Skip to main content

Three Views on the Resurrection of the Body

[pic from here]
I'm currently wrestling with 1 Cor 15:35-58.  In this famous passage Paul juxtaposes the bodies we have now with the bodies that we will have at the resurrection.  Because much popular Christianity tends to focus on the "pie in the sky when you die" many of us don't think much about the resurrection and the life that it will entail.  But Christian hope is not actually centred on "getting to heaven" but on the new heavens and new earth which we anticipate at Christ's coming.  However interpretation of the scriptures' most detailed passage on the subject is notoriously difficult and has over the centuries resulted in three schools of thought (citations from Dahl).

1. The "traditional" view is that "the resurrection body is this body restored and improved in a miraculous manner." (p7)  But given the knowledge we now have about the way we are composed of the atoms that have been part of millions of other human beings and the way the body itself contains very little if any "original" material, such a view seem problematic.  However we might find continuity in our bodies it is not through the material that they consist of as this is always changing.

2. The view that has in modern times displaced the traditional view can be called "hetero-somatism" (p8) or if jargon is not your thing different-body-ism.  This simply argues that we are given totally new bodies, but we continue.  We then exist somehow apart from our bodies, we have bodies but we are not bodies and so our essential personality can be transposed into a new vehicle/vessel without any change in who we essentially are.  However if this is Paul's view, then it is hard to see why he places so much emphasis on the body per se in 1 Corinthians.

3.  A third view is that the resurrection body, while not "materially identical" to the original will be "somatically identical." (p10)  For Dahl this is the difference between saying a gold ring is the same object three years later and saying that a human is the same person three years later. (p94)  For a ring to be the same it must contain the same atoms or it will be a new ring, but for a human even though the atoms have changed we still recognise continuity.  "This identity is not simply a matter of having the same 'personality' . . . nor simply a matter of his having the same thoughts, memories, associations, character, etc., but also of having the same 'body' (in the modern sense)." (p94)  [Update, after a rereading of Dahl I realised I had misunderstood him, so I have altered this bit accordingly.  Although he is too dependent on the now very dated JAT Robinson's The Body, I think he is largely on the right track.]

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Dr Charles Stanley is not a biblical preacher

Unusually for me I was watching the tele early on Sunday morning and I caught an episode of Dr Charles Stanley preaching on his television program. Now I know this guy has come under some criticism for his personal life, and that is not unimportant, but it is also not something i can comment on, not knowing the facts. His preaching is however something I can comment on, at least the one sermon I did watch.

He started off by reading 2 Timothy 1:3-7. Which is a passage from the Bible, so far so good. He then spent the next 30 minutes or so talking about his mum and what a great example of a Christian mother she was. Now nothing he said or suggested was wrong, but none of it actually came from scripture, least of all the scripture he read from at the beginning. It was a lovely talk on how Stanley's mother raised him as a Christian despite considerable difficulties and it contained many useful nuggets of advice on raising Christian kids. All very nice, it might have made a nice…

That one time Jesus got the Bible wrong

It's so typical isn't it? You are preaching all day long, training your disciples, sparring with the Pharisees, encouraging the poor and down trodden, healing the sick and casting out demons, all day, day after day, and even when you go up a mountain to get a rest the crowds hunt you down and follow you up, and then the one time you get a bit muddled up with some of the details of a biblical text . . . that is the one they write down in the first gospel - verbatim. At least Matthew and Luke had the good sense to do some editing. But Mark, he always had his eye on giving the public the "historical Jesus" whoever that is supposed to be . . . warts and all. Thanks a lot Mark!

Some think I made the mistake on purpose, just to show the Pharisees up.

For some there is no mistake worth mentioning, only a slightly ambiguous turn of phrase.

Others think I am doing something tricky with Abiathar's name, getting him to figuratively stand in for the priesthood.

It really has…

The Addictive Power of End Times Speculation

The mighty Rhett Snell has picked up his blog again (I wonder how long he'll last this time), check out his theory on why people get so into annoyingly unbiblical end times nonsense.

I think that where codes-and-calendars end times theology is dangerous, is that it can give a sense of false growth. We read a theory online, or hear it from some bible teacher, and we come to think that we have mastered an area of our faith. A bit like levelling up in a computer game, or Popeye after he’s eaten some spinach. At worst, we begin to believe that we’ve taken a step that other Christians have not; that we’ve entered an elite class of Christianity.