Friday, December 01, 2017

With what sort of body?


With what sort of body was Jesus resurrected in? The position I will call “Christological Physicalism” maintains that Jesus was resurrected in the same body that he sacrificed, and currently has it now in heaven, outside of earth’s human-life sustaining atmosphere, where his Nazarene body is continuously and miraculously preserved.

Captivatingly, the introductory question was rhetorically asked and answered by the Apostle Paul. He wrote:
Nevertheless, someone will say: “How are the dead to be raised up? Yes, with what sort of body are they coming?” You unreasonable person!
Here he used the word ἄφρων (aphrōn), meaning “without reason, foolish, and without reflection or intelligence, acting rashly.” He then continued:
What you sow is not made alive unless first it dies. … Not all flesh is the same flesh, but there is one of mankind, there is another flesh of cattle, another flesh of birds, and another of fish. And there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; but the glory of the heavenly bodies is one sort, and that of the earthly bodies is a different sort. (1 Corinthians 15:35, 36, 39, 40)
While the next verse uses the illustration of how different astronomical bodies differ in their observable glory, his point about the dichotomy between heavenly bodies, including spiritual bodies as seen in 1 Corinthians 15:44, and earthly bodies is unmistakably clear. In 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 he contrasted the corruptible, dishonorable, weak and physical with the incorruptible, glorified, powerful, and spiritual. Thus, while the Christian bound for heavenly life was once earthly—corruptible, dishonorable, weak and physical—upon being resurrected to heavenly life he would now be incorruptible, glorified, powerful, and spiritual. The same principle would be true of Jesus their Lord, would it not? While Jesus’ Nazarene body birthed from Mary was not corrupted with Adamic sin, Paul agrees in 1 Corinthians 15:45 that Jesus was resurrected, not as a Nazarene from Mary, but as “a life-giving spirit,” one who was incorruptible, glorified, powerful, and spiritual.

Pressing this contrast further, Paul at 1 Corinthians 15:47-49 states that “the first man is from the earth and made of dust; the second man is from heaven,”[1] As humans are made from “dust,” being carbon-based, like Adam was, Christians in heaven will not be made of “dust”—they will no longer have carbon-based bodies—but will now have spiritual or heavenly bodies “like the heavenly one,” Jesus. (Philippians 3:20-21) This contrast proves conclusively that Christological Physicalism is in error, and is guilty of deflating Paul’s powerful ontological contrast. Paul then can be seen condemning ones “clinging”[2] to Jesus’ Nazarene body that he willfully sacrificed as being ἄφρων (aphrōn), “without reason, foolish, and without reflection or intelligence, acting rashly.”[3]

There is also a very good reason why Jesus could not take back his sacrificed body: his perfect human body was his perfect human life. By sacrificing his perfect human body, he sacrificed his perfect human life. He died. He sacrificed that entire package that corresponded to what Adam lost. (Romans 5:18-19; Hebrews 9:22, 10:10; 1 Timothy 2:5-6) Thus, his resurrection by his Father was an act of kindness, a reward. He sacrificed his perfect-human-body-life and thus could not be resurrected as a man again, and certainly not in his sacrificed body. It only could have been an entirely different body, a spirit body, which is incidentally the only type of body that can exist in heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:50) Confirming this is Hebrews 5:7, which says that Jesus was resurrected due to his godly devotion. Thus, his resurrection by his Father was an act of kindness, a reward. This is why Jesus said at John 10:17 “I surrender my life, so that I may receive it again.” This “life” transcends his earthly sojourn, so he sacrificed his earthly life but received his resurrected life as a spirit.[4] It was a reward for completing his mission.

Christological Physicalism may use the “raised up in glory” of 1 Corinthians 15:43 as a basis for the concept of having Jesus being a “glorified human,” thus making it sound scriptural. However, this would contradict Jesus’ own declaration at John 14:19-20, that “the world will see me no more,” but that only his followers in heaven would see him. Therefore, it is a certainty that nothing of Jesus’ resurrected, glorified body can be physical and occupying space in our universe. So while the term “glorified” in “glorified human” may sound scriptural, it actually is a word devoid of any meaning, and falls into the category Peter warned of in 2 Peter 2:3 of “counterfeit words,” or “feigned words.” Peter also warned that such ones using their own fake words would speak abusively of the scriptures, unwittingly or not.—2 Peter 2:2.

