Tuesday, January 28, 2014

God of the living

31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living (Mt 22:31-32).
Commentators puzzle over this argument. How does Jesus infer the resurrection from God's statement to Moses (Exod 3:6)? I've discussed this before, but now I'd like to approach it from a different angle. 
The statement in Exodus alludes to the patriarchal narratives in Genesis. And that centers on God's promise to Abraham. For instance:
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1). 
for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever (Gen 13:15). 
 And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess” (Gen 15:7). 
 “8 And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God” (Gen 17:8).
But this creates a source of tension. For Abraham dies without taking possession of the land. It's already occupied. Indeed, Abraham's lifestyle is conspicuously nomadic. He's a drifter. 
Admittedly, the promise is not confined to Abraham. The promise extends to his posterity. But does the promise include his posterity to the exclusion of Abraham himself?
Moreover, it's not as if his immediate posterity take possession. Isaac never inherits the land. Jacob and Joseph die in Egypt. They effectively die in exile. 
So when does God make good on his promise to the patriarchs? Not during their lifetime. 
If, however, God resurrects them at a later date, then they will be in a position to take possession of the promised land. 

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps this was among the reasons Joseph was concerned for his bones to be taken with the Israelites to Canaan.