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 that
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 this
and perceived it as "not good enough", but I'd be appreciative if you could
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 real --
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 present
evidence to those who disbelieve Jesus' resurrection based on the
supposition that the disciples merely saw a phantom, then it is odd that he
doesn't have the disciples follow through and actually touch Jesus' body in
But, many commentators have presented other interpretive options here...
1. Luke 24:39 may not be at all about presenting stronger apologetic proofs
*that* the resurrection *had occurred*. Though admittedly the uncritical
stance of more conservative commentators like Bruce and Morris (and none the
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 those
who *over-spiritualize* the resurrection -- not doubt that it occurred. This
still wouldn't imply any evolution in the tradition, just competing views.
3. Ernst, Grundmann, and others have seen in these passages an anti-docetic
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 on
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 your's
regarding Lk 24:39 doesn't leap right off the page at us, it doesn't follow
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 the
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 the
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 dead
body is a mere phantom, 'ghostly', and the surviving soul is the only truly
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 have
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: such
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 Y.
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 (your
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 plausible
John wrote: (4) "Further, spirit itself was not necessarily [thought to be]
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-resurrectionMike: You've put the anomaly I've been suggesting quite well. If one
> Jesus, like the angels, can manifest in a variety of ways - as a
> physical man, teleporting at will, as a blinding light, etc.
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 the
res. appearances are manifestations of his exact nature immediately
post-resurrection, or his ultimate mode of existence. No one saw Jesus rise
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, Kistermaker,
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 required
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 Jesus"
(Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999) p.143.]
- On Dec 31, 2004, at 10:44 PM, Horace Jeffery Hodges wrote:
> The difference that most Christians would ascribe toI would take a different tack: that Jesus was the "first fruits" of the
> Jesus is that he is divine, being one person of the
> triune Godhead, whereas everyone else who will be
> resurrected (whether physically or spiritually) is
> human, all too human.
general resurrection and that, by raising him from the dead, God has
promised to do likewise for those who are "in" Christ. I take this to
be Paul's take as well (see 1Cor 15.12-20).
However, I doubt that that this is the average pew-sitter's view, at
least in Evangelical circles. In my experience, their emphasis would
be on Jesus' crucifixion resurrection as an act of atonement, and what
was unique about Jesus was his innocence. That is, Jesus was a perfect
sacrifice, without sin, who could therefore atone for the sins of all
mankind. Those who take this point of view tend not to think of
"heaven" in terms of resurrection, and even Jesus' resurrection would
be emphasized much less than Jesus' crucifixion. Even the Left-Behind
crowd talks about the general resurrection of the dead as being "raised
up" or something, reserving the term "resurrection" for Jesus himself.
Patrick Narkinsky - patrick@...
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts."
- Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan