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.


Blogger Caleb W said...

Hmmm... an interesting topic, and I've only had a quick skim over 1 Corinthians 15, so will have to give it some more thought some time.

But my initial reaction is that I don't see that the Bible does contradict itself - as you said in your post, a spiritual body is still a body. I think you're probably making the mistaken of assuming a complete dichotomy between "natural" and "spiritual" bodies.

Paul seems to say that physical life comes from being in the likeness of Adam, and spiritual life from being in the likeness of Jesus. But we can have both at once, the perishable clothing itself with imperishable.

I'm also interested as to why you seem quite keen on the idea that the Bible contradicts itself.


2:50 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Unfortunately, this is not really what the text says.

Paul thinks of different types of bodies as totally distinct. Look at the examples he uses of humans and stars. A natural body can no more be part of a spiritual body than a man can be part of a sun.

They are totally different things.

Paul is clear that we get a natural body first, and then a spiritual body, which will not be flesh and blood. Paul says that you do not get back the body which is planted, as that was just a seed.

The Gospels position is that the raised body of Jesus was the same body which was planted, and it remained flesh and blood.

Paul’s clothing analogy implies that we discard our old clothes (or body) and get clothed with new clothes (or body). 2 Corinthians 5 is clear that we get clothed with a new body, which must mean that the old one is discarded, as we cannot have two bodies at once.

However, the Gospels do not have a discarded body of Jesus. The body of Jesus was not ‘clothed’ in anything. It looked to Mary like a perfectly normal person. It appeared to the disciples as the flesh and blood that they recognised from everyday experience. The body still had wounds. It had not changed. What was changed was not that the normal laws of the universe no longer applied to this flesh and blood body. Sin no longer had any power over the body.

Paul’s conception is entirely different. He thinks sin no longer had power over a resurrected body, because the body had changed and was no longer sinful flesh, but was ‘life-giving spirit.’

10:27 AM  
Blogger Edward T. Babinski said...

Steve, Your view makes more sense out of Paul's odd statements than N.T. Wright's "orthodox" view in which he tries to interpret Paul as though he were speaking solely of a single raised body.

Also explains why the earliest mention of Jesus's resurrection in the Pauline letters only goes so far as saying that Jesus "appeared," and the Paul's late experience of the resurrected Jesus via an "appearance" was equal to that of the founders of the church in Jerusalem.

Heck, the stories about the raised Jesus "eating fish" and convincing the apostles that he was "not a spirit, but flesh and bone," and "leading them out to Bethany" (though the streets of Jerusalem), and then "ascending" bodily into the sky are stories that arrived late on the scene, in Luke, one of the last two written Gospels.

Which biblical scholars agree with your view? Or what scholars suggested such a view before you did? I bet some have in the past. I wonder who they are. Please email me with any information you uncover. (Click on my personal info which features my email address.) Dr. Robert M. Price might know. I'll direct him to your blog article. He's an old friend.

Edward T. Babinski (author of Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists)

3:42 PM  
Blogger Peregrinus said...

I am a chaplain at a boy's independent school. We have a number of observant Christian teachers and some quite devout. The question has come to me re. the resurrection. I am sure that it is a serious question from this teacher who is very sincere, though it may have originated from a student. The question is: When Jesus was resurrected and appeared to the disciples as recognizable what clothing did he wear and where did it come from if the shroud was left behind? I think there are a number of responses to this, but would be interested to hear thoughts on this.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Don't forget to visit my resurrection debate at Resurrectiondebate.blogspot.com

The question has been raised before. It was what is nowadays called a 'continuity error'

Perhaps Jesus just stole the clothes he was wearing....

After all, there are no shops open on Sunday morning.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

Who wrote the Gospels and for what purpose were they written? Were they written as eyewitness testimony of historical events, or were they written as historical fictions, similar to Homer's Iliad, for the sole purpose of selling books?

2:31 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home