Δευτέρα, 6 Μαρτίου 2017

On Paul's Theory of Resurrection: The Carrier-O'Connell Debate (3)

O'Connell's Second Rebuttal (2008)


The Meaning of "Resurrection"

First, to clarify my original point, the word anastasis does not always refer to resurrection. It can simply mean "to rise up" in a mundane sense (e.g. rising up out of bed). But my intended point was that in those cases in which anastasis does refer to resurrection, it always denotes one-body resurrection. Hence, E. E. Ellis states: "It is very unlikely that the earliest Palestinian Christians could conceive of any distinction between resurrection and physical, 'grave-emptying' resurrection. To them an anastasis (resurrection) without an empty tomb would have been about as meaningful as a square circle."[1]
Carrier objects that in some instances in which this word is used, the author is ambiguous as to the kind of resurrection he means. But the fact is that in every case in which the author is unambiguous as to what kind of resurrection he means, it is always one-body resurrection which the author has in mind. Therefore, based on the principle I laid out in my opening statement, all of the ambiguous references to anastasis should be presumed to refer to one-body resurrection. As an analogy, consider the use of the word "Yahweh" in second-Temple Jewish sources. In most instances in which the word appears, it is clear that the author uses the word to refer to the God of Israel. Now suppose we uncovered in Palestine a small fragment of a text which contained the word "Yahweh," and there was no indication from the text itself that the author meant the God of Israel. Suppose the text read: "Yahweh ... bears ... birds." Certainly we would assume that in this text "Yahweh" means the God of Israel.
Carrier cites Paul and Origen as counterexamples. But Paul is the point in dispute, and Origen is too late and non-Jewish.
Carrier cites only one Jewish source from Jesus' time which purportedly endorses two-body resurrection. This source is Josephus, who Carrier believes affirms 2BT in a variety of passages. For example, in Jewish Wars 2.163, Josephus declares that the souls of the good will "pass into another body." However, "another body" is not necessarily a brand new body. Josephus may simply mean another kind of body. Josephus' statements on resurrection are quite vague: N. T. Wright tells us "his language on the subject is so imprecise that at some points it sounds as though he is simply talking about reincarnation."[2] Likewise, E. P. Sanders: "Josephus' attempt to use Greek categories is so thoroughgoing, however, that we cannot confidently say just what the Pharisees and Essenes thought—nor even ... just what he thought."[3] Further, the suggestion that Josephus, a Pharisee, endorsed 2BT is problematic because there is no trace of 2BT in the rabbinic writings, and the rabbis are in some sense the successors to the Pharisees. It is likely that if prominent Pharisees such as Josephus had endorsed 2BT, this fact would have been preserved by the rabbis.
In his essay, Carrier also states that Philo's view of the afterlife "comes very close" to 2BT, and that the Essenes "may" have endorsed 2BT.[4] I will not address these passages in detail, but I think it is clear that both affirmed immortality of the soul, not 2BT.
I am unsure what to make of Wright's comments on p. 367 of The Resurrection of the Son of God.[5] It does sound as if Wright here affirms that Paul understood the resurrection as an exchange of bodies. However, as Carrier himself says: "Wright appears to assert entirely contradictory things elsewhere in his book."[6] Indeed, everywhere in his book except p. 367, it sounds like Wright thinks 1BT was the only notion of resurrection during Jesus' time. Thus, it is prudent to refrain from saying that Wright acknowledges 2BT as a possible application of the word anastasis.

