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In Memory of Jesus: Grief Work in the Gospels

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It may be unusual to think of the Gospels as grief work, because these documents purport to be about the resurrected and living Jesus. However, once the four canonical Gospels are interpreted from this vantage-point, many typical features of grief work and a complex development from the earliest written document to the later ones can be observed. On what grounds can the notion of grief work be applied to texts written two or three generations after the original loss (the death of Jesus)? The author contends that this is possible because grief work (1) was a matter of the emerging Christian movement at large, (2) is involved in the general notion of "coping" in changing situations, (3) becomes a literary phenomenon with the writing of the Gospels, and (4) continues to have new objects after the original loss. Finally, it is suggested that the resurrection belief itself can be seen as a "coping" device.


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