Resurrection - Before Death

(expose - abstract)

For a majority of us the Christian way of life seems to have lost its meaning. We no longer look to the Bible for solutions, and a great treasure is going to waste. This book, therefore, attempts to provide a new approach to this old source of human transformation. This new approach is not based on the acceptance of any absurd beliefs nor on a blind euphoric hallelujah spirit; it is instead built upon the complete acceptance of the here and now. Toward this end, it offers the reader not only a new interpretation of the New Testament accounts of resurrection, but also their very practical implications, enhanced by a whole series of meditations and exercises throughout the text.

The book begins with a brief introduction to the symbolism of the biblical narrations. Using two examples from the Old Testament, I demonstrate that the stories contained in the Bible are never intended to be understood literally as factual reports or newspaper articles. The authors of the Bible have woven the historical characters and events into archetypal images. These images reach into the deepest regions of the soul and can transform each of us into a new person if only we are prepared to accept the transformation.

The Bible has in essence only one theme from the very first page to the last, and it doesn't matter whether one calls it transformation, "rebirth" or even "resurrection". In the New Testament, this central topic is portrayed through the image of the resurrection of Jesus. And here it is particularly important to understand that this key image cannot be interpreted literally.

In the first large section of my book I therefore place the New Testament accounts of resurrection in a new light, allowing the reader to "see" the resurrection from the point of view of our time and culture. The reader is presented the resurrection directly so that he/she can understand it on the basis of his/her own personal experiences. How did the apostles see Jesus in their historical context? On what basis did they experience the "resurrection"? How were they transformed? The crucifixion of their Master leaves them in a state of shock and their world view cannot deal with this catastrophe; as their value system crumbles and they stand before the void, a new soul awakes within them and takes control of their lives. It is their own inner being, and that they see - at this moment - as the "son of man." Each of their lives is placed upon a new foundation from which they then perceive Jesus in a totally new manner as one among the living. They then need only a little time to completely transcend their old world. By Pentecost, they are ready to receive the spirit that had also determined the life of their Master. This transformation of Pentecost is, however, not a unique Christian phenomenon, but can be found in all cultures.

The next section of the book demonstrates how Jesus Himself describes this archetypal process of becoming. His sermon on the end of the world and the last judgment already anticipates the transformation of the apostles: "this" world crumbles and then the "son of man" appears. Jesus explicitly points out that this is not an event of the distant future: he stresses that several of his listeners will experience this process of transformation before their physical death. For these few, the end of the world and the last judgment have thus already occurred. They are, therefore, not events in the external world, but rather part of the process of becoming which we all go through. The true individual in each of us appears only after the demise of our personal world view. The entire world is then transformed.

In light of the above, we can answer the questions about the empty grave and the appearance of the resurrected Jesus in a new manner. It is then clear that it is unimportant whether the grave was materially empty, but that it is bereft of the essence, the being of Jesus which has been resurrected - in the apostles. This resurrection had such a tremendous sense of reality that the later authors Luke and John described it even in physical terms, even though there is no evidence of this in the older accounts.

When we consider how Jesus himself discussed the topic of resurrection, it becomes clear that He did not stress a personal life after death. The same attitude we find in Paul. Although he repeatedly speaks of the fate of those who pass away, he emphasizes the transformation of the living and says that only "fools" believe that existence simply continues after death. Paul is also the person who equates the historical Jesus with the archetypal "Christ," the savior. Here, as in the previous sections, I provide exercises and meditations to animate the reader to experience "Christ" and to see that it is his/her own human essence and, in so doing, understand why Jesus referred to himself as the "son of man."

The salvation springs anew from the inner soul of each of us and is therefore to be found in all cultures throughout the history of man. This I demonstrate using the epistle to the Hebrews in which the death of Jesus is referred to as the "sacrifice for the new covenant" without viewing this death as a magical transaction or promising salvation only to those who accept the historical Jesus as their Savior.

In the second part of the book, I turn to the real power of redemption present in Jesus and discuss how it has often been misinterpreted through the ages. I criticize, for instance, those interpreters who claim that the Christian doctrine is the "only source of salvation" and that all who do not follow it are damned. The history of man is itself a continual wave of demise and resurrection, and even the Christian religion is no exception. Every attempt to codify the new covenant with God in an orthodox gospel leads only to another "old covenant" no longer appropriate to the present time. The Christians are infamous for such attempts. This is the reason behind the repeated attempts to interpret all of Jesus' comments on the end of time in a one-sided material manner. The Christians have constructed an entire system of beliefs on "life after death" and have hardly considered the transformation of the living. Moreover, our understanding of the beliefs and teachings of Jesus, which in themselves emanate directly from the experience of the resurrection, have been formed in part by individuals who have not been transformed. False interpretations offered by men who have no conception of transformation have cost many a prophet his/her life, and indeed they lead to the execution of Jesus and to many other atrocities committed in His name, such as, the crusades, the inquisition and the burning of witches.

In the next section of my book, I return to the topic of resurrection and rebirth and present it as the awakening of the Eternal One in man. The meditation on this topic allows the reader to experience how, on Mount Tabor, Jesus leads several of His disciples into this realm of human reality. With the disciples, the reader sees how Jesus converses with Mose and Elija, and with them, he experiences that he/she is - like all human beings - continually in contact with the Eternal One: the reader realizes that he/she can become receptive to the eternal side of being during his/her lifetime. It is this consciousness of eternity which we experience in the moment of resurrection and rebirth and thereafter.

Jesus experienced this rebirth long before His death. His whole life is already "Eternal Life." But how can we understand Eternal Life? Jesus Himself says that it is not governed by human perceptions, but rather by "the Father." Those who enter this realm no longer live for themselves. They are in direct contact with their origin and therefore feel immediately what they and those around them need, and they do what is necessary.

In the conclusion of the book, I discuss the effects of salvation on life. After our transformation, we accept the Logos, for beyond the world of our own judgments we become conscious of that loving intelligence that created man from mere dust. This intelligence is always present, but it will unfold only in those individuals who trust in its existence and give up their own calculating rationality. Witness Gideon in the Old Testament who, upon receiving this spirit, was able to sleigh an army of thirty-thousand men without taking losses.

All this is experienced directly by the reader and he/she realizes: we lost Paradise because we ate from the tree of knowledge, because we allowed ourselves to be misled by our limited and limiting perceptions into believing that life is calculable. And the reader sees that redemption comes to him/her who completely trusts in the creator and returns to the direct experience of the one real truth, namely to that which touches him/her in the here and now. This is only possible after the world view with which he/she identified dies to be followed by the resurrection from the spirit.

Content (German index)



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