Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Paul writes this in Romans 7:24.

Clearly, Paul knew what happened to corpses and he wanted out of there.

The verse is very troubling for Christian apologists.

The Bishop of Durham, NT Wright, wants to believe that it was Gnostiscs who wanted to be rescued from their bodies and not early Christians like Paul.

Accoridngly, Wright can write a 700-plus page book on early Christian beliefs on tbe resurrection, and never once quote that verse. At least, I can't find any such quote.

Even more amazingly, NT Wright wrote a commentary on Romans chapters 1-8, and when he comes to deal with this verse, he quotes it in his commentary (page 132) as Paul saying 'Who is going to rescue me?'

Can anybody think of one reason why a believer in corpses-rising-from-graves like Wright, would edit out 'this body of death', frm his quote of 'Who will rescue me from this body of death?'

23 Comments:

Blogger Methodist Bishop said...

I prefer your Northumberland blog. ;-)

As for 'Who will rescue me from this body of death?' Since you ask, Paul is describing the innate human sinfulness, or self-centeredness, which causes us all to be the source of our own destruction. It is, of course, a rhetorical question not a desperate cry for help. (Paul was a student of rhetoric, despite his claims to be an ordinary man of the people.) He already knows the answer; he's just emphasising the point he wants to make, which is that Jesus will rescue him from death through the sacrament of baptism, which in turn derives its power from Jesus' physical (and spiritual?) death on the cross.

You probably think this is all tosh. Even a great many Christians never give it much thought. But, either way, Paul isn't talking about his 'real' physical death here, but about spiritual death, though the two are intertwined of course. A spiritually dead person will be cut off from God when they die and be utterly destroyed. But, be that as it may, that's the reason why Mr Wright doesn't bother to comment on it. It's not directly connected to his main theme - resurrection from actual physical death.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

'He already knows the answer; he's just emphasising the point he wants to make, which is that Jesus will rescue him from death'

Paul doesn't say that he will be rescued from death.

He says he will be rescued from his *body* of death.

Why did he sneak in the word 'body', when generations of Christians have learned to remove that word when explaining what he meant?

7:55 AM  
Blogger Ab Truth said...

metaphor

implicit comparison

the application of a word or phrase to somebody or something that is not meant literally but to make a comparison, for example saying that somebody is a snake

figurative language

all language that involves figures of speech or symbolism and does not literally represent real things

8:07 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

So that is why Wright's 'Resurrection' refuses to discuss Paul's desire to be rescued from his body...

The word 'rescue' was a metaphor....

10:13 PM  
Blogger Ab Truth said...

actually i don't think 'rescue'can be used as a metaphor in this instance

7:54 PM  
Blogger abtruth said...

just having another thought on this one and i think i was right..

the metaphor was body

but the rescuing was literal

6:19 PM  
Blogger Edgar Foster said...

Mr Carr,

Anyone who claims that Paul thought of the body as a prison (in the manner of Socrates or Plato) is not au fait with the Pauline writings. The apostle asks a rhetorical question, as has already been mentioned at the outset of this thread. He does not make an assertion in Romans 7:24. Secondly, for Paul, the body (or SWMA) is good since it is part of God's creation (Gen 1:31). It does not take physical death to be delivered from this body undergoing death; read the next verse (Rom 7:25) to see what I mean. The apostle is discussing deliverance from sin which leads to death. Perusing the context of the epistle (such as Romans 6) might help.

7:16 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

MR.FOSTER
'It does not take physical death to be delivered from this body undergoing death...'

CARR
SO Paul believes he is going to be delivered from his body?

'With my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin' writes Paul in Romans 7:25, totally unaware that he is supposed to say that flesh is good.

I wonder why Paul never says 'flesh is good'.

Perhaps he was too busy writing that flesh was the enemy of the spirit.

Still, later Christians are happy to tell us that he said that flesh was good, even if no such words ever appear in Paul, who wants to be 'delivered' from his body. (to use Mr. Foster's expressive phrase)

Paul knew what happened to bodies of flesh and he wanted to be delivered from that fate.

