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Did Paul Think Jesus’ Body Remained in the Grave? Mailbag July 14, 2017

 

I will address two very different questions in this edition of the Readers’ Mailbag.  If you have a question you would like me to address, ask away, and I’ll add it to the list.

 

QUESTION:

I just finished reading scholar Gregory Riley’s Resurrection Reconsidered. He presents the position that people in the Greco-Roman world had a very different perception about spirits (ghosts) than we do today. Riley states that people living in the first century Roman Empire believed that dead people frequently came back to visit the living, appearing in “bodies” that looked exactly like their former fleshly bodies, and having the same capabilities of their former fleshly bodies: capable of eating food, drinking wine, and even engaging in sex…even sex with the living! The ONLY difference between a spirit body and a fleshly body was that USUALLY a spirit body was impalpable (could not be touched). Riley believes that Paul would have been shocked to hear about an empty tomb as he would have believed that Jesus’ fleshly body would OF COURSE still be in his grave! To Paul, Jesus had been resurrected as a spiritual body. His fleshly body remained in his grave. You seem to believe that Paul believed that the fleshly body of Jesus left the grave entirely and was transformed into an immortal body.

 

RESPONSE

Yes I have just (re)read Riley’s book in connection with my next project on the development of the Christian understanding of the afterlife.  Riley provides a simple but very readable discussion of how ancient peoples (both Jewish and pagan/Greek/Roman) understood the nature of the body, the soul, and the spirit, and how they construed the nature of the afterlife.   I pretty much agree with his understanding of most of the Greek materials (where he puts his greatest focus).  But I think he is completely wrong about Paul.  In part that is because he thinks Paul was more influenced by Greeks like Plato than like apocalyptic Jews like his fellow Pharisees.

It is true that Paul thought that the resurrected Jesus had a spiritual body.  But …

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Apocalypticism in a Modern Idiom
The Origins of Apocalypticism

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Comments

  1. hasankhan  July 14, 2017

    In Islam we believe the body decays in the grave and that we can scientifically verify also, we know it as a fact. On day of judgement, we’ll be given new bodies and soul will return to those bodies so we can experience the eternal hereafter, weather in heaven or hell. So yes in heaven, we’ll be not like how we are on earth, we’ll all be good looking and same age, etc.

    Is this concept in old testament?

    As for Paul’s comment about ‘glorified’, isn’t it possible to interpret it as, given a new body that is glorified? The word glorified is found in many places in Bible, is this interpretation consistent with all usages in the Bible?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 15, 2017

      Glorifying a body is different from replacing a body (for an example of a glorified body, see the traditions about Jesus’ Transfiguration)

    • godspell  July 15, 2017

      Why would it matter how we look in heaven?

      It sounds like a shallower emptier version of what we have now. Just a lot of vain silly people satisfying their appetites for all eternity. What’s the point? What did we learn?

      There’s a poem New Yorkers can read on the subway. I think this comes closest to what many people of many faiths would want. I don’t know that I believe it, but I can understand it.

      http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2011/09/03

      • Bart
        Bart  July 16, 2017

        Please be respectful (on the blog at least!) toward those who have a different set of beliefs from yours. They aren’t necessarily vain and silly!

        • godspell  July 16, 2017

          I think Ecclesiastes would be on my side about this, Bart.

          It’s bad enough we spend so much time worrying about how we look on this plane of reality. To take that beyond the grave is a bit much.

          I believe Muhammad said everybody in paradise would be the same age, and ‘of equal standing.’

          “Everybody will be good-looking” is, I would say, the poster’s interpretation of that.

          Since people around the world and throughout history have had very different ideas of what constitutes physical pulchritude, it is quite literally impossible for everybody to be equally good-looking in the eyes of all. At least if we did have physical bodies, and were not transformed in any other way than to be immortal and model-gorgeous.

          If there were such a thing as paradise, I would like to think we’d all be beautiful in each other’s eyes, because we’d have dispensed with physical forms entirely. All you see when you look on a fellow soul is a fellow soul.

          We could try it that way on earth. Just to see how we like it. Just in case we’re not going anywhere after death.

      • catguy  July 17, 2017

        Having worked many years with sick and dying in hospitals I can tell you for those who believe in a resurrection to eternity it means a lot and it is not vanity. When you are in your 20’s and you are healthy a glorified body might not mean much to you. When you are old and frail, the idea of eternity with health and energy and a glorified body is something hopeful to hang onto.

        • webattorney  July 24, 2017

          Agreed, catguy. There are some things that only growing old will teach you to be more understanding and humble. I always tell my wife “You know, I would not mind growing old if my body is not breaking down or getting weaker.”

    • Rick
      Rick  July 15, 2017

      Well, it appears Islam would have satisfied my Grandmothers concern that in heaven she would be a 75 year old woman with a 49 year old husband and a two year old baby!

      • Bart
        Bart  July 16, 2017

        Ha! And not just in Islam! My Christian mother has similar concerns!!

      • NABIHSABBAGH  July 30, 2017

        hey Rick,
        i agree with prof. Ehrman that this blog is not the appropriate place to discuss other’s views about the heaven or hell. as a Muslim, I can inform you that in heaven, women would be 19 y/o and men would be 33 y/o, same age of Jesus before ascending to heaven. in heaven we are not to have children. Heaven is the place of rewards for the Goods you do in the current life.
        Lot to say about this topic, yet I’d rather enjoy this blog from the historical point of view. you’re more than welcome to msg me privately with any, and i mean any question about Islam, and I’ll more than glad to answer your questions.
        have a good day bro

  2. DavidBeaman  July 14, 2017

    I re-read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:35-57 in the NRSV. I see nothing conclusive there in the English that indicates clearly that Paul is talking about the dead body rising from the tomb. Paul talks about the dead being raised as imperishable, but that does not preclude a body like Riley describes rising from the dead corps, something like they show in movies to indicate that a person has died and become a ghost. I haven’t translated those passages into Greek. Are they more explicit in the Greek?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 15, 2017

      When Paul says “we shall all be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51) he does *not* say “we will all shed our bodies.” The body is transformed/changed, not abandoned.

      • DavidBeaman  July 15, 2017

        Well, I don’t think the fact that he does not say that constitutes proof. You may be right, but so might Riley.

