As described in the previous articles the next tenant of Paul's doctrine of salvation as recorded in the New Testament is that of the resurrection, immortality and divinity of the crucified savior.
Since the death of Christ, in Paul's religious belief system, is a sacrificial one, atoning for the sins of mankind and conferring immortality on those who believe, it is necessarily followed by a resurrection, with which the divine being, having suffered in earth existence, overcomes mortality and resumes his previous place as the greatest supernatural power under the High Father God. Paul does not show any concern about a bodily resurrection for Yeshua, such as we find in the Fourth Gospel: his resurrected Yeshua is seen by various witnesses, but does not demonstrate corporeality, as to doubting Thomas (John 20.27). On the contrary, Yeshua has a 'body of glory' (Phil. 3.21). It seems, then, that even after his resurrection and ascent to Heaven, Yeshua has a body, but a glorious one; this distinguishes him from God the Father, who is bodiless, and confirms Yeshua's status as a power or emanation inferior to the Highest God.
Since there is no precedent in Judaism for a deity who dies, there can be no precedent for a deity who is resurrected. Yet some writers seek to find a Jewish precedent for the resurrection and translation of Yeshua in such figures as Enoch and Elijah, who ascended to heaven and assumed angelic or near-angelic status. We have already considered these figures in relation to the divine descent, and seen that they provide no precedent for that concept.
Answer for yourself: But are they relevant, instead, to the divine ascent?
Answer for yourself: Can we see in the bodily ascent to heaven of Enoch, Elijah and others a Jewish foreshadowing of the bodily ascent of Christ, as envisaged by Paul?
It has to be said that the resurrection of a divine, pre-existent, incarnate figure after a violent death is very different from the ascension to heaven of a human figure while still alive or after dying of old age. Anthropologists have become very wary of superficial parallels between cultures, where the contexts within which the apparent parallels are embedded are significantly different. Yet this kind of snatching at fleeting parallels is still the rule in comparative study of Judaism and Christianity. Here the difference is between a salvific death, followed by the return of the descended saviour to his own vacated heavenly place, and a righteous death, for which the reward is a high place in heaven. These two themes are not only different, but reflect entirely different theologies. One tells us, 'Do not despair because of your helplessness; help will come from above.' The other tells us, 'Your own efforts can achieve much; some people, through their own virtuous efforts, have even reached heaven.'
The matter is complicated, however, by the survival of pre-Pauline concepts of resurrection in Paul's own writings and also in the Gospels. The doctrine of resurrection was, of course, familiar to Jews, especially Pharisees, as a promise of reward to all deserving humans, whether Jewish or non-Jewish. The death and resurrection of Yeshua could be regarded not as a divine sacrifice, but as simply a miracle. Yeshua's return to bodily life was like the resurrection of Lazarus, though more important because of its eschatological significance; it was the first of many resurrections which would now happen in accordance with the prophecy of Daniel 12:2 about the Last Days. Paul refers to this Jewish concept and prophecy when he calls Yeshua 'the first Fruits of them that slept (I Cor.15:20); but his main theory makes Yeshua's resurrection unique in its salvific power, not merely the earliest of a plentiful crop. The Jerusalem church no doubt saw Yeshua's resurrection in a Jewish way as heralding the general resurrection of the righteous of the past. But if Yeshua was not just a righteous man, but an incarnate deity, his resurrection takes on a totally different meaning for which it is vain to look for a Jewish parallel.
Answer for yourself: Since we cannot find the resurrection of incarnated deity within the Jewish Scriptures, then are there any forerunners to which we can look for parallels to Paul's thoughts in these areas?
We must look for a parallel in Gentile pagan religions which had the concept of the salvific death and resurrection of a deity. But let us not forget what we have learned about Paul from the Ebionite writings; namely, that he was a Gentile to begin with who was brought up in such a city where such religious concepts had been paramount. The mere fact that Judaism also had a doctrine containing the word 'resurrection', but which referred to humans not to deities, does not provide any adequate derivation. It only means that in this, as in so many other cases, a Jewish word has been given a non-Jewish meaning (prominent examples are the words 'Christ' and 'eucharist').
For the resurrection of a deity after a violent death, we must look again to the mystery religions. Dionysus, torn to pieces by the Titans, is brought to life again by Rhea. Adonis, killed by a boar, is raised on the third day. Baal, killed by Mot, comes back to life. Attis, after dying of his wounds, comes back to life and dances. Osiris, after being dismembered by Set, is put together again and revived, after which he becomes a god. In Mithraism, the bull killed by Mithras was not itself resurrected, but it provided life, through its body and blood, for the whole created universe.
