Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Creating Jesus 8: Rereading and remembering

Let's recap before proceeding. I have argued that the impetus for christology is two-fold: it is a response to Jesus' death which did not meet the group's messianic expectations; it is fermented by visionary experiences of Peter (and others like Mary?) which were understood to be religiously significant experiences. They understood the visions of his spirit not as a ghost (as a non-Jew might have framed it) but as a resurrected body (as a Jew would have framed the afterlife).

We also noted that the type of resurrected body was disputed among the Jews at the time. This is important for us. That we not impose "orthodox" christian notions of a fleshly resurrection on literature that recognizes more than one position and those in conflict.

Some like Paul, understood the resurrection of the person (Paul calls the person the "seed") to be the rising of a spiritual body, not the body of flesh that was in the grave. Jesus was buried and raised on the third day, but not as a body of flesh, but as a spiritual body (his flesh was left in the grave!). His "seed" would have a new body, not the body of flesh. His "seed" would be transformed into a celestial body (1 Cor 15:37-38). Others like Luke were sure it was the flesh which was raised (I guess he understood the person to be the flesh-blood body) and it will be the same as before, even eating fish. John's gospel has something in between. The fleshly body is raised but is transfigured into a new kind of body that can walk through locked doors.

In 1 Cor 15, Paul is arguing a couple sides of the debate. The Corinthians don't like the body resurrection at all; they are probably wanting to keep their non-Jewish view that the soul is immortal and in fact sloughs off the "soul body" as well as the "flesh body" it received when it incarnated so that it can be liberated and reascend to God. The idea that the afterlife would be embodied, whether a spiritual body or a physical body reanimated was nonsense to them. Paul agrees that the resurrection is not the resurrection of the flesh, but a transformation of the "seed" in a blessed glorious spiritual body.

Now these two impulses resulted in two activities. First, they reread their bible, the Jewish scripture in order to figure out what the suffering and death of their Messiah meant, and they talked to each other, "remembering" what they could of Jesus' teachings whether public or private and began to write it down.

Both of these activities are activities common to Judaism. The Jews believed that their scripture held meaning that could be reaped through study and prayer, that the scripture was multivalent and could reveal a previously unknown meaning under new circumstances. This is how God communicated to his people. So after Jesus' death, the first Christians turned to scripture and began to read it with new questions and a new perspective - that is they were trying to understand why the Messiah suffered and why he died as a criminal. They took passages that traditionally had nothing to do with messianic prophecy and made them such, which the other Jews loudly protested.

There is also evidence (not only in the form of Kernel Thomas and Q, but also in terms of narrative claims), that they tried to record what they could remember of Jesus' teachings. If the narrative claim of the Clementine corpus has any value, it suggests that James, the leader of the group of Christians located in Jerusalem, hired someone to go around with Peter and record his preachings which were about the teachings of Jesus. He wanted to use these books in the mission, as handbooks for preachers sent out to various locations. Other texts imagine the disciples sitting around a table and trying to recall what Jesus said. Certainly such claims in the texts give authenticity to the texts themselves (since it would be understood that this text was based on those remembrances). But what I find compelling is that the claim being made matches the type of early sayings source books that we have been hypothesizing for over a hundred years existed in terms of Q. We know they existed because we have Thomas, and now my own work suggests an early Jerusalem-oriented Kernel that looks like it contained five early speeches attributed to Jesus.

So what were the first christologies that fermented in these sayings gospels and other texts that preserve some early tradition (even if only to counter and correct them)? What scriptures were being used to form these christologies? Next time I will begin to take up these questions.

39 comments:

Michael said...

Thanks for the recap and intro to things to come, April. Looking forward to it.

Bob MacDonald said...

Still following - not entirely convinced of your direction, but hoping it may be fruitful.

I had read three motivations (in posts 5 and 6) and you have reduced them to two with yeast - I like this idea for it is a mixture such as wine is made of.

I did write an attempt at my hearing so far here. To summarize, my motivations for them are joy, presence, and hope. All complex human motivations but not necessarily forming a new religious framework.

I too look forward to your continuing exploration of sources.

Scott Ferguson said...

Does not the seed disappear when the plant grows? Would the idea that a glorious transformed body originated in a fleshly body be so repugnant that we can assume that Paul meant to leave the mortal body in the grave?

John Noyce said...

