Resurrection From the Dead
- The Jewish Background for Life After Death
- Some Preliminary Observations
- Paul's Theology of Resurrection
- The Teaching of Jesus about Resurrection
There was no event in the life of Jesus more significant than his resurrection, nor any event more significant for the later church. The resurrection of Jesus was not just one more event in his life alongside others, nor is it an event historiographically accessible in the same way as other events in his life. The "Risen Lord" is no longer "of history" in the same way as the earthly Jesus was. But the resurrection was not a completely new beginning either. It was the culmination of Jesus' life on earth. It was an historical event which transcĒnds the methods of historiography.
The Resurrection of Jesus was an event that could be closely drawn into the eschatology of the Jewish people. Was it in fact an eschatological event more than it was an historical event? With the resurrection of Jesus, we can begin to distinguish "the eschatology of the nation" from "the eschatology of the individual." In this second sense, the resurrection of Jesus was certainly an eschatological event for Jesus. Was it more than that? It is helpful to introduce another distinction. The "end" of history can be its culmination or consummation, whether on earth or in heaven; or it can be its goal, purpose, inner meaning, having more to do with telos than chronos. Eschatology, as I use the term, refers to the end of history in the chronological sense, not the teleological sense, although these two words are not mutually exclusive. In other words, eschatology refers to the end times, our ultimate, human, collective future. An event which discloses the inner meaning or final goal of history is not an eschatological event but a revelatory event. I prefer not to use the word eschatology too widely to cover anything that has to do with hope, with the future, or with the inner meaning of history. 1 Eschatology is concerned with collective hopes and expectations concerning the finis of history. In this sense, it is more appropriate to describe Jesus' resurrection as a revelatory event, an eschatological event for him but a revelatory event for others. It was not and has not been the end of history.
As we approach our discussion of the resurrection of Jesus I will begin with an inquiry into the doctrine of resurrection in general rather than with the specifics of the resurrection of Jesus, from resurrection as a category in the history of religion rather than as a specific christological fact. This approach to the resurrection of Jesus corresponds to the Pauline perspective on a relationship between Jesus' resurrection and our own. It is not as if Jesus' resurrection is completely in a category by itself. Jesus' resurrection is rather an exemplification of what is elsewhere true that we too will be raised from the dead. This is not to imply that there was nothing special or even unique about Jesus' being raised. Rather it implies a link between what Jesus experienced and what other human beings have experienced or will experience.
"Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised" (I Cor 15:12-13). Jesus' resurrection is distinguishable but not separable from the doctrine of a more general resurrection. Thus, methodologically, we will first ask what resurrection means, and then inquire into the resurrection of Jesus in particular. If Jesus' resurrection is an exemplification of resurrection in general, as Paul suggests, then our understanding of resurrection can help us to understand Jesus.
If we begin with the question of how humankind has historically and religiously conceived its future beyond death, we find that humankind has spoken of such future life primarily in three ways: as reincarnation or rebirth, as immortality of the soul, and as resurrection from the dead. 2 These three need not be seen as exclusive of each other or as ultimately irreconcilable. Yet, historically they manifest distinctive traditions, reincarnation being especially Eastern or Indian (Hindu), immortality being especially Hellenistic, and resurrection Semitic. They are varied cultural as well as religious ways of approaching the question of human destiny.
Although all three are deserving of serious attention in any religious anthropology, our concern here will be the concept of resurrection -- not because it is necessarily more true, but because it will help us better to understand the language used to interpret the destiny of Jesus. Our concern is what happened to Jesus at his death. And we are told: he was raised from the dead.
Some forms of the doctrine of rebirth (reincarnation) are philosophically conceivable and not to be too quickly dismissed as we in the West tend to do. 3 It is simply that the doctrine of rebirth is not of immediate help to us here. The Greek concept of immortality will not be our starting point either. Given the Hellenistic influence on Judaism, however, we ought not be surprised that we will meet the concept of immortality within Jewish history, but we do not begin with it. 4
The Jewish Background for Life After DeathSheol was the final abode for the dead of Israel, but Sheol eventually came to be conceived as an abode for the dead of all the nations. Already early, in pre-Mosaic and pre-prophetic Israelite religion, probably under the influence of ancestor worship, death meant an end of earthly life, but not the end of all existence as such. Yet Sheol was considered to be outside Yahweh's rule. The Lord reigned over the living, and over the nation, but not over the dead.
There were throughout Israel's history varying and conflicting views about the type of life in Sheol. R.H. Charles distinguishes between (1) an older, more primitive, pre-prophetic, non-monotheistic conception in which a certain degree of knowledge and power were attributed to the dead, and (2) a later conception, influenced by monotheism, prophetic and post-prophetic, in which there was neither knowledge nor life in the grave, but simply a shadowy and negative kind of existence, this view being an ancestor of later Sadduceeism. 5 It is important to note that neither of these views, nor indeed the doctrine of Sheol itself, was the ancestor of later Jewish teaching about the resurrection of the dead, the source of which came later.
The sense of the individual in Israelite religion emerged most notably with Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Prior to this it was not the individual but the family or tribe which was the basic religious unit. This was true even for the great eighth century prophets: their messages were for the nation. Granted, the translations of Enoch (Gn 5:22-24) and Elijah (1 Kgs 2:11) manifest an awareness of individuals and their future. But these translations were exceptional and based on their lives of union with God on earth. They depict an immortality with the body, not without it, before death, not after it, and were narrated in a time when the reign of the Lord was seen as limited to the living and did not extend to Sheol. The first manifestations of the belief that the power of the Lord extended to Sheol are in 1 Kings 17:22 and 2 Kings 4:35, 13:21, where the Lord restores the dead to life through the prophets. But any real sense that the individual is the object of the Lord's concern awaits Jeremiah and Ezekiel and their effort to wrestle with the theology of individual retribution.
Jeremiah rejected the previous, prevalent theology of retribution in which the individual was seen simply as a member of the family. Jeremiah 31:29-30 suggests a relationship between the Lord and the individual Israelite. Jeremiah came to this conviction on the basis of his own personal experience of God and in the face of the impending destruction of the nation.
Likewise Ezekiel taught a direct relationship between the Lord and the individual (18:4). Given the individual's relation to God (18:4) the individual who is faithful to the Lord is unaffected by the sins of one's ancestors (18:20-28). There is strictly an individual basis for reward and punishment. For Ezekiel, reward and punishment were limited to this life. There was no doctrine of life after death. Hence, outward and material fortunes and misfortunes give witness to the individual's condition before God. Ezekiel seems not to have expected the righteous to perish in the destruction of Jerusalem (9:3-6). Ezekiel's theology is manifest in the Psalms as well as in the Book of Proverbs.
Ezekiel's perspective is questioned in Job and Ecclesiastes. The present condition is not necessarily a true manifestation of an individual's righteousness before the Lord. Yet, even with Job, the issue is not resolved by a development of the doctrine of a future life for the individual. R.H. Charles writes:Job declares that God will appear for his vindication, and that after his death (i.e., without the body) he shall witness this vindication, and enjoy the vision of God. But we cannot infer that this divine experience will endure beyond the moment of Job's justification by God. It is not the blessed immortality of the departed soul that is referred to here, but its actual entrance into and enjoyment of the higher life, however momentary its duration. 6In Job, although the individual is not cut off from union with God by death, there is still no doctrine of a future life.
With Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Israel became aware of the individual. With Job and Ecclesiastes, traditional theology was called into- question. The stage was set for the development of an awareness of a future life-that there was more to life after death than Sheol. This is seen in Psalms 69 and 73 where Sheol became the abode only for the wicked and heaven becomes an abode for the righteous. After death the future lot of the righteous and the wicked is not the same. God preserves the righteous from Sheol.
Exactly when the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead appeared in Judaism is a disputed question. The clearest reference is the book of Daniel, second century B.C.E., which reference is considered the only "universally accepted statement of an eschatological resurrection from the dead within the Hebrew Bible." 7And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. (Dn 12:2-3)Here we have a doctrine of the resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. It is not necessarily a doctrine of universal resurrection; it may refer only to Israelites, or only to exceptionally good or evil Israelites, or even include outstanding good or evil non-Israelites. Isaiah 26:19 is in the background of the Danielic verse. 8 In the book of Daniel, the righteous seem to be raised to a heavenly type of future life and not simply resuscitated to life on earth. The use of the heavens and stars in the text symbolize the life to come. In addition to these verses, Daniel 12:13 seems to contain a promise of the future resurrection for Daniel himself.
The development of the doctrine of resurrection affected the doctrine of Sheol, depending upon whether it was envisioned as an eternal abode for all the dead, or an intermediate abode for the righteous Israelites but an eternal abode for others. These two meanings predominated, but later, in apocryphal and apocalyptic literature, Sheol was sometimes seen as a final abode of eternal punishment or fire and then had the meaning of a hell.
