Dear John and co-writers,
I wonder how much importance should be attached to Lk 24:13 and vs. 40.
It seems to me that these verses would have rung a bell for contemporary
Judean readers, if indeed the text variant "hekaton hesekonta" in vs. 13 was
original, as Jerome and Eusebius suggest.
1) In that case the reader would have thought of the famous battle Judas
Maccabeus won over the Syrian Gorgias, a victory remembered and celebrated
till this day. It is true that a return journey of 160 stadia - in reality
176 stadia - to Jerusalem that same day would have been difficult. In
Eastern stories that would hardly have hindered the adult Judean readers to
perceive the spiritual meaning.
The Maccabean rebellion must have inspired the Judean warriors in the
Roman War. The tragedy of the war and the ruined temple have cast their
shadow on all appearance stories!!.Luke is writing a few decades after that
2) As one of Luke's heroes is Paul, he must have shared Paul's and Mark's
wordplay of the ecclesia as the "body of the risen Christ." In that case
Luke's wonderful and inspiring story makes deep sense, writing about a
different kind of victory of Jesus, Israel's Messiah. Luke 24:40 reads, "He
showed them his hands and his feet". The sentence seems totally
superfluous, for in vs. 39 he had already gestured: "Behold my hands and
feet". The story implies that the resurrection is real, physical. For in
scripture the eschatological reality of faith can only be told in metaphors.
The metaphor in this case is like the Markan metaphorical wordplay. Jesus'
corps may have been buried on Zion, but he himself lives on in his body, of
which he as their cosmic Lord is the head. Christ's eating and drinking with
these two disciples (Clopas of Jerusalem and Simon his son, who later (!)
would succeed James?) is repeated in every future Eucharistic meal according
to the Spirit.
Would this exegesis be legitimate?
----- Original Message -----
From: "John Sabatino" <taurus79@...>
Sent: Sunday, October 31, 2004 11:45 PM
Subject: RE: [XTalk]: Physical bodies in heaven
> Hi Mike,
> John wrote: > I'm not sure how Lk 24:39 contradicts anything I've said. It
> > be great if you could elaborate on this.
> Mike wrote: OK. I'll take your statements one by one, and bear in mind
> I actually wrote was that most of them were "either contrary to the
> implications of, OR MADE IRRELEVANT BY, Lk 24:39."
> First, Lk 24:39 from the NASB:
> "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; TOUCH ME, and see;
> for a spirit [pneuma] does not have flesh and bones as you see that
> I have." (emphasis mine; followed shortly by the fish-eating)
> Here are the statements in question:
> (1) "Its ... anachronistic to assume that physicality would be
> stressed by Gospel authors to further enhance the "proofs" for the
> Now in fact I didn't assume this, I deduced it, and Lk 24:39 is
> about the clearest indication that that is precisely what at least
> Luke was up to. A "resurrection in spirit" was good enough for the
> author of 1 Peter, but evidently not for Luke. It follows, of
> course, that this view isn't anachronistic.
> John: I don't know what you mean specifically by "resurrection in spirit"
> and what that has to do with 1 Peter, or how we know that Luke knew of
> and perceived it as "not good enough", but I'd be appreciative if you
> I'm trying to understand what your overall theory is, and it looks like
> you're saying that the original resurrection stories were rendered more
> physical by Luke (among others) in an attempt to make them seem more
> to further establish that Jesus' resurrection had indeed actually occured.
> If this is the case, and you think that Lk 24:39 is the proof of this, I
> think you're begging the question.
> Firstly, we should note that *if* Luke's goal in this passage is to
> evidence to those who disbelieve Jesus' resurrection based on the
> supposition that the disciples merely saw a phantom, then it is odd that
> doesn't have the disciples follow through and actually touch Jesus' body
> But, many commentators have presented other interpretive options here...
> 1. Luke 24:39 may not be at all about presenting stronger apologetic
> *that* the resurrection *had occurred*. Though admittedly the uncritical
> stance of more conservative commentators like Bruce and Morris (and none
> less likely for that), it is equally possible that Luke thought this is
> actually *how* it all occured. He reports that Jesus invited touch and ate
> with the disciples to alleviate *their* immediate doubts/fears -- not the
> doubts or fears of the presumed Lukan audience about whether or not the
> resurrection had occured.
> 2. If an apologetic motif is present, it may be that Luke is answering
> who *over-spiritualize* the resurrection -- not doubt that it occurred.
> still wouldn't imply any evolution in the tradition, just competing views.
> 3. Ernst, Grundmann, and others have seen in these passages an
> 4. Luke may have a purely didactic purpose in mind here related to the
> community's concerns about how they themselves will be resurrected.
> 5. Brown (1991:54) points out that "Luke's primary interest is in the
> identity of the risen Jesus ("It really is I")..." and that such emphasis
> his bodily aspects may not be "too different from having the two disciples
> at Emmaus recognize Jesus in the breaking of bread." Jesus appears out of
> nowhere, his appearance frightening/startling the disciples, after having
> entered into his heavenly glory (Lk 24:26), and now must reveal his
> continuity with their former teacher, presenting his wounds immediately
> after the invitation to touch.