Thank you for a thought-provoking series. Perhaps you could comment on this:
Why is Paul, who did not physically meet or know Jesus, in the New Testament, and in multiple texts, whereas those who did know Jesus, such as James, Thomas and the three Marys, are excluded or minimised?

pascal said...

I am somewhat sceptical of the possibility of ascribing certainty to how 'a Jew would have framed the afterlife'; it does seem to me that this is an area where recent scholarship has increasingly emphasised doubt. Attractive as it may seem to pose an emerging body of multiple beliefs against a fixed backdrop of 'what they believed before', social constructs are a lot more complicated than that.

Equally, you seem in some danger of losing touch with the practical consequences of crucifixion for offences against the state. Raising money to fund the recording of the claims of an executed traitor is a high risk activity at the best of times, and doing it in the heart of the Imperial power base ups the ante still further. You really would need some heavy-duty evidence to support a claim of that nature; I look forward to reading it...

José Solano said...

"Some like Paul, understood the resurrection of the person (Paul calls the person the "seed") to be the rising of a spiritual body, not the body of flesh that was in the grave. Jesus was buried and raised on the third day, but not as a body of flesh, but as a spiritual body (his flesh was left in the grave!)."

You must of course realize that there is no objective historical evidence for such a claim. It's pure conjecture, most imaginative speculation, a truly fabricated "Christology" pulled from disconnected bits and pieces of Paul's writings that totally misrepresent the thinking and beliefs of Paul.

This kind of wild conjecturing, a la Pagles' imaginative inventions, leaves you wide open to objective criticisms from any theologian worth his weight in salt. You are not talking about Paul's thinking explicitly detailed in his writings. Paul thoroughly believed in the physical, flesh resurrection of Jesus, even if he never specifically mentions an empty tomb.

For now I will leave it here with a sort of wakeup call for your readers not to gullibly accept what you write here as some new erudite insight, but to challenge it. Such thoughts as you propose have not escaped the scrutiny of the extraordinary scholars and theologians who have examined the Scriptures over the last two thousand years. It is really too simple to have been missed. If we're talking about what Paul believed we must understand what he wrote. A good beginning for this issue is at 1 Cor 15. It smacks of picayune pharisaism to imagine he's talking about some non-fleshly "resurrection." The Pharisee Paul would have been the first to clarify this. We may be confounding Greek concepts of immortality with Jewish concepts of resurrection.

Peace. Blessings.

Steven Carr said...

APRIL
'The Corinthians don't like the body resurrection at all; they are probably wanting to keep their non-Jewish view that the soul is immortal and in fact sloughs off the "soul body" as well as the "flesh body".....'

CARR
So why doesn't Paul ever bother attacking the idea of an immortal soul, if that is what they believed?

Paul says if there is no resurrection, then the dead are lost.

But he produces no argument to counter what would have been the obvious retort of a believer in an immortal soul, that the dead would not be lost.

Steven Carr said...

JOSE
Paul thoroughly believed in the physical, flesh resurrection of Jesus, even if he never specifically mentions an empty tomb.

CARR
Is that why Paul never refers to the resurrection of the flesh, says in 2 Corinthians 5 that the earthly body is destroyed, and says 'Flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God'.

Paul, of course, trashes the whole idea of resurrected beings being reformed from the dust that corpses dissolve into.

'The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God...'

Of course, any theologian 'worth his salt' will tell you that when Paul said that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, then he meant that flesh will inherit the Kingdom of God.

Any theologian 'worth his salt' will tell you that when Paul said that Jesus 'became a life-giving spirit', he meant that Jesus did not become a spirit.

Any theologian 'worth his salt', will tell you that when Paul said the earthly tent was destroyed, he meant that the earthly tent was saved.

That is the job of a theologian 'worth his salt' - to reinforce Orthodox Christianity.

Such theologians will even tell you that when Paul became a Christian, he remained a Pharisee.

Steven Carr said...

What did Jesus teach that was recorded by somebody going around with Peter?

Did Jesus teach that he would be delivered into the hands of the Gentiles, killed and rise again on the 3rd day?

APRIL
is a response to Jesus' death which did not meet the group's messianic expectations;

CARR
Why were the disciples Messianic expectations of Jesus not dashed every single day that he was alive with them?

I can't remember seeing an answer to this question.

Why does Paul write a big book of theology (Romans) without once referring to Jesus as a preacher or teacher or producing sayings , and attributing them to Jesus?