After Sheol was no longer seen as the eternal abode for all, but rather as an intermediate place, or as an eternal one for some only, other expressions such as Paradise and Heaven described the destiny of the righteous, and Gehenna and Hell described the fate of the wicked. These terms too were variously conceived.
The word Gehenna derived from the "Valley of Hinnom" south of Jerusalem, which had once been the scene of idolatrous sacrifices. Jeremiah prophesied that it would be called the Valley of Slaughter. It was later designated as the place of punishment for apostate Jews. In I Enoch 27 it became a place of punishment and judgment for the wicked after Sheol.
We thus already have some idea of the many questions which the concepts of future life will present:
- Who will be raised from the dead? Only the righteous? Both the righteous and the wicked? Only Jews, or both Jews and Gentiles? All of the people or some of them?
- When will they be raised? At the final consummation? At the beginning of the messianic kingdom? Immediately after death? And, is one's situation determined at death, or is there hope for moral development after death?
- Are the dead to be raised with their bodies or without them? Will it be a resurrection of the body or only of the spirit? If bodily, what will the risen body be like? Which body will it be? If it is to be a transformed body, when will this transformation take place?
- Will the dead be raised to life on earth? In heaven? On a new earth? If there is to be a kingdom of the Messiah on earth, how long will it last? How will this world end?
- What is the relationship between the fate of the individual and that of the community, between the individual and all of Israel?
- If there is to be an intermediate state after death and before the resurrection, in what will it consist? Where will it be?
- Will the fate of the Gentiles differ from the fate of the Jews?
All of these were questions within the eschatology of Early Judaism, and the variety of opinions within Judaism points to the fact that various options were entertained. H.C.C. Cavallin researched the biblical and post-biblical Palestinian, Diaspora, and Rabbinic literature of Judaism with respect to the doctrine about life after death. 9 Here we can only indicate some of his conclusions. Most important, and contrary to a common enough assumption, there was no such thing as the Jewish doctrine about life after death in pre-Christian Judaism, nor the Jewish conception of resurrection of the body.10 It is also incorrect to contrast a Jewish doctrine of the resurrection of the body with the Greek doctrine of the immortality of the soul.11
It seems probable that the Essenes believed in some form of life after death although the question is disputed. Resurrection as something already realized by one's initiation into the community of the righteous was the view prominent among them.
Rabbinic Judaism, the final stage in a developing doctrine on the future life, affirmed belief in the resurrection of the body. Both the schools of Shammai and Hillel believed in the resurrection of the earthly body, although Shammai may have been more literal in its understanding than Hillel. An important text of Rabbinic orthodoxy states that among those Israelites who have no such share in the world to come are those who say that there is no resurrection of the dead.12 The second benediction of the Shemoneh Esreh also proclaims belief in the resurrection. But this clear belief of later Rabbinic Judaism, which is still not precise about the nature of the resurrection, cannot be read back into the period from 100 B.C.E.-100 C.E. when a wide variety of views existed.
Not all Jews believed in some form of afterlife.13 Many Jewish documents from this period say nothing about afterlife at all. The Sadducees themselves consciously denied any form of afterlife, whether that of immortality or resurrection. The Pharisees did accept the doctrine of resurrection from the dead. Belief in some form of afterlife was probably more widespread than its denial but it was by no means universal. What we often think of as Jewish belief was not established until some decades after Paul, toward the close of the first century C.E., and even then it appeared with variations.
In the two centuries before Jesus Christ as well as during the first century C.E., there was a major concern with the question of the vindication of the righteous. It is in this context that the notion of resurrection appears and develops. Yet resurrection remains only a minor part of the eschatology in the apocalypses. It manifests itself in a primary way in Daniel, the Enoch literature, The Testaments of the Twelve Partriarchs, 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch. In addition to the theme of resurrection, we also find a focus on immortality in first century Judaism, particularly in Philo of Alexandria and the Book of Wisdom.14 The concept of immortality simply adds to the variety of conceptions of the afterlife in Early Judaism. Here we will look at that variety only as it is manifest in the Jewish apocalypses.
Chapters 1-36 of I Enoch comprise the first part of the book and are a unit in themselves, often dated to the late third or early second century B.C.E.15 Chapter 22 describes the waiting places of the dead prior to final judgment. There is an elaborate understanding of this intermediate stage. There are two distinct abodes for the wicked, one for those who receive their just punishment in life on earth and thus are punished more mercifully after death, and another for those sinners who did not receive justice during their lifetimes. There is a third abode for the righteous, and Cavallin interprets the text as implying two abodes for the righteous, the second abode of the righteous being for the martyrs. This first section of I Enoch manifests belief in life after death and in God's justice. The immortality of souls seems to be the basis for an intermediate state before the final judgment. Some conception of resurrection may be present but is not central.
Chapters 91-104 of I Enoch comprise the fifth part of the work, a section of the work extremely difficult to date. This section contains several references to afterlife. A resurrection for the righteous with no indication of how this resurrection is to be conceived is indicated in 91:10 (also in 92:3-4; 102:4). In 102:3-9 belief in justice and a future for both the righteous and the wicked is expressed. The text does not speak, however, of a resurrection of the body.
Chapters 37-71 comprise the second part of I Enoch and are known as "The Parables of Enoch." They are more and more being assigned a date in the first century C.E. Chapter 51:1-5 seems to imply the resurrection of the body, something which is not clear elsewhere in I Enoch. Chapter 51 also suggests a resurrection for both righteous and wicked. The description in 58:1-3 and 62:15-16 indicates an eternal life for the righteous and a transformation into glory.
In the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs there are varied allusions to resurrection, from references to the resurrection of the patriarchs (Simeon 6:7- Judah 25:1; Zebulun 10:2; Benjamin 10:6) to a general resurrection of the righteous and the wicked (Benjamin 10:8). The texts give no further details as to whether this is a resurrection of the body or in what it consists.
4 Ezra, an apocalypse dated toward the end of the first century C.E., considers a resurrection from the dead and seems to envision two resurrections. The text of 7:31 reflecting Daniel 12:2, implies a resurrection of the body. A final resurrection will occur at the end of history and is combined with a final judgment (7:26-44, 112-15). But there also seems to be a preliminary judgment after death with its consequent beatitude or torment. This may already reflect the classical harmonization in Judaism and Christianity where death was a separation of body and soul, followed by an intermediate state anticipating future joy or damnation, followed by a final resurrection and judgment.
In 4 Ezra we have a concept of the messianic kingdom (7:26-36). The Messiah will come, and there will apparently be a preliminary resurrection (of patriarchs, heroes, martyrs), and the reign of the Messiah for 400 years. At the end of the messianic reign, all, including the Messiah, will die. After that will come a universal resurrection and final judgment.
2 Baruch is closely related to 4 Ezra and is also dated toward the end of the first century C.E. or early second century. Chapter 30:1-5 implies the survival of the souls of the righteous and the wicked after death, a messianic reign on earth, a universal resurrection for a final judgment, and the annihilation of the wicked rather than eternal torment. The bodily aspect of the resurrection is not stressed.
Chapters 49-51 explicitly treat the question of what the resurrected bodies will look like. The text is important and contains some similarities to First Corinthians 15.49 1 But further, I ask you, O Mighty One; and I shall ask grace from you who created all things. 2 In which shape will the living live in your day? Or how will remain their splendor which will be after that? 3 Will they, perhaps, take again this present form, and will they put on the chained members which are in evil and by which evils are accomplished? Or will you perhaps change these things which have been in the world, as also the world itself?In this passage we have two different types of resurrection faith. How will the dead be raised; what will they look like? (49:1-3). The body is literally restored. As one was when one died, so will one be raised. We have here "one of the most extreme expressions of literal faith in the resurrection of the body."17 This resurrection is for the purpose of recognition (50:14). Then some time after the resurrection, transformation takes place (51:1-12). The wicked shall be tormented, and the righteous shall be exalted and glorified and be like angels. It is "the most explicit expression concerning a spiritually resurrected body."18 The resurrection in 2 Baruch is first very physical, then very spiritual.
50 1 And he answered and said to me: Listen, Baruch, to this word and write down in memory of your heart all that you shall learn. 2 For the earth will surely give back the dead at that time; it receives them now in order to keep them, not changing anything in their form. But as it has received them so it will give them back. And as I have delivered them to it so it will raise them. 3 For then it will be necessary to show those who live that the dead are living again, and that those who went away have come back. 4 And it will be that when they have recognized each other, those who know each other at this moment, then my judgment will be strong, and those things which have been spoken of before will come.