Objections
In response, some Christological Physicalists may mention that God preserved the clothing and feet of the Israelites during their Wilderness wandering (Deuteronomy 8:4, 29:5) and protected the three Israelites from the merciless flames in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:25-27), or Jonah’s preservation in the aquatic beast (Jonah 1:17), etc. as proof that God can preserve people in inhospitable environments; consequently, God could preserve for all eternity Jesus’ flesh that he sacrificed. However, some disconnects are observable here. First, those acts of preservation and protection served a purpose and were acts of kindness. Second, they were temporary, not eternal. Third, there were no legal transactions at work to take into account. Thus, this objection actually betrays a lack of appreciation for Jesus Christ’s ransom sacrifice.

Another response is to ask for a scriptural definition of a materialization. This can be delivered by referring to the brief account in Genesis 6:4-5, where the “sons of God,” or angels,[5] had relations with women to produce the Nephilim. In order to accomplish this, each spirit creature or demon must have manufactured a functional male body of their own design and then possessed it, like a puppeteer controlling a puppet—thus, a puppet ontology. This is certainly not hard to imagine, considering the “let us” language used in creation of mankind (Genesis 1:26), or even as seen in the collaboration of the divine council at 1 Kings 22:19-22. At the time of the Noachian Deluge, those materializations ceased being practical (or ceased being tolerated) and must have been discarded, perhaps by rapid dematerialization. Thus, materializations in and of themselves are not speculative, but are deeply rooted in scripture to discerning ones.[6]

Others mention Moses and his effulgence, and point out that he was still a human. (Exodus 34:29-35) A comparison is then made to Jesus’ effulgence to Saul (Acts 9:3-6; 22:6-10; 26:13-17), with the conclusion being that Jesus could still have been human, as well. However, while both instances were certainly miraculous, there are some notable differences between the two events. First, Moses’ radiance was the result of close contact with Jehovah’s angelic representative at Mt. Sinai, and if from that angel, then it was illustrative of that significant event. Jesus’ radiance, on the other hand, was delivered from the sky. Thus, his was illustrative of his actual effulgence in the spirit realm, and was thus a visionary experience (as in Revelation 1:16). Claiming that Jesus’ radiance was from himself as a “glorified” human is a contradiction, for it contradicts the laws of physics to have a human body being able to radiate that much illumination. Contradicting the laws of physics is to contradict the word of God in nature per Romans 1:20. Alternately, claiming then that God was holding the human Jesus in the sky and making him radiate light beyond the brilliance of the sun would make God into a foolish micromanager. No, it was really Jesus positioning himself in the sky and using light rays to illustrate his actual effulgence in the spirit realm.

Another objection is to question the usefulness of 1 Corinthians 15:45 in identifying Jesus. Here, Jesus is identified in many translations as a “life-giving spirit” in contrast to Adam who was a man. The question is, should this phrase, “a life-giving spirit,” be understood ontologically or functionally? However, aside from not appreciating that a functional role would still put Jesus in the class of spirit, this question continues to ignore the contrast Paul made conspicuously clear in 1 Corinthians 15, that Jesus is now different than Adam. Adam was carbon-based and is our human father. Jesus, on the other hand, manifestly cannot be a carbon-based man now—if he was, then Paul’s conspicuous contrast collapses like a house of cards. (Compare with Galatians 1:1, 11-12, where Paul again contrasts “a man” with Jesus.) Again, this objection betrays a glaring lack of appreciation for Jesus Christ’s ransom sacrifice.

Another objection may be to claim that Hebrews 5:7 does not put Jesus’ humanity in the past; however, this objection is betraying an amateurish bias against the notion that Jesus is a spirit now. What could possibly be the motivation otherwise?

