Did Paul believe in a bodily resurrection?

The Pixie

Member
In the post I want to look at two very specific claims about the resurrected Jesus:
  • Jesus was resurrected in his original body, made of flesh and blood
  • Jesus was resurrected in a new body, made of heavenly matter

The former could be called a "bodily resurrection" because it was in the original body, the latter a spiritual resurrection because it is in a physical body that is of spiritual nature. I appreciate there are further possibilities; I am focusing on these as the former is the orthodox view and the latter is what I think is what Paul believed.

Clearly the Gospel of John says the former, given how the disciple Thomas can inspect Jesus' wounds. I think we are pretty safe saying Luke also indicates the former, as it has Jesus eating fish. Mark and Matthew are less clear, though the absence of a body in the tomb would suggest that too.



1 Corinthians 15

This chapter is pivotal in this discussion; it is where Paul specifically addresses this issue. And he starts with the telling omission of the empty tomb:

1 Cor 15:4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

There is no empty tomb because the old earthly body was still there.

20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.

Paul believed Jesus was the prototype, the "first fruits", for the coming general resurrection, when all the righteous would be given new bodies. He goes on to say how there are different types of things, as a prelude to talking about the earthly body being quite different to the heavenly body.

35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” 36 You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of [k]something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

Now he explain how the two bodies are quite different:

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown [l]a perishable body, it is raised [m]an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, [n]earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.

Paul expected the resurrection to happen within his lifetime, and this raises the question of what happens to those who are not dead at that point. If the earthly cannot inherit the kingdom of God, what of those who are still alive?

50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does [p]the perishable inherit [q]the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised [r]imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on [t]the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.

He believed those who were not dead would be changed, and in an instant, their earthly bodies would be replaced by heavenly bodies.


But it was a physical resurrection!

Christians often object that this was a physical resurrection; that Paul believed the body was physical.

Sure. This was not an insubstantial ghost, it was a physical body, but a new heavenly body, not the original earthly body.


Pharisaic Beliefs

A further objection some Christians bring that Paul believed Jesus was resurrected in his original body appears to be that this was supposedly the beliefs of the Pharisees, for example here:

"By aligning himself with a Pharisaic background, Paul provides us with an important insight into the meaning he attaches to the term: resurrection. That is, it is a physical resurrection of the body."

However, the beliefs of the Pharisees are far from certain, and indeed what we do know seems to point the other way. The evidence indicates that the Pharisees, like the Sadducees, believed the dead went to Sheol. However, the Pharisees believed that at the day of judgement the righteous would be resurrected - in new bodies.

Here is Josephus on the Pharisees:

14. But then as to the two other orders at first mentioned, the Pharisees are those who are esteemed most skillful in the exact explication of their laws, and introduce the first sect. These ascribe all to fate [or providence], and to God, and yet allow, that to act what is right, or the contrary, is principally in the power of men, although fate does co-operate in every action. They say that all souls are incorruptible, but that the souls of good men only are removed into other bodies, - but that the souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment.
- Jewish War 2.8.14

That last sentence seems pretty clear to me that the resurrected are given new bodies; they are not resurrected in the original body. In a practical sense, most of those dead no longer had bodies; they had rotted away and in extreme cases even the bones had turned to dust. It makes no sense for such a man to be resurrected in his original body - that was long gone.

The Pharisaic beliefs were informed for the most part by the Old Testament, which unfortunately gives us little to go on, but there is this:

Daniel 2:2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting [a]contempt. 3 Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the [c]expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

I suggest this is saying the resurrected will be as stars. Bear in mind that stars were believed to be angels (eg the bit in Revelation about a third of the stars falling is often understood to be referring to angels. These are beings made of heavenly matter. Daniel is saying that after the resurrection the righteous will be like angel-stars. And hence, not like earthly man.

Jesus actually said the same; the resurrected will be like angels:

Mat 22:30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.


What Paul saw

Furthermore, this was what Paul saw for himself! What Paul saw was not a man, but a bright light from heaven. An angel-star.