Jerome said...

@Scott:

> Does not the seed disappear when the plant grows? Would the idea that a glorious transformed body originated in a fleshly body be so repugnant that we can assume that Paul meant to leave the mortal body in the grave?

Why would the whole fleshly body need to be, or need to be seen as, the 'seed'? Especially since the result will be a totally different, new and non-natural but spiritual body?

The seed also does not really disappear, it merely changes its form and will actually be recreated in the new plant or body (biologically speaking) so its seed can again be used to create the next generation of plants/bodies. In that sense the seed only disappears if the plant/body is totally destroyed or burned.

Scott Ferguson said...

Jerome: Paul's seed analogy is so open to interpretation that it forms a strong argument for either side of the question. Paul's discussion in 1 Cor 15 of changed bodies leaves open the possibility that he thought Jesus resurrection involved the same body he occupied in life but transformed. This would leave no body behind in the tomb.

Even when he attempts to answer the question directly we are left guessing. I wonder if his original audience understood clearly or if it remained part mystery even then. Of course, Paul's understanding on the issue may not have been fully developed. He might have struggled with the concpet himself.

Jerome said...

@scott:

But why would one have assumed that the physical body would have been necessary for a later resurrection given that most bodies of most people have rotten and turned into dust a long time ago?

And what about people who died and burned in a fire? Couldn't they be resurrected because there was no physical body left?

Fact remains that Paul did not refer to 'an empty tomb', a 'betrayal by Judas' or 'the story of Doubting Thomas' when he easily could have in his letters to illustrate and emphasize the points he was trying to make!

If he knew about these then why wouldn't he have used them??

Scott Ferguson said...

Like I said, I am not sure that Paul had thought this through to every detail. I am not even sure what Paul was thinking one way or the other but there are enough issues to cast doubt on any conclusion.

One such counter is that Paul claims that when the last trumpet sounds those who are not "asleep" will be changed in a "twinkling". This would imply that those alive would have their bodies transformed, not receive a new body and leave a corpse behind.

This is all confusing - which is why we are having this exchange, n'est pas? :)

Bob MacDonald said...

I suspect we cannot do history by postulating what the apostle or the evangelist 'thinks'. So much of what we think they think is nothing but a projection of our own onto them. What we can do is search out how they read their own scriptures and what resonances they used - that too is heavily influenced by our own bias - our thoughts making opaque what might have been more transparent to their contemporaries - simply because of unrecorded conversations and lost letters and the experience we do not share with them.

I have been saying that Job has few references in the NT - but curiously, 1 Corinthians 15 may incorporate some allusions to Job 14. I realize that this is hardly history but it might be an appeal to a wider even possibly non-Hebrew vision. I think too that the righteous gentile of Romans 1 may be an allusion to Job's uprightness and completeness.

This is the section of Job 14 I am referring to (my translation)
If only you would treasure me in Sheol
and hide me till turned is your wrath
set me a portion and remember me
If a man will die will he live?
All the days of my pressed service I will hope
till my change comes

Jerome said...

@scott:

>one such counter is that Paul claims that when the last trumpet sounds those who are not "asleep" will be changed in a "twinkling". This would imply that those alive would have their bodies transformed, not receive a new body and leave a corpse behind.

but if this 'transformed' body is so different and 'spiritual' then what would you need the old one for?

and the situation at the 'general resurrection' is quite different from right now: the traditional rules don't apply anymore. why would there still be need for dead bodies (unlike today where dead bodies are a fact of reality)? so I've got no problem with assuming that AT THE GENERAL RESURRECTION physical bodies will be transformed into sth new, or be disintegrated and reassembled or whatever.

right now, and in the past, dead bodies have one essential property: they rot and turn to dust. so an actual, still-existent CORPSE can't be a necessary requirement for a new, 'spiritual', 'resurrected' one, agreed? because if it was then what about all those whose bodies have turned to dust a long time ago or, for example, Joan of Arc who got burned at the stake? would it be impossible to resurrect them because there was no 'seed' ( = physical body)?

>This is all confusing - which is why we are having this exchange, n'est pas? :)

Bien sûr! But that does not mean one has to accept every unproven explanation as a valid one ;)

José Solano said...