Paul never writes that flesh and blood will inherit the kingdom of God.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Edgar Foster said...

My latest comments will be indicated by the word REPLY.

MR.FOSTER
'It does not take physical death to be delivered from this body undergoing death...'

CARR
SO Paul believes he is going to be delivered from his body?

REPLY
The Greek reads: TIS ME RHUSETAI EK TOU SWMATOS TOU QANATOU TOUTOU?

RHUOMAI can denote: to draw to one's self, to rescue, to deliver. My point is that Paul's remarks are qualified. It is not from the body (SWMA) simpliciter that Paul wishes to be delivered or rescued. He qualifies his remarks with the genitival TOU SWMATOS TOU QANATOU TOUTOU. It is not simply the body, but the body of this death from which Paul seeks deliverance.

CARR
'With my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin' writes Paul in Romans 7:25, totally unaware that he is supposed to say that flesh is good.

REPLY
Let's not forget that it is ill-advised to conflate the various possible denotations or semantic domains of SARX. The word 'flesh' may have a pejorative connotation or a somewhat neutral implicature. When Paul says that there is nothing good in the flesh, he does not have in mind the flesh or body as such. His reference is evidently to our fallen humanity (compare Romans 8:3).

CARR
I wonder why Paul never says 'flesh is good'.

REPLY
That sounds like an ARGUMENTUM EX SILENTIO to me. The fact of the matter is that Genesis 1:31 strongly indicates that flesh (= the soft substance of our mortal bodies) in itself is good. This conclusion follows logically, Mr Carr. For if creation is good and flesh is part of creation, then flesh is also good. Paul was a zealous adherent of Judaism, who would have reasoned in this way. Furthermore, if SARX is always a pejorative term for Paul, why does he use the expression KATEKRINE THN hAMARTIAN EN THi SARKI in Romans 8:3? Compare his use of SARX in Philemon 16 which would make little sense on your analysis of the term.

CARR
Still, later Christians are happy to tell us that he said that flesh was good, even if no such words ever appear in Paul, who wants to be 'delivered' from his body. (to use Mr. Foster's expressive phrase)

REPLY
Context, context, context, sir. Paul wants to be rescued or delivered from a certain kind of body: one that is undergoing death. What sane individual would not desire to be liberated from sickness and death?

CARR
Paul knew what happened to bodies of flesh and he wanted to be delivered from that fate.

REPLY
In due time, he wanted to divest his body of flesh simpliciter. But that is not the point of Romans 7:24 which the qualifying remarks in the genitive case make clear. A Christian can experience deliverance (in the sense alluded to at Romans 7:24) without being divested of the soft substance covering the SWMA. That would eventually happen for Paul (IMO). But that is not the point of the text in question.

CARR
Paul never writes that flesh and blood will inherit the kingdom of God.

REPLY. What you write here is true. However, Paul would never have denigrated that which God created. His concern (in Romans 5-8) was with that which one man named Adam introduced to humankind (i.e. sin and death).

2:56 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Foster claims that Paul qualifies the body he wants to be delivered from.

Really? Paul had two bodies, so he had to make sure people knew which body he was talking about?

So he qualifies 'body'?

Foster mentions Romans 8:3 'For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh;, could not do, by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh...'

For Paul ,flesh was sinful.

Foster claims Paul would never denigrate anything created by God, yet Paul claims flesh was sinful.

Foster can try writing Greek and Latin.

Anything to confuse the fact that Paul says he wants to be resuced from his body, and Christian dogma is that Paul allegdly preached that the fleshly body was rescued from death.

How Christians squirm when faced with what the Bible says!

10:21 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

FOSTER
Paul wants to be rescued or delivered from a certain kind of body: one that is undergoing death. What sane individual would not desire to be liberated from sickness and death?

CARR
Paul said he wanted to be rescued from his body.

Why?

Because the body is doomed. It will not be rescued.