Acts 9:3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.

Paul was converted because what he experienced matched his expectation for the resurrection.
 

The Pixie

Member
What others say

I am not alone in this position, though I appreciate it is not orthodox Christianity!

The best on-line resource is here.

In surveying the emerging history of ideas connected to “resurrection of the dead” within diverse strands of Jewish thought in late 2nd Temple times, I point out the variation in ways of imagining the idea of God “making live the dead.” There are indeed texts that sound overtly literal, with a reconstitution of a “physical” body, but just as many clearly envision the resurrection “body” as Paul does–and Jesus for that matter–in combating the “literalism” of his Sadduceean critics (Mark 12:18-27). What I argue is that the earliest view we have of the nature of Jesus’ resurrection is that of Paul, and that such a view was likely shared by Jesus’ first followers. I carefully work through the Gospel narratives reporting Jesus’ resurrection and argue that the idea of Jesus’ resurrection as signified by a revival of his flesh and blood corpse–wounds and all–was likely a later apologetic development.
James Tabor

In the next section, Paul contrasts the soulish and the spiritual bodies by comparing the first Adam with the last Adam, that is, Jesus. “The first man,” he tells us, “was of the earth—dust” (v. 47). The point here is what the soulish body is made of, what kind of substance it is formed from: the answer is “dust.” God then breathed a soul into this dust (Gen 2:7), hence, this body is “soulish.” The second Adam is “a man of heaven” (ejx oujranou'). This phrase does not indicate that Jesus was from heaven, as many commentators have assumed. The point of this entire passage is about the nature of bodies, not the place where they come from. As A. T. Lincoln correctly argues, the issue is the nature of the body of the resurrected Lord (and therefore of our bodies in the resurrection). The second Adam’s body (which is the pattern for our own resurrection, vv. 48-49) is made of heavenly stuff. He is “of heaven” in the sense that he is made of the very stuff of the heavens, just as Adam was made of the stuff of the earth (dust).
Alan Padgett (page 159 onwards)
 

docphin5

Member
In the post I want to look at two very specific claims about the resurrected Jesus:
  • Jesus was resurrected in his original body, made of flesh and blood
  • Jesus was resurrected in a new body, made of heavenly matter

The former could be called a "bodily resurrection" because it was in the original body, the latter a spiritual resurrection because it is in a physical body that is of spiritual nature. I appreciate there are further possibilities; I am focusing on these as the former is the orthodox view and the latter is what I think is what Paul believed.

Clearly the Gospel of John says the former, given how the disciple Thomas can inspect Jesus' wounds. I think we are pretty safe saying Luke also indicates the former, as it has Jesus eating fish. Mark and Matthew are less clear, though the absence of a body in the tomb would suggest that too.



1 Corinthians 15

This chapter is pivotal in this discussion; it is where Paul specifically addresses this issue. And he starts with the telling omission of the empty tomb:



There is no empty tomb because the old earthly body was still there.



Paul believed Jesus was the prototype, the "first fruits", for the coming general resurrection, when all the righteous would be given new bodies. He goes on to say how there are different types of things, as a prelude to talking about the earthly body being quite different to the heavenly body.



Now he explain how the two bodies are quite different:



Paul expected the resurrection to happen within his lifetime, and this raises the question of what happens to those who are not dead at that point. If the earthly cannot inherit the kingdom of God, what of those who are still alive?

50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does [p]the perishable inherit [q]the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised [r]imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on [t]the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.

He believed those who were not dead would be changed, and in an instant, their earthly bodies would be replaced by heavenly bodies.


But it was a physical resurrection!

Christians often object that this was a physical resurrection; that Paul believed the body was physical.

Sure. This was not an insubstantial ghost, it was a physical body, but a new heavenly body, not the original earthly body.


Pharisaic Beliefs

A further objection some Christians bring that Paul believed Jesus was resurrected in his original body appears to be that this was supposedly the beliefs of the Pharisees, for example here:

"By aligning himself with a Pharisaic background, Paul provides us with an important insight into the meaning he attaches to the term: resurrection. That is, it is a physical resurrection of the body."

