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Christ the Lord is Risen Today


Alleluia! Christus Dominus hodie resurrexit! He is risen!

O God, who for our redemption didst give thine only-begotten Son to the death of the Cross, and by his glorious resurrection hast delivered us from the power of our enemy; Grant us so to die daily from sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through the same thy Son Christ our Lord. Amen.

Most glorious Lord of life, that on this day,
Didst make thy triumph over death and sin:
And having harrow'd hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win:
This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin,
And grant that we for whom thou diddest die,
Being with thy dear blood clean wash'd from sin,
May live for ever in felicity.
And that thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love thee for the same again:
And for thy sake, that all like dear didst buy,
With love may one another entertain.
So let us love, dear love, like as we ought,
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.

Edmund Spenser, Amoretti LXVIII

Readers, feel free to provide a link to one or more of your favorite artistic representations of the resurrection or of the resurrected Christ. One thing that I have found interesting is that the most exciting art on this subject (Grunewald's, for example) often makes it appear that Jesus is ascending immediately, directly out of the tomb, which of course is not accurate. (See here.) (But don't hesitate to provide links to those paintings anyway, some of which are among the great works of Western art.)

It is nearly a necessary consequence of the fact that Jesus was literally resurrected that accurate portrayals of Him with His feet firmly planted on the ground, in a real, physical, body, not even shining like the sun as in the Transfiguration, will perhaps not be terribly visually exciting. Yet His resurrection was, because of its very literalness, the most exciting thing ever to happen to mankind. Because He lives, we shall live also. Death is swallowed up in victory.

Comments (21)

Caravaggio: Doubting Thomas:


When it comes to visual representations of the resurrected Christ, nobody else is even playing in the same ballpark.

Excellent, Steve. I have seen it many times but had forgotten it. The realism is amazing.

"Noli esse incredulus sed fidelis."

This painting is also known as "The Incredulity of St. Thomas."

I've been searching around the internet, trying to figure out: who are the other two apostles in the picture, and, especially, who is it placing his hand on Thomas' wrist - I guess in an attempt to restrain his skepticism?

At a totally off-the-cuff guess, I'd say Peter and John. The older one as Peter, because Peter usually is portrayed in art as one of the older apostles. Hence the younger one as John, because those two are paired in connection with the resurrection (e.g., going to the tomb). But there are probably better iconographical arguments out there, which may go in a different direction.


In general, Orthodox icons of the Resurrection do not show the coming forth from the tomb (although these do exist), but instead, Christ pulling Adam and Eve out through the broken gates of Hades.

Steve -- Isn't that Christ's had on Thomas' wrist? There's a small nail hole, and it would be the correct hand, the left, as it's coming from the other side. "Put your hand into the wound on my side..."

Oh, and while not a Resurrection picture per se, I've always liked Howard Pyle's "Why Seek Ye the Living in the Place of the Dead?"


Chris Floyd is clearly right about the hand. It has to be Christ's. First, because of the mark on it (which I had not noticed). I do not think it can be "Peter's" (if my identification there is right), because the size would be wrong. The Peter figure is too far back. It cannot be "John's," because that disciple has that hand down by his side. If you follow the curve of Christ's left arm, the hand is in a natural position to be the hand for that arm, with only the elbow not visible.

The gesture appears restraining at first sight, but it could also be guiding Thomas's hand, since Jesus did offer (though it looks from the Gospel account like Thomas may not have taken him up on the offer) Thomas the opportunity to put his hand in his side. Jesus also mentioned his touching the scars of the nails in his hands, so the appearance of the scarred hand fits the theme of the painting as well.

Rob G., I like that Easter icon. I usually am too "Western" to appreciate Greek Orthodox icons (I prefer more realism), but I like that one.

It is nearly a necessary consequence of the fact that Jesus was literally resurrected that accurate portrayals of Him with His feet firmly planted on the ground, in a real, physical, body, not even shining like the sun as in the Transfiguration, will perhaps not be terribly visually exciting.

I would love to see a, "before and after," painting done, since Jesus's glorified body, apparently, has different features, post-Resurrection. It is doubtful that both Mary Magdeline at the garden tomb and the apostles on the sea could not have recognized Jesus; Mary Magdeline saw him close and the others saw him from afar. They had to have a revelation to their hearts to recognize him in both cases.

There have been some bizare theories presented to explain this, but nothing really satisfying.