Therefore, these objections, and any others like them, really betray ignorance and mockery of the scriptures, shallow thinking, a bigoted complaining mentality, and sinful ingratitude for the ransom.
Christological Physicalism betrays:
  • ignorance and mockery of the scriptures
  • shallow thinking
  • a bigoted complaining mentality
  • sinful ingratitude for the ransom

Footnotes:
[1] As Adam was created in the earthly realm, so it would naturally, logically follow that Jesus was created in the heavenly realm. The Christological preexistence-denying camp (ie. Socinian or “Biblical Unitarian” camp) glaringly misapplies this contrast as seen in Sir Anthony Buzzard’s commentary, where he states that Jesus being from heaven is eschatological: “the now immortal Jesus will arrive from heaven at his return.” (The One God, the Father, One Man Messiah Translation, footnote 1080) This comment betrays a bias against Christological preexistence, a preconceived anti-preexistence bias.

[2] Used in reference to John 20:17, where Jesus stated that he did not want people to cling to his flesh, in this case the physical body he was materialized in that was going to be discarded or dematerialized. In principle, the same can be said with his Nazarene body: Jesus willingly sacrificed that and therefore he would most clearly also not want people to cling to that either. In the same spirit, Jesus admonished people to not cling to the past with this principle: “No man who has put his hand to a plow and looks at the things behind is well-suited for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) Combining these points, ones clinging to Jesus’ sacrificed body, ‘looking at the things behind,’ are not “well-suited for the Kingdom of God.”

[3] As shown above, he issued this denunciation against ones who could not follow that a physical man was to be resurrected as a spirit creature. Thus, the same negative situation exists for ones who are not following that the physical Jesus was to be resurrected as a spirit creature. Later, when writing to the Galatians, he used a similar condemnatory word ἀνόητος (anoētos) “not understanding, unwise, foolish” twice against them for underestimating the significance of Jesus’ sacrificial death.—Galatians 3:1, 3.

[4] This point is emphasized with Jesus having a prehuman existence as a spirit creature.

[5] For a conclusive explanation for why they were angels, see Reversing Hermon by Dr. Michael Heiser. See also Who Were the Nephilim? www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/nephilim-giants/.

[6] Elaborating further, first, a spirit creature would manufacture a human body that had all its relevant parts intact—whatever suited the needs of the spirit. However, it would not be operative until the spirit creature began to exercise its influence on it, possessing it like a hand in a puppet. While the spirit creature would be animating the materialization, it would not be conscious or sentient; it would still function as a biological automaton under remote control. Then the materialization would have any function that the designing and possessing spirit creature desired. Refer to Figure 2 and Appendix C in Jesus: a Spirit Born on Earth.

Regarding the process of dematerialization, this may have been accomplished in a variety of manners, like atomization. This would pose no difficulty for the transcendent and controlling spirit being. None of the foregoing is very deep or complicated, certainly not scandalous, and it should be very easy to envision a spirit being having this power and ability.

Appendix
  1. πνευματικός
  2. Jesus’ Nazarene body
  3. Aquinas’s disservice
  4. Ignatius’s testimony
πνευματικός
The Louw and Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament says the following about the word πνευματικός (pneumatikos) in 1 Corinthians 15:44: “pertaining to not being physical—‘not physical, not material, spiritual.’” This resource adds the following observation: “In some language the concept of ‘spiritual body’ can only be expressed negatively as ‘the body will not have flesh and bones’ or ‘the body will not be a regular body.’” (semantic domain 79.3). Thus, this presentation has academic support.

Jesus’ Nazarene body
Figure B1: braided crown of thorns
It is sobering to meditate on what injuries Jesus suffered during the crucifixion process. After the scourging, reducing his back to ribbons of bleeding flesh, the crown of thorns was placed on his head, and then beaten down with multiple, merciless blows with a rod. Those thorns would have been long, firm, and sharp. (See Figure B1.) They would have produced numerous lacerations scraping against his cranium wherever the rod hit his head, possibly piercing his outer ear cartilage as well. Did any thorns actually pierce his skull during any of those blows? Then the purple robe of mockery was torn off of him, reopening any coagulating injuries and starting more bleeding. The blood loss was so extensive that he could not even carry the torture stake for very long, even though the other condemned men evidently were able to carry it the entire distance. When the nailing began, it is possible that nails were driven though his heel bones, one nail per heel, thus nailed at both sides of the stake. This would leave both heel bones with a hole through them, but not shattered. (See Figure B2.) Lastly, while his legs were not shattered, a spear was thrust up into his side, piercing the region of his heart. In short, his Nazarene body was destroyed. In order for it to be rejuvenated and resurrected, it would need massive healing on multiple points—including the replacement of lost flesh. Thus the conclusion becomes inescapable that a healed body would not be his sacrificed body. It appears to me then that ones claiming that Jesus was resurrected with the same body that he sacrificed are not appreciating what happened to that body! They show room to grow in their appreciation for what the ransom sacrifice entailed.