However, the beliefs of the Pharisees are far from certain, and indeed what we do know seems to point the other way. The evidence indicates that the Pharisees, like the Sadducees, believed the dead went to Sheol. However, the Pharisees believed that at the day of judgement the righteous would be resurrected - in new bodies.

Here is Josephus on the Pharisees:

14. But then as to the two other orders at first mentioned, the Pharisees are those who are esteemed most skillful in the exact explication of their laws, and introduce the first sect. These ascribe all to fate [or providence], and to God, and yet allow, that to act what is right, or the contrary, is principally in the power of men, although fate does co-operate in every action. They say that all souls are incorruptible, but that the souls of good men only are removed into other bodies, - but that the souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment.
- Jewish War 2.8.14

That last sentence seems pretty clear to me that the resurrected are given new bodies; they are not resurrected in the original body. In a practical sense, most of those dead no longer had bodies; they had rotted away and in extreme cases even the bones had turned to dust. It makes no sense for such a man to be resurrected in his original body - that was long gone.

The Pharisaic beliefs were informed for the most part by the Old Testament, which unfortunately gives us little to go on, but there is this:



I suggest this is saying the resurrected will be as stars. Bear in mind that stars were believed to be angels (eg the bit in Revelation about a third of the stars falling is often understood to be referring to angels. These are beings made of heavenly matter. Daniel is saying that after the resurrection the righteous will be like angel-stars. And hence, not like earthly man.

Jesus actually said the same; the resurrected will be like angels:




What Paul saw

Furthermore, this was what Paul saw for himself! What Paul saw was not a man, but a bright light from heaven. An angel-star.



Paul was converted because what he experienced matched his expectation for the resurrection.
This OP should be in the religious forums as no rational, secular person believes for a second that a decomposing human body can reassemble himself and fly through the air. The religious forums are where myths and superstitions are debated as historical events. Here in the secular forums we like to see some evidence behind religious assertions. I have already explained a secular explanation for what Paul actually wrote and you ignore it in preference for some supernatural explanation, I guess (because I really don't know what your purpose is).

For the record, Paul did not believe in a decomposing human reassembling himself. What appeared to him was an "abortion" the consequence of Sophia's (Greek: Wisdom) fall into materiality which is documented in existing manuscripts written in the 1st through 3rd centuries. IOW, the material, lifeless cosmos appeared to Paul as an abortion before it produced life in us. Paul was a rational human being trained in Hellenistic thought. He saw nothing supernatural. What he did perceive as the Greek philosophers saw was a much larger perspective of our cosmos than the one we commonly have here on earth. They perceived the cosmos having a past and a future, in addition to the present, that is commonly perceived. They perceived the cosmos with a life of its own: living, dying, and living again --in us!
 
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Harry Leggs

Member
This OP should be in the religious forums as no rational, secular person believes for a second that a decomposing human body can reassemble himself and fly through the air.
Why not? Since many believe life self-assembled in the ocean via thermal vents.
The religious forums are where myths and superstitions are debated as historical events.
Bodily resurrection is depicted as a historical fact in the records. Myths and superstitions is opinion, not to be confused with fact. Self assembly in the ocean is scientific while the Gospels are religious? They are basically 1st-century history. Anyways it all comes across as double standards and viewpoint bias.
Here in the secular forums we like to see some evidence behind religious assertions.
Not really since these have no evidence for life from exclusive nonlife. The writings are the evidence. The results are 2000 yrs of Christianity.
I have already explained a secular explanation for what Paul actually wrote and you ignore it in preference for some supernatural explanation
If there is no natural then all is left is supernatural.
 