Even Foster has to claim that for Paul , the body represented sickness and death.

But Paul is alleged to have claimed that the same body that went into the ground was the body that came out of the ground - freed from sickness and death.

So how can Paul's world have been turned upside down by an alleged encounter with a body which did *not* represent sickness and death?

Answer. It had not.

For Paul , nothing had changed.

The fleshly body still represented sickness and death, and would still be destroyed, as he plainly writes in 2 Corinthians 5, and in 1 Corinthians 6 (God will destroy both stomach and food)

10:27 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:30 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

FOSTER
When Paul says that there is nothing good in the flesh, he does not have in mind the flesh or body as such.

CARR
You have to laugh at the way Christians simply deny what the Bible says.

They are so deluded, they cannot even read what is written. They simply change the facts to suit their beliefs.

Why should I respect people who deny the very words of their own scriptures?


At least the Bishop of Durham had the subtlety to drop 'this body' when saying that Paul had to be rescued from something. That was a bit cleverer way of disguising the fact that Paul simply had no idea that the body itself was allegedly going to be rescued from death,

Perhaps Foster can find a similar quote in *Gnostic* Christian works which claim 'There is nothing good in my flesh?'

If he did, you can bet your house that he would not claim that the Gnostic scripture actually meant 'Flesh was created by God and is good'.

Double-standards?

10:46 PM  
Blogger Edgar Foster said...

Mr Carr,

I thought you were interested in truth. I hope that I was not mistaken.

CARR
Foster mentions Romans 8:3 'For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh;, could not do, by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh...'

For Paul ,flesh was sinful.

REPLY
Why didn't you quote the full text? The rest of it says, KATEKRINE THN hAMARTIAN EN THi SARKI. If Paul thus believed that flesh (SARX) simpliciter is sinful, why did he say that God's Son condemned sin in the flesh? This occurrence of SARX certainly does not have the connotation of sin. Paul believed that God's Son was sinless, yet he was manifested and condemned sin in the flesh

CARR
Foster claims Paul would never denigrate anything created by God, yet Paul claims flesh was sinful.

REPLY
Do you have a Greek-English lexicon? Can you go get it and research the differing senses and semantic domains for SARX? Such an exercise will hopefully disabuse your mind of the mistaken premises under which you are now operating.

CARR
Foster can try writing Greek and Latin.

REPLY
With all due respect, I don't have to try and write Latin or Greek. I've studied both languages for years, have a degree in Classical languages, and some of my colleagues and I are currently translating the Iliad by Homer.

CARR
Anything to confuse the fact that Paul says he wants to be resuced from his body, and Christian dogma is that Paul allegdly preached that the fleshly body was rescued from death.

REPLY
I've already explained why your view of Romans 7:24 is badly mistaken. I have also encouraged you to consider the verse in its cotext (i.e. literary cotext). There is not much else that I can do for you.

Cheers,
Edgar

5:41 AM  
Blogger Edgar Foster said...

Mr Carr,

Aristotle (in the Nicomachean Ethics) suggested that we must love the truth more than we love our dear friends. My interest in life is the pursuit of ultimate truth. And it is to that end that I spend my time engaging in dialogue with others online. However, when I see people who deny clear evidence of a position or who misrepresent my position, I excuse myself from the dialogue. For instance, you write

CARR
Even Foster has to claim that for Paul , the body represented sickness and death.

But Paul is alleged to have claimed that the same body that went into the ground was the body that came out of the ground - freed from sickness and death.

REPLY
First, I did not claim that the human body (SWMA) represents sin and death for Paul. I have been making a distinction between the body and the body simpliciter or between flesh and flesh simpliciter. Those distinctions evidently escaped your notice. In other words, flesh as such (in Pauline theology) is good. But the flesh (understood as unregenerate humanity) is not good. Furthermore, Paul's words concern infralapsarian, not supralapsarian humanity. But if you had read Romans 5:12, you'd already know about the distinctions with which he's working in Romans 7.

