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The Resurrection and the Hiroshima Bomb?

Updated: Sep 6, 2021

I was reading on the historical aspect of the resurrection this week and I ran across some inspirational material coming from The History of Jesus Christ by R.L. Bruckberger, a noted Catholic priest, author, and chaplain of the French resistance in WW II.[1] Even though this book is old, it has some inspirational and common sense observations from someone who lived through the ebb and flow of major historical events such as WW II and the Kennedy assassination plot. In discussing the enormity of the resurrection as it relates to man universally and to the specific individuals who experienced it, he draws parallels between the Hiroshima Bomb, the assassination of JFK, and the liberation of Paris (which he personally observed). When discussing the Hiroshima bomb and the Resurrection, he writes (below) about Paul’s announcement of the historical resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:

And these three historical facts- the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead-had already taken on a significance that strangely transcends the temporal and special framework of their occurrence…[the Resurrection] had become an international event, more than international, universal. I mean that it affected the destiny of every person in the world… We should be less astonished than other generations at this explosion of significance-suddenly reaching to the confines of the known world-of a strictly localized historical event. Relatively few men were the agents or the witnesses of the bombing of Hiroshima: The significance of that event was no less sudden and universal. Every man, throughout the world, felt personally involved. Henceforth man knows that the end of the world and the end of humanity are possible, where as on the eve of Hiroshima he did not know. Henceforth man must live with that personal menace. In short the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was nothing but a historical fact, narrowly localized in time and space. But its significance became universal, even metaphysical.

The same thing is true of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a historical fact, localized in time and space, but its significance was immediately revealed as universal. Thenceforth every man knew that the resurrection of the dead was possible and the access to eternity was open to all body and soul. Thenceforth every man had to live with this hope…Yes, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ exploded into the world for the salvation of all, as the Hiroshima bomb exploded in the world for the menace to all (pp. 402-3).

He goes on to discuss the messy accounts of the Resurrection transmitted in the New Testament and states that this is exactly what one should expect from such a momentous event. After being “struck by a meteor,” as it were, there should be a shock of sorts resulting in differences in secondary/small details of the witnesses to it (the Gospel accounts) as well as disbelief (disciples). This is exactly what we see in the Gospel accounts! They all proclaim that Jesus arose from the dead yet the accounts differ in small details. The enormity of the empty tomb, like the Hiroshima bomb, greatly impacted the small handful of those who witnessed it. The aftershock of the Resurrection still resonates through time to this very day with the enormity of its significance for us personally and for all of humanity.

[1] Bruckberger,R.L. (1965). The History of Jesus Christ. New York: The Viking Press


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