      • SidDhartha1953  July 26, 2017

        Yet, in 2 Cor. 5, Paul writes, (6) “So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord…(8)… and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
        He seems to have it both ways: the soul leaves the body to be with the Lord until the resurrection.

    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  July 17, 2017

      I have the impression that Paul believed the resurrection to be a physical transformation. (Even though I wouldn’t consider Jesus’ body the norm considering Paul thought he was divine.) But, Paul says in 1 Thess. 4 that those who are alive will be caught up with Jesus in the clouds. That signifies a bodily transformation. He compares death and resurrection to planting seeds. When a seed is planted, it doesn’t disappear but transforms/changes. You see the change as it **raises** out of the ground. Paul says in 1 Cor. 15 that what’s sown as perishable is **raised** imperishable; sown in dishonor, **raised** in glory; sown in weakness, **raised** in power; sown a natural body, **raised** a spiritual body.

      I don’t recall Paul saying anything else about it.

  3. talmoore
    talmoore  July 14, 2017

    I notice that a lot of Mythicists are confused about what Paul means when he talks about being raised in a “spiritual” body. They seem to think Paul means that they will be like ghosts, immaterial beings without a true physical body. That’s not what Paul means by a “spiritual” body. He simply means that the body will be made of heavenly stuff rather than earthly stuff, that it will no longer be corruptible and mortal like earthly beings, but rather will be incorruptible and immortal like heavenly beings (or will be “glorified,” as Dr. Ehrman puts it). This is what he means by a “spiritual” body.

    • DavidBeaman  July 15, 2017

      That is your guess, but how do we know for sure what Paul means by a spiritual body.

    • Tony  July 15, 2017

      Ok, I’ll bite. Where do these mythical Mythicists, who seem so confused, come from? Is this one of the many straw man arguments originating from desperate Historicists? How does your argument relate to the historicity of Jesus anyway?

      Paul actually explains in 1 Corinthians 15 very forcefully what he meant – probably in response to sceptics who thought he made the whole thing up… His first, and main, argument is that whatever happened to Jesus (the first fruit) will happen to us. So, Paul was pretty sure what happened to Jesus – or was he? See what he wrote in 1 Cor 15:12-19 and ask yourself how sure Paul was about the resurrection of Jesus and why he argues the point:

      “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

      Paul, long before Pascal, is practicing Pascal’s wager! Notice the “if’s”. The resurrection is not a proven fact for Paul. The real reason to believe in the resurrection is that the CONSEQUENCES of disbelief are unacceptable!

      Paul really gets exited when he tries to answer the very legitimate question on how exactly all this is going to work. He refers to those raising the question as “fools”. Next he goes into a rambling “explanation” on how the dead will be raised imperishable. Read it: 1Cor 15:35-57. I’ll wait for your full report.

      • mwbaugh  July 19, 2017

        Are mythicists mythical? That’s an interesting idea, though I have talked with quite a few people who believe Jesus was a mythical rather than historical figure. Bart’s book DID JESUS EXIST? is the best discussion I’ve found of the arguments for and against a historical Jesus. I recommend it.

  4. mwbaugh  July 14, 2017

    I’m curious why Riley says that Jews in Jesus’ time had similar beliefs about body, soul, and spirit to Greek pagans. The Jews in the Old Testament period didn’t seem (to my understanding) to have an idea of a separable soul or a rational soul anything like that described by the Greeks.

    Christians have come to a view of the physical body as a temporary vessel for the immortal soul. A poem I often hear at funerals expresses this as, “I am not my body, I am *in* my body…” I also hear Evangelical Christians talk a lot about about the idea that when you die, your soul leaves your body and goes either to Heaven or Hell.

    This sounds more Greek than Jewish and more Gnostic than biblical to me. How and when did this idea gain such a strong foothold in the Christian imagination?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 15, 2017

      Yes, he does deal with the Hebrew Bible and (a little bit) with apocalyptic Judaism. But he really does think more about Greek views than Jewish.

    • talmoore
      talmoore  July 15, 2017

      From what I’ve read it would probably be more accurate to say that there was some overlap between Greek and Jewish notions of body, soul and spirit, and that these points of contact were stronger amongst Greek speaking diaspora Jews and weaker amongst Aramaic speaking Palestinian Jews. For example, Philo’s notions of the spiritual tend to be more in like with the Greek philosophers than with, say, the Pharisees. Meanwhile, the Zealots’ notions of the soul and the afterlife was notably distinct from that of the Greeks.

  5. John Uzoigwe  July 14, 2017

    Dr. Bart in your post you said”Paul saw Jesus being raised bodily”… As I recalled what Paul had was a vision on his way to Damascus. Am I missing out something here

    • Bart
      Bart  July 15, 2017

      In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, it is the same person, the bodily Jesus, who dies, is buried, is raised, and who appeared to others, including Paul.

      • John Uzoigwe  July 19, 2017

        You said, “Paul would not have been shocked to find Jesus’ tomb empty. He knew it was empty, because he had seen Jesus bodily raised from the dead” and in 1corithian 15v3-8 it says For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve.
        Correct me if am but I think said according to the information he received.

  6. JoshuaJ  July 14, 2017

    Dr. Ehrman, in response to the first question, you write: “Paul would not have been shocked to find Jesus’ tomb empty. He knew it was empty, because he had seen Jesus bodily raised from the dead.”

    Is it really accurate to say that Paul knew the tomb was empty, especially when we consider that Paul never mentions anything about a tomb specifically? Paul says that Jesus was buried, but that wording seems rather ambiguous as it is just as compatible with burial in a trench grave in the ground as it is with burial in a tomb. You have even stated elsewhere your belief that the “empty tomb” and the rest of the burial narrative is a complete fabrication, a later tradition that was developed for the purpose of adding credibility to the earlier “appearance” claims of the apostles.

    Also, can we really say that Paul “had seen Jesus bodily raised from the dead”? That’s certainly not how the event reads in Acts, and the creed in 1 Corinthians 15 is again rather ambiguous regarding the manner in which Jesus “appeared” to each individual or group of witnesses. Did he “appear” to Paul in the same manner in which he appeared to the disciples in the Gospels? According to Acts, he absolutely did not.

    I think I understand your meaning in this post based on your previous writings, but I think some clarification might be in order. Your wording in this post, as it currently stands, could easily be misinterpreted by readers who may not be as familiar with your other works.