1 Corinthians 15:53-54

In order to avoid Paul's clear affirmation in 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 that the corruptible, mortal body will put on the immortal, incorruptible body, Carrier appeals to the fact that the word "body" is not in vv. 53-54. As Carrier notes, an explicit statement that the body is corruptible is only found in 15:42, "a whole ten verses away from 15:53-54." But ten (actually eleven-twelve) verses is not very far away. In 15:42, Paul says that the preresurrection body is corruptible while the resurrection body is incorruptible. Then in 15:54, Paul says that at the resurrection, this (touta) corruptible (something) will put on incorruption. The obvious conclusion to draw is that the corruptible something of 15:53-54 is the body of 15:42. However, Carrier proposes that the corruptible thing referred to in 15:53-54 is not our body but "our present condition in the abstract."
This suggestion is untenable for one simple reason: Carrier's view reduces to the view that it is the soul which is being described as mortal and corruptible in 15:53-54. Carrier states: "hence [Paul] means we take off our old bodies ... and put on new ones." Since this "we" is an immaterial thing capable of moving from body to body, it must be our soul. However, it would make no sense for Paul to call the soul corruptible and mortal. Paul's belief is that the soul goes to be with the Lord upon death (2 Corinthians 5:1-10; Philippians 1:21-23). Hence the soul never dies or suffers corruption. Only the body dies and corrupts, and thus only the bodily aspect of our present existence can properly be called mortal and corruptible.
Carrier objects that if the present body puts on the resurrection body, then we have the absurdity of one body walking around on top of the other. However, "put on" (endyo) is not meant literally. Paul's statement that the preresurrection body will put on the resurrection body is merely a figurative way of saying that the preresurrection body becomes the resurrection body. Paul uses the term "put on" figuratively numerous times in his epistles. For example, Paul instructs Christians to put on the breastplate of faith (1 Thessalonians 5:8), and to put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14). Excluding the present passage and 2 Corinthians 5:3 (another passage which is under dispute), Paul uses "put on" figuratively nine times in his epistles (including Ephesians and Colossians) and does not use "put on" literally once.[7]
Paul's affirmation that at the resurrection death will be "swallowed up" by life is not an affirmation that the mortal body will be annihilated. Death is swallowed up because death is annihilated when the dead bodies are raised to eternal life (i.e. our bodies are not swallowed up, death is). In fact, the Gnostic Treatise on the Resurrection states that death was "swallowed up" by Jesus' resurrection, and this text clearly understands resurrection as a transformation of the dead body.
The questions of destruction and recreation at the eschaton, and the meaning of "change/exchange," have already been addressed in my first rebuttal.

Romans 8:23

Romans 8:23 states that our bodies will be redeemed at the resurrection, and thus clearly affirms 1BT. However, Carrier proposes that the body in question is not our physical body, but is actually an unseen, hidden body. This body is supposedly trapped inside the physical body, and hence it is in a state of bondage. At the resurrection, this body is "redeemed" by being set free from the physical body.
There are a number of serious problems with this suggestion:
1. Paul clearly expects that the physical creation will be redeemed, not annihilated. In Romans 8:19-22, Paul affirms that at the eschaton, the creation will be delivered from its bondage to corruption, and that the creation looks forward to the eschatological times (it would only look forward to these times if it was awaiting redemption, not annihilation). Hence, if Paul thinks that our bodies will be annihilated, then he holds a rather strange view: He expects the physical creation to be redeemed, but the physical body to be left behind.
2. There is no justification for Carrier's postulation that Paul's inner man is our unseen, resurrection body. Rather, the inner man is our soul, or spirit, and there is no unseen resurrection body. Three points make this fact clear. First, the inner man is juxtaposed with the flesh in Romans 7, and Paul elsewhere juxtaposes the spirit with the flesh (Romans 8:10; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Colossians 2:5). Second, the inner man is closely associated with the mind (Romans 7:23, 25). The only entity which fits this role is the spirit. Third, in 2 Corinthians 12, Paul envisions two possibilities as to how he may have gone to heaven. He may have gone in his body or out of his body. Paul does not envision the third possibility of going to heaven in his unseen resurrection body. Finally, Philo, a contemporary of Paul, uses very similar terminology in reference to the soul. He refers to the soul as the "internal," "real," and "true" man.[8]
3. Whenever Paul uses the word "body" (soma) in reference to a human body, he always means the physical, flesh and blood body. A search through the occurrences of "soma" in Paul will verify this. Although Paul does sometimes use "body" figuratively (e.g. "the body of Christ"), he never indicates that human beings possess any sort of body other than a physical one. Thus, if Romans 8:23 is concerned with an unseen body, it is the only instance in which Paul uses "soma" in reference to a nonphysical human body.