I think Jerome is asking the right questions and has the clearer understanding of what Paul is speaking about with respect to the resurrection. The distinction needs to be made between the Resurrection of Jesus (the empty tomb) and the "general resurrection" when a reconstitution of the body must take place as the dead bodies have of course disintegrated. There will not be an empty tomb for us. It will eventually be filled only with ashes. "Orthodoxy" has always understood this. The Canon testifies only of an empty tomb for Jesus. Even Lazarus is generally assumed to have returned to the tomb. For Elijah there was no tomb at all. It does not matter for the dead if we are buried or not, cremated, whatever. This is implicit in the statement, "let the dead bury the dead." It may matter for the living.

Paul worked closely with the writers of the Gospels and may have personally known them all. Certainly Paul's companion Luke—and Paul himself—makes it clear how Paul interacted with the Apostles.

Paul says, "I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve." This is no germinating, transforming "seed."

Our bodies are corruptible but Jesus' was not. "All flesh is not the same flesh. . . ." And "flesh and blood" refers also to our sinful state, often referred to as just "flesh" or the "world" that cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven. (Study also the relationship between death and sin.)

"Of course, any theologian 'worth his salt' will tell you that when Paul said that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, then he meant that flesh will inherit the Kingdom of God." (Carr)

I generally do not communicate well with sarcasm in these discussions. I do hope that what I have drawn attention to above provides you a sober response. Paul is referring to your corruptible body and my corruptible body, which he addresses through a "mystery:"

"We shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed. For this corruptible body must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."

This really offers you and me great hope, if he is also referring to the non-believer, which he may not be. It probably just refers to the believing Corinthians who have doubts and misunderstandings.

Peace.

Jerome said...

@José:

Paul DOES NOT mention an empty tomb. That's a fact. Or show me where he does?

Nor does he describe The Christ as a physical human being.

And the rest of your post is simply a lot of unproven, apologetic assumptions and thus worthless.

José Solano said...

Sorry Jerome, your first comments seemed somewhat rational but now you demonstrate you have not read properly or understood what I have said. It is possible that I misunderstood what you were saying as you have some poorly punctuated run-on comments with Scott's comments.

I had already stated that Paul does not mention an empty tomb. Reread my May 5th, 11:41 PM comment.

My comments have nothing to do with apologetics. The term is "exegesis" for the interpretation of Scripture. We are examining what Paul thought about Jesus' resurrection and resurrection in general, so of course I quote Paul for clarification.

It would be quite the delusion for someone to imagine that Paul did not think that Jesus, who is called the Christ, was not a physical human being whose disciples Saul had been persecuting.

Sorry Jerome but I just don't know what you are talking about and I suspect you don't either. Do read again what I have written and if you have something specific to criticize please try again without being merely accusative.

Thank you. Peace.

Jerome said...

@josé:

nice attempt of trying to insult me and paint me as irrational but that's ok ;)

FACT remains that Paul does not describe The Risen Christ (the allegedly resurrected Jesus) as a physical, human being. Or please show me where he did so?

Of course this does not mean that Paul didn't think that the EARTHLY Jesus wasn't a physical human being. On the contrary, he said that Jesus was born of the flesh, etc. But that was not my point.

The point I was making was about the 'Risen Christ', the post-resurrection divine figure.

Maybe you should reread my previous posts and read what I actually wrote.

Steven Carr said...

APRIL
First, they reread their bible, the Jewish scripture in order to figure out what the suffering and death of their Messiah meant, and they talked to each other, "remembering" what they could of Jesus' teachings whether public or private and began to write it down.


CARR
So if texts were so important to early Christians, why did it take 30 years for somebody to have the bright idea of writing a text of the life of Jesus?

Jerome said...

@steven:

According to 'Luke' there were earlier (oral and written?) accounts: "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught."

Unfortunately none of those survived though! Probably because they weren't 'good' or 'true' enough for the proto-Orthodox.

Also the reason that 'Luke' had to CAREFULLY INVESTIGATE and then write an ORDERLY account so that 'Theophilus' may know 'THE CERTAINTY' ...

José Solano said...

Thank you Jerome for not pursuing the unfounded assertions and accusations you made in your earlier comment, e.g., "worthless" "apologetic assumptions", etc. Thank you also for clarifying what you were thinking.

You should realize that you are trying to make an argument from silence. Paul did not say this or that and therefore he did not believe this or that. But as I showed, Paul was in "cahoots" with the rest of the Apostles and eyewitness disciples and he accepted what they had to say about the risen Jesus. The testimony of these disciples, which Paul accepted, is clear.