The Chicken

Actually, Chicken, I'm inclined to disagree with you there. Notice that on the road to Emmaus it says that their eyes were _held_ so that they would not recognize him. This is very striking. It is exactly the opposite of the conclusion that Jesus did not actually look recognizably like the person they had known. On the contrary, they would have recognized him in the ordinary way if their eyes had not been "held." The Mary Magdalene situation seems to me to be pretty easily explicable in terms of her being blinded by tears, and the disciples on the sea were, as you say, at a distance from Jesus on the shore (at first). It seems that John recognized Jesus "naturally" after Jesus spoke to them, which, when he heard what John said, caused Peter to jump into the sea and swim to shore. On shore they all had a conversation and ate together. Those are all of the "non-recognition" scenes. In both of the upper room scenes, they recognize Jesus immediately and are only worried that he might be a ghost. Notice, too, the stress Peter places on _continuity_ in acquaintance with Jesus when giving the qualifications for being chosen as a replacement Apostle in Acts 1. He says that the person must have been with them from the beginning of Jesus' ministry at the baptism of John until the ascension, hence qualified to be "a witness with us of his resurrection." Now, this emphasis upon being "part of the club," being one of Jesus' close friends and associates throughout his ministry, as part of the qualifications for being a "witness of his resurrection," would seem to have less of a point if the person couldn't have recognized Jesus after his resurrection in the normal sense of recognizing a person that you have known.

Chris Floyd & Lydia - thanks, you're clearly right. I was badly misreading the painting. It seems that Caravaggio is representing the other apostles as being as full of doubt as Thomas himself.

Or just going, "Oh. My. Gosh. Cool. Eeewwww. Amazing. Look at that, will ya. Does it go _all the way in_? Does it _hurt_?" Very masculine, if I may say so.

Actually, Chicken, I'm inclined to disagree with you there.

That's alright. I'm not holding hard onto either side in this debate, but it would be a spookier thing to think about if the glorified body were somehow different (and why). From what I have read, either opinion is allowable, although, what is really important is, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed." Having seen is not as important as having believed.

Let's do a little analysis:

In any sort of observation or transmission of information (such as in the post-Resurrection encounters with Jesus), there are three objects involved in transmission: a source (S), a receiver (R), the environment (E), including in the term, environment, connections or couplings between the source and receiver. Since one may have interactions between one, two or all three possible objects, the possible interactions are 3^1 + 3^2 + 3^3, assuming reciprocal and self-interactions. A few possible are:

S (tautological and trivial)
R (tautological and trivial)
E (tautological and trivial)
SS (self-information/feedback)
RR (self-information/feedback)
EE (self-information/feedback)
SR (feedforward)
RS (feedback)
RE (feedforward)
ER (feedback)
SE (feedorward)
ES (feedback)

Most of these possibilities are not applicable in simple narrative. In this case, for the sake of simplicity, let Jesus be S, the "Other," be it Mary Magdeline, or those on the road to Emmaus, etc., be R, and let the environment in which the dialog takes place be E.

If a change has taken place in S, R, or E either prior to or during the encounter, let this be denoted by a prime: S', R', E', without, for the moment, considering the exact nature of the change.

Thus, the discussion is about exactly which of the sources of information (if any) changed so as to bring about the lack of recognition mentioned in certain parts of the Resurrection encounters with Jesus.

Let us consider each encounter, separately, and see what evidence for modification of the sources may or may not be present.

First encounter: at the tomb

John 20:11 - 20: 17

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb;
and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.
They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.
Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."
Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rab-bo'ni!" (which means Teacher).
Jesus said to her, "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."

Must continue, later (if anyone is interested). Sorry. In massive analytical mode, tonight.

The Chicken

Hmm...I may have a slight touch of a stomach virus. Oh, well. Perhaps it is best that I stop my probably overly-long analysis before I get too carried away. I may or may not arrive at the same conclusion as Lydia, but why subject everyone to a tedious dissection of Biblical minutae by a half-wit?

See, I did learn something from by Lenten blog-fast.

The Chicken

If you can bring yourself to make conjectures in ordinary language, MC, that would be fine.

Dear Lydia,

Just today the Gospel reading at Mass was John 21:1 - 14:

Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.”

So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.

I have bolded some interesting points in our discussion about the resurrected body.

1. The disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Was this merely because of distance?

2. St. John said that it was the Lord after they cast the net and pulled in fish, exactly as had happened the first time he appeared to St. Peter. It could be that John recognized the sign and not the man.

3. The boat was only a hundred yards from shore, more than close enough to identify Jesus and Peter was even closer to the shore.

4. When they got to shore, there was already a charcoal fire and some fish and bread. Who caught the fish and bread? Did Jesus cause them to miraculously appear?

5. None of the disciples dared to ask him if he were the Lord and yet, surely, if the simply recognized him, why would they need to ask?

I suppose one can explain these texts either way, but I think this one is more in the different rather than same column. I'll round up the other appearances and make similar comment so you can shoot them down (use a pea shooter rather than a howitzer) :)

The Chicken

I definitely think it could have been because of distance before they got to shore. I don't see how the fish question has anything to do with recognition. Whether he made them miraculously or not, this says nothing either way about whether he had different features. The only really odd bit from my perspective is the one about their not "daring" to ask him who he was. What comes to mind is that one does "doubt one's own eyes" in circumstances where things are unexpected. John rather carefully says that this was the third time Jesus had appeared to them (as a group, presumably, as he also seems to have appeared to Peter alone once, though we have no account of the meeting) after his resurrection. The first two meetings were a week apart. We don't know exactly how much later this meeting was. I would imagine that the spacing between the meetings was difficult to assimilate as was the fact that he seemed to come and go more suddenly than he had done before his death. I'm guessing that at this point, despite having evidence already from the two other meetings that Jesus was risen, they were also in something of a "freaked out" frame of mind, wondering what, exactly, was going on. This would explain his continuing to meet with them over a forty day period and, as Luke says at the beginning to Acts, giving them "many infallible proofs" of his reality.

