.
[1] For a helpful introduction to research see G. Theissen and A. Merz, The Historical Jesus (SCM, 1998) and C. A. Evans, Jesus and His Contemporaries (Brill, 1995) pp. 1-49.
[2] Nolland, Luke 18:35-24:53, pg. 1206
[3] Green, The Gospel of Luke, pg. 853-55
[4] Craig Keener, The Gospel of John, 2:1201
[5] Ben Witherington, John’s Wisdom, pg. 342
[6] Beasley-Murray, John, pg. 378

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