Dear Don Mills,
Please excuse the stupidity of the questions I'm about to ask, and
please do me the favor of answering.
I really don't understand what is meant by 'spiritual resurrection'.
Could you explain without reference to 1 Corinthians 15, which is
used at least as frequently by those holding to a physical
resurrection as by those holding instead to a spiritual
resurrection? Also, would a 'spiritual resurrection' have been
designated as 'pneumatiké anastasis'?
I would like to find clear ancient references to a spiritual
resurrection, and am not convinced that the Pauline writings are
sufficiently clearly in support of a spiritual resurrection. At any
rate, those who held to a physical resurrection certainly interpreted
the passages as supporting that view. Do we, on the other hand, have
any ancient (Gnostic?) references where the same passages are clearly
interpreted as not referring to a physical resurrection?
Anticipatory thanks for your kind response,
BA (religion) Pepperdine University
no degree --- Fuller Seminary
> Do we have any testimony from James or Peter?
> What they really preached, we don't know: the letters in their
names are generally (not universally) considered pseudepigraphal, and
besides those we have only what "Luke" tells us in Acts, and a couple
of mentions by Paul, hard to reconcile with Luke's account.
> On the other hand, it's generally accepted that Paul's letters,
insofar as they are genuine, represent the earliest Christian
documents that have survived. Does Paul "preach ... the bodily
> As is well known, Paul's description of the "resurrection
appearances" of Jesus (1 Cor 15:1-7) is difficult to reconcile with
the gospel accounts, which themselves contain startling
discrepancies. Were Jesus' first post-mortem appearances in
Jerusalem, for example (Matthew, Luke, John 20), or in Galilee (Mark,
apparently, and perhaps John 21. When could the disciples have
returned to being fishermen in Galilee, by Luke's accounts in his
gospel and the Acts?).
> True, Paul uses the verb "egeiren", "raised up (from sleep)", and
the noun "anastasis", "an arising, a standing up"; but while these
are physical terms, all "spiritual" vocabulary is rooted in the
physical. He also uses "opsthe", "appeared" or "was seen", making no
distinction between his own vision of Jesus and the appearances to
the apostles. "Christ died for our sins," he wrote, "and ... was
buried, and ... on the third day he was roused from sleep"
(or "raised up"). The tradition was that he was buried, no denial;
but where, and by whom, and when, Paul doesn't tell us.
> What he does describe (1 Cor 15:44) is a "resurrection body" which
is profoundly different from the pre-morten body: "a spiritual
[pneumatikon] body", not "a natural [psykhikon] body". Did Paul
agree with Luke, that Jesus' body "did not see decay" (put into
Peter's mouth at Acts 2:31, and quoted by J Phillip Arnold)?
Apparently not, for he insists that the "natural" body "is
perishable, but what is raised is imperishable; what is sown is
corruptible, but ... what is raised is a spiritual body" (1 Cor 15:42-
> We don't really know what gospel of Jesus Peter or James preached,
but Paul, it seems, did preach a "spiritual" resurrection (a sequence
of "appearances" -- visions?), which he claims to have known of both
by "tradition" (parelabon) and by personal experience. He was
personally acquainted with Peter and James (Gal. 1, 2), and
presumably knew what they taught, but despite other disagreements
with them, he never expresses a need to refute their tradition
of "physical" resurrection. Perhaps they didn't have one.
> It is easy to see how a metaphorical (spiritual) vocabulary
of "rising from sleep" and "standing up" was transmuted into the
concept of a physical resurrection. It's much harder to see how, so
close to the events, Paul could have so misunderstood or so
misrepresented "the tradition that [he himself] had received", if it
included any of the physical details recounted in the gospels.
> Did Peter and James preach "a gospel of Jesus that did not include
the bodily resurrection"? We can't know. But it appears that Paul
did, and his is our earliest testimony.
> -- Don Mills (London, England)
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]