Mark 12.18-27

And Sadducees came to him, who say there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the wife, and raise up children for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no children, and the second took her, and died, and the third likewise; and the seventh left no children. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seventh had her as wife.”

Jesus said to them, “Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in Heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, how God said to him, ‘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; you are quite wrong.”

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2 responses

  1. What seems to be the tangle here is the status of our souls (i.e., our lives) post mortem.Sadducees look to the doctrine of resurrection and say, if resurrection is true, when widows remarry, they commit adultery (they don’t ask about widowers note — a much more common occurrence with high female mortality rate presumed. Jesus thumbs his nose at the sophistry: different rules apply in heaven folks — like can’t you figure that one out?Then he adds this bit about God being God of the living — which hangs on a piece of grammar — Jesus could haggle in sophistry when occasion warranted as well it seems.But if the argument hold, then Abraham and Isaac live now. they aren’t waiting for a general resurrection at the close of history. Hmm.

  2. Yes, Jesus is stretching the old logic with this, a playful answer to a silly question.”High female mortality” in this time would probably derive from an excess of female infants left out to die. Which could leave a shortage of women for men to marry. No reason to expect childbirth to be unusually life-threatening–They don’t have 19th Century style doctors or hospitals–and this woman is not making babies, no matter how hard her husbands are trying. Anyway, since they don’t have a concern about carrying on the family name through female members, it’s a widow & a succession of brothers in the story.Is Jesus exhibiting ascetic disapproval of sweaty human sensuality here?Or is it marriage, as a state of bondage, that he finds less than heavenly? In Heaven, presumably, there would be no economic need for a woman to have a husband.People in Jesus day pretty widely assumed that the logic of grammar is the logic of God’s mind, which matches the logic of real world conditions, that “the word” came before the thing. Maybe Jesus wasn’t really intending to cheat with this verbal backflip.A scholarly exercise for later rabbinic students was: “Find the Resurrection in the Torah.” This was a particularly difficult exercise because it isn’t in there!The famous scholar Iforgetwho conjectured that the monarchical Yahweh cult was bitterly set against all consideration of an afterlife, due to their rivalry with traditional Canaanite ancestor-worship–which was a family affair, hence a distraction from the sort of national solidarity-building religion the Jerusalem establishment favored.Hasidic rabbis as quoted by Martin Buber evidently believed in reincarnation, not as an article of faith but as specific memories of previous lives in the Temple…Anyway, so far as I do know the power of God, I don’t see why people we consider “dead” couldn’t be alive in some different world.

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