B Does the Conceptualization of the Resurrection Body Bring Any Clarification

In an earlier treatment. I suggested that a somewhat complex development in early Christian conceptualization of Jesus' resurrection is discernible. The basic line of the analysis still seems sound.203

(1) The initial conceptualization of 'resurrection' was most likely in quite physical terms — not so much a resuscitation (to a life later to be ended in death) as a raising (restoration?) to a life just like the present (that is. physical) life but now beyond the reach of death. That is what we would expect from what we know of resurrection hope in Palestine. It is suggested also by the conceptualization expressed in terms of 'coming out from the tomb'.204 The empty tomb could have stimulated the thought of resurrection in these terms. but it may have been only a confirmation of the presuppositions built into the term itself.

(2) Paul's conceptualization of the resurrection body is clearly more 'spiritual' (his own term). As already noted. he envisages resurrection to/in a 'spiritual body (pneumatikon which he explicitly contrasts with the 'soulish body (psychikon somay of present. earthly existence (1 Cor. 15.44-50).205 Moreover. if

201. Why the time gap between the rising and the coming out? Perhaps we should see a reflection of an immediate sense that Jesus' death and resurrection constituted a single event.

202. Jeremi as, Proclamation 309-10; Allison. End of the Ages 40-46. Otherwise R. L. Troxel. 'Matt. 27.51-4 Reconsidered: Its Role in the Passion Narrative. Meaning and Origin'. NTS 48 (2002) 18-29.

203. Jesus and the Spirit 116-17, 120-22; in contrast to the more typical view of a oneway development maintained. e.g.. by Carnley: the initial belief was of resurrection 'in a less material way' = 'spiritual body' (Structure 58). and Wedderburn: a 'movement from the intangible to the tangible and thus to the demonstrable is likelier' (Beyond Resurrection 70-75). though neither takes sufficient account of all the key factors discussed in § 18.2. Craig's critique of my earlier formulation (Assessing 326-27 n. 17) plays down the indications that Luke conceptualized spiritual experiences in very tangible terms (see above n. 99).

204. Matt. 27.52-53; John 5.28-29; cf. the use of Ps. 16.10 in Acts 2.26-27, 31 and 13.35-37 (Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit 118-20).

205. It should be recalled that Paul sees Jesus' resurrection as the pattern for the resur

Paul believed that he had seen the resurrected body of Jesus on the Damascus road, then what he saw was more like a 'light body', something rather closer to the Hellenistic conception of a less substantial, more refined kind of postmortem existence.206 That was a conceptualization, presumably, easier to 'sell' in a Hellenistic milieu like Corinth. What is of interest here, however, is that Paul did not abandon either the idea of continued/re-created bodily existence, or the language of 'resurrection'. The reason, we may infer, was partly that his own thought was more constitutively Hebraic than Greek,207 but also partly at least because the Christian faith in which he had been first instructed had already stamped the category of 'resurrection' firmly and indelibly on that faith. He gives ground to his Hellenized interlocutors {spiritual body) but remains true to his Jewish heritage (spiritual Here again we are pointed to a conceptualiza tion which was integral to the post-Easter faith from the first — which indeed was the post-Easter faith.

(3) It may well be that we should detect in Luke's strong emphasis on the physicality of Jesus' resurrected body (Luke 24.39) a reaction against what might have been regarded as Paul's dilution of the resurrection faith. The reaction is even stronger in Ignatius, where Paul's subtle distinction between

'body' and 'flesh' has already been lost to sight. Conceivably John's discourage rection of believers (1 Cor. 15.20, 23, 44-49); that is, his concept of resurrection body includes that of Jesus. On Paul's concept of 'body' and of the contrast here see my Theology ofPaul 60-with further bibliography. Pace Grass, it is unlikely that Paul would have accepted the reformulation of his view in terms of a 'personal identity between the earthly and the eschatological I, not necessarily a continuity between earthly and heavenly body' {Ostergeschehen 185); for Paul 'identity' was never other than bodily identity.

206. D. B. Martin, The Corinthian Body (New Haven: Yale University, 1995) rightly points out that Paul's distinction would not have been understood as a distinction between material and non-material (123-29); even so, pace Craig (Assessing passim), a highly refined substance ('material') is not the same as the 'physical' body unavoidably destined for decay and death (1 Cor. 15.48; 2 Cor. 5.1).

207. I do not mean to evoke here the old outmoded antithesis between Hebraic and Greek thought. It is simply that Hebraic and Greek anthropologies were different in regard to the relation of and body/flesh. See further my Theology of Paul chapter 3, where I argue that Paul introduces a key distinction between soma and sarx (70-73): Paul does not speak of resurrection as spiritual(ized) flesh (on the contrary an antithesis between spirit and flesh is fundamental to his theology: 65-66, 477-82, 496-97), but only of spiritual body.

208. It is thanks to Paul that we can gain a clearer conception of the 'body', not as something distinct from the person, something within which the real person exists, but as the person embodied, whether in a three-dimensional context (physical body) or spiritual context (spiritual body). See further again my Theology ofPaul chapter 3.

209. 'For I know and believe that he was in the flesh even after the resurrection' {Smyrn. 3.1), going on to cite Luke 24.39 and Acts 10.41 (3.2-3). See also Wedderburn, Beyond Resurrection ment of dependence on physical contact (John 20.17, 28-29) was an attempt at some sort of compromise (cf. 6.62). In any case, both Luke and John simply reinforce the earlier Christian conviction that post-Easter faith could be no other than resurrection faith, belief that Jesus had been raised bodily from the tomb.

If then the talk of 'core' belief is appropriate, the core belief of the first Christians was of Jesus' bodily resurrection. The different conceptualizations of the resurrection body were not a modification of that belief. The belief was accompanied or supplemented by equally firmly held beliefs in Jesus' vindication or exaltation. But resurrection, resurrection of the embodied person Jesus, was the heart of Easter faith and remained so.

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