Romans 8:11

Carrier notes that the verses immediately preceding and following Romans 8:11 speak of life and death as metaphorical states of being in the Christian's present life. Hence Carrier concludes that since the general context is about the spiritual transformation which the Christian undergoes in this life, Paul's statement in 8:11 that our mortal bodies will be given life is probably about this spiritual transformation rather than about the resurrection.
However, what Paul says about the spiritual transformation of the Christian in 8:10 makes it clear that he is not talking about this transformation in 8:11. In 8:10, Paul affirms that once the Christian has had his sinful nature transformed by the Spirit, his spirit is alive, but his body is still dead to sin. Hence, the spiritual rejuvenation which the Christian experiences in the present life (which is indeed the main concern of the passage) only accomplishes a transformation of the spirit; the body remains dead to sin. Therefore, when Paul says in 8:11 that God will give life to our mortal bodies, he cannot mean this in a metaphorical way, in reference to the Christian's spiritual rejuvenation. Thus, 8:11 must be concerned with resurrection.
Carrier argues that because Paul calls our bodies "mortal," he cannot think that our bodies will experience eternal life; if they did, they would not be mortal. But "mortal" just means liable to death. A mortal body is a body that is fated to die. But such a body does not necessarily have to stay dead.

Seed-Sowing Argument

We have seen that there is no basis for the idea that Paul thinks there is a second body growing inside us. The only passages in Paul that could be construed that way are concerned with our soul, not with a second body.

John 12:24

  1. The question of who originated the saying of John 12:24 (whether Jesus, the author(s) of John, or someone else) is irrelevant to the present argument. All that I am attempting to establish is that a number of ancient sources use the seed-sowing analogy to illustrate 1BT. If my interpretation of John 12:24 is correct, then an ancient source does indeed use the seed-sowing analogy as an illustration of 1BT.
  2. I think that the analogy is meant to illustrate the fact that the death and resurrection of Jesus causes the flowering of the Church. But this does not mean that "Jesus is the discarded shell and the Church the new second body that germinates from it." The essential point here is that John (like the other two sources which we will examine below, and indeed Paul himself) does not make a distinction between the discarded shell and the seed contained within the shell. John 12:24 says that if a grain of wheat dies, it (the grain of wheat) produces much fruit. Thus, the thing that dies (the shell) and the thing that produces fruit (the seed) are understood as the same thing. Carrier is correct that this understanding is not literally correct (since only the shell dies, and only the seed bares fruit), and the ancients presumably knew this because of their familiarity with agriculture. However, when the seed-sowing analogy was used to illustrate how something could undergo a transformation, there was no concern for the minutia of how a seed is transformed into a plant. The shell and the seed are simply conceived of as one thing; when the shell dies the whole thing (shell and the seed) dies, and when the seed bares fruit the whole thing bares fruit.

1 Clement 26:3

Carrier's first point seems to imply that Clement's appeal to the phoenix indicates Clement believed in 2BT. But Carrier's second argument notes that Clement expects the fleshly body to be raised, and a resurrection of the flesh is not compatible with 2BT. Hence, these two points seem to contradict each other.
Since Clement clearly thinks the flesh will be raised, we should not understand his appeal to the phoenix to mean that he thinks Jesus' resurrection and the destruction and recreation of the phoenix are exactly analogous. Clement only mentions the phoenix to show his readers that the resurrection is similar to another historical event with which his readers are familiar, and therefore the resurrection is not absurd (most ancients accepted the reality of the phoenix's annihilation and reconstitution).
It is irrelevant whether there are some differences between Paul and Clement's conceptions of the resurrection. The only matter with which we are concerned is how Clement uses the seed-sowing analogy.
In making his third point, Carrier essentially admits that my interpretation of Clement is correct. Carrier writes: "By contrast, Clement imagines the entire buried seed is dissolved and then reassembled (which suggests he doesn't know the basic facts of agriculture, and certainly has no idea of there being two components to a seed)." If Clement imagines that the entire buried seed is dissolved and reassembled, and he is using this to illustrate the resurrection, then Clement is using the seed-sowing analogy to illustrate 1BT. This does not mean that Clement misunderstood the basics of agriculture. Rather, Clement (like John 12:24, b. Sanhedrin 90b, and Paul) is just not very concerned with the details (and if Clement misunderstood the basics of agriculture, Paul could've as well).
When Paul says the body that is buried is not the body that is raised, he does not mean this literally. Rather, he means that the body which is buried is not the kind of body that is raised.