51 1 And it will happen after this day which he appointed is over that both the shape of those who are found to be guilty as also the glory of those who have proved to be righteous will be changed. 2 For the shape of those who now act wickedly will be made more evil than it is (now)so that they shall suffer torment. 3 Also, as for the glory of those who proved to be righteous on account of my law, those who possessed intelligence in their life, and those who planted the root of wisdom in their heart-their splendor will then be glorifled by transformations, and the shape of their face will be changed into the light of their beauty so that they may acquire and receive the undying world which is promised to them. 4 Therefore, especially they who will then come will be sad, because they despised my Law and stopped their ears lest they hear wisdom and receive intelligence. 5 When they, therefore, will see that those over whom they are exalted now will then be more exalted and glorified than they, then both these and those will be changed, these into the splendor of angels and those into startling visions and horrible shapes; and they will waste away even more. 6 For they will first see and then they will go away to be tormented. 7 Miracles, however, will appear at their own time to those who are saved because of their works and for whom the Law is now a hope, and intelligence, expectation, and wisdom a trust. 8 For they shall see that world which is now invisible to them, and they will see a time which is now hidden to them. 9 And time will no longer make them older. 10 For they will live in the heights of that world and they will be like the angels and be equal to the stars. And they will be changed into any shape which they wished, from beauty to loveliness, and from light to the splendor of glory. 11 For the extents of Paradise will be spread out for them, and to them will be shown the beauty of the majesty of the living beings under the throne, as well as all the hosts of the angels, those who are held by my word now lest they show themselves, and those who are withheld by my command so that they may stand at their places until their coming has arrived. 12 And the excellence of the righteous will then be greater than that of the angels. 13 For the first will receive the last, those whom they expected; and the last, those of whom they had heard that they had gone away. 14 For they have been saved from this world of affliction and have put down the burden of anguishes. 15 Because of which men lost their life and for what have those on the earth exchanged their soul? 16 For once they chose for themselves that time which cannot pass away without afflictions. And they chose for themselves that time of which the end is full of lamentations and evils. And they have denied the world that does not make those who come to it older. And they have rejected the time which causes glory so that they are not coming to the glory of which I spoke to you before. (2 Baruch 49 51)16
We can easily see even in our overly brief survey that the emerging belief in life after death did not rest upon an agreed upon, commonly accepted anthropology or view of the relationship between body and soul. Hence the character of the future life was variously conceived. The faith underlying the doctrine was that "righteousness is finally vindicated" and "God is proven to be just."19The point of the hope of life after death in Early Judaism is this transformation of the weak, imperfect, unjust, and often miserable existence of the righteous in the present world to the glory and joy in God's presence, in a situation of justice and undisturbed peace. The hope of a radically transformed life after death was born or at least planted in Israel in a period of suffering for those who trusted in God's promise and tried to keep his laws.20
Some Preliminary ObservationsFew topics admit of such complexity, controversy, and variety as do topics which pertain to our personal and collective futures. Human interest in eschatology is understandable. Yet there is relatively little that we can say about it with certainty. Varied conceptions of the future have been sources of intense division among people. Even today apocalyptic expectations persist along with other ways of expressing hope for the future and faith in God's justice. Fundamental presuppositions of any Christian eschatological perspective include: (1) the belief that there is more to life than death; (2) the awareness that we cannot be clear or dogmatic about the character of that life; and yet (3) that the future beyond death is reason for a hope that will be fulfilled. These are three significant cornerstones for any eschatology: faith, a certain kind of skepticism, and hope.
1. Here is not the place to argue the reasonableness of faith in life after death. That has been critically and renectively done by others.21 Here it stands more as a presupposition. Yet it is a presupposition in the context of faith, and the same faith which provided the context for the emergence of belief in resurrection in Judaism: faith in God, in the justice of God, and that God is a Lord of the living. It is faith in God, theology, and not a particular conception of the human person, anthropology, which is the basis for belief in future life in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
2. At the same time that we affirm faith in our future, God's future for us, we must also strongly and clearly say that we know little if anything with respect to its details. Our faith is in God, who has a future in store for us, the particular character of which has not been revealed.
This eschatological skepticism which is but a corollary of faith (here also, in eschatology, we live by faith) is Pauline. Paul writes in his great discussion of the resurrection:But some one will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?" You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. (I Cor 1 5:35-36)What Paul is affirming is faith in the resurrection from the dead, but skepticism with respect to further details. How can we know what the resurrection body will be like? Paul himself does not know. These multitudinous expectations and questions are unnecessary (the 1966 Jerusalem Bible translated the text: "They are stupid questions").
These questions are foolish because they are ultimately unanswerable. Yet, we all ask them. We all speculate and wonder. Paul himself, after replying that the question about the nature of the resurrection body is foolish and unanswerable, goes on, nevertheless, in an effort to make the doctrine of resurrection more understandable. But Paul's fundamental, intuitive response is that questions such as these are foolish. Why?
Paul believes in God, in the power and justice of God, that God will restore the dead to life, and that God has already, in fact, done this for Jesus. The individual here must rely upon faith and trust in God. In death, as in life, one is in the hands of God. Nothing more is known than that God will be faithful.
Paul's response to the questions about resurrection is based upon his own careful reflection, his familiarity with the Jewish traditions, and his own personal experience of Jesus as raised from the dead. Yet even after all this, he does not place too great a confidence in his own effort to conceptualize the mystery. We also may not be able to arrive at precision and consistency here. Paul understands the concern and attempts to help, but is still aware that we do not know the future. The value of trying to flesh out the details of an eschatology is that this effort helps us. It helps to conceptualize possibilities. The danger is to place too great a weight on human constructs. Eschatological faith with respect to the fact of a future life must be balanced by eschatological skepticism with respect to its nature.
3. This skepticism is in no way, however, a lack of faith or an occasion for despair. Eschatological faith not only implies hope; it is hope. It is a hope beyond conceptualization. Paul hesitates to respond too confidently about the nature of the resurrection body but his hope is in a God who is faithful.
Earlier in his first letter to the Corinthians, he writes:But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." (I Cor 2:9)No one can conceive how God will fulfill God's promises, but Paul's faith in God remains firm.For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)And who is Paul's God?O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?""Or who has giver a gift to him that he might be repaid?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)Paul's faith and hope are unshakable. He cannot imagine precisely how God will restore the dead to life and reward the righteous. Paul's eschatology is based on faith and hope And thus all the human speculations, whatever their value may be, are not to be taken too seriously. Our faith is not in these concepts, but in God. But let us see what else Paul has to teach us.
Paul's Theology of ResurrectionBelief in Jesus as raised from the dead permeates Pauline preaching and theology. Our concern here will be with four texts -- I Thessalonians 4:13-18; I Corinthians 15; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5; and Philippians 1:23, 3:20-21. There is general agreement that Paul's thinking on the resurrection exhibits development. However, there is not agreement on the degree of development or on what caused it.22 There are differences as one moves from I Thessalonians to I Corinthians to 2 Corinthians to Philippians, Colossians, and Ephesians (leaving open the question of the authorship of Ephesians).23
In I Thessalonians Paul thinks that he and most Christians will still be alive at the Parousia. In I Corinthians, those who will be alive will be the exceptions, but Paul still thinks he will be one of them. By the time of 2 Corinthians, Paul has realized that he himself will die as well. By the time one comes to Colossians and Ephesians there is a greater emphasis both on union with Christ already now in the present and on the cosmic extent of Christ's influence.24 There are many sources which may have contributed to a shift or development in Paul's thinking: the delay of the Parousia, the varied crises in his churches, his own close calls with death, and the personal experience of aging.25 A much discussed question is whether Hellenistic or Jewish thought was more influential as Paul advanced in years, traveled more widely in the Hellenistic world, and saw more and more of a rift between Christianity and Judaism. Yet the dominant cultural influence in Paul's life remained Judaism.26 This does not deny Hellenistic influence on him, nor the Hellenistic influence on Judaism itself.13 But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; 17 then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (I Thes 4:13-18)The Thessalonians, as well as Paul, lived in expectation of an imminent arrival or return of Jesus. They expected to be alive at the Parousia. Thus something of a crisis had developed for them: the fate of those who had died. The concern seems to have been not only with the fact of death and whether those who had died would share in the benefits of the Parousia, but also whether they would share fully or equally in the benefits. Would those who had died be at some disadvantage? In 4 Ezra 13:16-24, those who were to be alive were considered to have been more fortunate than those who had died. Thus Paul had to address a very concrete and pastoral concern. He did so in terms of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead and the assumption or rapture of the living, and suggests no disparity between the two situations.
In verse 13, Paul exhorts the community not to grieve as those do who live without hope of resurrection. He does not tell them not to grieve but not to grieve as unbelievers do. In verse 14, Paul recalls their faith in the resurrection of Jesus through whom their own dead will also be raised: the resurrection of Jesus is the basis for hope. We see in this verse the close link between Jesus' resurrection and our own which Paul later emphasizes in 1 Corinthians 15 as well.
