Sunday, May 24, 2020

Resurrection of the Body (Part 2)

Paul writes about the resurrection in a number of places yet in 1 Corinthians 15 he does so in detail.

    It is the same with the resurrection of the dead:  the thing that is sown is perishable but what is raised is imperishable; the thing that is sown is contemptible but what is raised is glorious; the thing that is sown is weak but what is raised is powerful; when it is sown it embodies the soul, when it is raised it embodies the spirit.
    If the soul has its own embodiment, so does the spirit have its own embodiment.  The first man, Adam, as scripture says, "became a living soul" [Gen 2:7]; but the last Adam has become a life-giving spirit.  That is, first the one with the soul, not the spirit, and after that, the one with the spirit.  The first man, being from the earth, is earthly by nature; the second man is from heaven.  As this earthly man was, so are we on earth; and as the heavenly man is, so are we in heaven.  And we, who have been modeled on the earthly man, will be modeled on the heavenly man. 
Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 15, Verses 42-29. Jerusalem Bible

    It is especially in Paul’s discussion of the resurrection of the body (in the context of his assessment of the weakness, suffering and perishability of human existence) that Paul’s holistic conception of the human being becomes most apparent. Paul’s discussion of the resurrection of the body makes it most clearly evident that Paul considers the sōma to belong constitutively and inseparably to human being-and-living, both now and in the telos (goal, end).
    In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul identifies human being-living as experienced through a “psychic body” (sōma psychikon) or a “spiritual body” (sōma pneumatikon; 1 Cor. 15:44–45). English translations have consistently mistranslated 1 Cor. 15:44, making a contrast between a “physical” body and a “spiritual” body, importing a physical-spiritual dualism that is not Paul’s. In this text Paul contrasts two forms of bodily animation, one “psychic” (psychikon) and the other “pneumatic” (pneumatikon), as a way to strike a midpoint between the Hellenistic body-soul dualism of his audience (which rejected bodily resurrection, period) and a naïve physical resuscitation model of resurrection. The bottom line for Paul is that human existence in either condition—whether in the present age or the age to come—must be bodily (“embodied” sounds too dualistic), whatever the precise animation and whatever the precise “physical” character. That psychikon here does not refer especially to the “physical” feature of the current body is indicated by Paul’s supportive scriptural citation of Genesis 2:7 in 15:45, which draws attention to the first human as being made bodily into a psychē zōsa, translating the Hebrew, nephesh chayyah, “living being.” Even the subsequent distinction between the “earthly” body and the “heavenly” body (vv 47–49) is not one of physical versus spiritual (or material versus immaterial), since for Paul the heavenly is a kind of substance or form (e.g. 1 Cor. 15:39–41). Both kinds of bodily material require animation—and vice versa, both animations require bodily form—for there to be life. The only mode or form of human existence that there is, in either dimension, is bodily existence. 
    Paul’s exposition of the character of and transition between these two modes is also instructive. The two modes are characterized elsewhere as “body of humiliation” as opposed to a “body co-formed to the body of [Christ’s] glory” (Phil. 3:21), or as “bearing the image of the human of dust” compared to “bearing the image of the human of heaven” (the second Adam, 1 Cor. 15:47–49). The most crucial language of resurrection, then, is transformational language, emphasizing continuing within discontinuity. Paul says “we shall all be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51, 52) and that our body will be “transformed” (metaschēmatizō; Phil. 3:21), such that it will be “co-formed” to that of the “image of God’s son” (symphytos, Rom. 6:5; symmorphos, Rom. 8:29; Phil. 3:21). Further, this is described as the “redemption of our body,” linked inseparably with the liberation of all creation (Rom. 8:18–25; Phil. 3:21; 1 Cor. 15:24–28). And so Paul can speak of this as a “glorification” (Rom. 8:17, 30; cf. 2 Cor. 4:17). Just as Paul does not speak of the replacement of all creation but of its transformation, Paul also speaks not of an exchange of bodies, even less an escape from bodies, but of the transformation of bodily life. And in continuity with Jewish resurrection hope, Paul understood resurrection not just as bodily but also as involving the restoration of a people within a transformed creation.  Paul on the Human Being as a “Psychic Body”: Neither Dualist nor Monist, Gordon Zerbe, 2008

    As Christians for whom Jesus is Lord and Savior, when we die do we go to that place, Heaven, and sit on clouds and praise God? Do we get a new body when we get to that place, one that is perfectly formed and without blemish?
    Paul doesn't seem to think so or say so.  Zerbe's article, which seems scholarly, makes the point that it is not the body which changes but what animates the body (soma)--the natural (sarx) or the spiritual (pneuma) in 1 Corinthians 15.  This is what happens when we are born {again, from above), we receive God's Holy Spirit into our self, our body and soul.  Now it is Christ who lives in me, the same body with the same soul.  The psyche does not go away, the body does not change:  the spirit gains supremacy.

John Paul II thinks of it this way

According to the words of 1 Corinthians, the man in whom concupiscence prevails over spirituality, that is, the "natural body" (1 Cor 15:44), is condemned to death; instead, he should rise as a "spiritual body," as the man in whom the spirit will gain a just supremacy over the body, spirituality over sensuality.  It is easy to understand that what Paul has in mind here is sensuality as the sum of the factors that constitute the limitation of human spirituality, that is, as a power that "binds" the spirit (not necessarily in the Platonic sense) by hindering its own power of knowing (seeing) the truth and also the power to will freely and to love in the truth.  However, what cannot be at issue here is the fundamental function of the senses that serves to liberate spirituality, namely, the simple power of know and loving that belongs to the psychosomatic compositum of the human subject.  Since the subject of discussion is the resurrection of the body, that is, of man in his authentic bodiliness, "spiritual body" should signify precisely the perfect sensitivity of the senses, their perfect harmonization with the activity of the human spirit in truth and in freedom.  The "natural body" which is the earthly antitheses of the "spiritual body," by contrast indicates sensuality as a force that often undermines man inasmuch as, by living "in the knowledge of good and evil," he is often urged or pushed, as it were, toward evil.
Man and Woman He Created Them, Audience 72, Section 4, February 10, 1982  John Paul II

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