Wednesday, January 02, 2008

3 Questions to Bishop NT Wright

On 20/11/2007, I emailed the Bishop of Durham, NT Wright with 3 questions about the resurrection of Jesus.

When I get a reply, I will post his answers here.

NT Wright has sent me his reply. I think the delay in replying was due to a mix-up in emails, rather than anything else.

His replies are in Bold , but are not to be taken as his final word on the subject. He was only giving quick replies.

I have made some comments to his replies.


I have 3 questions about the Resurrection, if that is OK.

Paul writes 'The first man Adam became a living being, the last Adam became a life-giving spirit'.

Does the typology mean Paul expected Christians to share in the nature of the two Adams, firstly as what they are now, and secondly as life-giving spirits?

depends what you mean by 'nature'. But no, Paul believes that the spirit given by Christ, himself the life-giving spirit, will animate the new bodies Christians will be given at the resurrection (see e.g. Romans 8.10f.).

CARR (02/01/2008)
The typology does seem very clear to me. Paul believes all Christians will have the same resurrection as Jesus and become 'lfe-giving spirits'.

After all, Paul says 'And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.'

But I believe Wright is correct to say we will get new bodies.

To replace the old bodies, which were in the image of Adam.

Just as the old body of Jesus was replaced by a new body, leaving the old, dead body in the ground.

Romans 8.10f is about the present, rather than the resurrection.


Many converts to Jesus-worship in Corinth scoffed at the idea of God choosing to raise a corpse. What evangelistic methods had been used to convert them to Jesus-worship?

The announcement of the crucified and risen Jesus as Lord and Saviour (see the summaries of the gospel in e.g. Romans 1.3-4 and 1 Corinthians 15.3-4).

CARR (02/01/2008)
The Jesus-worshippers obviously still believed what had converted them, or else Paul would have had nothing to do with them.

But clearly they had not been converted by stories of corpses rising.


Were these Jesus-worshipping resurrection-scoffers familiar with Old Testament stories of God breathing life into dead matter to create Adam, or with stories of Moses returning from the grave to speak to Jesus?


very unlikely. They were from a pagan background, mostly, and much of Paul's work in 1 Corinthians is to get them to think within a Jewish framework, with the living God as the creator and judge (i.e. the one who made the world in the first place and will in the end remake it and put it to rights) rather than fitting Jesus into their pagan thought-forms. (See Richard Hays' book The Conversion of the Imagination).

CARR (02/01/2008)

Paul can just use the story of Adam from Genesis 2:9 and assume his readers were familiar with it.

Of course, it was impossible for Christians of that time period to be familiar with the stories of Moses returning from the grave to speak to Jesus.

The Gospels had not yet been written.

If Moses really had returned from the grave, all Christians would have been told of it. What else could they have discussed that would have been so amazing? Moses returning from the dead? That would have astonished all Jews, and they would have told stories about it.

But if NT Wright thinks it 'unlikely' that Christian converts had not heard oral tradition stories of Moses (of all people!) returning from the grave, then clearly Paul could hardly have assumed that his readers were familiar with any stories about Jesus.

So why didn't he ever tell them first-hand , personal testimony of what a resurrected body was like?

The answer is easy. Nobody knew what a resurrected body was like.


Blogger Alex said...


How can Romans 8.11 be not about the kind of life-giving spirit Wright is talking about, but about the present? It seems that the spirit that raised Jesus, that is alive in present day (ie those who Paul is writing to) Christians will bring their bodies back from the dead. I think your reading of 1 Corinthians 15 on the two types of bodies is correct, but I can't see how you can fit this into your schema.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

4:18 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

But it is about the present, not the resurrection.

Romans 8
But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Simply reading the verse before tells us that Paul is not talking about a resurrection.

'The body is dead...' Do you think Paul was writing to people with real dead bodies or was talking metaphorically?

4:37 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

And how did Jesus become a 'life-giving spirit'?

4:39 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home