    • Bart
      Bart  July 15, 2017

      Yes, my answer is presupposing the fact that Paul does not mention the empty tomb. That (you’re right!) is a complete given. My point is that it is impossible to make sense of what Paul says (e.g., 1 Cor. 15:3-8) without assuming that he is talking about the bodily Jesus: the same body that died and was buried is the one that “appeared” to others, including Paul. (Note the continuity of what he says: died, buried, raised, appeared — it’s all the same entity, not different entities)

      • tomruda  July 15, 2017

        Ok , here is the question that keeps bothering me historically. When Jesus dies on a cross, would not the Romans have left him there for weeks for the birds and wild animals to consume? I have read that it was rare to have someone buried so quickly after such a public execution. Romans wanted to encourage fear among the people. Chances are that there was not much of a body left for burial and it was likely to be in a mass grave. Paul, in this case, could only have seen a vision he refers to as a glorified body. Help me understand this better. Thank You

        • Bart
          Bart  July 16, 2017

          Yes, I’ve been arguing that for several years now. On the blog, just google “Craig Evans.” I explain it as well in my book How Jesus Became God.

          • John Uzoigwe  July 19, 2017

            In relation to tomruda’s question. Is it not also possible that marred appearance of Jesus from the roman’s soldiers battering would have made it difficult for his disciples to recognise his body in the tomb thereby declaring him to have risen.

          • Bart
            Bart  July 24, 2017

            Interesting idea. In the Gospels at least, though, it is only his hands and feet and side that are wounded — not his face.

          • SidDhartha1953  July 26, 2017

            So now google(TM) has become generic for search, like kleenex(TM) for tissue. I love our language!

        • catguy  July 17, 2017

          Just a guess on my part. The Roman officials saw Jesus as a lightening rod that could stir the masses. Even though He was crucified, He still had a following. I think the last thing Pilate would have wanted is a body that someone might take from the cross and turn into a martyr and a following. And it would have been impractical to station guards days and weeks at the cross.

      • Tony  July 15, 2017

        It seems to me that many of your subscribers do not know that “Acts” is not historical. A review of current scholarship on that subject would make for a nice post.

        Here is where Luke got his gripping Damascus vision from: Gal 1:17, “Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.”

        Paul does not say what happened in Damascus – if anything. But it is logical to see how Luke made the connection and fabricated the wonderful vision stories.

        On your other point: “Note the continuity of what he says: died, buried, raised, appeared — it’s all the same entity, not different entities”. But where does Paul state in his letters, where or when Jesus died, was buried, raised?

        • Bart
          Bart  July 16, 2017

          1 Corinthians 15:3-5. Doesn’t say where or when, except it was someplace, in the past, during Paul’s lifetime.

          • Tony  July 16, 2017

            The only thing that happened during Paul’s lifetime is that he had visions – or so he claims. The events he described: death, burial and resurrection are neither dated nor located. Paul got his information from scripture and, of course, his visions.

          • SidDhartha1953  July 26, 2017

            Paul’s “I know a man” story is usually considered autobiographical. I’ve wondered if he is describing his experience of the risen Jesus, that presumably was the occasion of his conversion to Christianity. Could Luke have known that account of Paul’s conversion and decided to weave it into the context of his active persecution of Jesus’ followers?

          • Bart
            Bart  July 27, 2017

            I’ve never understood the trip to the heavenly realm to be a reference to Paul’s conversion experience, but a reference to a later event.

  7. Tony  July 14, 2017

    “Jesus would return”.

    Paul never wrote that Jesus would return. Paul’s Jesus had never been on earth. He is to come, to arrive, but Paul never wrote Jesus was to return, come again etc.

    It was Mark’s fertile mind that created the empty tomb story. He likely got his idea from the Book of Daniel.

    Mark’s resurrection idea came from Paul. Mark misappropriated Paul’s Gospel, where God the Father send his celestial Son down the heavens – who assumed human form (of the flesh) on the way down – and was killed by the Satanic demons (the rulers of this age) in the firmament. It was indeed a “human” Jesus who was killed.

    The Ascension of Isaiah 9:13-17 probably comes close to the beliefs of Paul and his followers:

    “The Lord will indeed descend into the world in the last days, (he) who is to be called Christ after he has descended and become like you in form, and they will think that he is flesh and a man. And the god of that world will stretch out [his hand against the Son], and they will lay their hands upon him and hang him upon a tree, not knowing who he is. And thus his descent, as you will see, will be concealed even from the heavens so that it will not be known who he is. And when he has plundered the angel of death, he will rise on the third day and will remain in that world for five hundred and forty-five days. And then many of the righteous will ascend with him, whose spirits do not receive (their) robes until the Lord Christ ascends and they ascend with him.”

    Here the resurrected spirits will acquire “robes” – their immortal bodies.

    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  July 15, 2017

      Tony has a point here. The Ascension shows there were those who viewed Jesus as a “form” of a person. Why would they write such things when they’re so much closer to the time of when Pontus Pilate would have put Jesus to death? There’s a disconnect and confusion surrounding the physical and spiritual nature of Jesus. No one said he didn’t exist, but spiritually existing was just as real to the ancient world as a physical existence. If they believed a spirit could have sex with a human being then why would they deny he ever lived?

      As far as Jesus’ bodily resurrection goes, Paul does not really come out and say Jesus’ body was earthly because in 1 Cor. 15, he describes heavenly bodies as a *kind* and earthly bodies as a *kind*. He said that Jesus made himself “weak” as in weak to the point of death and that the natural body will be raised spiritual. But then he goes on to relate Jesus as the spiritual Adam, the first Adam was a living being (the *human* being?). Just when you think Paul is going to connect Jesus as a human being, he circumvents. And I don’t recall Paul writing anything about a tomb.

      • Pattycake1974
        Pattycake1974  July 15, 2017

        Something else, in Orthodox Corruption, pg. 111, it says “Several witnesses have omitted the explicit reference to the first Adam as a “man”…perhaps because the contrast with the anti-type Christ might then suggest that he too was a (created) *man*” <–in Greek

        I'm lost on this section of the book. I don't understand what's being conveyed here.

        • Bart
          Bart  July 16, 2017

          I was arguing that some later Christians changed their texts in support of their claims that Christ was more than a man.