Figure B2: a heel bone with a Roman nail hole.


Aquinas’s disservice
The Roman Catholic scholar and “saint” Thomas Aquinas (1224/25-1274) wrote about Jesus’ “glorified body.” As one Roman Catholic source reports:
Christ’s body, though real, was “glorified” (i.e. in a glorified condition). … It means that a glorified body is still a body, but it is not subject to corruption.

As we would say in modern scientific terminology, the glorified body is not subject to the forces and laws of physics and chemistry. Human bodies, made of the elements on the periodic table, belong to rational souls.
At this point it sounds like they actually have a spirit body in mind, one incorruptible and “not subject to the forces and laws of physics and chemistry,” not being assignable to any one of the elements of the periodic table. However, we are then reminded that this is not what they have in mind:
St. Thomas maintains that all glorified bodies are still made of the elements. This was of course in the pre-periodic table days, but nevertheless element refers to matter and energy. St. Thomas asks whether the elements composing a body stay the same? Do they act the same? How can they really remain the same substance if they do not act according to their nature? St. Thomas concludes that matter does persist, does retain its properties, but becomes more perfected. (italics original)
Due to him writing on this matter “in the pre-periodic table days,” he was speaking outside of his field of expertise. He was using his own agenda-driven “folk-science” devoid of any real scientific credibility—and was thus engaging in an exercise of speculation that also blissfully ignored Jesus’ clear declaration at John 14:19-20 as discussed above. It was the “science fiction” of his day, analogous to describing how “lightsabers” of Star Wars fame operate, or how “transporter beams” of Star Trek fame function. The Star Wars and Star Trek gurus are purposefully speaking outside their field of expertise for entertainment sake. Thus Aquinas’s claim about matter becoming perfected is an unscientific absurdity, and one far less convincing than the explanations for “lightsabers” and “transporter beams.” Nevertheless, he has evidently inflicted a colossal disservice to the Roman Catholic community, for that report concluded: “The same principle that creates elements and forms bodies is the same principle that perfects them—that is, God.” This is a classic “God can do anything” fallacy. Just appeal to God’s omnipotence and call it a day. Such reasoning only convinces people who are already convinced, and does nothing for objective truth-seekers.

The report continued, operating under Aquinas’s disservice: “It makes sense that if real bodies are made of elements, then so are glorified bodies.” It only makes sense if you think Aquinas’s explanation makes sense, which to objective minds does not. Nor could it possibly make any sense, as he was—as admitted—writing “in the pre-periodic table days,” writing before any credible comments could be made! Thus his “perfected matter” comment is nothing more than lame science fiction of a B-movie. It’s similar to how the Mormon founder Joseph Smith claimed to have translated Egyptian Hieratic before that knowledge was available to him. One cannot make credible claims before the scientific knowledge is available.

Source: What Was Christ’s Resurrected Body Made Of?
https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/what-was-christs-resurrected-body-made-of

