Tuesday, July 19, 2005

You fools! Was Jesus bodily resurrected?

1 Corinthians 15 'But some will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? You fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die...

In the earliest text about the resurrection of Jesus, Paul calls his fellow Christians fools for not understanding what a resurrection involves.

Had the Corinthians heard the stories of how Jesus was bodily resurrected, could be touched, ate fish, still had wounds, and declared himself not to be a spirit, but said that he had flesh and bones?

Paul certainly preached a bodily resurrection, even if he said that Jesus became a life-giving spirit.

A spiritual body is still a body.

But his conception of a spiritual body was entirely different to the Gospels conception of a flesh and blood body which could eat food and still had wounds.

The Corinthians were querying the resurrection of the dead, although they accepted the resurrection of Jesus. Paul calls them idiots.

This could not be because they believed instead in the immortality of the soul.

Or else Paul would have corrected that wrong belief. But when he says they were idiots, he does not attack them for believing that the body died, but the soul lived on.

So what did he attack them for believing or for wondering about?

Dead bodies rot or are burned or eaten and vanish. They could hardly have been ‘idiots’ for wondering how God could transform a body that had vanished into a spiritual body. They realised God can transform water into wine, but you are by no means an ‘idiot’ for wondering how God can transform water into wine , when there is no water.

If the Corinthians were fools for doubting the resurrection of the dead, then they must have completely missed the point by wondering how God could transformed a decayed, rotting corpse into a living thing. Such questions must have been utterly irrelevant (which explains why Paul never addresses them.)

He calls them idiots for thinking the body died, and so could not be resurrected, when they did not realise that there were two bodies.

Of course the fleshly body dies, says Paul, but there is also a spiritual body. There is a body given to us by God to replace the flesh and blood body which perishes and can be destroyed.

Paul regards us being composed of ‘spirit’ (pneuma) , ’life’ (psyche) and body ‘soma’. As many have pointed out, there is no idea of a soul in Paul’s thought. God breathed life (psyche) into a body (as he did with Adam) and this body is then alive. Before then it was dust. After death, when it has lost its life or ‘psyche’, it will return to dust.

Paul's belief about the resurrection can be explained as follows.

A natural body will lose its life (because of sin). When you die, your body no longer has ‘psyche’ - no longer has life.

People who rely on the ‘psyche’ - life -, have a psyhicon, or natural body, and that will perish. There is no hope in a natural body. Such people are not in Christ and have no pneuma – spirit.

However , those with spirit (pneuma), also have a spiritual (pneumatic) body, and this will be given to us at the resurrection (2 Cor. 5 explains that it is already prepared for us in Heaven). This is what Paul has hope in. Not in the visible body , which will perish, but in the invisible, which is eternal.

Our visible bodies are dominated by ‘psyche’ – life, and life will be lost.

But there is also ‘pneuma’, and this cannot be lost , as it is already in Christ.

Just as ‘psyche’ cannot exist by itself, and needs a body, ‘spirit’ cannot exist by itself and needs a body. Paul says again and again that a spiritual body is a body.

Hence all of Paul’s talk of 2 bodies – a natural and a spiritual body, and his berating the Corinthians for not realising that there was no problem in the decay and rotting of natural bodies, as that was to be expected.

But the Gospels claim that there was only one body, and that it was not spirit.

The Bible contradicts itself, as Paul claims there were two bodies and the resurrected Jesus was a spirit.