      • Tony  July 16, 2017

        Yes, Paul seems convoluted trying to explain the resurrection in 1 Cor 15:35-57. He refers to people as “fools” for even asking the question!

        I think Paul equates Jesus with Adam insofar that Adam was physical (made of dust) and the second Adam (Christ) was spiritual and from heaven. Of course, the first earthly Adam caused death through sin and the second heavenly Adam paid for the first Adam’s sin through his sacrifice. Paul’s Jesus Christ was heavenly and never earthly.

        Paul draws a parallel between his two Adams and the imminent resurrection of himself and his followers in 1Cor 15:49:
        “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”

      • Tony  July 18, 2017

        It is difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile the Ascension with anything in the Gospels. In the Ascension “Christ” starts of as the spiritual Son of God in the seventh heaven. He only becomes Christ after he descends through the heavens and in doing so becomes material – human in appearance. This is what the writer of Ascension means when he says that: “and become like you (Isaiah) in form”.

        It was in this human form that Christ was mistakenly killed and hanged from a tree by the “god of that world” (Satan). Hanged from a tree and crucified by the Romans can be translated into the same Greek word – Stauros or stauroo.

        The cosmological beliefs of that time were that Satan and his Demons lived in an invisible world between earth and the moon. That world had trees and anything else we have on earth.

    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  July 17, 2017

      I think The Ascension shows certain perceptions about Jesus, but it may be a mistake to link it back to the beginning of the movement. I’m not convinced that Paul believed Jesus was crucified in a heavenly realm. I’ve been wrestling around with 1 Thess. 2:14-16, and even though it is odd, it’s in all (I think) of the ancient manuscripts. So throwing it out just doesn’t seem right.
      What I have found interesting is that Paul believed Jesus to be a preexisting archangel who was made of a woman (Sarah’s seed? the spiritual/free woman) according to the flesh (a form of a man) and a descendant of David (vague I know). Paul tended to state things chronologically but without a specific time involved, like he did in 1 Corinthians when he described the appearances of Jesus. So with that in mind, I’m thinking the Thessalonians passage does actually make sense. Maybe Paul saw the Jews who were in power as the rulers of the age. In other words, there were certain Jews, like Caiaphas, who could assert their authority over other Jews and that these particular Jews had held power (off and on) for generations. So when Paul wrote the Thessalonians passage, could he have meant something like this: Jesus appeared as a man on earth sometime during the patriarchs’ governing, but the Jews in power failed to recognize him. (Because as Paul stated elsewhere, if they had known who he was, they wouldn’t have killed him.) So the Jews killed Jesus (1st event) and the prophets (2nd event later in history) and drove Paul out (3rd event).

      Of course, it could also mean other things in Paul’s present day, but it does make me wonder. Also, some of the prophecy passages seem to blend present and past tense. I don’t know why that is, but maybe Paul took certain scriptural prophecies as past events based on how they were written.

      • llamensdor  July 30, 2017

        You’ve made an incorrect assertion — that the Jews killed Jesus. You probably don’t mean any harm, but this false assertion has cost the Jews terribly–horribly for nearly 2000 years.

        • Pattycake1974
          Pattycake1974  July 31, 2017

          I was speculating what Paul thought happened to Jesus based on what he wrote in 1 Thess. 2:14-16.

    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  July 17, 2017

      One more thought to add about “rulers”; Paul said that the children of Israel would be saved but that rulers would come to nothing. He described himself as a child of Israel being from the tribe of Benjamin. Maybe he didn’t view Jewish rulers as receiving salvation because he thought they were, and always had been, evil; ex. Caiaphas. Rulers and the children of Israel could have been distinct from each other in Paul’s mind and received different punishments or rewards.

      But Paul also seemed to engage in speculation because in Romans 9:22-23 he begins his sentences as rhetorical questions– 22″What if….?, 23 What if….?” Unless, of course, those words were put in by translators for artistic expression rather than Paul’s literal words.

  8. crucker  July 14, 2017

    Aside from your own books, do you have a small list of “essential” books regarding the Bible, written by scholars that you would recommend for non-scholars (but may still assume some basic biblical knowledge on the part of the reader)? I was thinking maybe a top ten, but it doesn’t have to be a particular number so long as it’s short enough to be “manageable” for those of us without loads of free time. I’ve also tried to leave the topic(s) deliberately broad, so long as it describes scholarly views regarding the Bible or something within the Bible (it need not address the full text).

    • Bart
      Bart  July 15, 2017

      Interesting idea. I should think about devoting a post to this.

    • talmoore
      talmoore  July 15, 2017

      If I were create a Top Five list of books about the Bible that everyone should read it would probably be:
      1. The Bible Unearthed, by Finkelson and Silberman
      2. Who Wrote the Bible? by Friedman
      3. Jesus the Jew, by Vermas
      4. Jesus and Judaism, by Sanders
      5. From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, by Cohen

      And in deference to our illustrious blog host, I would add the works of Dr. Ehrman to that list.

  9. godspell  July 14, 2017

    I’ve always enjoyed that passage in Acts, where Paul, confronted by a group of Pharisees and Saducees, who are united in disliking Christian missionaries, finds a way to put them at odds with each other

    //Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.”//

    In less time than it takes to tell it, he has them fighting each other over this internecine division over the afterlife. Not all Jews believed in bodily resurrection–some didn’t believe in any afterlife at all. It’s a trickster side of Paul we don’t see often, but always rings true for me. And that doesn’t mean he himself didn’t share this belief with his Pharisee brethren, but he was doing things with it they would not have approved.

    The pagan beliefs about spirits returning to sup with the living certainly could have influenced the gospels, written in Greek. But I agree with you–Paul was a Jew to the very last. As was Jesus. And never was there a people who took more pleasure in argument. Unless it’s the Irish. 😉

  10. cheito
    cheito  July 14, 2017

    DR Ehrman:

    Your Comment:

    …and, especially, in 1 Corinthians 15:35-57. Paul understood that at the end of the age (which for him was coming very soon), Jesus would return and his followers would be transformed in the body so that they could live eternally in deified bodies.

    My Comment:

    When Paul says, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,” I understand that Paul is relating a mystery and a principle about the nature of the resurrection of those who would be alive when the LAST TRUMPET SOUNDS.