Oh, one more thing about the distance from shore: It was early in the morning. They had been fishing at night. So lack of light is relevant as well.

In each case, however, Jesus uses a sign that identifies him rather than just plain sight, it seems to me.

In the case of Mary Magdeline at the tomb, it was his voice calling her name. In Scripture, Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand."[Jhn 10:27 - 28]

These words are identical almost to what Jesus said to Mary Magdeline when she approached him when Lazarus died:

Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? [Jhn 11:24 - 26]

In this case, the primary sense was hearing.

In the case in the upper room, Jesus says to touch his wounds and to give him fish. The primary sense, here is touch.

In the case of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, it was not hearing; indeed, they listened to Jesus talk about Scripture for hours and yet they did not recognize him. It was only when they broke the bread that they recognized him. This surely refers back to the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper and involves, primarily, the sense of taste and smell. They were prevented from recognizing him by other sense modalities. Note, also that the text is very careful to say that "he intended to go further," but the disciples asked him to stay. This is almost word for word what happened when Jesus came walking on the water towards the disciples. The text says, curiously, that:

And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them,
but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out;
for they all saw him, and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear."
And he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded,
for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.[Mar 6:48 - 52]. Interesting. Feeding is definitely the operative sign, here.

In the case on the seashore, it was primarily seeing that is involved, but not, I contend, the seeing of Jesus, but the signs: the miraculous catch of fish and the fire and fish - one, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, the other the symbol of Jesus, which also called to mind the idea of apostles being fishes of men. He fed them fish and bread, as in the feeding of the five thousand. After the meal, they felt free to express recognition, as in the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Mary Madgeline thought he was a gardener (he was - the keeper of the Garden of Eden, so there is some irony, here); the disciples on the road to Emmaus though he was a traveler and a meal companion; the apostles on the seashore thought he was a signaler and caller. Their inability to question Jesus harkens back to what St. Paul said when the first miraculous catch of fish occurred: depart from me, Lord, because I am a sinful man. The disciples, here, also realized that they were in the presence of a transcendent person and a mystery. Yes, they knew it was Jesus, but no one dared say that. In the original case, St Paul recognized what Jesus was by the sign. I contend that they recognized who the man on the seashore was by the same sign. Lack of light was not relevent once they got on shore. There was a fire burning, so they could clearly see who it was and yet no on dared to ask. Somehow they did not feel they had the right.

In no case do any of the disciples just walk up to Jesus and say, "It's you!"

Recognition came, but only after the symbol.

When Jesus questioned St. Peter on the lake three times if he loved him, the text is still not specific that St . Peter recognized the physical features of Jesus. He knew it from the fishing episode, even if he did or did not recognize the human features. The text is ambiguous.

I would say there is evidence either way. Is the glorified body simply one free from defect? Will we look like poster children for GQ or Mademoiselle? What exactly is the purpose of having a body after the general judgment? Will we eat? Sleep? What will we do? That we must have a body is sure, since Jesus had a body. While he could eat, did he need to? Are there differences between the natural body and the resurrected one (besides the traditional impassibility)? How much does the resurrected body diverge from the natural one.

In the end, the answer isn't really important, since whatever God ordains is sufficient. I just thought it was interesting to speculate on.

The Chicken

Honestly, I think you're getting too literary. And I bring forward, again, the fact that on the road to Emmaus it says specifically that their eyes were _held_ so that they did not recognize him. Also, yes, I think the clear implication in the upper room is that they immediately recognized him visually. He asks for the fish to prove that he is not a ghost. But the whole point of their thinking he is a ghost is that they know who it looks like and that the person it looks like is someone who died. And Thomas apparently _doesn't_ use the sense of touch before recognition. He is _offered_ what he asked for (when he was skeptical), but as soon as he sees Jesus and Jesus offers to let him touch the wounds, Thomas bursts out, "My Lord and my God."

I'm with Lydia about Mary Magdalene and the disciples on the road: recognition was withheld from them by means other than the mere difference of the glorified body.

I would suggest that from the number of times people did not recognize Christ, one way to explain it would be that the glorified body does not have one fixed appearance that is basically stable. Just as the glorified body can pass through other substances, but also can be touched in ordinary fashion (at will): and just as it can eat and digest but also can do without food (at will); so also it can have this appearance or that appearance as suited to the will of the person. It can take on an appearance that is nearly congruent to the appearance of the pre-glorified body, or it can take on an appearance that diverges from that norm by small or large differences.

Not that I think this is anything more than hypothesis. Hack away, friends.

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