Thursday, 7 February 2008

Steven Carr - 14 April 2008

I'm sorry to say this, but John repeats things I have already answered, and appears to be ignoring what I say. I'm sure this is just inexperience in debating, rather than anything else.

In my very first response to John, I wrote the following ''This is why Paul never mentions any empty tomb. John claims Paul 'implies' an empty tomb.He does not, no more than the claim of the Witch of Endor in 1 Samuel 28:13 that 'I see a divine being coming out of the ground' implies that the body of Samuel had left the tomb. John must produce evidence that Paul believed in an empty tomb, and not simply beg the question. Paul says Jesus became 'a life-giving spirit'.

John addresses none of this, but simply repeats his claim that Paul implies an empty tomb. John does this by giving a lot of references to Biblical passages which never mention that any tomb was empty.

Even if John is correct that Paul implies an empty tomb by claiming a resurrection (which Paul does not), then we have the most circular reasoning imaginable.

Imagine if somebody claimed a second gunman shot John F. Kennedy. A claim of a second gunman certainly implies a second gun.

But if there was a second gun, wouldn't that imply that there was a second gunman?

That sort of specious reasoning would be rejected at once by John, yet this seems to be what he is serving up.

Paul mentions a resurrection, This implies an empty tomb. And an empty tomb implies a resurrection.

This is totally circular reasoning, as circular as the claim that a second gunman implies a second gun, and that a second gun implies a second gunman.

In both cases, we need to see a second gun or an empty tomb before there is even an argument to criticise.

John also accuses me of taking things out of context, when I quote Paul as saying that 'Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God'. I gave the context in my very first email, and will do so again.

The converts to Jesus-worship accepted that Jesus was alive, but scoffed at the idea of a corpse rising. This made them doubt the resurrection , as they were not gods like Jesus and could not survive the death of their body.

Paul calls them 'idiots', and explains to them that there whole concept of resurrection was wrong. They would be resurrected just like Jesus, and also become 'life-giving spirits'. - "The first man Adam became a living being" ; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.'

But for Paul, people would leave 'Adam's' body behind. That was an earthly thing, and could not be resurrected and become a heavenly thing. Paul believed he had to be rescued from his body, as he writes in Romans 7:24 'Who will rescue me from this body of death?'

This is the context of 1 Corinthians 15 and the only thing which explains why Paul wrote as he did - with no reference to corpses rising, and no personal testimony from anybody as to what a resurrected body was like.

For early Christians, resurrection did not involve a corpse rising. They either scoffed at the very idea, or, like Paul, regarded it as irrelevant to a resurrection, and as absurd as the idea of a fish turning into the moon.

John has attempted to address this argument, so I shall review his statements.

His first statement is that Paul's argument is 'with those who see the resurrection of the Christian dead as plain resuscitation without transformation.'

This is not so. These converts to Christianity scoffed at the whole idea of a God choosing to raise corpses, and so denied an afterlife for themselves. As an aside, the church in Thessalonika was also starting to get worried about the idea of corpses rising.

For hundreds of years, no church writer spoke of any difference between 'resuscitation' and 'transformation'. Tertullian, for example, regarded the resurrection of Lazarus as a superb example of the resurrection of Jesus.

Paul also never attacks the idea of 'plain resuscitation'. His whole argument is that Adam's body was made of earthly materials, and was doomed. Resurrected people were made of different materials, as different to the material of their present body as the material of the moon is different to the material of a fish.

Paul's argument is that the Christian converts in Corinth were foolish to deny an afterlife because they could not understand how a corpse would rise. Paul tells them that resurrected beings would not be made from the dust that corpses become.

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

That is why Paul taught the destruction of the body ''Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.'

It is why Paul was so eager to be rescued from his body 'Who will rescue me from this body of death?' For Paul, the present body was Adam's body, a body of death in which there was no hope. That is why he regarded people as fools who put their hope in their present body. That body would not be saved. Paul writes in Romans 8 'But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.' Clearly, Paul had no hope for his present body.

Finally, John made 3 points that I would like to respond to.

Clothing Metaphors
Paul talks about resurrection in the sense of changing clothes or changing buildings.

It is obvious that Paul thinks the resurrected body of Jesus was a new body. Even NT Wright in his book 'The Resurrection of the Son of God' recognises that. However, as Wright also believes that the old body of Jesus left the tomb, Wright has to play with the ultimate in harmonisations - that the body of Jesus was smuggled out of the tomb underneath a new body.

Wright says ''Did Paul, perhaps, believe that Jesus' new body, his incorruptible Easter body, had been all along waiting 'in the heavens' for him to 'put on over the top of' his present one?.' (page 371)

Of course, Paul did not think that Jesus had turned into a set of human nested Russian dolls. Paul did not think Jesus had two bodies at once, no matter how NT Wright tries to harmonise Paul and the Gospels.

Like most sensible people, Paul thought of changing clothes in the sense of taking off the old clothes and putting on new ones.

Jesus had 'shed' his old body, and put on a new body.

We will all be changed

“For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will rise immortal, and we shall be changed”'

The word is better translated as 'exchanged', although the two meanings overlap.

Also note that Paul takes care not to say that dead bodies will rise.

The verb 'allaso' usually occurs in the context of exchanging one thing for another thing.

For example, it is in Hebrews 1 , where the world is compared to worn out garments, and is exchanged. Garments are exchanged, not changed. You throw away the old garments and get new garments.

The verb 'allaso' is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament to mean exchanged. For example, Exodus 13:13 (changing animals) , Leviticus 27:10, 27:27 and 27:33 , talking about substitions.

Or even Acts 6:14, where old customs are going to be exchanged for new customs.

So Paul's use here is quite consistent with the view that Paul believes we will exchange one body for another at the resurrection, in the way that we change clothes or change houses.

To summarise, Christian converts scoffed at the idea of God choosing to raise corpses, and so denied any afterlife for themselves.

Paul thinks they are idiots for believing that a resurrection involves a corpse rising. To show them how wrong they are, he never uses any of the Gospel stories of Jesus eating fish, and saying he had flesh and bones.

Instead , Paul teaches that there are 2 bodies, and resurrection involves changing bodies , in the way that we change clothes or change houses.

Changing bodies or changing the texts

John writes 'Steven is over simple in his use of v53 where Paul talks of an immortal clothing of a mortal body...'

There is no word for body in verse 53.

John has a simple choice. He can believe Paul was talking about changing bodies or John can change the text of the Bible.

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