> So given that this deduction (more accurately labeled an opinion) of
> regarding Lk 24:39 doesn't leap right off the page at us, it doesn't
> that we're not committing an anachronism when we assume that Luke would
> bother emphasizing physicality to enhance the proofs of the resurrection.
> Indeed, in order to further convince a Greek audience of the reality of
> resurrection, he might do the exact opposite, given that some would have
> seen the soul as more "real" than the body, and certainly a more likely
> candidate for postmortem survival.
> Plato described the body itself as the mere image of the soul:
> "And of those who have met their end, it is well said that the bodies of
> dead are mere images, but the actual essence of each of us is called the
> deathless soul, which goes off to other gods to render account...." (Laws
> Riley, commenting on this passage, writes:
> "Here, according to the most influential philosopher of antiquity, the
> body is a mere phantom, 'ghostly', and the surviving soul is the only
> substantial human element. So the soul as an image of the person could be
> seen as the real part of the human being, deriving from the realm of the
> gods, while the body was an unsubstantial image. Thus a postmortem
> appearance in the era after Plato could be considered as one of substance,
> as 'real', though bodiless and immaterial. It could, and probably would
> been in fact, more 'real' than the body/soul combination of the antemortem
> person, since the soul when embodied was disguised by beauty or wealth:
> is Plato's argument in the Gorgias..."(_Resurrection Reconsidered_, p. 50)
> John wrote: (2) "Ancient people don't necessarily consider that which is
> physical to be any more real than that which is purely spiritual."
> Mike: This one is made irrelevant, because regardless of what ancient
> people in general would "necessarily consider", the fact is that
> Luke and his presumed audience evidently DID consider that very
> thing. (The general principle - as implied in a remark to J.Hodges -
> is that if writer X can be plausibly shown to have believed Y, then
> it's basically irrelevant what was believed by others in groups to
> which X might have belonged. True or not, that isn't the controlling
> factor. It only becomes important if we can't tell what X believed.)
> John: I'm surprised that you would consider that Luke that "that very
> thing". Was the Holy Spirit that filled and empowered the disciples at
> Pentecost really any less real to Luke than the resurrected Jesus?
> But putting that aside, the problem is that the conditions of this general
> principle have not been met. You've simply assumed that writer X believed
> You haven't plausibly shown this. Writer X may believe either of various
> competing views Y, A, B, or C, so therefore background information P (the
> views of ancient people in general) does become important - and make Y
> interpretation of Luke) less plausible.
> John wrote:(3) "The physicality of the resurrection appearances would have
> indeed been less of a "proof", and more of a hindrance to
> acceptance, in some circles."
> Mike: Again, what was true "in some circles" is basically irrelevant in
> the face of plausible evidence that for THIS circle (Luke and his
> audience) it was not a hindrence, but rather an acceptance factor.
> John: Again, an assumptive interpretation is not the same thing as
> John wrote: (4) "Further, spirit itself was not necessarily [thought to
> a non-physical substance (if such a phrase is even intelligible)."
> Mike: Be that as it may, Luke's contrast was with pneuma; "pneuma doesn't
> have flesh and bones as you see that I have". But just in case
> seeing wasn't good enough (because it may be thought to be mere
> appearance) "touch me" is added. (Presumably they did, though the
> text doesn't say so.) What I think this implies is that, for Luke
> and his audience, pneuma could take on the appearance of a man, but
> could not be touched, because it wasn't solid.
> John: I agree with this.
> John wrote:> In one particular manifestation, Luke has Jesus say he is
> > and bone". But obviously Luke accepts that the post-resurrection
> > Jesus, like the angels, can manifest in a variety of ways - as a
> > physical man, teleporting at will, as a blinding light, etc.
> Mike: You've put the anomaly I've been suggesting quite well. If one
> interprets Luke as believing that the man who ate the fish is but
> a manifestation (or morphing) of the resurrected Jesus ('RJ'
> hereafter), then the body of that man cannot be the one, true body
> of the RJ.
> John: Right -- there is nothing in the Gospels saying that all or any of
> res. appearances are manifestations of his exact nature immediately
> post-resurrection, or his ultimate mode of existence. No one saw Jesus
> from the dead.
> Mike: On the other hand, if the one true body of the RJ is in
> fact even partially composed of real human flesh and bone, then
> according to Paul's dictum, he can't get into heaven.
> John: Actually Paul's dictum is about "flesh and blood", not "flesh
> and bone". Perhaps they're the same? Perhaps they're not. As I originally
> pointed out, a multitude of commentators (Wright, Witherington,
> Erickson, Gundry, Kuhn, Sevenster, Unnik, Moule, Sand, O'Collins, Gillman,
> etc.) argue that this is an idiom denoting that which is corruptible: "For
> Paul 'flesh and blood' does not mean 'physicality' per se but the
> corruptible and decaying present state of our physicality. What is
> is what we might call a 'noncorruptible physicality': the dead will be
> raised 'incorruptible' (v. 52), and we--that is, those who are left alive
> until the great day--will be changed."[N.T. Wright, "The Challenge of
> (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999) p.143.]
> John Sabatino
> Austin, TX
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