Paul's companion Luke quotes the risen Jesus as saying: "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." (Lk. 24:39) It would be a wild speculation to imagine that Paul did not believe this. Indeed, Paul's words in 1 Cor 15:3-4, which I earlier quoted, are amazingly similar to what Jesus says in Lk. 24:46-47. The evidence is clear that Paul and Luke have exactly the same belief about the corporeally resurrected Jesus and an "empty tomb."

They also both believed that Jesus as the Son of God can materialize and dematerialize at will. You don't have to believe any of this but it is what they believed and it is their beliefs in the resurrection and corporeality of Jesus that we are examining here, not our fabrications or creative imaginings some 2,000 years later. Such imaginings are great for selling books like Pagels', but we can do better.

I would like to say that this discussion can only profit from the presentation of an "orthodox" perspective or you end up with only variations of heretics preaching to each other. ☺

Peace.

Jerome said...

@josé:

>But as I showed, Paul was in "cahoots" with the rest of the Apostles and eyewitness disciples and he accepted what they had to say about the risen Jesus. The testimony of these disciples, which Paul accepted, is clear.

There is NO actual evidence that Paul accepted what they said about the Risen Christ and the Resurrection how it's portrayed in the Gospels (let alone actual evidence that they said it in the first place!). Or show me where? And Acts is obviously not valid in this case, backup your claim using Paul's letters.

>Paul's companion Luke quotes the risen Jesus as saying: "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." (Lk. 24:39) It would be a wild speculation to imagine that Paul did not believe this. Indeed, Paul's words in 1 Cor 15:3-4, which I earlier quoted, are amazingly similar to what Jesus says in Lk. 24:46-47. The evidence is clear that Paul and Luke have exactly the same belief about the corporeally resurrected Jesus and an "empty tomb."

Wrong. You ASSUME that. But you can't even prove that 'Luke' was a companion of Paul. And Paul, in HIS OWN letters does not refer to the Risen Christ he claims to have encountered as a physical, human-like being.

>I would like to say that this discussion can only profit from the presentation of an "orthodox" perspective or you end up with only variations of heretics preaching to each other.

And what's the evidence that the orthodox position is historically correct? :)

Isn't HISTORY what this blog series is about? Not metaphysics or mythology.

José Solano said...

Well Jerome, I will leave it here. You are not understanding what I am saying as you appear to be somewhat upset and that generally blocks clear thinking. You make accusations of "apologetics" and now talk about "metaphysics" and "mythology" which have nothing to do with anything I'm talking about. There is no need reading Paul or anyone if you cannot understand what they are saying or believe. You denigrate the theologian's academic discipline because you refuse or are unable to follow the clear reasoning of his exegesis. You form conclusions from silence and proceed with pharisaical pettiness to make a "big deal" out a word or two that you may not find in a writing, completely missing out on the big picture while repeating, "show me, show me." You have been shown. You toss around the word "history," which I have taught for many years, but nothing you say has anything to do with history. You are staring at the elephant's knee and cannot back off enough to recognize that it's an elephant. I pray it does not step on you.

Moving right along, I wish you well. Peace. Adiós.

Jerome said...

@josé:

lol, your attempts to paint me as ignorant are quite amusing actually.

fact remains that your claims and statements are unsubstantiated and not historically verifiable. they're apologetic and mythical.

you can't simply STATE that 'Luke' was Paul's companion if there is no historical evidence for this.

you're approaching these questions from a religious and believing perspective, which is contrary to what this blog series is about.

José Solano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jerome said...

@josé?

Uh, so? Simply because a later writer then claims to be this 'Luke' we should assume it was him indeed??

lol

José Solano said...

(I've made some very minor punctuation changes to my deleted comment for clarification.)

Continuing with an objective examination of the actual texts:

"Luke the beloved disciple and Demas greet you." Col. 4:14

". . . Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, . . . . Only Luke is with me." 2 Tim. 4:10-11

Without even discussing The Acts of the Apostles we see the close relationship between Paul and Luke. One cannot rationally presume that in their common ministry they did not share an identical view on the Resurrection of Jesus. It may be that in Paul's developing theology, in light of the "delay of the parousia," he came to new understandings and interpretations, even "mystical" insights on how the general resurrection would take place.