Paul consoles those who grieve for the dead. In verse 15, however, he goes further. The problem is not that the Thessalonians disbelieve the doctrine of resurrection, but that they seem to think of those who have died as being at some disadvantage. Paul resolves this problem: those who are alive when the Lord comes will not precede those who have died. Paul seems to believe that most of them, including himself, will still be alive; but that condition would not be to their advantage.
In verses 16-17, Paul provides something of a scenario, centering around the three events of the Parousia, the resurrection, and the rapture or assumption of the living. The first are closely linked together. Jesus will descend from heaven and those who have died will be raised. The phrase, "dead in Christ," indicates that Paul is talking only about the resurrection of Christians.
After the descent of the Lord and the resurrection of the dead comes the assumption of the living into the clouds. Neither group has an advantage. The dead will be raised first and then those who are living will be taken together with them, and all together will meet the Lord in the heavens. Then they will all be consoled: we shall all, living and dead, be with the Lord always.1 Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand; 2 by which you are saved, if you hold it fast-unless you believe in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures: 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethern at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. (I Cor 15:1-11)First Corinthians 15 is a self-contained unit on the resurrection and is the most important of the four Pauline texts we are considering. It can be divided into three major sections: verses 1-11 on the resurrection of Jesus, verses 12-34 on the fact of the resurrection of the dead, and verses 35-58 on the how of the resurrection, the nature of the resurrection body.
In this first section of I Corinthians 15, Paul reminds the Corinthians that he has preached the gospel to them as he received it, preaching first things first. He then gives a dense summary of the proclamation -- an early creed -- with reference to the death, burial, resurrection and apprearances of Jesus (at least 3b-5). In addition to the appearances to Peter and the twelve, Paul includes others not included in the Gospels, forming a series of six appearances; Cephas, the twelve, a group of more than 500, James, all the apostles, Paul himself. Paul includes Jesus' appearance to him as one of the sequence of varied appearances. He also reflects upon his own apostleship.12 Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 14 If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For, if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. (I Cor 15:12-19)Just as there had been concern among the Thessalonians which prompted a response from Paul, so here among the Corinthians there is also a problem in the community. There are Corinthians who deny the resurrection from the dead, and Paul reflects upon the consequences of their opinion. Paul sees the resurrection of Jesus as closely related to the resurrection of others and to the doctrine of a general resurrection. Jesus' resurrection is not an exception within humanity. Thus, if there is no general resurrection, then Jesus was not raised. But if Jesus has not been raised, faith in Jesus is foolish. The implication is that faith in Jesus is not foolish, that Jesus was in fact raised by God. Therefore, our hope is for resurrection and is not for this life only.20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he puts his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 "For God has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "All things are put in subjection under him," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one. (I Cor 15:20-28)Jesus has in fact been raised. Paul reflects on Jesus as a contrast to Adam. Jesus Christ is another Adam. The Adam typology is a central feature of Paul's christology (Romans 5:12-21). Thanks to Adam, there is death. Thanks to Jesus, there is life. Paul then presents his own eschatological version of things to come which culminates in a mystical panentheistic union of God with creation (I Cor 15:27-28).29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why am I in peril every hour? 31 I protest, brethern, by my pride in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." 33 Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals." 34 Come to your right mind, and sin no more. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. (I Cor 15:29-34)Paul returns to the question at hand, which he had been discussing in verses 12-19, and continues to argue on behalf of the doctrine of resurrection, exhorting the unbelieving to accept it. What baptism on behalf of the dead was is not known, although there have been many hypotheses.27 The quotation in verse 32 is Isaiah 22:13 and verse 33 is from Menander's Thais. The major section of 15:12-34 is now complete. Paul has attempted both logically and rhetorically to convince the Corinthians that the resurrection of the dead will take place. He now proceeds to help them understand this fact by discussing how the dead will be raised.35 But some one will ask, "How are the dead raised. With what kind of body do they come?" 36 You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is alike, but there is one kind for men, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are celestial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. 42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. lf there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (I Cor 15:35-49)I Corinthians 15:35-58 contains the most significant passage in Scripture on the nature of the resurrection. Paul begins with the familiar question which he was probably frequently asked. As we have seen, he first dismisses it as a foolish, unanswerable question; then he answers it. He elaborates his understanding of the resurrection with the analogy of the seed (vv. 36-39); and by reference to different or analogous kinds of flesh (v. 39), bodies (v. 40a), and glory (vv. 40b-41). He then returns to the image of sowing (vv. 42-44). Verse 44 contains the classical contrast between a physical body and a spiritual body. Paul concludes his effort to help the Corinthians understand by returning to Adam and an Adam/Christ contrast. This section (vv. 3538) is not unrelated to the previous section (vv. 12-34). If Paul can help the Corinthians to see or understand more clearly what the resurrection means or consists in, if they can picture it better, then he has also helped those who deny the resurrection to come one step closer to accepting it. Thus Paul's effort to answer the question of how the dead are raised and what kind of body they will have is a part of his overall objective to convince the Corinthians of the doctrine of the resurrection, and of a bodily resurrection. "How the dead are raised" and "what they will look like" is really not important in itself (it is foolish to speculate). But it is important pastorally in that it may help some to accept the resurrection who otherwise would not because of their inability to comprehend it. It is in this context that Paul attempts to articulate what cannot really be known. Paul has, however, his own experience of the risen Jesus to go on. The implication is that "It is possible to make a reasonable estimate of what the resurrection body will be like, and that this estimate is verified in the resurrection body of Christ."28
Paul's interpretation is not overly literal or physical. He points out that there are different kinds of flesh, bodies, and glory, and so it should not appear so strange or incomprehensible to talk about two particular kinds of bodies, the earthly body and the resurrection body, or the physical and spiritual bodies.
The contrast between the earthly body and the resurrected body is quite a contrast for they are the reverse of each other. The one is perishable, inglorious, weak and physical. The other is imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual (vv. 42-44). The seed image suggests this contrast; what you sow is not the same as what comes forth. There has been much debate about whether the seed analogy suggests a continuity and identity or discontinuity and novelty, and there will probably be no end to the debate. It is not a question of either/or, but of both continuity and discontinuity. One cannot deny that Paul presents the two bodies as a contrast. In all of this Paul is trying to help the Corinthians understand the how of the resurrection (vv. 35-58) so that they can accept it (vv. 12-34) and thus the full gospel as he preached it to them (vv. 1-11).50 I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable put on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." 55 "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (I Cor 15:50-58)Paul has already explained that the resurrection body is not the same as our earthly bodies. It is as different from the earthly body as the grain is from the seed. This should not be alarming since there are many different kinds of bodies anyway. As we now live with earthly bodies, later we will live with spiritual bodies. But now Paul goes further to explain the change that must take place if we are to live the life to come and inherit the reign of God.
Two interpretations can be seen in verse 50, depending upon whether one sees the verse as containing synonymous parallelism or synthetic parallelism.29 "Flesh and blood," (sarx kai haima) is a Semitic expression denoting the whole person, but the person as weak, frail, corruptible, the naturally finite and fragile human being. Thus the human being as is cannot enter into the reign of God to come.
If the two expressions, "flesh and blood" and corruption or "reign of God" and incorruption are read as synonymous expressions, the latter could be seen as a translation for a more Hellenistic audience. Joachim Jeremias, however, does not see synonymous parallelism here. In addition to"flesh and blood" referring to the whole human being, as weak and distinct from God, it also refers only to those who are alive, not to the dead. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the reign of God" does not refer at all to the resurrection of the dead, but to the condition of the living who must be changed before or at the Parousia. We thus have an awareness not unlike that of I Thessalonians where there are two groups that concern Paul: neither those still living (flesh and blood) nor those who have died (corruption, the perishable) can enter into God's reign without some kind of transformation. Jeremias writes:That means: the two lines of v. 50 are contrasting men of flesh and blood on the one hand, and corpses in decomposition on the other. In other words, the first line refers to those who are alive at the parousia, the second line to those who died before the parousia. The parallelism is thus not synonymous but synthetic and the meaning of v. 50 is: neither the living nor the dead can take part in the Kingdom of God-as they are.30Paul may be asserting something similar to I Thessalonians. There will be no major difference in situation for the living and the dead. Both must undergo a change, and both will enter the reign of God together.
But why must the living as well as the dead be changed? The living already have bodies and are alive. "Flesh and blood" as well as corpses in the process of decomposition cannot enter what God has in store for us without transformation. Whether verse 50 is read as synonymous parallelism or synthetic parallelism, however, the fact remains that for Paul the future life requires a transformation of men and women as we now are in our earthly existence. This fact follows from what Paul has already said about different kinds of bodies: perishable bodies cannot enter the reign of God. They must put on imperishable bodies. Not all bodies are the same. There are earthly bodies and heavenly bodies. A new body is necessary for the new environment.
