Re: tomb stories and Adoptionism
- What follows is some stuff that wasn't in the original strand (though I have
been aware of for a while).
Let's look carefully at some of these burial stories. Was there really a
tomb burial for Jesus? I say this was highly unlikely. So let's examine
the Scriptural evidence. I've examined this subject before already, so
here's some more thoughts.
If indeed it was a tomb burial, what kind of a tomb would it have been?
Was is the family tomb of Joseph of Arimathea? Not so according to Lk
23:53, which assures us that it was "a tomb in which no man had yet been
buried". Now, by what stretch of imagination Joseph would have had a "new
tomb" sitting around, waiting to go into action, and also "close to the
scene of execution"?
>>Nowhere does it mention that it was a family tomb. It states that it was a new
one; something which, IMO, is not very unlikely considering that Joe was a
rich, distinguished member of the Sanhedrin (Mt 27:57, Mk 15:43, Lk 23:50. I
don't see a mention to Joe's Sanhedrin membership in Mt or Jn, perhaps because
they found this detail, shall I suggest, "dissimilar"). Craig writes, "The
incidental details that it was new and belonged to Joseph are also probable,
since Joseph could not have placed the body of a criminal in just ay tomb,
especially since this would defile the bodies of any family members also
What kind of a tomb would have had a "door" consisting of a giant rock? A
mythological tomb perhaps? How many historical tombs from Jerusalem that
we know about had a door consisting of a giant rock? I doubt if there was
>>Well that's an interesting comment given that from the start I mentioned that
archaeological discoveries have confirmed the type of tomb used by Joe of A.
in the gospels. I have New American Bible sitting on my lap with a picture of
a reck-hewn tomb with a large circular stone in front of it. The caption
ANCIENT JEWISH TOMB--The tomb pictured above is located a few miles west of
Jerusalem. Not the large circular stone (some stones are said to have weighed
one or more tons) used to seal the entrance to the tomb. The tomb in which
Jesus was laid was probably similar to this one. (See Jn 19:42)
And what about Lk 23:43? This is a very important passage. Jesus is
telling one of the criminals crucified next to him,
"Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
Did he say "Three days later you will be with me in Paradise?" Not quite.
>>There is this doctrine called "Heaven," which many would link to "Paradise".
"Heaven" is a temporary stop before the Resurrection.
- <<Yes, this is yet one more of these tell-tale older passages, early sources
incorporated into our canonical gospels overladen with later editorial
materials. Yes, the unwieldy assemblage of tomb stories just happens to be
a later editorial intrusion, or so it seems to me.
Clearly in the original version of events the persons burying Jesus were
the hostile "Jews", and sure as sure can be they would not have been
burying him in any sort of a tomb. It is obvious that Acts 13:28-29 has
Jesus being buried by these "hostile Jews" (although admittedly they're
burying him in a "tomb", which word is almost certainly a late intrusion
here, clashing with the whole general sense of this passage). How could
this passage be ever squared with burial by the quasi-disciple Joseph? I
don't see how. And the source behind Jn 19:31 also features these very
same "hostile Jews"; theirs, and nobody else's was the initiative to take
the three victims from their crosses.
>>Of course, you know I wrote about this earlier.
But a question may be asked, "How could this early version of the faith --
ignominious death on the Cross, followed immediately by the Resurrection
- -- be seen as acceptable to the earliest believers? How could they ever
worship a man whose body was buried in a place of infamy, some anonymous
shallow trench, along with other convicted criminals? Does this seem
unlikely? Not at all. Just look at Isaiah 53:9.
"A grave was assigned him among the wicked and a burial place with
evildoers, Though he had done no wrong nor spoken any falsehood."
>>...and notice that in the pre-Pauline hymn, the burial is not mentioned as
"according to the scriptures". (I picked this up from that discussion linked
So there really is no good reason why this realistic version of the burial
would have been seen as unacceptable to the earliest believers. The key
concept to grasp here is that the kind of resurrection they believed in
was _the spiritual resurrection_. The earthly body had nothing to do with
it. "Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God".
>>You obviously have not read Craig's article, "The Bodily Resurrection of
Jesus" (http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/bodily.html). The Jews
had no concept of a non-bodily resurrection. "Flesh and blood" is a Jewish
idiom (cf Gal 1:16). Anyhow, I'd rather you read Craig's article before making
these comments. (Perhaps see my "Paul and the Resurrection, outside ICor 15"
piece as well.)
Paul believed in a bodily resurrection (eg Rom 8:23). The very word for body
('soma') always connotes a physical body, and often times a corpse. (Hence in
English, somatic=physical.) See Gundry, _Soma in Biblical Theology_.
It mattered not in the least what happened to the body. The body was merely a
discarded earthly vessel that returns to the earth. The more ignominious
the burial, the better it would have fit in with their crucial proof-texts,
the Suffering Servant passages of Isaiah 52:13ff.
By the way, it seems quite ironic to me that in these enlightened times,
and for our overeducated University scholars, this on the whole rather
refined and philosophical concept of the spiritual non-bodily resurrection
should find far less acceptance than it did 2000 years ago among a bunch
of presumably semi-literate farmers and fishermen...
And also, that burial version ("in the sand", or else "shamefully") in the
Apocryphon of James 15 from Nag Hammadi, discussed here recently, sure
seems like it is coming from an important early source. People should take
note that it really matters very little which of these two versions is
true. The sense is basically the same. Also please note an important
parallel in 1 Cor 15:43.
>>"It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious"--simply means that the
resurrection body (in general) doesn't have all the weaknesses and is
dominated by the Spirit.
It is only much later, perhaps as a result of the increasing Gentile
influence in the next Christian generation, that this early and on the
whole rather philosophical version of the faith would have been found
>>Actually, a more Jewish body of believers would be less likely to fall for the
As the number of believers increased, and as the influence of the
movement grew, the life story of their founder figure demanded more
stately framework. So in order to attract the better quality of convert,
perhaps, or simply to attract more converts, the promises dispensed needed
to became more profuse. Now it will not be merely some hazy spiritual
resurrection that will be on offer. Now you will get to keep your _mortal
body_ in the Paradise as well...
>>Again, this is a misconception of Paul's view of the resurrection. Paul's view
was pharisaic and physical. (Bring on the objections as you find them, I've
read them all before.)
Thanks to Mark G.'s helpful recommendation, I've now been reading
Goulder's TALE OF TWO MISSIONS. And I like a lot what I'm reading there
about the early Adoptionists (Goulder describes these early Christians as
"Possessionists"). His analysis seems to provide a lot of support for my
thesis that Adoptionism was the earliest post-Easter faith.