(We can continue to doubt and dispute whatever we wish.)

Jerome said...

@josé?

Uh, so? Simply because a later writer then claims to be this 'Luke' we should assume it was him indeed??

lol

José Solano said...

"Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers." Phil. vs. 23-24

I suppose someone could say this is a different Luke or a different Mark. With that sort of argumentation one could say it's a different Paul who says in the introduction, "Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus."

Jerome said...

@josé:

What is the ACTUAL evidence that the 'Luke' from the 'Gospel of Luke' and Acts is INDEED this Luke that Paul is referring to in his letters?

And why assume that Paul only knew ONE Luke in the first place?

Pastor Bob said...

Jose

Personally I think Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians were written by Paul. 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, no. My reasons stem from word and grammar usage and themes.

But there is a debate about Eph., Ph. and Col. You would have a better argument if Luke's name occurred in Romans, 1 or 2 Cor., Gal. or 1 or 2 Thess.

Pastor Bob said...

Oh, and BTW whatever Paul thought clearly it was important to the Gospel writers that Jesus was, in some sense, physical, although this appearing and disappearing in locked rooms suggest that it was a different kind of physical than, say, I am!

Bob MacDonald said...

This is not 'argument' but a conflict of assumptions. This kind of conflict does not seem to help establishing or refining April's question. Even if the Pastoral epistles are a complete forgery in our terms or pseudepigraphal (sp?) in scholarly terms, what motivates someone to write about someone called 'Luke' or 'Paul' in the terms we read? And how does such motivation (imputed or projected onto an ancient writer by us) inform the question April has asked? The anti-religious would say they are a power trip protecting self interest or creating the very thing Paul did not want to create (Galatians 2:18). Those who say that these are Pauline would claim that they are pragmatic governance based requirements for an ongoing organization of the 'churches'.

I would like to see 'arguments' that hang together with a little evidence. E.g. Nanos (Mystery of Romans) suggests that Paul's writing in Romans is motivated by the Shema and by the perception of Jewish self-interest in the protection of religious privilege and gentile desire to be fully included without the need for circumcision. Such are motivations that have some potential grounding in the heated discussions reported elsewhere in the NT (but rarely in it seems to me in the apocryphal first century tradition). Do we see such motives in other epistles? If so does this constitute reasonable evidence from the source which we call the NT. (And this is a legitimate source or we are standing on fragments of marsh and skin.)

José Solano said...

Hi Pastor Bob,

We are working from the available texts and forming interpretations and understandings based on these texts. I realize I would have a better argument if somewhere in a writing attributed to Paul there would be a statement that said, "Oh, BTW, my fellow worker Luke is the same Luke who is at this time writing a Gospel and a history of the acts of the apostles." Yet, on the other hand, there is nothing that says or even implies that the Luke Paul speaks of is not the same Luke who wrote the Acts or the Gospel and from the earliest times Tradition and the early sources have attributed these works to Luke.

Furthermore, are we to claim, without any historical evidence, that none of the many people Paul names in his letters believed in the physical Resurrection of Jesus or that they were at odds which each other on this foundational tenet? Will we claim that there is a complete disconnect and opposition between the writers of the Gospels and Paul's theology? This is for me rationally unacceptable.

If Paul did not write 2 Tim. or even Phil. we therefore have very early documents corroborating aspects of the Pauline perspective.

Hi Bob MacDonald,

You say, "This is not 'argument' but a conflict of assumptions. This kind of conflict does not seem to help establishing or refining April's question."

But my discussions refer to a particular statement made by Dr. DeConick which is really nothing more than a very strong ahistorical assumption. My comments have nothing to do with any "question" that Dr. DeConick has posed. (See my first comment on May 5, 2009 11:41 PM.) Nor have I really made any "assumptions" but simply proceed to examine what the texts are actually saying and by that try to form a reasonable, well-founded understanding of what Paul believed with regard to the Resurrection of Jesus and the general resurrection.

I'm off to pick up my daughter from softball practice and then teach a class, but hope to contribute somewhat more as soon as I get a break.

Peace.

Bob MacDonald said...

Thanks José - the only cavil I have with April's statement that you critique in your first comment is that I don't know what her assumption is re the meaning of Paul's phrase 'spiritual body'. She is using a metaphor from 1 Cor 15 and that metaphor is in the source texts as a metaphor. What she adds then is the phrase - 'his flesh was left in the grave'. This is not in the source text and so may be reading into what Paul 'thought'.