    I don’t believe Paul was saying that the mystery he’s revealing to the Corinthians was going to happen VERY SOON. He’s not asserting that the LAST TRUMPET will definitely SOUND in his, or their lifetime.

    Yes Paul does say “we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed”.

    I understand the “we” in Paul’s statement to be generic, collective and inclusive, referring to all believers who would be alive when the LAST TRUMPET SOUNDS, whenever that would happen.
    _______________________________

    1 Corinthians 15:51-52

    51-Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall 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 imperishable, and we shall be changed.

  11. turbopro  July 14, 2017

    Prof Ehrman, this is OT, but I saw a youtube clip with Dr N T Wright giving a short talk on Gnosticism, where he mentioned Elaine Pagels’ and your names, stating:
    “…scholars like Bart Ehrman, Elaine Pagels, several others, have said quite stridently: this [Gnosticism] was the real early Christianity; and Mathew, Mark, Luke and John tried to cover it up, muddle it up, and they told this very Jewish story about things going on on earth, and with, um, sacraments and all of these things, um, whereas this Gnosticism was the really exciting, subversive stuff, which the orthodox church then squelched…”

    I am curious please: given that I have read only a few of your popular books on early Christianity, and I have read none of your scholarly texts, did you posit in any of your work that which the learned scholar here claimed you did?

    I wish I could ask Ms Pagels the same also.

    clip is here –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOzQnDRIp7s

    I just completed Dr David Brakke’s “Gnosticism: From Nag Hammadi to the Gospel of Judas,” one of The Great Courses, and I found it quite enlightening. There was so much stuff crammed into 24 lectures, that I need to listen again.

    • Bart
      Bart  July 16, 2017

      What an odd thing to say about me. That’s not my view at all, and never has been! I think I’ll ask him about it.

      • Pattycake1974
        Pattycake1974  July 17, 2017

        I watched the N.T. Wright clip and read a few things he was quoted as saying. The clip was made in 2009, but the first mention I found of anything like this was 2006. (Apparently, it didn’t take the world by storm!) It may have had to do with a book you wrote about Judas that seemed to perturb him. I don’t know all of the details, but I think he misunderstood what you wrote for some of the early Christians’ beliefs about Judas as being your own position. That’s only a guess though.

        http://shepherdproject.com/judas-and-the-gospel-of-jesus-by-n-t-wright/

        https://fireandrose.blogspot.com/2006/05/n-t-wright-new-gnosticism-and.html?m=1

        • Bart
          Bart  July 24, 2017

          How strange. Well, I’ve never said any such thing or thought any such thing. I suppose all of us can be and probably are guilty of mis-attributions, but when you are the one to whom ideas are mis-attributed (especially in polemical contexts), it does make you scratch your head and say, WHAT???

  12. Carl  July 14, 2017

    Why did Paul keep the ritual of water baptism? Did he see it serving a purpose other than a physical declaration of faith in Christ? Possibly as a way of showing unity with the other Apostles/Christian movements, or a way to emphasise alignment with Judaism? Surely he did not consider water baptism a necessary prerequisite for salvation. It seems like Paul’s message of ‘faith alone’ would be more compatible with a ‘baptism of the heart’ doctrine.

    • Bart
      Bart  July 16, 2017

      The key passage is Romans 6. Paul thought that at baptism a person was mystically united with Christ and “died” along with Christ to the evil powers of this world. I think maybe I’ll blog on that!

      • Juannifer  July 20, 2017

        I have a question I hope you can answer for me .
        I asked a Christian how can God die let alone be killed he said God can’t die but the flesh died. I can understand the flesh dying or being destroyed. But the flesh is still not God dying because God can’t die so if it was only the death of only the flesh why couldn’t God just create flesh to die? And where was God before He rose on the third day?

        • Bart
          Bart  July 24, 2017

          Yes, that is a question that Christian theologians have struggled with for approximately forever. And at the other end of things: can God be born? If so, is Mary the mother of God? (There were huge debates over that point in Christian antiquity)

          • SidDhartha1953  July 26, 2017

            I know 20th century theology is not your specialty, but I wonder if you would agree that the Death of God movement of the 1960s was not taken as seriously as it should have been. I remember reading a book by Altizzer(sp?) about Nietzsche, Wm. Blake, and the Death of God (that may be the title), which is where I believe I got the argument that the death of God is a necessary consequence of the kenotic nature of God, as expressed in Philippians 2:7-8. In other words, Christ emptied himself because he was like God, and it is the nature of God to empty himself, hence, to die.
            I think it’s a brilliant argument and popular media whipped up a storm of misunderstanding that killed the whole thing. Any thoughts on your part?

          • Bart
            Bart  July 27, 2017

            Altizer, I think. Seems like the arguments were taken pretty seriously — it made the cover of Time Magazine!

          • SidDhartha1953  July 27, 2017

            It did indeed make the cover of Time, which I think had the (unintended?) effect of sensationalizing, rather than advancing the conversation among the laity. Preachers and parishioners reacted against the seeming absurdity, rather than looking more deeply into what these learned theologians must have meant.

    • catguy  July 17, 2017

      I don’t recall reading anywhere where Paul says baptism is a requirement for salvation. Baptism at least in various Protestant churches can mean different things but I would say at its core all or most churches believe baptism is symbolic of washing away your sins and a new body and spirit coming out of the water. I use the term symbolic because some churches do not immerse those who are baptized. And there is the whole range of arguments about baptizing infants vs adults. It gets complicated but to the original statement, I don’t recall that Paul equates baptism with a pre-requisite to salvation.

  13. Seeker1952  July 14, 2017

    I’m starting to wonder in what sense Christians believe Jesus died. It’s not a problem if Jesus was raised to (full) divine status after/as part of his Resurrection. But if he was God before he died how could God die? Was it only Jesus’s human nature that died? I think that, after the 4th century councils, the required orthodoxy was to say that he was a single being/person with two distinct natures. If so, how could just his human nature die? How did the Church Fathers deal with this question, eg, up to and during the 4th century councils?

    And if, as God, Jesus knew, prior to his death, that he would be resurrected, that seems to detract from (but not eliminate) the greatness of his sacrifice.

    • Bart
      Bart  July 16, 2017

      I would say they earliest Christians had not thought through their theological views that Christ was both God and human. They didn’t have the philosophical categories available to him (what was the relationship of divinity and humanity in Christ? Was he part God part human? Half of each? Two different natures, one divine one human? One nature — completely divine — but embodied in flesh? Etc. There were lots of options, but they don’t speculate on them at all.