The Talmud

Like our other two sources, b. Sanhedrin 90b quite clearly understands the seed and the shell as one thing. Carrier is wrong to claim that Rabbi Meir holds that seeds change clothes. Rabbi Meier says that a seed is buried naked (without any clothes) and then sprouts forth in many clothes. Hence, he does not describe the shell as clothing for the seed; instead, he says that the wheat grain does not have any clothing. This only makes sense if he conceives of the shell/seed as one thing. For if Rabbi Meir thinks that the shell is the seed's clothing, he should say that the seed is buried in one type of clothing (the shell), and then sprouts forth in different clothing.
Finally, it is clear from Paul's own words that he thinks of the seed and shell as one thing. Paul writes that "what you sow is not brought to life unless it dies." Paul affirms that the thing that dies is the same thing that is brought to life. The seed dies and then the seed is brought to life (and thus, by analogy, the body dies and then the body is brought to life). On Carrier's interpretation, Paul thinks that only the shell dies, not the inner seed. The shell then remains dead, while the inner seed inherits life. Yet Paul clearly states that what dies will be brought to life. But if Paul thinks of the shell and seed as two different things, he certainly could not say that what dies (the shell) is brought to life. Paul's words only make sense if Paul thinks the whole seed (shell and inner seed) dies, and hence that the whole seed is brought to life.


Notes

[1] E. Earle Ellis, ed., The Gospel of Luke, New Century Bible (London: Nelson, 1966), p. 273.
[2] N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003), p. 179.
[3] E. P. Sanders, Judaism: Practice and Belief 63 BCE-66CE (London: SCM: 1992), p. 301.
[4] Richard C. Carrier, "The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb" in The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave, Robert M. Price and Jeffrey Jay Lowder, eds. (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2005), pp. 105-231.
[5] "Though Moule is no doubt right that Paul can envisage here the possibility of 'exchange' (losing one body, getting another one) rather than 'addition', as in 1 Corinthians 15, we should not lose sight of the fact that even if such an 'exchange' were to take place the new body would be more than the present one."
[6] Carrier, "Spiritual Body FAQ."
[7] Richard C. Carrier, "The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb," pp. 146-147.
[8] Fredrik Lindgard, Paul's Line of Thought in 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10 (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005), pp. 118-119.
==============

O'Connell's Closing Statement (2008)


Response to "On Over What?"

Of course, I think that the alternative explanations I propose are not just possible, but probable. However, the audience will have to decide this for themselves.
According to several prominent lexicons, the normal meaning of "ependyomai" is "to put on one garment over another garment." The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: "to put on over (i.e. another garment)."[1] An Intermediate Greek Lexicon: "to put on one garment over another."[2] A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: "put on (in addition)" (i.e. in addition to what is already put on).[3] A Patristic Greek Lexicon: "put on besides" (i.e. besides what is already put on).[4] It is true that in some cases, the word can mean simply "put on."[5] However, this is not the typical meaning of the word, and thus in the absence of strong contextual evidence to the contrary, we should assume that "ependyomai" means "to put on one garment over another garment."
With regard to Carrier's other points on 2 Corinthians 4:6-5:10:
  1. The word which most translations render "destroyed" is more literally rendered "dismantled" or "taken down."[6] Thus "destroy" need not mean annihilate (as Carrier seems to presume), and therefore Paul is not necessarily saying that our bodies will be annihilated. When a tent (or the Old Testament tabernacle) is taken down, it ceases to serve its function as a tent and ceases to have the form of a tent, but the matter of the tent still remains, and the tent can be reconstituted (as the Old Testament tabernacle frequently was). So Paul's affirmation that the body will be "destroyed" is compatible with 1BT.
  2. Paul does describe the present body as a burden, but I see no reason why a burdensome body must be eliminated, rather than transformed into an unburdensome body.
  3. Paul's use of "skenos" does not indicate that he believes in 2BT. Although Carrier claims that skenos is used by other writers whose ideas correspond to 2BT, the texts he cites seem to affirm immortality of the soul, not 2BT.[7]

Response to "Clay Vessels"