Ignatius’s testimony
Ignatius of Antioch was an early 2nd Century Christian leader, allegedly a disciple of the Apostle John, who wrote a series of letters. One was addressed to the Christians in Ephesus. In 7:2 of that letter he wrote in part: “There is only one physician, who is both flesh and spirit.” (Lightfoot and Harmer translation.) Or, as the Hermeneia Commentary for Ignatius presents: “There is one physician, both fleshly and spiritual.” This commentary explains:
The first component of the striking list of antitheses that follows may ultimately be rooted in a semi-credal pattern that contrasted what Jesus was “according to the flesh” with what he became “according to the spirit” (Rom 1:3-4; cf. Sm. 1.1). In Ignatius, however, flesh and spirit represent two spheres or two dimensions that refer to human and divine reality respectively. We have here the kernel of the later two-nature christologies. (Page 60.)
Then it says:
The series of antitheses in Eph. 7.2 appears to move from the historical to the exalted Christ. This is emphasized in the last antithesis by the words “first” and “then.” … Note that the expression “from Mary” in Ignatius likewise emphasizes the true humanity of Jesus. (Pages 61-62.)
A parallel is noted in his letter to Polycarp at 3:2, where “the Christological attributes of Pol. 3.2 find their closest parallel in Eph. 7.2.” (Page 267.) Polycarp 3:2 in the Hermeneia Commentary says:
Look for the him who is above time—non-temporal, invisible, for our sakes visible, intangible, impassible, for our sakes passible, one who endured in every way for our sakes.
Or, by Lightfoot and Harmer:
Wait expectantly for him who is above time: the Eternal, the Invisible, who for our sake became visible; the Intangible, the Unsuffering, who for our sake suffered, who for our sake endured in every way.
Thus, Ignatius is not saying Jesus is simultaneously flesh and spirit, but was flesh and is now spirit. While he was fleshly, tangible and visible, he is now a spirit, invisible and intangible. While he was once in the human sphere or dimension, he is now in the spirit sphere or dimension.

Source: William R. Schoedel, Ignatius of Antioch, ed. Helmut Koester, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985).

Excursus
  1. Verbal pummeling
  2. Enoch and Elijah
Verbal pummeling
Paul was not concerned about hurting anyone’s feelings at 1 Corinthians 15:36 and Galatians 3:1, 3, nor was Jesus with his verbal bashing at Luke 9:62. Neither was Jeremiah for that matter, if we are to imagine him literally fulfilling the command in Jeremiah 6:11 to vent his searing wrath on everyone in the street. In fact, Paul’s audience even complained that Paul’s words were ‘weighty and forceful,’ possibly in reaction to his argument starting in 1 Corinthians 15:36. (2 Corinthians 10:10) But he did not recoil in fear of their sniveling grievance. This was not cruel—it merely expressed a wake-up call of righteous indignation fortified with integrity for the truth.

While such verbal pummeling was found on the lips and pens of those servants and messengers of God, Christians who are not of such divine appointment should rather display, for the most part, “mild temper and deep respect.” (1 Peter 3:15) Of course, we should not mince our words either, if righteous indignation allows for it, even if the response is similar to what Paul mentioned in 2 Corinthians 10:10, knowing that we cannot please everybody, as Paul feared in Galatians 4:16. Supporting that we should not mince or dilute our words when the situation calls for it is Ecclesiastes 12:11, which says that “the words of the wise are like oxgoads, and their collected sayings are like firmly embedded nails.” The Message paraphrase relays the meaning as “the words of the wise prod us to live well. They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together.” These oxgoads and hammered nails, while not feeling good at the time of contact, are meant to have a corrective and then stabilizing effect.

Enoch and Elijah
Jeremiah reported that Elijah ‘ascended to the heavens in a windstorm’ in Israel, whereas Ezra reported that he was still on earth a number of years later sending a letter to wicked King Jehoram of Judah. (2 Kings 2:11; 2 Chronicles 21:12-15) Thus, for both accounts to be accurate, he must have been transferred to another prophetic assignment, in agreement with Jesus’ own conclusion at John 3:13, that no one had ascended to heaven. (See: “Elijah” wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200001307#h=12-13)

Similarly, while Enoch was somehow “taken” by God (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5), he too per John 3:13 never ascended to heaven. Instead, God may have put him in a prophetic trance and then terminated his life while he was in the trance so that he would not experience the pangs of death.—Hebrews 11:13. (See: “Enoch” wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200001371)


Additional reading:

Credits:
  • The crown of thorns: The Crown of Thorns by Meadow.
  • Heel bone with Roman crucifixion nail hole: N. Haas. Anthropological Observations on the Skeletal Remains from Giv'at ha-Mivtar. Israel Exploration Journal. Vol. 20, No. 1/2 (1970) Plate 21A page 63.
  • Periodic table: Screen shot from the EMD periodic table iOS app.

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