      • Seeker1952  July 17, 2017

        Historically, it seems clear that Jesus’s death and purported Resurrection came first. Speculation about the possibility and relationship of his divine and human natures came later. I just don’t see how the church could have ended up, after the 4th century, with an understanding that seems to call into question whether Jesus actually died. At least I can’t recall seeing any theological discussion of this. And my impression of 4th century Christian thinkers is that, while many may have been rather unpleasant and less than objective scholars, many were nevertheless pretty sophisticated thinkers. This must have occurred to them.

        • Bart
          Bart  July 24, 2017

          The notion that Jesus didn’t really die can be found among some Christians in the second century (at least among some Gnostic Christians), but I”m not sure of it being an option after the fourth century.

          • SidDhartha1953  July 26, 2017

            Something else that may be outside your area of specialty, but could this be where Muhammad (or his redactors) got the notion that Judas was crucified by Romans who thought they were crucifying Jesus?

          • Bart
            Bart  July 27, 2017

            No clue.

  14. Jason  July 14, 2017

    My sister and all the STEM PhDs I used to work with said you should never pay a cent for your post grad education, letting instead the department, a research center/institute or lab cover graduate tuition. Does that apply in the humanities now or did it at all when you were in that phase?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 16, 2017

      No, not at all. Humanities don’t get grants the way the sciences, etc. do. It is much harder to fund an education. Most students end up with tens of thousands of dollars of debt.

      • catguy  July 17, 2017

        Our pastor is around age 33. He estimates he will be 67 before he pays off his seminary tuition and book costs. He is a very intelligent individual and he could have become an engineer and probably paid off his doctorate education in 10 to 12 years. Humanities are a calling in much the same way being a pastor is a calling. You go into these studies out of a love for that type of learning, a certain curiosity, and perhaps a quest to share what you learn with others. Unfortunately in our highly industrial society, there is little monetary value placed on liberal arts because shareholders and CEO’s don’t see an immediate financial value.

  15. RonaldTaska  July 15, 2017

    1. Wow! What an incredible work schedule and what an incredible accomplishment to pay for those 12 years yourself.

    2. I awakened this week with a vivid dream about a deceased mentor of mine. The dream seemed incredibly real and I could understand how someone with such a dream could really feel that the deceased person had actually visited them after death.

  16. rgilmour1719  July 15, 2017

    What, if any, Christian apologetics arguments do you find most plausible/challenging?
    Thanks, Richard.

    • Bart
      Bart  July 16, 2017

      It depends which topic you have in mind (inerrancy of Bible? virgin birth? resurrection of Jesus? something else?)

      • rgilmour1719  July 16, 2017

        Something else I guess (I know you don’t believe those examples) i.e. the argument from fine tuning, the argument from religious experience, the existence of moral agents or the evolutionary argument against naturalism. If I had to pick one it would most likely be the latter in terms of most challenging, however it still has multiple problems.
        I find the whole exercise of apologetics to be as fascinating as it is frustrating. I find it extremely hard to understand how very intelligent people can be so biased in an approach and *genuinely* believe they have good arguments.
        I have read multiple apologetics books and find certain arguments *possible* but these lean more towards deism. But theism, I am baffled at how these arguments get repackaged over and over with a new spin and are still widely considered legitimate. I am more talking about conservative evangelicals here.
        I guess I was wondering what you have found (since being un born again if that’s even a term), if anything, to be a good argument to come from an apologist.

        • Bart
          Bart  July 24, 2017

          Well, it’s hard for me to answer, because I was thoroughly trained in Christian apologetics and was myself an apologist. I now reject all the arguments, so I guess I don’t find any of them convincing!

        • SidDhartha1953  July 26, 2017

          I think William James offers a very compelling argument in “The Will to Believe” from *The Varieties of Religious Experience.* My older brother called himself an atheist from about the age of 17, but he often commented that he envied people with faith, because life seemed so much easier for them. About two years ago (we’re both well into our 60’s now), he told me he had come to believe there is a Creator (he still doesn’t believe in any particular religion, as far as he’s told me). I asked what changed his mind and he said, “minor miracles.” So I think personal experience combined with the desire for a belief can be very powerful anti-atheismics.

  17. pueblo2  July 16, 2017

    [For your mailbag, or whenever appropriate.] I’m sure you are well aware of the disgusting actions of the Hobby Lobby involving the destruction of archaeological treasures that seem to flow from their zealous lying for Jesus world view. The media coverage of their recent $3 million civil fine for smuggling obviously looted antique artifacts from the Near and Middle East into the U.S.documents what is really just a “slap-on-the-wrist” for these deep pocket Christians. Perhaps you could provide some commentary on this news and an update on the status of the so-called 1st Century fragment of the gospel of Mark? Thanks in advance.

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/07/hobby-lobby-must-pay-3-million-for-smuggling-ancient-cuneiform-artifacts/?comments=1&post=33610545

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/hobby-lobby-ancient-iraqi-artifacts-archaeologist-amr-al-azm/?platform=hootsuite

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/07/opinions/hobby-lobby-looted-antiquities-manning-opinion/index.html

    • Bart
      Bart  July 16, 2017

      I haven’t heard any further news about the first-century Mark, except that it’s not what Dan Wallace claimed it was. But we will see. As to the Hobby Lobby itself, and the Green initiative, there is an important book coming out soon by Joel Baden and Candida Moss that apparently spills all the beans.

      • SidDhartha1953  July 26, 2017

        The title is *Bible Nation.* It’s available for pre-order on Amazon.

  18. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  July 16, 2017

    I am trying to sort out what Paul meant by rulers of the age and the Jews who killed Jesus. In 1 Cor. 26, Paul states that rulers of this age did not understand the predestined mystery, but if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord. He also said they were coming to nothing, but in Thessalonians Paul said the Jews had already received their wrath. Stranger still, in Romans 13, Paul writes that the governing authorities are rulers and “they are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”

    When I read these statements, they do not correlate with each other. In Paul’s mind, Jesus being crucified was pre-planned before time began, so it makes sense when Paul uses the words “handed over” on the night of Jesus’ death. But I can’t figure out why Paul seems angry with the Jews in one place but not anywhere else. Did the Jews even have the authority to crucify someone? He also says that the Jews killed Jesus AND the prophets as if he’s grouping it all together.