Carrier thinks that Paul's statement that the resurrection body is not made with hands refers back to 4:7, where Paul compares the preresurrection body to a clay vessel (since clay vessels are made with hands). From this, Carrier argues that because clay vessels are destroyed (i.e. annihilated) after use, the preresurrection body will be destroyed.
If 2 Corinthians 5:1 does refer back to 4:7, this passage is still not problematic for 1BT because no clay vessel is ever technically annihilated; it is broken into pieces, but the pieces still remain, so the matter of the clay vessel continues to exist, and the clay vessel could potentially be reconstituted. For Paul to affirm 2BT, he would have to say not merely that our bodies are destroyed like clay vessels, but that new vessels are brought in to replace the old ones.
But in fact, it is highly unlikely that the phrase "not made with hands" has anything to do with the earlier mention of clay vessels. The resurrection body is described as not made with hands because it is of divine origin. Although Carrier is correct that our current bodies are not literally made with hands, they are of human origin and are inferior to the resurrection body, which is of divine origin. In several places in the Bible, "made with hands" is used to refer to something when the author wishes to emphasize both the thing's human origin and its inferiority to the divine (Mark 14:58; Acts 17:24; 19:26; Hebrews 9:24). Thus Paul here uses "made with hands" as a figure of speech for "of human origin and inferior to things of divine origin." By labeling the resurrection body as "not made with hands," Paul emphasizes the divine origin of the resurrection body and therefore emphasizes its sturdiness. Paul's whole point in this passage is that the present body is fragile, whereas the resurrection body is sturdy.

Response to "Varia"

  1. There is simply no way to interpret Romans 8:19-23 as an affirmation that the world will be annihilated. Since Paul says that the creation eagerly looks forward to the eschaton, he must think that the creation is going to be renewed at the eschaton (it would not look forward to its destruction). And certainly the creation cannot be redeemed by being annihilated. It does not matter if Paul is at odds with the rest of the New Testament on this point (though I do not think he is).
  2. The meaning of Colossians 3:5 is that when we are in our earthly body, we are subject to sins such as "fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness." These sins are the things Paul refers to as our "parts on earth"; he does not call our body parts our parts on earth, and thus there is no implication that we have other body parts which are not on earth. I have already addressed 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 and 1 Corinthians 15:35-54.
  3. The lexicons list "change" (i.e. transformation) as the primary meaning of allasso and "exchange" as a secondary meaning.[8] Hence, the word typically means transformation. If Paul is alluding to Psalm 102 in 1 Corinthians, he must have thought Psalm 102 affirms renewal of the world rather than destruction (regardless of the intent of the author), since it is very clear that renewal is what Paul expected (Romans 8:19-23). It is irrelevant whether Hebrews 1:10-12 affirms destruction of the world. If Paul must believe the same thing as the author of Hebrews because they both share the same background, then Paul must believe in 1BT because the other New Testament writers believe it, and they share the same background as Paul.
  4. I addressed whether Josephus subscribed to 2BT and whether Paul's "inner man" is an unseen body in my second rebuttal.

Response to "The Comparative Argument"

  1. It is not true that Paul never says anything like what other 1BT proponents say. Paul and 2 Baruch both discuss how the resurrection body will be changed. Paul, Clement of Rome, John, and the Talmud all use the sowing-reaping analogy. Paul and the Treatise on the Resurrection state that death will be swallowed up at the resurrection. Every Church Father who commented on 1 Corinthians 15 would have elaborated on Paul's words.
  2. The Corinthians were worried about discontinuity, not continuity. Dale Martin rightly argues that the Corinthians object to the resurrection because they do not think the flesh is worthy of participating in the afterlife, since the flesh is inferior to pneumatic material.[9] Paul has to say, in effect, "Look, the flesh is a lot better than you think it is."[10] In order to convince the Corinthians of this, he focuses on how the resurrection body is superior to the present body.[11]
  3. Of course, I think that Paul does say the same body will be raised.
  4. The popular 1BT analogies, metaphors, and proof texts which Carrier has in mind (e.g. clay molding) are ones which are concerned with the problem of continuity. Since Paul is concerned with the problem of discontinuity, Paul does not use this sort of language.