Second, I certainly do not believe that Paul wants to say that the same body that goes into the ground is the one that God resurrects. In fact, it appears that Paul suggests that the body sown is not the same as the body that is raised. See 1 Corinthians 15.

5:53 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

FOSTER
Second, I certainly do not believe that Paul wants to say that the same body that goes into the ground is the one that God resurrects.

CARR
So the body of Jesus that went into the ground was not resurrected?

Strange. I thought the Gospels claimed that one body went in, and one went out, but now we are told the body that goes into the ground is not the one that God resurrects.

No wonder early Christian converts scoffed at the idea of God choosing to raise a corpse!

FOSTER
If Paul thus believed that flesh (SARX) simpliciter is sinful, why did he say that God's Son condemned sin in the flesh?

CARR
Because he had no idea what he was talking about, and so contradicts himself - just like you do?

Paul says flesh is opposed to the spirit and 'there is nothing good in my flesh'.

I see Foster still can't find a gnostic text which says 'there is nothing good in my flesh'

6:33 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Some interpret this passage as referring to a Roman execution method of tying a condemned prisoner to a corpse (the "body of death") until he finally died. So in this reading, it wouldn't be a gnostic plea to escape his own physical body, but the sins a temptations ("body of death") that are with him constantly.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

First rule of Christian apologetics, if in doubt , make stuff up.

Do you have any examples of Gnostic pleas to escape their own physical bodies? Presumably you would just never think of finding a way to reinterpret them to not mean what they say.

12:22 AM  
Blogger laura said...

It always helps to know the Hebrew language and context because there is such depth in the bible, if we know how to tap into it.

The Romans were notorious for finding creative ways to kill people, and they ultimately found a way for a murderer to be killed by his murder victim - they would get the corpse, and tie it to the murderer- hand to hand, leg to leg etc...and then leave them out in the center of the town.

In the hot weather, the corpse would start to decompose, and infection and gangrene would spread to the murderer, and ultimately kill him.

The only people who could save the murderer were the victim's close family - no-one else. They could ask that he be released from the "body of death" and be sent to jail, or killed in another way, or they could even get him totally pardoned.

This is what Paul was talking about - the Romans were gagging when he said that verse, who shall deliver me from this body of death?

And so they could really understand the power of what Jesus did when Paul said God will deliver! Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ!

5:10 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

'It always helps to know the Hebrew language....'

Romans is written in Greek.

As far as I can tell, the rest of the post means that Paul was a murderer and went on his missionary missions with a corpse strapped to his back by the Romans.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Andreas Kjernald said...

In response to Steven Carr's response to Laura:
Yes, Romans was written in Greek as far as we can tell.

However, I wonder if you are missing her point intentionally. In the context of the verse 7:24 Paul has talked about the "old self" or the "body of death" or the "body of sin". Even a cursory glance of his epistles will tell you that Paul believed that every human being was affected by the fall and as fallen creatures had a sinful nature or disposition. The immediate context of 7:24 is a description of a life where this disposition is described as a weight or a "pull" that Paul recognizes as evil and contrary to his wishes of holiness (as he understood it in the Law and in Jesus).

To use the very vivid imagery of the Roman punishment called "body of death" is understandable. Don't we all feel that we are sometimes stuck with an inner voice or desire to do something we know we shouldn't?

Who can free Paul from this burden he carries around, a burden that is real? Jesus Christ, whom Paul had found to be able to deliver him from his sinful self (or part of self or infected self or whatever) by the Cross and the Empty grave.

Surely you are familiar with the concept of "illustration" and "in a matter of speaking" in writing and language...or do you believe that the weatherman is lying to you when he tells you that the sun will "rise" at 6:05 a.m. tomorrow?

7:17 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

You are quite right.

Paul wants to be rescued from his 'body of death' - which he regards as a burden he carries around.

'Who can free Paul from this burden he carries around, a burden that is real? Jesus Christ...'

You are quite right.

After death, Paul will finally be free of his body - the burden that he carries around.

Thank you for your helpful insights.

7:41 AM  

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