    The rulers of the age can’t both be governing authorities who are God’s servants AND coming to nothing. Governing authorities don’t rule an age, but spiritual rulers would. Paul did say that Satan prevented him from visiting the Thessalonians. I can’t help but think that Paul equates Satan with a ruler of the age. But if the Jews killed Jesus, what prophets is Paul talking about?

    I know you said in the debate with Price that 1 Thess. 2:14-16 is textually secure. But it is rather strange for that section because in several of the sentences before, Paul gushes how he came to them as a father encouraging them and he thanked God for them because they received the word as if it were from God and how they were imitators of God’s other churches then boom! He goes on a tirade about the Jews. Once his tirade is over, he’s all lovey dovey again.

    It just doesn’t seem to fit together unless I take out the Jews killing Jesus. I’m left with these governing authorities who are God’s servants and bring wrath to wrongdoers. Paul specifically says that Jesus was without sin, so a governing authority would have no reason to bring wrath upon Jesus. That leaves me with a ruler (like Satan who prevented Paul from visiting the Thessalonians) who killed Jesus.

    And then there’s the Gospels………

    • Tony  July 17, 2017

      Excellent observation on 1 Thess. 2:14-16. I find it difficult to accept that Bart Ehrman would publicity state that these verses are “textually secure”. Many scholars consider them interpolations.

      • Bart
        Bart  July 24, 2017

        There is no one who doubts they are “textually secure.” That is a technical term that means “There are no manuscripts (or ancient versions) that lack the verses.” Whether they are an interpolation or not is a different, but obviously closely related, question. An interpolation would be an addition that has no manuscript support of any kind.

        • Tony  July 24, 2017

          I did not know that. Thanks for the explanation.

        • SidDhartha1953  July 26, 2017

          “An interpolation would be an addition that has no manuscript support of any kind.”
          Can you clarify what you mean? Is it that an interpolation is a part of the text that is “textually secure,” i.e. there are no credible mss. that lack it, but of which scholars still doubt the authenticity for other reasons, plausible or implausible?

          • Bart
            Bart  July 27, 2017

            Yes: no manuscripts lack the words but scholars have reasons for thinking that they are not original but were added later anyway, by a scribe or redactor.

    • John Uzoigwe  July 19, 2017

      Good observation!

    • dragonfly  July 20, 2017

      The following is based on the premise that Paul was an apocalypticist. If you don’t agree with that, this won’t be of help. As an apocalypticist, for Paul this age is the age before God overthrows the forces of evil and sets up his good kingdom. The ultimate rulers of this age, then, must be the evil forces. However these forces work through people. Everyone is either on the side of God or evil. Those who are prosperous now must be on the side of evil. The Roman empire was in charge of that part of the world, so they must be aligned with the evil forces. Thus the evil forces work through the Roman empire. The NRSV has them “doomed to perish” rather than “coming to nothing”. So whoever the rulers are, they’re not on God’s side. The rulers then, possibly refer to both satan and the Romans together. “…it is not a wisdom of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish” sounds very apocalyptic- anyone in power has the wrong kind of wisdom, they are not aligned with God.
      Satan knew Jesus was somehow important to God’s plan, so he had him killed, by having the Jewish authorities hand him to the Roman authorities, who crucified him. But that was exactly God’s plan to save mankind. If any of them knew God’s plan, they wouldn’t have done it. So the Jews killed Jesus by handing him to Pilate.
      There is an apocryphal work called The Lives of the Prophets, which gives accounts of the lives of the OT prophets. In it, many of the prophets are killed by other Israelites. It probably has no historical value, but it’s thought Paul may have had access to it, which would explain the reference to the Jews killing the prophets.
      Romans 13 is strange. I don’t know why he’s on the side of the authorities here. But I don’t know the political situation there, and maybe he had to be a bit more diplomatic in order get what he wanted.

      • Pattycake1974
        Pattycake1974  July 25, 2017

        Dragonfly,
        What do you think of Ephesians 3:10? His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,

        Whoever wrote this believed rulers and authorities to be in the heavenly realms.

        What do you make of Romans 16:25-27?
        Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from[f] faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

  19. rgilmour1719  July 16, 2017

    Could the list of appearances by Paul be a later interpolation as some have argued? (Recently read Price’s Apocryphal Apparitions https://infidels.org/library/modern/robert_price/apocrypha.html).

    • Bart
      Bart  July 24, 2017

      I’m not aware of any Pauline scholar who has argued this.

  20. John4
    John4  July 16, 2017

    And how did you land that (undoubtedly deserved!) full time job at UNC, Bart?

    You’ve told us the great story of how you got the job at Rutgers. You may also have told us how you came to UNC, but I don’t remember it and I couldn’t find it searching your archive.

    Many, many thanks! 🙂

    • Bart
      Bart  July 24, 2017

      Ha! That’s a very long story in itself. Maybe next time I devote a couple of posts to myself, I’ll say something about it. But I think people are tired of hearing my story for now, so I’ll add the question to the Mailbag for a later day!

      • John4
        John4  July 27, 2017

        Thanks so much, Bart, for adding to your mailbag my question about how you landed your job at UNC.

        I’ll look forward to your response! 😀

  21. Seeker1952  July 17, 2017

    Back to the problem of terrible suffering do you know of any book or author who has tried describe with some care and detail what the world would be like if there was no more suffering than what an all-powerful, loving God would permit?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 24, 2017

      Only books that try to describe what heaven might be like.

  22. mannix  July 17, 2017

    I wonder about the anatomy and physiology of the “glorified body”. Will it require oxygen? nutrition/ Will the five senses be retained? Most interestingly, will it reproduce? If so, the offspring will have “lucked out”, being born without having to go through the wringer of life under the “dark forces”.

    Would also be curious to know if anyone ever thought other non-human animals would be “glorified” as well. If not, many animal/pet lovers will be disappointed.

    • Bart
      Bart  July 24, 2017

      Yes, these questions have long been a source of interesting speculation. (E.g., what about Jesus? Did he eat because he needed to or just to seem like he needed to? Did he have a real digestive system, e.g.? During his life? After his death?) As to non-humans, traditionally, no, this is not a source of speculation among theologians, so far as I know. In the modern day, I would imagine hit has been. Everyone wants to see their dog again in heaven!!