I would have to examine the texts closely to see if I think she is reading into the mind of the writer of the third and fourth gospels also. I suspect she is. Most of us do. We impose our thoughts on the text.

I repeat - we cannot actually know what the writers - whoever they were - thought. We can only read what they wrote. The question then is - what do we get from it? A reflection of our own gullibility or hopes or fears? An imposition of our own thoughts?

Avoiding the confusion of talking about three people at once, Paul clearly writes about the body in earlier chapters of 1 Corinthians. Is the body of chapter 15 the same body that should not be made one with a prostitute? (Chapter 6 is quite a concrete image). Is this the same body that is 'for the Lord and the Lord for the body'?

If so or if there is some 'connection' something like 'one who is in Christ is of one spirit with Christ', perhaps we can begin to see what Paul's motivation might be. It would seem to be related to purity and not exploiting others - the stranger at the gate. I.e. very Jewish - very moral - very Law-fulfilling in the Torah sense.

This is consistent with the NT message being a calling of Gentiles into the covenant that Jews are also called into. It is very different from making a Jewish Rabbi into a God also - it reframes the question.

José Solano said...

I am addressing what Paul believed with respect to the resurrection of the dead. This is not a question of whether he is right or wrong nor is it even a question of whether or not there is any such resurrection. We should be in agreement that in Paul's thought there at least appears to be a difference between the Resurrection of Jesus and the general resurrection of humanity. He was not a witness to the Resurrection of Jesus but encountered Jesus via a revelation and perhaps several revelations.

With respect to the Resurrection of Jesus Paul accepts the Tradition that he received from witnesses to Resurrection as he explicitly says, "I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve." 1 Cor 15:3-5 He even accepts the detail that "He rose again on the third day"!

Paul was in direct contact and conference with the apostles and other witnesses to the Resurrection and "the empty tomb." This was never a bone of contention in any of their discussions. Contentions developed on the question of circumcision and evangelizing to the gentiles, but these were resolved. The revelation that Paul received was convincing and convicting. There was for him no question that Jesus had risen from the dead corporeally.

As to how the general resurrection is to take place Paul has some very interesting insights, but the two resurrections must not be confounded. This insight dovetails with his understanding of the metanoia and regeneration required for the formation of an eternal, "heavenly," "spiritual body." As he has been immersed in the Greek environment, some of his expressions seem imbued with Hellenistic and gnostic terminology yet without undermining foundational tenets of the early Christian church.

"So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." 1 Cor 15:53-55

And he returns to a theme elaborated on in Rom. 6, 7 and 8: "O death where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor 15:55-57

(Allow me to "pre-correct" by saying that there is nothing in what I write here that is apologetic. It could be recognized and said by any atheist who is reading the texts.)

Bob MacDonald said...

José - I think your observations are accurate and not a projection or statements of things that Paul would disagree with. It seems to me then that the question Rabbi to God needs a bit of refinement. More like why did the early believers think that the God of Israel had been revealed and is now mediated through this person of Jesus which they both had known and now claimed to know in a new way. But let's see how the posts carry on.

José Solano said...

Now Bob McDonald, that is a truly big question you ask, but once they accept that Jesus has truly risen they begin to recall and ponder what He had taught them, what He had done in His earthly days, what happened at Pentecost and through continuing individual revelations, at the very least during the Apostolic period and very likely beyond, and from the amazing power of the Word in the kerygma, the realization that the Son of God is God incarnate and coeternal with the Father becomes manifest by virtue of the Holy Spirit's workings in those whom He elects.

It is not that a Jewish rabbi becomes God but rather, as Stephen Carr perhaps facetiously asks with reference to Dr. De Conick's position: "Is one ground rule in examining how a Jewish rabbi became God, is never to address whether God became a Jewish rabbi?" But that is exactly what we come to now and exactly what the early Christians came to realize, that the Word indeed became flesh.

The rest as they say is history, a history recorded in the Scriptures as accurately or better than in most ancient works of history with people telling the story of what they have witnessed or heard about. Salvation History. Ah, but now I do proselytize.

For Christianity, as Paul observed, everything does hinge on the Resurrection of Jesus so that obviously, if there is a satanic power, that must be where it must strike relentlessly with its full force.

Peace.