Recently, however, scepticism has been expressed about whether any of the above-mentioned figures can really be understood as dying-and-rising gods, as in the formulations of earlier anthropologists, especially J.G. Frazer and Jane Harrison. Jonathan Z. Smith writes, 'All the deities that have been identified as belonging to the class of dying and rising deities can be subsumed under the two larger classes of disappearing deities or dying deities. In the first case, the deities return but have not died; in the second case, the gods die but do not return. There is no unambiguous instance in the history of religions of a dying and rising deity.' In the case of Adonis, Smith points out, the first references to joyous festivities on the third day celebrating resurrection are found in the Christian writers Origen, Jerome, Cyril of Alexandria and Procopius of Gaza; these rites, therefore, may have been copied from Christianity. The resurrection of Attis too is found only in post-Christian writings. Osiris, Smith admits, is dismembered and then 'rejuvenated', but since he then journeyed to the underworld and did not return to earth, he cannot 'be said to have "risen" in the sense required by the dying and rising pattern'. Also, his death and revival were not seasonal, but were a model for the Egyptian beliefs about mummification and the survival resulting from it.
To take the last instance first, Smith's use of the word 'rejuvenation' in preference to 'resurrection' (in the case of a dismembered corpse) is hard to understand. While it may be that Osiris's death was not seasonal, Frazer's seasonal interpretation of dying-and-rising gods was not always accepted by his school; Jane Harrison usually preferred a rites-of-passage interpretation. This is not a vital matter, as long as some kind of rebirth is postulated. Again, that Osiris 'did not return to his former mode of existence' is hardly a material point. This is not part of the definition of a dying-and-rising god. That Osiris is the model for the immortality achieved by mummification may also be true without in any way damaging his identity as a dying-and-rising god. The only essential characteristics are that 'he was dead and is alive' and that this brings salvation, however defined.
Smith's distinction between 'dying' and 'disappearing' gods is questionable, especially when they disappear to Hades. But in any case, in our present enquiry we are not concerned with disappearing gods, but only with those who are most definitely dead, since they die by extreme violence. There can be little doubt that when Dionysus was torn to pieces, or Osiris dismembered, they were thereby dead; and it is just as unquestionable that they are afterwards found to be alive, and that this revival has significance in their cult for the rebirth of initiates. Finally, Smith's remarks about the lateness of evidence about the resurrection of Adonis and Attis are not convincing. Recent evidence, as summarized by Gasparro, indicates that Attis survived his death at least in the form of an impersonal vitality suffused through nature (rather like the Mithraic bull), and that this concept was centuries earlier than the Roman Attis cult. Moreover, vases of the first century BCE found at Tarsus depict Attis dancing; and these are analyzed by Vermaseren as evidence of Attis's personal resurrection. As for Adonis, Smith's doubt about his resurrection leaves us with a very unlikely cult devoted to mourning the death of Adonis and nothing else. Such a cult would seem to have very little to offer its devotees.
In general, we must conclude that there is good evidence that the concept of the salvific revival or resurrection of a violently dying god existed in the mystery cults at the time of Paul from which be borrowed such ideas as they are non-existent in Biblical Judaism. Paul's version of this theme, with its ascent of Yeshua through the pleroma to the position of First Power, clearly owes much to Gnostic theology. But the saving power of the crucifixion itself, followed by the resurrection, is not a Gnostic idea. The emphasis on bloodshed and violence as the precondition of salvation belongs to the mystery-cults alone. Again we encounter Paul's unique synthesis of Gnosticism and the Mystery Religions. Resurrection cannot be said to be a Gnostic idea at all, since Gnosticism does not recognize death as a reality, in the case of pneumatic individuals. Their 'death' is merely the discarding of an illusory shell, the body.
So it must be apparent to you by now that what you are reading in the New Testament about Yeshua is nothing more than a unique synthesis of Gnostic ideas from pagan religions mixed cleverly with pagan mystery religions and ideas from their theologies as gathered for different Gentile religions of that time. This is a bitter pill to swallow for the typical Christian. But I had to as I was forced over time to realize that I had believed in the "wrong Yeshua".
If you want to learn the truth about Yeshua, the man from Galilee, and the Messianic claimant from the First Century then read the articles on this web site concerning the "Jewish Jesus". (http://www.faithofyeshua.faithweb.com)
One last though if I might.
Mal 3:6 6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
If you like I believe the above verse and trust its validity then our God does not change. Well if you read these articles you can see that Paul's teachings are often a complete contradiction and in opposition to what was given through Holy men of Old as recorded in the Old Testament. Something sure changed. Coupled with that is the evidence I presented as to the origin for Paul's "changes" as taken from Gnosticism and Pagan Mystery Religions the conclusion is inescapable. If you consider yourself a thinking believer then you easily see that what is recorded in the New Testament and in the Pauline corpus of writings are "changes" from God Word as collected in the Jewish Scriptures. This God which changes not gave us these truths through the Jewish nation and are the backbone for which the church is to founded upon. This God says He changes not. That means His Word does not change as well. Well something did. You now have the facts and can make an intelligent decision on this matter. It is time to return to the faith once given to the saints...Biblical Judaism where the non-Jew is grafted into Israel and not as its "replacement".