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, 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.

And the way they do it is just so utterly different to Paul's thought that it is obvious he is not thinking anything remotely like a process of making dust alive again.

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.


Blogger Martin Lack said...


Despite your persistent refusal to answer questions such as "What is your motivation for wanting to highlight supposed evidence of the lies and deception of the Early Church?", I now have it on good authority that you are an atheist (obviously) that is well known for your love of picking arguments with Christians.

I therefore presume that your motives are similar to those of some Christians who engage Jehovah's Witnesses in conversation, namely; to steal from them the time they would otherwise use to infect more-susceptible people with their lies...

That being the case, despite your obviously detailed knowledge of Biblical (and other historical) texts, but starting from the premise that the Resurrection of Jesus was not the same as ours will be; just as it was not the same as that of Jesus' dear friend Lazarus (see John 11), a point on which you obstinately refuse to acknowledge that we actually agree... my question is this:

Notwithstanding the fact that you clearly think that religious people of any persuasion (Paul included) are sadly deluded, what exactly was this Gospel (i.e. "Good News") that Paul went about preaching (and which his letters were designed to reinforce)?

For example, see Philippians 1:12-28, especially the last two verses:
"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved - and that by God". Philippians 1:27-28).

5:37 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Steven, thought you might find this quote by Clive Staples fun: "There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it."

10:40 AM  
Blogger Martin Lack said...

The Silence is deafening, but, maybe you're on holiday Steven? Sadly, blogs do not have the benefit of "Out of Office Assistants".

However, I think my verbose tendency may have got the better of me back there. So much so, that my question was not as clear as it could have been, but that's what happens when I get worked-up about something... (it's just as well that I don't have a dog, cjd!)...

So, Steven, pray tell, "What exactly would you say Paul considered such Good News that he dedicated the rest of his life to sharing it?

2:08 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

CJD says God invented eating.

Is this why Paul says in 1 Corinthians - "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"—but God will destroy them both'

Amazingly, people claim that Paul is teaching the Corinthians about a resurrection where Jesus ate fish.

Nonsense. Paul had no conception of a resurrection where people would eat food.

10:53 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

What was Paul teaching?

A good question.

The churches in Thessalonika and Corinth were full of people who had converted to Christianity, yet thought that the dead were lost.

They had no idea about a future resurrection.

So clearly Paul had not been teaching that the dead would be raised, until it became apparent that Jesus was not coming back.

10:56 PM  
Blogger Aaron M Rossetti said...

Here's a post that I just put up on Out of Christianity that deals with the accounts of the Resurrection. Let the scripture interpret the scripture is what I always lived by as a Christian.

Here ya go, Christian friend, sort this one out for this foolish Christian turned atheist :-)

10:29 PM  

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