Verse 50, like the preceding verses, emphasizes a discontinuity between "this life" and its way of being embodied, and "the life to come" and its way of being embodied. The resurrection is not the revivification of the corpse, nor of the flesh, but a transformation or change. Paul's understanding seems to fall between two poles of thinking, between (1) a view which sees the risen person as restored to the same type of bodily life as that which we have lived on earth, and (2) a denial of the risen life as being embodied. Paul is not describing an immortal, disembodied soul or person. Nor is he describing bodies as we now have. That is his point: there has to be a change before we enter the reign of God.
In verses 51-52 Paul refers to what he has to say as a mystery. I referred earlier to an eschatological skepticism within Paul's own response to the questions put in 15:35. Now again we note that Paul sees these future events as a mystery which transcends human understanding, and he avoids any detailed description of the events to come. He simply makes the point that we will all in some way be changed. Perhaps Paul's awareness was influenced by his own earlier ecstatic experience which is narrated in 2 Corinthians 12:14, which is also inexpressible.
"We shall not all sleep," shows an awareness similar to I Thessalonians. The Parousia is imminent. Not all of us will die. Paul still sees himself among those who will be alive. The all, pantes, refers to all believers; Paul is not concerned here with the future state of non-believers. The future tense and the reference to the last trumpet shows that Paul has the Parousia in mind. Verses 51-52 also indicate the situation of equality between those who have died and those who are alive that Paul emphasized in I Thessalonians. There is no temporal distinction. It all will happen instantaneously and simultaneously. The dead will be raised into the imperishable life, and the living will simultaneously be transformed. Paul's use of the concept of transformation in order to articulate the mystery is not something uniquely Pauline. Some wrongly assert that the Jewish doctrine of the resurrection was very material, a resurrection of the flesh, and Paul's teaching here more spiritual. But we have seen that this characterization is not true. Diversity and pluralism characterized Judaism with respect to its understanding of the future life. The concept of transformation was present ill Judaism as well. R.H. Charles wrote, "Paul was not altogether an innovator but an able and advanced expositor of some current Jewish views."31 And W.D. Davies wrote as well,"There would be many Pharisees prepared to argue, as Paul does, for a transformed resurrection body."32
The text of I Corinthians 15 shows that there is both continuity and discontinuity between the present state and the life to come, that we must undergo a change or transformation to participate in the life to come, and that the life to come will still be an embodied or somatic existence. We can see the reality of the discontinuity as well as the basis for a continuity in the Pauline images and language: (1) Vv. 3638, the seed analogy, show that what comes forth is not the same as that which is sown, yet is indeed in continuity with it. An apple tree does not look like an apple seed. There is discontinuity. Yet, an apple seed doesn't bring forth an orange tree or produce tomatoes. There is continuity. (2) Vv. 42-44, the four antitheses, point to the contrast, the discontinuity. yet the it that is sown and raised remains the same it. (3) V. 49, the Adam typology, shows that we are continuous, we bear the images, yet the images that we bear are quite different. (4) V. 50, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the reign of God, emphasizes the discontinuity. (5) V. 53 uses clothing language which implies the same person but a different garment.
Studies of Paul's use of the word soma indicate that he did not mean body as we may think of body, namely, in contrast to soul, as simply materiality or physicality.33 The Hebrew understanding of the human being is that of a psychophysical unit in contrast to a Platonic perspective which sees the body and soul as separable entities. Thus soma does not refer to the physicality of the human person in itself, but to the person as a complete yet physical being. This emphasis on a wholistic understanding of soma can be extended too far, however, to meaning person alone and not embodiment as well. Soma does have the connotation of a physically embodied individual, but an individual who is still a psychosomatic unit, not an individual composed of "a body" and "a soul."34 Rather I am a body; I do not have a body. As soma, I am an individual person but an embodied person. Soma is me, not my body, but me as being embodied. Thus soma is a person, an individual, but an individual as physically embodied and relationally extended.
Much of the discussion of soma is inflicted with either/or conceptual categories, rather than the awareness that the concept soma integrates what we tend to oppose. Thus soma can refer both to an individual (I am sown a physical body and raised a spiritual body) and to the individual as a person organically related to others and to God. Soma means an individual, but can be extended to mean a supra-individual, psychophysical unity such as Christ. (There is but one body and we are members of it.) Likewise soma can refer both to the whole person and to the person as physical. Soma is both personal and physical. One cannot be a person without being embodied; yet "personality" and "physicality" are distinguishable, even if not separable. Thus soma refers to a relationally structured, physically embodied, individual person. Sarx, flesh, refers to the person as fragile, weak, distant from God and others, and soma refers to the person as a physical whole in relationship to God and others. The individual as soma can experience transformation, not so the individual as sarx. One can speak of the resurrection of the body (soma), but not the resurrection of the flesh (sarx).
Not only does soma connote both individual and relational aspects, both a totality as well as physicality, but it also allows for both continuity and discontinuity when used with respect to resurrection. Murdoch Dahl's study is particularly helpful.35 There is both continuity and discontinuity between this life as a soma psychikon and the life to come as a soma pneumatikon. Dahl points to two contrasting views and then presents his own.
One view, heterosomatism, tends toward discontinuity between the body now and the future, glorified body. In this exegesis of Paul, the body with which we are raised (or with which Jesus was raised) is not the same body that was buried (the corpse). We do not have our earthly, physical bodies restored in a glorified way but we are rather given new bodies, new creations. A second view, autosomatism, is more traditional, namely, that the physical body which we now possess is to be restored. There are not two contrasted bodies, but only one, and the spiritual body is my present body miraculously transformed.
Both of these perspectives pose problems. The seed analogy suggests continuity between what is sown and what is raised, even if it is radically different. Likewise the word soma is basic to both the physical body and the spiritual body; it is sown a soma psychikon and raised a soma pneumatikon. That does not sound like a completely new soma but the soma transformed. Yet autosomatism carries with it the difficulty of a crude material identity of physical particles.
Dahl attempts to establish a position between these two. It is Paul's concept of transformation that is his solution to the relationship between the two ways of being embodied. For Dahl, the resurrection of the dead is neither a revivification of the corpse nor a new creation of the individual person. "Although the resurrection body will not be materially identical with the one we now possess, it will be what I choose to call somatically identical."36 Our risen bodies will not be materially identical, not the same matter, not the same physical particles. Dahl rejects such a "crude materialism" as the basis for the identity and continuity. Yet we will be the same persons. It will be none other than I who am raised. This is somatic identity. "If I say, this is the same man I met in London seven years ago, I mean he is the same person (in Pauline terms the same 'body'), knowing that the particular cells of his 'body' (in the modern sense) have completely changed since then."37
Dahl's effort attempts to do justice both to continuity (somatic identity, the same person) and to the transformation involved (materially speaking, discontinuity). One ought not misread Dahl and see the raised person (soma) as not being physically embodied. The one raised to new life with God is not only the same person, but an embodied person, but not with a materially identical physicality. In other words, somatic identity includes embodiment. It is me as a psychophysical unit, but not the physical matter of the corpse restored or transformed.
One weakness in Dahl, as in most efforts to re-construct what Paul means by soma, is the danger of overprecision in what Paul means. We must return to our eschatological skepticism. We cannot answer all the questions about how the dead are raised or with what bodies they will live forever. These are foolish questions in the first place. What we believe is that God will raise the dead and our hope is in the Lord. Yet Paul's effort to discuss these questions indicates that he saw both a newness, a change, a necessary transformation in order to inherit the reign of God, and yet that those to be raised will be the same people who died, and also embodied. But while it is not clear that it is the same material body, it is clear that it is the same person.
There is no major change in Paul's conception or eschatology between I Thessalonians and I Corinthinans. In I Thessalonians the people seem to have expected to be alive at the Parousia. It was thus a critical and disconcerting problem that some had died. Those who had died would have been seen as the exception, minority. With I Corinthians we do not have the same issue. Many had died and more would die. However, they were consoled with the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. But some were denying this doctrine which Paul saw as cutting at the very core of his preaching. At any rate, being alive at the Parousia was no longer something so ardently expected, although there still would be some who would survive until then, and Paul still expected to be among them.
In I Corinthians Paul speaks at greater length about the transformation that is necessary, but this transformation is in no way inconsistent with what Paul had taught in 1 Thessalonians.38 Perhaps his thinking is more developed, or perhaps Paul already understood the resurrection and rapture of I Thessalonians to involve the kind of transformation he articulated in I Corinthinans. If Paul's effort helped some of the Corinthians to understand more clearly and thus accept the resurrection of the dead, it served a valid purpose: if we are not raised, Jesus has not been raised, and our faith is in vain.16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are unseen are eternal. 1 For we know that when the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 so that by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we should be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body. (2 Cor 4:16-5:10)39We now move from the first letter to the Corinthians to Paul's second letter. At times our focus on a passage can lead us to urge a text to answer questions which are significant to us but not to the text. These dangers are especially true in the present passage. Paul's emphasis here is his conviction of life with Christ both now and in the life to come. The details of when and how are not his major concern, just as they were not the major concern of Corinthians 15. Paul's concern is expressed in 4:16, that we do not lose heart.