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docphin5

Member
@docphin5, as an unbeliever, The Pixie is not allowed to post on the religious forums.
I don’t see why he cannot post there. I have been rejected by the Christian orthodoxy as an unbeliever, heretic, yada, yada, yet I still have capability to post on the religious forums. I choose not to because the discussions go nowhere. They just go round and round.
 

docphin5

Member
Why not? Since many believe life self-assembled in the ocean via thermal vents.
And there is overwhelming evidence that biological life did just that, hence, it is in the “secular” forums versus religious forums. Secular audience expects evidence, rational thought, at the least, metaphysical evidence, whereas religious audience expects none of that.
Bodily resurrection is depicted as a historical fact in the records. Myths and superstitions is opinion, not to be confused with fact.
To be more precise: The reassembly of a decomposing human body into the same human body is written as myth but in the opinion of many is depicted as historical fact.
Self assembly in the ocean is scientific while the Gospels are religious?
Yes


They are basically 1st-century history. Anyways it all comes across as double standards and viewpoint bias.

Gospels are a literary genre called scriptural histiography. The bias is to take them for something they are not.
Not really since these have no evidence for life from exclusive nonlife.
Every science department on the planet thinks you are willfully ignorant of the evidence for life from nonlife.
The writings are the evidence. The results are 2000 yrs of Christianity.
The Gospel accounts are the result of authors using a literary technique to influence a community. The orthodoxy lost the plot when they made it historical.

If there is no natural then all is left is supernatural.
What?!
 
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Harry Leggs

Member
And there is overwhelming evidence that biological life did just that, hence, it is in the “secular” forums versus religious forums.
There is overwhelming faith as opposed to evidence life self-assembled in the ocean via thermal vents. Feel free to take your case to the mods if you believe this thread is misplaced.
Secular audience expects evidence, rational thought,
No you do not. Abio has never been demonstrated and has been falsified several times.
at the least, metaphysical evidence, whereas religious audience expects none of that.
The evidence is contained in the writings and history. When you say no evidence you are factually incorrect. When corrected you ignore.
To be more precise: The reassembly of a decomposing human body into the same human body is written as myth but in the opinion of many is depicted as historical fact.
Not really in that the writers believed Jesus bodily resurrected from the dead.
Gospels are a literary genre called scriptural histiography.
The writers were writing history. How critics reinterpret it all is incidental. It goes to state of mind of the writers and not hearsay evaluations after the fact.
The bias is to take them for something they are not.
Bias is hearsay opinion as opposed to fact. The fact being the writers believed Jesus bodily resurrected from the dead and that is what they reported. It was never falsified and it would have been easy to falsify the claim. Your bias here is science is the only explanation for unexplained phenomena when, in reality, there is all kinds of extra scientific evidence including eyewitness testimony. Christianity has survived for 2000 yrs and can be falsified. As is the rebirth of Israel at the exact same spot verifies Christianity. Wiping out every Jew in existence would falsify the Bible. As is the Jews have survived for 2000 yrs. That validates. This is all objective evidence that does not get past your filter and bias.
-------------------
The linguistic unification of humanity.
• An external recording of the history of the human race provided by aliens, as proposed by science fiction authors Arthur C. Clarke and James P. Hogan.
• The end of war and/or poverty.

Day, Vox. The Irrational Atheist (p. 139). BenBella Books, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Every science department on the planet thinks you are willfully ignorant of the evidence for life from nonlife.
That claim is overblown. You do not speak for every science dept. Besides, it is an appeal to authority. They can believe what they want based on their own metrics, it does not make them correct nor does it make them credible in this area.
The Gospel accounts are the result of authors using a literary technique to influence a community.
What community? If late there was no Jewish community to influence since Israel ceased to exist post AD70. If Matthew was writing to Jewish community then his audience was obviously writing Pre 70 AD. If the audience was post 70AD then the writings were anachronistoc since they would not have understood what Matthew was writing.
 
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docphin5

Member
There is overwhelming faith as opposed to evidence life self-assembled in the ocean via thermal vents.
Exactly right. Your opinions are blind faith versus the evidence. Unfortunately for you, there are millions of others who have their own "blind faith" in something entirely opposed to your own which is why there are religious forums to discuss those issues. But everyone on the planet has the same evidence in front of them that life came from non-life about a billion years ago. Anyone can go physically see the evidence if they desire and repeat the same experiments to test the theory (but nobody can go test if a dead human can reassemble his body and fly through the air. If they did it would fail every time). Hence the secular forums exist where evidence is presented for things of substance and not mere religious opinion.
 
