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Bultmann, Heidegger, and Gnosticism, PART 2

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  • Gary C Moore
    PART 2: CONVERT TO HTML if you can Nevertheless, Paul s term spiritual body (I Cor. 15:44, 46) strongly suggests that Paul conceived of the Spirit as a
    Message 1 of 1 , May 28, 2001
      PART 2: CONVERT TO HTML if you can
      "Nevertheless, Paul's term "spiritual body" (I Cor. 15:44, 46) strongly suggests that Paul conceived of the Spirit as a material, just as the term "glory" (//14, 1; pg. 156), closely related to that of Spirit,  undoubtedly denotes a (heavenly) substance in I Cor. 15:40f . . . For the "greater splendor" of the "new covenant" is not visible at all, but is A POWER THAT DEMONSTRATES itself IN ITS EFFECT - and THAT IS that it PRODUCES freedom . . . It is clear that this present glory is not shinning material. It is nothing other than the power by means of which the "inward self" (//18, 1) is renewed day by day (4:16) . . . We may accordingly say that the sporadically occurring notion of the Spirit as a material is not one that is really determinative for Paul's concept of the Spirit (I would say that it is Bultmann that is starting to slide away from Paul's REAL problem, that the SOMA which IS the personal self IS flesh [sarx],that the personal self, though indivisible is, in a monist system, necessarily material and therefore necessarily mortal and therefore cannot trick itself into immortality through the evasions of dualistic thinking whether Cartesian or Gnostic, but somehow, SOMEHOW, make "immortality" meaningful in a human situation that is inescapably and utter finallity MORTAL) . . . Then the true meaning of Paul's spirit concept must be reached by some other way. (First, this "concept" cannot be simply an abstraction, though possibly Bultmann MAY be wanting to escape the aporia of the situation by fleeing into abstract thinking. But I think this is only a tendancy, not a conscious or even unconscious goal. Second, "reached" is a very bad word to use. If you 'reach' for something, there is absolutely no guarentee in that concept that something will be, can be, or even exists to be reached.)// The Spirit is the opposite of "flesh" (Gal. 5:16; 6:8; Rom. 8:4ff., etc.). As "flesh" is the quintessence of the worldly, visible, controlable, and transitory sphere which becomes the controlling power over the man who lives "according to the flesh" (//22), so "Spirit" is the quintessence of the non-worldly, invisible, uncontrollable, eternal sphere (pg. 234) which becomes the controlling power for and in him who orients his life "according to the Spirit." And as the power of "flesh" is manifested in the fact that it binds man to the transitory, TO THAT WHICH IS ALWAYS ALREADY PAST, BINDS HIM TO DEATH, so the power of the Spirit is manifested in the fact that it gives the believer freedom, OPENS UP THE FUTURE, THE ETERNAL LIFE. For freedom is nothing else than being open for the GENUINE FUTURE, letting one's self be determined BY THE FUTURE. SO THE SPIRIT MAY BE CALLED THE POWER OF FUTURITY . . . There is a peculiar double meaning about the term "Spirit," because it can denote both the miraculous power that is bestowed upon the man of faith and is the source of his new life, and also the norm of his earthly walk. THIS IS THE SAME PARADOX as in that utterance of Gal. 5:25: "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit" - in which the first "spirit" means the power, the second the norm, for it stands in place of a kata pneuma ("according to the Spirit" as in 5:16). The primary idea is the miraculous power of God; then, since it has the effect of emancipating from the power of sin and death (Rom. 8:2) - i.e., it grants freedom of action and opens up the possibility of "reaping eternal life" (Gal. 6:8) - it is also the norm for "walking." (pp. 334-336)
      'Understanding' how Bultmann and Paul are using words here is extremely important because they are no longer using categorical "concepts," no longer refering to anything you can point to or indicate IN ANY WAY, but are dealing with what Heidegger calls "existentials",so-called misnomered 'structures' that are inescapably based on substantial and material presentness but find absolutely no meaning in being simply here and now but are CONSTANTLY and CONTINUOUSLY throughout one's lifetime for purposes NOT at-hand, NOT practical, and NEVER actually present. THAT is why "the power of the flesh is manifested in the fact that it binds man to the transitory, to that which is already past, binds him to death." That is utterly meaningless in the simple "here and now", but if you accord absolute value to the past, then all your future actions are pre-set according to that valuation. And to Paul that would be "death." But nowhere in this, is there anything that can be literally pointed at or logically delineated substantially BECAUSE THE WHOLE REASON FOR ITS EXISTENCE, ITS WHOLE MOTIVATION, IS THE LOVE OF THE PAST! Anything else brought to discussion would be utterly trivial. And when Bultmann says, "the power of the Spirit is manifested in the fact that it gives the believer freedom", it is indeed a "fact" but it is a"fact" of feeling. Absolutely nothing in the present "here and now" has been changed or touched. The only action appropriate to the true nature of the "here and now" is staring at the wall. Motivation, desire, need have ABSOLUTELY no place here. That is why PAIN is such a mystery and so important. Pain literally pushes the physical, the material into the imaginary future by necessity OR consciousness literally collapses. Would that be why situations of complete stasis seem to always,pushed to the limit, become situations that are literally painful? Is this 'God's way' of talking to us? - for I know someone is thinking that. But that would be an extremely grusome conclusion to come to that even I would call truly evil. For look at whom you would be handing political power to by acknowledging that horror. But, on the other hand, it does clearly illustrate the truly awesome power of pain to which absolutely nothing else can even begin to compare. Pain, properly applied,can make you, me, anybody foreswear EVERYTHING they love in life, truly and permanently. Paul certainty have vivid knowledge of how a Roman torturer operates. It was an everyday thing in Roman life ESPECIALLY for a Christian and a Jew. I am sure he had intimate knowledge of the horrors one human being could do to the flesh of another. He was intimately familiar with apocalyptic Jewish movements popular even in the diaspora. THE JEWS WERE SICK TO DEATH OF PAGAN FOREIGNERS DEBASING THEIR HOMELAND AND THEIR GOD, AND WERE CONSTANTLY REBELING AGAINST THESE FOREIGN POWERS WHETHER SELUCID, HERODIAN, OR ROMAN. After all, the Temple had already been desicrated by a Roman once who supposedly said he found an ass' s head upon the high altar, although this is almost certainly apocryphal - except when the French king's forces burst into the stronghold of the Knight's Templar, guess what they said they found. Yet, they were deliberately trying to make the Templars into heretics in holding to steal their vast wealth - which, however, they never found! But the point is - the story of the ass's head persisted. It was created as the basest and most defiling of slanders. And the Jews had to swallow it 'meekly' for over a hundred years. And when they REALLY let loose in 66 C.E., the ultimate result of the desparation was a combination of Hiroshima and Auschwitz and the near extermination of the Jewish people in Israel. What was left was really almost totally killed off in 115 C.E. and 132 C.E. For a while there was no Jewish community in Alexandria and the whole of Egypt which actually probably had more Jews than Israel did in 66. So it is against this constantly building pressure-cooker background that Paul is preaching, of abundant public torture and death amongst Jews conducted by both other Jews and Romans. We know next to nothing of this out of Paul if one can even say that. But if James, the brother of Jesus who was to all intents and purposes the official head of the Christians, was just such a radical nationist and apocalyptic Jew as the Zealots and the Siccari and whose 'legal' asasination by the Herodian priesthood of the temple actually may have been the event that united all the radical Jewish nationalist groups to start the 66 revolt that led to the destruction of the temple and Jewry in Israel, then much of the way Paul expresses his theology in his letters, mainly by their startling absence considering their importance. Because by the start of his ministry, every Jew in the world knew a great explosion was going to happen soon. Consider, for instance, the prominance already given in the gospels for the Siccari and the Zealotes, if this is not a later intrusion into the story, and this is around 33 years before the 66 revolt. Paul wanted to distance himself ASAP from the coming disaster. His very possession of Roman citizenship, even for a diaspora Jew, was an extreme act of political statement and may very well had him marked for asassination himself eventually. Only two groups of Jews survived all three revolts, the Christians and the Rabbinic Jews. Even Rabbinic Judaism is vastly different from the Judaism practiced before the 66 revolt and also strived mightily to distance itself from radical nationalism - which one must realize, despite the self-serving testimony of Flavius Josephus, was an INTENSELY POPULAR revolt! I mean, considering the whole situation, what else could it have been? What else could have produced such drastic and final commitment? What else could have produced the near extermination of Jews by the Romans in Israel? After all, that is rather an uneconomic gesture. You only kill EVERYONE if EVERYONE is a rebel! The Romans killed literally at times EVERYTHING LIVING! As fanatical as the Celts were and as extreme as Julius Caesar could be, he did nothing like that in Gaul. The Jews were special. Therefore for a Jew like Paul to survive, one could not be identified as a Jew. Tradition, the past, then for Paul was literally death to him.