Some argue that the passage refers to our present, earthly life with its possibility of inner transformation, and others argue that it refers to our future life and the hope of resurrection. Verse 16 refers to a transformation already begun. We do have both kinds of transformation in Paul: the transformation already begun with our incorporation into Christ and the community of believers through baptism, and the transformation still to come with the Parousia. Verses 16-18 make us aware that something is already happening to us, that our inner natures are being renewed and that our present afflictions are preparing glory for us. But the major emphasis in the passage is on the life to come after death. Verse 1 of chapter five turns our attention in that direction.
Another point of dispute is whether the passage envisions an individual or corporate future. Some have argued that the heavenly dwelling which we put on is the body of Christ itself, a corporate body rather than an individual one. While this passage clearly seems to be thinking of our future as individuals, one cannot dismiss the strong corporate emphasis in Paul. ln 1 Corinthians 12, Paul had spoken about one body in Christ. Being with Christ and in Christ also includes being embodied. Thus the body concept in Paul is both individual and corporate. The focus of this passage, however, is more addressed to our individual, personal futures.
A much more disputed question is whether we receive our heavenly dwelling at the time of death or at the time of the Parousia. If the text is pushed it seems to reflect a shift or development in Paul's thinking by saying that the heavenly dwelling is received at death. In I Corinthians 15, the dead and those still alive are transformed at the Parousia; in 2 Corinthians 5, the dead seem to receive a new dwelling at death.
The passage seems much more conscious of death.40 If the earthly tents we live in (our present bodies or ways of being in the world) are destroyed (presumably at death or by death, although Paul may still be thinking of those who will still be alive at the Parousia as well), we have a new, eternal, heavenly building. The sense of the present tense in verse 1 (ekhomen, we have) does suggest that when our earthly tents are set aside, we then receive our heavenly ones. There is no suggestion of waiting or of something intermediate. If and when this present body passes away, we have (present tense) our new bodies. This sense is suggested by verses 24 as well. Already there is a longing for this heavenly dwelling. Paul senses that he does not want ever to be without this heavenly home for to be without it is to be naked. There is again a present emphasis in the passage. Surely death cannot leave us naked. What we have already begun to put on will be put on even further at death so that we may not be found naked. When the earthly body is destroyed, there will be the gift of heavenly bodies. While still in this body (tent), there is a longing to be further clothed. With the desire to be further clothed, to put on our heavenly dwelling, Paul could hardly have in mind that being naked is in fact what will happen to those who die.
We can only speculate about what led Paul toward this new emphasis or consciousness. W.D. Davies writes, "Far more likely is it that two factors had constrained Paul to give more thought than he had previously done to what happened to the Christian at death; he himself had been at the gates of death and the problem of Christians who died was becoming a pressing one; and Paul was thus led to state the fact that the Christian at death was not left naked but received a heavenly body."41
There is no true inconsistency in the two emphases of Paul. We have a both/and situation in which Paul attaches significance to both the moment of death and the moment of Parousia. Both may even be present in this passage from 2 Corinthians. Paul sees a future which begins at death for the Christian but which still is incomplete without the Parousia.
It is no longer an instantaneous moment but a new phase or age that dawns, indeed has already dawned with the resurrection of Jesus, and will last or not be complete until the Parousia. Thus there are several key moments in history or in the life of the individual for Paul. There is the Resurrection of Jesus, the Parousia, and the age between the two in which the Christians now live.42 For the individual, there are the moments of baptism or incorporation into Christ, of death or transformation into glory, and the Parousia when Jesus will come and God will be all in all. These events flow from the resurrection of Jesus. An emphasis on one key moment of the Christian mystery does not deny another; baptism, death, and Parousia are all key moments. Death does not leave us naked, although we all still await the Parousia. We have been given our heavenly dwellings, but Christ's work is not yet complete. In what the Parousia consists, or the time between death and the Parousia for those already raised, Paul does not say. It is just that we can be expected to be raised when we die, when this earthly tent is put away.
It is not that Paul attaches less significance to the Parousia, but that he is more conscious of death, of the many more who have died whom he did not expect to, of the probability now that even he himself will die before the Parousia, and that Jesus will not withhold his eternal life from those who love him, a life which cannot be totally disembodied.
There are several significant texts in Paul's letter to the Philippians but they will not add further to our understanding. The letter to the Philippians is also more difficult to date with precision, and thus cannot be used to argue any particular development in Paul's thought. In 1:19-26, Paul expresses his own heartfelt desire to die in order to be more fully with Christ (1:21-23). Here we see Paul's theology of death clearly developed and the moment of death as quite significant. At death Paul will be with Christ and he looks forward to this union. The implication is that life after death is also bodily existence (1:20).19 Yes, and I shall rejoice. For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I shall not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now and always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. (Phil 1: 19-26)Although Paul does not mention resurrection in the above passage, there is no inconsistency. His teaching on resurrection can be presumed, and later in the letter he does refer to resurrection from the dead (3:10-11). Another passage in Philippians is significant in that it not only refers once again to Paul's teaching about the future transformation but also brings us back to the close union between Jesus' resurrection and our own (3:20-21).20 But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ 21 who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Phil 3:20-21)This is a succinct and impressive summary of Paul's teaching. Our true home which we Christians all await is in heaven. As in I Thessalonians, we still await the coming of Jesus from the heavens. The link between the coming of Jesus (I Thes) and the future transformation (I Cor) is acknowledged. The transformation is here associated with the Parousia. Our earthly body will be transformed into a glorified body. ln 3:21 the word Paul uses is metaschematizo which literally means "transform."
In this passage, more clearly than elsewhere, we see the close connection between Jesus' resurrection and that of his disciples. This connection was already suggested in I Corinthians 15. If we are not raised, Jesus has not been raised. But here we have quite clearly the principle, "as Christ, so the Christians."43 Our transformed body will be like Jesus' resurrected body. Jesus' resurrected body is raised to glory. In I Corinthians Paul taught that our future embodiment will be as glorified bodies; in Philippians Paul indicates that Jesus' resurrected body is a glorified body. Our bodies will be like his. Paul's conceptualization of our resurrection flows from his understanding and experience of Jesus as raised. We will be like Christ.
In Philippians we see the importance Paul attaches to the moment of death (1:23) and the importance of the Parousia (3:20-21). We can presume that at death Paul did not expect to be naked but to put on Christ even more fully (2 Cor 5; Phil 1). Yet Paul still awaits the future coming of Jesus at the Parousia (I Thes 4; Phil 3) at which time the final transformation will be fully accomplished and God will be all in all (I Cor 15; Phil 3). Thus our transformation which began at baptism, which continued during our lives in our sufferings with Christ, which gave us a new heavenly dwelling to put on at death, is finally completed with the Parousia.
The Teaching of Jesus About ResurrectionAs noted in our discussion on the teaching of Jesus in Volume One of this series, there is very little in Jesus teaching about the resurrection from the dead. One must be careful not to construct more than the tradition offers. As is evident in his encounter with the Sadducees (Mark 12:1827), Jesus believed in the resurrection. In general, Jesus' thinking was closer to Pharisaism than to Sadduceeism, and the Pharisees believed in the resurrection. Thus even apart from the recorded encounter with the Sadducees, one could presume Jesus' acceptance of some form of faith in future life.
As I mentioned earlier, Jesus seems to have spoken about his own resurrection. Even if the passion predictions in their present form manifest development after the event, there is sufficient reason to maintain that Jesus would have looked forward to or even spoken of his resurrection in association with the suffering and death he envisioned. The fact that the disciples seem not to have understood and were later surprised with Jesus' resurrection is not an argument against Jesus' teaching about his own resurrection. The disciples may have thought of Jesus as expressing belief in the general resurrection on the last day without their being conscious of its imminent application to Jesus himself. Resurrection itself was not a precise doctrine in Judaism and as far as we can tell was not all that precise for Jesus either. There is no reason to assume that the disciples should have understood clearly.