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5wize

Member
The ones here just dive into skeptic ignorance dirt.
I find most skeptics here more informed about theology and aware of its conundrums than the theists, and more capable of discussing them reasonably if allowed. Some theists are classically trained in the apologetics of their elders and how honestly they attempted to address and approached the obvious issues of theism vs witnessed reality and hash them out. Not too many of them here.
 

Furion

Member
I find most skeptics here more informed about theology and aware of its conundrums than the theists, and more capable of discussing them reasonably if allowed. Some theists are classically trained in the apologetics of their elders and how honestly they attempted to address and approached the obvious issues of theism vs witnessed reality and hash them out. Not too many of them here.
Tell you what, start a thread showing me your apologetic chops. Make sure it is something you actually believe.

To be clear, if you know Christ, then you will understand knowing "theology" doesn't count for much. Proven quite clearly by a skeptic knowing some theology.
 

5wize

Member
Tell you what, start a thread showing me your apologetic chops. Make sure it is something you actually believe.

To be clear, if you know Christ, then you will understand knowing "theology" doesn't count for much. Proven quite clearly by a skeptic knowing some theology.
And if you know theology, you will understand "knowing Christ" is a mere self imposed mental state among many possible mental states concerning the supernatural desires of men vs. the reality of the world offered them.
 

Furion

Member
And if you know theology, you will understand "knowing Christ" is a mere mental state among many possible mental states concerning the supernatural desires of men vs. the reality of the world offered them.
Skeptics just don't have the requisite understanding to comment upon what they don't know. They can try.
 

5wize

Member
Skeptics just don't have the requisite understanding to comment upon what they don't know. They can try.
Hey, that's our argument! Christians fuss budgeting about trying to convince us of things they don't know about an eternity they cannot experience. They don't like it when we call them on it, and even point out to them that their own dogma is faith based and its apologetics are the necessary result of the hiddenness of their god.
 

Furion

Member
Hey, that's our argument! Christians fuss budgeting about trying to convince us of things they don't know about an eternity they cannot experience. They don't like it when we call them on it, and even point out to them that their own dogma is faith based and its apologetics are the necessary result of the hiddenness of their god.
And you are proud of that?

Look, ignorance is not something to be proud about. And you only make it worse when some of you think your lack of understanding and experience is somehow informed.

I wouldn't call that an "argument", more like projection of sarcasm.
 

Harry Leggs

Member
I find most skeptics here more informed about theology and aware of its conundrums than the theists, and more capable of discussing them reasonably if allowed.
Another unwelcome negative and vague eval. If you have a problem then take it up with the poster and don't throw out these vague and meaningless evals nobody is asking for in the first place. You have a problem with Theists here then why are you taking them up with nonTheists?

Some theists are classically trained in the apologetics of their elders and how honestly they attempted to address and approached the obvious issues of theism vs witnessed reality and hash them out. Not too many of them here.
Most of reality is unwitnessed including human history and that is a fact. The subject here is bodily resurrection. It is one of the non-negotiables in Christianity so i don't have the foggiest of what you are addressing here relating to theological training? What does that have to do with anything related to the topic?
 

Harry Leggs

Member
Hey, that's our argument! Christians fuss budgeting about trying to convince us of things they don't know about an eternity they cannot experience. They don't like it when we call them on it, and even point out to them that their own dogma is faith based and its apologetics are the necessary result of the hiddenness of their god.
You are coming off as a troll. You have not called anybody on anything and that gate swings both ways around here.
 

5wize

Member
And you are proud of that?

Look, ignorance is not something to be proud about. And you only make it worse when some of you think your lack of understanding and experience is somehow informed.

I wouldn't call that an "argument", more like projection of sarcasm.
Yet ignorance is the prerequisite of faith.
 
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