      • SidDhartha1953  July 26, 2017

        I have always been a fan of The Twilight Zone, since it first aired (I was 6 then). One of my favorite episodes is about the mountaineer who drowns trying to save his dog and they find themselves walking along a country road. They come to a gate where a pleasant enough gatekeeper invites them to come in — they’ve found heaven and they’re having a barbecue right now (which explains the smoke wafting around the trees). The dog becomes agitated and the mountaineer refuses to go in because the gatekeeper says dogs are not allowed.
        They go on and come to another gate, where another gatekeeper tells the mountaineer he was lucky to have his dog with him, because the other place was hell and they like to trick people into coming in, but dogs can’t be fooled. He and the dog live happily forever after.

  23. Gary  July 18, 2017

    In a recent discussion with Christians regarding the alleged resurrection of Jesus, they disliked the fact that I referred to the resurrection as an alleged “reanimation of a corpse”, a process which scientific evidence states is impossible. They felt that “transformation of a corpse” was a better description and that there was no reanimation involved. The body of Jesus was instantaneously (magically) transformed into a new, heavenly (supernatural) body with supernatural properties and powers.

    As a former Trinitarian, conservative Christian, I certainly agree that (most) traditional Christians believe that the body of Jesus was transformed but doesn’t a claim that Jesus was “raised from the dead” and that he had achieved “victory over death” require that the original human body come back to life; is reanimated; the original body— organs, blood, tissue, and even individual cells came back to life (reanimated) after three days of being truly dead?

    Otherwise, what we have is a story of a supernatural force/being taking possession of a corpse and using that corpse for the sole purpose of an outer façade: a zombie.

    • Bart
      Bart  July 24, 2017

      From my point of view (for what it’s worth): I don’t see how “transformation” of a corpse is any less scientifically defensible than the “reanimation” of a corpse. Both require an act of God, and therefore are equally likely/unlikely!

  24. christopherfisher  July 24, 2017

    I don’t know if this is the proper place to put questions, but what is your take on this passage:

    Act 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;

    Was the author introducing divine determinism or exhaustive foreknowledge? Or was he stating that God was just fulfilling His plans?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 25, 2017

      I think he is simply saying that it is all going according to plan. It doesn’t appear that he has thought rigorously about the problem of determinism and free will.

      • christopherfisher  July 31, 2017

        Thank you for your response.

        Later in Acts 4:27-28, we find similar statements:

        Act 4:27  for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 
        Act 4:28  to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 

        Would your analysis be the “fatalism” Josephus describes in the Pharisee tradition (the Jews were destined to kill Jesus)? Or perhaps they played into God’s plan unwittingly (that they were not fated but just manipulated)?

  25. SidDhartha1953  July 26, 2017

    “He is saying that the sinful flesh that a person inhabits now will be glorified then, so that the spiritual body will not partake of the sinful flesh any more or have need for the life giving blood, since the body will then be immortal with no chance of its life – the blood – being drained from it).”
    Interesting. So Jesus could eat, drink, cook, take walks, let people touch him & probe his unhealed wounds… but he couldn’t bleed!

    Mk. 4:36. “they took him with them in the boat, just as he was.” What does that phrase, “just as he was,” mean?

    I think a good topic for a post might be, “Was Jesus a jerk?” based on references to his short temper (Mk. 1:41, e.g.), his racist remark to the Syro-Phoenician woman, his ridiculing of the disciples in Mk 4:40, etc.

  26. blache  August 1, 2017

    Question: In general, did a pagan and/or Jewish belief in the “resurrection of the dead” of what may be termed the righteous {precede historically} the Christian belief that Jesus “arose from the dead?” – If I have missed this point in the discussion, my apologies.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 3, 2017

      Yes, it was a Jewish belief (not a pagan one) and it was the context within which Christians said that Jesus himself had been raised, a claim that could never have been made *apart* from that context.

  27. JDTabor  August 14, 2017

    I hold a kind of modified view of Paul’s view of the resurrected body of Jesus. I agree with you that it was “glorified,” or transformed/metamorphed (is that a word!) from the old body of corruption, but his view does not require an empty tomb or a transformed cadaver per se. Paul certainly knew bodies return to dust and ashes, or even perish in the sea, but his notion of “reclothing” of the “naked” self that sheds the old body like clothing (2 Cor. 5) does not require the physical “residue” of the old perishable body to somehow be recovered and then transformed. Old clothes/tents can be left behind, much like a cocoon, with the new clothing/building “put on.” I see 1 Cor. 5 in harmony with 1 Thess. 4 and 1 Cor. 15. His view remains sharply different from a general view of Platonic Greek “dualism” where the body is discarded and the “naked” self survives. Paul’s insistence on a “new body” or a “reclothed” self, is his way of arguing against this view–i.e. “not that we be found naked, but further clothed.”

    He of course is more focused on the living than the dead and at the Parousia he images those in Christ, “we who are alive and remain,” undergoing a “transformation” on the spot in the blink of an eye–flesh sort of melting away into the new mode of being of a spiritual immortal body, i.e. being “reclothed,” but that is not to say a “residue” of the old clothing does not get left behind or perish. We need a CGI person to represent this, a kind of flashing transformation and meltdown of the present body with some ash remains perhaps.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 15, 2017

      Yes, I read it differently, largely because of the scenarios sketched in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4 (“we shall all be changed” and “we who are alive, who are left, will be….”). I think he is saying that our bodies are transformed and taken up (he never says anything about current bodies disappearing at the parousia, but of them being transformed). So too with Jesus: the body that went in the tomb was transformed. That’s why the Corinthians were wrong in thinking that life in the body doesn’t matter: for Paul, the body that God created will be glorified, but not dispensed with. But you know that view quite well! So we’re probably going to disagree.

    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  August 15, 2017

      Are you saying there was not an empty tomb story at the start of the movement? And if Jesus’ body were found today, then that would not contradict what Paul believed about his resurrection?

  28. hsh678  August 27, 2017

    In having a pneumatic/spiritual body, does Paul mean that Jesus can eat, drink and lets others touch and explore his unhealed wounds? I think Paul never mention Jesus in human form. Does it mean that Paul has different idea of resurrection than the gospel writers have?

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