Jesus believed in the resurrection, in his own future resurrection, and in his vindication by God, but resurrection was not a prominent theme in his preaching or teaching. In fact, Jesus had little to say about it. As Henry Cadbury has written, "(Jesus') allusions (to afterlife) do not allow us to reconstruct any very deflnite or circumstantial impression of this future. They were innocently unprecise, intimations rather than descriptions, and were employed in connection with other matters on which Jesus had something emphatic and significant to say."44
As far as we can tell, did Jesus not envision the resurrected life as transformed and spiritualized? He did not envision being embodied as we are embodied now. Our first text, and really the only one in which Jesus directly addressed the question of future life, is that of his discussions with the Sadducees (Mk 12:18-27,//Mt 22:23-33,//Lk 20:27-40).4518 And Sadducees came to him who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, 19 "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the wife, and raise up children for his brother. 20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no children; 21 and the second took her, and died leaving no children; and the third likewise; 22 and the seven left no children. Last of all the woman also died. 23 In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife." 24 Jesus said to them, "Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raise you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong." (Mark 12:18-27)The question put by the Sadducees may appear somewhat ridiculous, but it is valid. The questioners may see it as a jibe at Jesus or as a challenge pointing out illogicality in the doctrine of resurrection. The first part of Jesus' response (v. 25) is almost said in passing in order to get to the more important point Jesus makes (vv. 26-27). The response readily reflects Jesus as a teacher, how his teaching often flows spontaneously from situations. His response is at two levels: disposing of the question (v. 25), and then taking advantage of the situation to teach what he wants (vv. 2627). Jesus answers and disposes of the question by pointing out how the Sadducees don't understand the resurrection in their making it too physical a life, too much a carbon copy of this world. In the resurrection from the dead there will not be marriage, husbands and wives as there are now. We will be like angels. However, we ought not place too much emphasis on this verse as such: it is not the heart of what Jesus is going to say. But it does appear as if Jesus, without giving any precise understanding of the how of the resurrection and what kind of bodies we will have, does provide a remark that is compatible with Paul's perspective on the resurrection as transformation, an understanding of resurrection that was also present in pre-Christian Judaism.
Did Jesus envision the resurrection to have already taken place, or to take place at the moment of death, or at least to take place for some at the time of death? Had some already been raised prior to the resurrection of Jesus himself? Here we must be careful not to push Jesus' intimation into saying something too precise in order to answer our questions. But does Jesus' teaching and considered responses intimate something along these lines?
In the above text Jesus continues (vv.26-27). What is at stake is one's own image of God. The Lord is not the Lord of the dead, but of living beings, of life. The power and justice of God require that at least the righteous be raised to further life. And, Jesus intimates, is this not the implication in the text from Exodus 3:6, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?" The Sadducees fail to understand the Scriptures. If the Lord reveals himself as the God of Abraham, Abraham must be alive. The Lord is not a God of the dead. Thus Jesus' response and understanding of Scripture is that at least the patriarchs are still alive. One could question whether their life is the life of the resurrected, however. Yet Jesus' response about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob's being alive is completely in the context of a question about the resurrection and Jesus' response about how the Sadducees misunderstood resurrected life. It appears as if Jesus assumes or believes that at least the patriarchs have been already raised to their new life and are not awaiting a resurrection on the last day. We saw simllar opinions in our discussion of the Jewish background, that some texts gave special place to the patriarchs, prophets, and martyrs of Israel (e.g. 4 Mc 13:17; 16:25).46 Although Jesus affirms his faith that the patriarchs are already living with God, he says nothing about the kind of life they live. We can presume, however, that they are like angels. Is Jesus' belief that only the patriarchs have already been raised, or is this the fate of all the righteous at death?
Something suggestive of this line of thinking can be found in the Lucan parable about the rich man Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31), although some question its authenticity. Jesus, in the telling of the story, gives away something of his way of thinking: that immediately after death people attain their state of future life. There is nothing to suggest that Jesus would have thought of a future life for a soul as separate from the body. Thus upon death the righteous enter into life in the bosom of Abraham. They are raised to life from the dead. The unrighteous go to Hades.
According to the parable, Lazarus dies and "was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom" (16:22). One does not get the impression that Lazarus has gone to Sheol. Rather it would seem that he is in Paradise. The implication in verse 31 is that Lazarus has been raised from the dead and that his return to earth would be fruitless to those who are there:He said to him, "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead." (Luke 16:31)Jesus believes in the resurrection because of his faith in God as a God of the living and implies in the telling of this parable that the righteous come to their final state at death. This is the impression also given in Luke 23:43, where the repentant criminal is promised Paradise immediately upon his death.
The rich man in the parable went to Hades after he died (v. 23). We do not know if this place of punishment was eternal in Jesus' mind or not. Any speculation is on very tenuous grounds. R.H. Charles maintained that the teaching of Jesus held that there would be a resurrection of the righteous only, that punishment was not conceived of as everlasting, and that forgiveness was still available to someone after death.47 Matthew 12:31-32 implies that forgiveness is still possible to the sinner in life after death. The sin against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven in this life nor in the life to come. The implication is that other sins can be.
Although the evangelists tend to picture punishment as eternal, this may reflect the language and concepts of the evangelist and of apocalypticism and not of Jesus. Jesus' concept was that of a just punishment, not an eternal one (Lk 12:4748).
Thus one could hypothesize that Jesus believed in the doctrine of resurrection, believed that the righteous would be raised at the time of death, that they would have an angelic existence in Paradise, that he himself would be so raised at the time of his death, that he would go straight to the bosom of Abraham, that the unrighteous would go to Hades or hell where they would receive a just but temporal punishment (after which they would either be forgiven and raised to heavenly life or cease to exist at all).
These "intimations" in the teaching of Jesus are suggestive and tentative. Jesus never taught anything directly about the resurrection of the dead. He believed in it, but it was not prominent in his proclamation. Given the nature of the texts we have looked att a response to the Sadducees and a parabolic story, we cannot conclude anything beyond Jesus' belief in the resurrection. Some of our suggestions may be based on redactional material. Yet there are therein suggestive hints about how Jesus thought of the life to come to the degree that he thought about it at all. His preoccupation was God's reign on earth.
Footnotes1 In this regard, see Volume One of this series, The Mission and Ministry of Jesus (Wilmington, Del.: Michael Glazier, 1986), 68-83.
2 A further possibility spoken of today is that of being immortalized in the divine memory, a theological opinion prominent in process theology. For a critique of this option, see John Hick, Death and Eternal Life (New York: Harper and Row, 1976) 215-21. The best effort to develop a globally responsible theology of death and an eschatology which seriously considers varied cultural approaches to life after death is Hick's Death and Eternal Life. Also see Hans Küng, Eternal Life?, trans. Edward Quinn (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Co., 1984).
3 Reincarnation itself need not be seen as incompatible with Christianity even though it has never been a part of Christian orthodoxy. A good introduction to the concept of reincarnation and its compatibility with Christianity is Geddes MacGregor's Reincarnation (Wheaton, IL.: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1978). Also see John Hick, Death and Eternal Life, 297-396, for a discriminating discussion of the concept of reincarnation, 365-73, in particular for his reflection on Christianity's compatibility with the doctrine of reincarnation, and 399-466 for his own effort to construct a global theology of the future after death.
4 The polarization between the concept of immortality as Hellenistic and resurrection as Jewish was emphasized by Oscar Cullmann. Cullmann's perspective is widely recognized as inadequate today. On the contrast between these two ideas, see John Hick, Death and Eternal Life, 177-81. Also see Hans Clemens Caesarius Cavallin, Life After Death. Pt. 1. An Enquiry into the Jewish Background (Lund, Sweden: C.W.K. Gleerup. 1974), a doctoral thesis at Uppsala University, 15-18 103-70, 199-200; George W.E. Nickelsburg, Resurrection, Immortality and Eternal Life in Intertestamental Judaism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972). For the essay by Cullmann, see Immortality and Resurrection, four essays by Cullmann, Wolfson, Jaeger, Cadbury, edited with an introduction by Krister Stendahl (New York: Macmillan Co., 1965).
5 R.H. Charles, Eschatology, The Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, Judaism and Christianity (New York: Schoken Books, [1899/1913] 1963), 33-50, 160-64, 217-20, 244, 290-94, 357.
6 Ibid., 71.
7 Cavallin, Life After Death, 26. Also see Maurice Casey, Son of Man, The Interpretation and Influence of Daniel 7 (London: S.P.C.K., 1979), 46.
8 Cavallin, 27.
9 For Cavallin, see n. 4 in this chapter. Also see D.S. Russell, The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1964), chapter 14.
10 See Cavallin, 15-21, 197-202; C.F. Evans, Resurrection and the New Testament, Studies in Biblical Theology, Second Series, 12 (London: SCM, 1970), 14-19.
11 Cavallin, 60-72, 200; C.F. Evans, 27-30; and note 4 of this chapter.
12 M. Sanhedrin 10: 1. See The Mishnah, trans. and introduced by Herbert Danby (Oxford University Press, [1933j 1980), 397.
13 Cavallin is cautious, but sees the doctrine of resurrection as fairly widespread in pre-Christian Judaism. See pp. 193-96. C.F. Evans, 19-20 (esp. n. 34), 30-34, gives some of the reasons for being cautious in one's judgement on this question.