      The "particular double meaning" of Spirit, Bultmann discusses, does NOT make present "the miraculous power that is bestowed upon the man of faith." For this power is "freedom" which "opens up the future, the eternal life." IT IS LITERALLY THE FUTURE THAT IS ETERNAL LIFE! Never the present. The only change wrought in the present is "the norm of his earthly 'walk.'" And this - ACTUAL PRACTICE - is a VERY secondary thing to the life of the Spirit which Bultman says "maybe called the power of futurity." And this futurity is the "being open for the genuine future," which is exactly the same thing as Heidegger's keeping open of being, of maintaining the clearing. It is ABSOLUTELY PURE anticipation, a wholly ontological 'structure.' It does not even determine anything about what this future is going to be.
      But it is important that Paul, in contrast to Jewish apocalyticism and Gnostic mythology, refrains from depicting the condition of the ressurection life, for a complex of future conditions could only be painted on analogy with earthly life, and that would directly contradict the character of the future as that which is "not seen" (II Cor. 4:18). So Paul goes no further than to speak generally of the "glory" that is to be revealed (Rom. 8:18; II Cor. 4:17) or of "being with Christ," which will begin (I Thess. 4:17; 5:10; Phil. 1:23; II Cor. 5:7f.). "Walking by sight" will then take the place of "walking by faith." What we now behold is only a mirrored image full of riddles; then we shall see "face to face." "now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood" (I Cor. 13:12). Indeed, Paul actually gets into contradiction with the ressurection doctrine when he hopes in Phil. 1:23 that "his being with Christ" will begin immediately after his death. This contradiction betrays how little difference it makes what images are used to express the fact that "life" has a future beyond life in the "flesh." (pg. 346)
      As Jud says about Heidegger, when Bultmann is cut down to what he is actually saying, there is actually nothing of substance said here. To base one's life on "existentials" of existence instead of categories of substance, though this is something everyone does and MUST do and has always done so, to do so clearly understanding that one is 'standing' upon a ground that Heidegger literally says is nothing, it becomes rather frightening as he intends it to be. This is much muted, but still present, in Bultmann. Another thinking of faith only from within faith, I guess. But people must live real lives, and Bultmann AND Paul say "walking by sight" MUST REPLACE "walking by faith," despite the fact that one would walk by sight ONLY BECAUSE of faith. Again, monist thinking shows the real situation, and that, though thoroughly problematic through and through - the problems will NEVER EVER be resolved, you not only have to deal with it but you "always already" live this way. This is the inauthentic of which the authentic is merely a modification. This is the constant conflict yet thorough intermixture of the ontic with the ontological WHERE THE ONTIC IS THE GROUND OF THE ONTOLOGICAL. This is why one wants to flee at least some aspect of the body, and yet the only place to flee to - is the body.

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