Saturday, April 29, 2006

Paul and the resurrection of the dead

Did Paul really believe that corpses would come back to life again? The Gospels say that is what happened to Jesus, but Paul would have denied that.

Section Sanhedrin 90b of he Talmud discusses the question that Paul discusses in 1 Corinthians 15 - how can dust come back to life?

Paul denies that it will. He claims resurrected beings will not be made of the dust of the earth. In 1 Corinthians 15:47-48 'The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.'

Paul denies that dust will come back to life. If there is a resurrected body, he writes, it will not be made from dust, it will be made from heavenly material.

There were Jews who did believe that dust comes back to life again. See how Sanhedrin 90b handles the question, and see how utterly alien it is to Paul's way of writing in 1 Corinthians 15.

An emperor said to Rabban Gamaliel: 'Ye maintain that the dead will revive; but they turn to dust, and can dust come to life?'

Thereupon his the emperor's daughter said to him the Rabbi: 'Let me answer him: In our town there are two potters; one fashions his products from water, and the other from clay: who is the more praiseworthy?' 'He who fashions them from water, he replied.1 'If he can fashion man from water, surely he can do so from clay!'

The School of R. Ishmael taught: It can be deduced from glassware: if glassware, which, though made by the breath of human beings,4 can yet be repaired when broken; then how much more so man, created by the breath of the Holy One, blessed be He.

A sectarian said to R. Ammi: 'Ye maintain that the dead will revive; but they turn to dust, and can dust come to life?' — He replied: I will tell thee a parable. This may be compared to a human king who commanded his servants to build him a great palace in a place where there was no water or earth for making bricks. So they went and built it. But after some time it collapsed, so he commanded them to rebuild it in a place where water and earth was to be found; but they replied, 'We cannot'. Thereupon he became angry with them and said, 'If ye could build in a place containing no water or earth, surely ye can where there is!' 'Yet,' continued R. Ammi, 'If thou dost not believe, go forth in to the field and see a mouse, which to-day is but part flesh and part dust, and yet by to-morrow has developed and become all flesh.

These Jews believed in the resurrection of corpses and so 'proved' that dust will turn into flesh.

Paul did not believe in the resurrection of corpses and wrote how dust was a thing of the past. The new body will not be transformed dust.

This totally contradicts the Gospels , where the corpse of Jesus gets up and walks around.


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