14 Cf. David Winston, The Wisdom of Solomon Anchor Bible 43 (Garden City, N.Y,: Doubleday and Co., 1979). See Philo, On the Special Laws (De Specialibus Legibus), trans. F.H. Colson, vol. 7 of Philo (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1950), Book 1, par. 68.
15 See R.H. Charles, Eschatology, The Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, Judaism and Christianity; H.C.C. Cavallin, Life After Death. For an introduction to the apocalyptic and apocryphal literature, see Martin McNamara, Intertestamental Literature, Old Testament Message 23 (Wilmington, Del.: Michael Glazier, 1983); and George W.E. Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981). For a translation as well as introduction, see The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. I, Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments, ed. James H. Charlesworth (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Co. 1983).
16 Translation from Old Testament Pseudepigrapha,, vol. I, ed. James H. Charlesworth. Translation by A.F.H. Klijn, pp. 637-38.
17 Cavallin, 88.
18 Ibid., 88.
19 Ibid., 213.
20 Ibid., 214
21 0ne of the better contemporary studies in this regard is that by John Hick, Death and Eternal Life. See his bibliography and references to further studies. Also see Hans Küng, Eternal Life?
22 Among those who recognize development in Paul's thought are C.H. Dodd (l934). W.D. Davies(1948),C.P.D. Moule(1964),and Pierre Benoit(1977). Benoit represents a moderate approach to the question or how Paul's thinking changed, and he makes the valuable observation that the major development in Paul's thought would have taken place with his conversion and during the fifteen-year period prior to his literary activity. Cf. P. Benoit. "L'évolution du langage apocalyptique dans le corpus paulinien," Apocalypses et théologie de l'espérance, 299-335, Association Catholique Française pour L'étude de la Bible, Paris. 1977 "Genèse et evolution de la pensée paulinienne," in L. de Lorenzi (ed.), Paul de Tarse, Apôtre du notre temps, 75-100, 1979; "Resurrection: At the End of Time or Immediately after Death?" in Immortality and Resurrection. 103-14, eds. Benoit and Murphy, Concilium (New York: Herder and Herder, 1970). Also see notes 24-26 below. A more recent discussion of this issue which argues for a lack of persuasive evidence that Paul's teaching on the resurrection of the dead underwent significant development is Ben F. Meyer, "Did Paul's View of the Resurrection of the Dead Undergo Development?" Theological Studies,47(1986), 363-87. Also see Victor Paul Furnish, "Development in Paul's Thought," Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 38 (1970), 289-303.
23 One must still leave open the question of the date for Philippians. For an up-to-date study of the chronological probtems in Pauline studies, see Robert Jewett, A Chronology of Paul's Life (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979).
24 C. H. Dodd made the point that there is a shift in Paul from a future eschatology with an awareness of the imminence of the Parousia to an emphasis on the present spiritual union possible with Christ here and now. See Dodd, "The Mind of Paul, Change and Development, " Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 18 (1934), reprinted in New Testament Studies, a collection of essays (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1952), 67-128. This shift is a shift in emphasis. Both realities are present throughout Paul -- union with Christ now and the resurrection from the dead. Also see William Baird, "Pauline Eschatology in Hermeneutical Perspective," New Testament Studies, vol. 17 (1971), 314-27.
25 See Benoit, n. 22 above. Also C.F.D. Moule, "The Influence of Circumstances..." Journal of Theological Studies, 65 (1964), 1-15; "St. Paul and Dualism," New Testament Studies, 12 (1965-66), 106-123.
26 Paramount among those who have emphasized Paul's relationship to Judaism is W.D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism (New York: Harper and Row, 1948); The Gospel and the Land (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), 208-220.
27 For a fairly recent interpretation, see Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, "Baptized for the Dead (1 Cor. 15:29), A Corinthian Slogan?" Revue Biblique 88 (1981), 532-43. For the history of the interpretation, see B. M. Foschini, "Those Who Are Baptized for the Dead," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 12 (1950), 260-76, 379-99, and 13 (1951), 46-78, 172-98, 276-83.
28 Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, I Corinthians, New Testament Message, 10 (Wilmington, Delaware: Michael Glazier, 1979), 147.
29 Joachim Jeremias argues for synthetic parallelism. See Jeremias, "Flesh and Blood Cannot Inherit the Kingdom of God," New Testament Studies 2 (1965), 151-59. For further discussion of the text see the doctoral dissertation by John Gillman, Transformation into the Future Life: A Study of I Cor. 15, 50-53, Its Context and Related Passages, Catholic University of Louvain, 1980, pp. 433, 49S, 763-5. The entire dissertation is a very helpful study of I Cor. 15 as well as other Pauline texts.
30 Jeremias, "Flesh and Blood ...," 152. Jeremias also mentions, 154, that those who have died undergo a transformation like unto Jesus' resurrection, and those who are still living, a transformation like unto Jesus' transfiguration.
31 R.H. Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), vol. 2, p. 508, note on 2 Baruch 50-51.
32 W.D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism. 308.
33 Murdoch E. Dahl, The Resurrection of the Body, A Study of I Corinthians 15, SBT 36 (Naperville, Ill.: Alec Allenson, 1962). Roben H. Gundry, Soma in Biblical Theology, with Emphasis on Pauline Anthropology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976). Robert Jewett, Paul's Anthropological Terms, A Study of Their Use in Conflift Settings (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1971), 201-50; J.A.T. Robinson, The Body, A Study in Pauline Theology (London: SCM Press, 1963); E. Schweizer, "Pneuma," Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, trans. G.W. Bromiley, 6 (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1968), 389-455; "Psyche," TDNT, 9 (1974), 637-66; "Sarx," TDNT, 7 (1971), 1024-94.
34 See Gundry, Soma in Biblical Theology. Gundry's study is significant in providing an emphasis often dismissed. Yet he goes too far in identifying soma with the physical at the expense of the total. The two, a physical understanding and a wholistic understanding, need not be opposed.
35 Murdoch Dahl's study, The Resurrection of the Body, maintains a rightful balance. It has been criticized for not delineating more clearly what somatic identity means. See Hick, Death and Eternal Life, p. 192, n. 47, also pp. 185-90. Also see Hick's replica theory for his own effort to resolve this issue, 278-96.
36 M. Dahl, The Resurrection of the Body, 10.
37 Ibid., 94.
38 See John Gillman. "Signals of Transformation in I Thessalonians 4:13-18," The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 47 (1985), 263-81.
39 I have followed the RSV in these translations of the Pauline texts. However, here, in 2 Cor. 5:1, I have changed the RSV in accord with my interpretation. I have translated ean as when rather than if. Note the translation of the New Jerusalem Bible is when as well.
40 Some of those who see the heavenly body as received at death in 2 Corinthians include R.H. Charles and W.D. Davies. See Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism, 309-20. Ben Meyer, "Did Paul's View of Resurrection of the Dead Undergo Development?" 379-81, argues against 2 Cor. 5 as implying the acquisition of a resurrected body immediately upon death, but this is less convincing to me than other parts of his essay.
41 W. D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinical Judaism, 311.
42 An interesting suggestion can be found in Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism, 314-19. I am not sure it is accurate, however, to say as Davies does(318), that "there is no room in Paul's theology for an intermediate state of the dead."
43 John Gillman, Transformation into the Future Life, 1043-93, esp. 1097 and 1132.
44 Henry Cadbury, "Intimations of Immortality in the Thought or Jesus," in Immortality and Resurrection, 139-40, ed. Krister Stendahl. Also see Martin Rist, "Jesus and Eschatology," in Transitions in Biblical Scholarship, 193-215, ed. J.C. Rylaarsdam (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968).
45 I accept this text as a valid expression of the teaching of Jesus. Cf. Joachim Jeremias, New Testament Theology, The Proclamation of Jesus, trans. John Bowden (New York: Charles Scnbner's Sons, 1971), 184, n.3 Also John Gillmann, Transformation into the Future Life, 1099.
46 The Epistle to Rheginos (48:3 f) maintains that the resurrection of the righteous has already taken place but needs to be revealed. Elijah and Moses with Jesus at the Transfiguration are an expression of this. See C.F. Evans, Resurrection and the New Testament, 32. See "The Treatise on Resurrection" (Epistle to Rheginos), in The Nag Hammadi Library, ed. James M. Robinson (New York: Harper and Row, 1977), 50-53. Also M.L. Peel, The Epistle to Rheginos A Valentinian Letter on the Resurrection (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1969). On the special emphasis given to the patriarchs in Judaism's doctrine of the future life, see H.C.C. Cavallin, Life After Death 117, 206-10.
47 R.H. Charles, Eschatology, The Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, Judaism, and Christianity, 395-400.