Response to "Paul Never Cites Evidence Available to the Gospels"

In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 Paul gives a brief review of the evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.[12] As he only provides a brief review (since the question he is really interested in is the nature of the resurrection body), he lists the appearances without describing them, because describing them would take up too much space. So we should not expect him to narrate appearances in vv. 3-8. In 15:35-54, Paul discusses the nature of the resurrection body, and we should not expect him to narrate appearances here either, because narrating appearances would only help show how the resurrection body is continuous with the old body, but Paul is trying to explain how it is discontinuous (assuming the appearances were not glorious appearances, but were of a mundane nature, as the Gospels claim).[13]

Response to "Was There an Empty Tomb?"

1. Carrier's discussion only shows that some ancients did not consider the testimony of women to be inherently unreliable; but many did, and that is enough to make it embarrassing to claim that women discovered the tomb.
2. There are differences between the four accounts of the empty tomb which are not well explained by redactional activity, and are thus best explained by the hypothesis that each of the Gospel writers had independent tradition for his empty tomb account. Why would Matthew and Luke change the names of the women at the tomb? And why would John only include Mary Magdalene and not the other women?
If the Gospels are completely unreliable, then the fact that they all attest to the empty tomb would be of no significance. But, if the Gospels have a good amount of reliable material (and most scholars would agree they do), then the fact that the empty tomb is attested by four (at the very least) fairly reliable sources significantly increases the odds that the empty tomb is historical.[14]
3. There is no space to address any of the apparent contradictions among the Gospels in detail. However, I think the only ostensible contradictions of any significance are, first, that Luke seems to contradict Matthew and Mark on whether the appearances occurred in Galilee or Jerusalem, and second, John seems to contradict the Synoptics on whether Mary Magdalene found out that Jesus was risen when she visited the tomb. On the first, see the works of Moule and Craig.[15] I have a forthcoming article which addresses the second in detail.[16]
4. Jesus' tomb would not have been venerated if it was empty, because it was the bones of martyrs that people were interested in. Had the tomb been occupied, then although the tomb may have been destroyed in 70 AD, the Christians would have been venerating it for approximately 40 years prior to this. Not only would the Jerusalem church have venerated the tomb, but so would the various Christian leaders from other parts of the Empire who came to visit the Jerusalem church, and so would the various Jewish-Christian pilgrims who traveled to Jerusalem for the feasts. Hence, if Jesus' tomb had been venerated, this would have become very well known throughout the Christian world, and it is thus unlikely that a story completely contradicting such a firmly established tradition would be attested by four late first- to early second-century sources.
However, as I mentioned in my first rebuttal, the empty tomb is not essential to my argument and thus I could simply concede it.

Response to "The Silence of Acts"

  1. Carrier's first point just repeats his general argument: That if there was an empty tomb, the Christians ought to have been prosecuted for grave robbery and housing an escaped felon. My general response is: (a) the Romans could not have tried anyone for grave robbery unless they had evidence implicating a particular Christian of stealing the body; (b) the Christians would not have been tried for abetting an escaped criminal provided the Romans had a basic understanding of the nature of the Christian proclamation; and (c) common sense suggests that the Romans would have persecuted the Christians regardless of whether there was an empty tomb.
  2. It is not impossible that the Romans did conduct an informal interrogation of the Church leaders in an attempt to determine who stole the body. However, they could not try the Church leaders for stealing the body; only if the Church leaders helped them find the people who actually did steal the body could any trial begin. And only if an actual trial occurred would we have an event so significant that Luke would be sure to mention it. But it is unlikely that there was even an interrogation of the Church leaders, because the Romans seem to have been uninterested in the emerging Christian movement (see point 4, below).
  3. Theft of the body is what the Romans would suspect, but as I've explained, they could not start any trial based on this.
  4. Carrier thinks that the Christians would not have been persecuted by the Romans because other religious groups worshipped gods as Lords and Kings. However, the Christian movement was different in two important ways. First, the Christians were worshipping someone who was not merely recently deceased, but had recently been executed by the state as a pretender to the throne. Second, the Christians were proclaiming that this person would be coming back to overthrow all pagan religious leaders (including the Roman Emperor, if he was still around). Thus, the Christian proclamation ought to have elicited persecution by the Romans. If the Romans were not concerned about Christianity in general, then they would probably not be concerned about grave robbery.
Finally, suppose some of the Christians had been tried for grave robbery: Why would Luke necessarily know this? Carrier's view seems markedly inconsistent: The author of Acts is supposed to have been familiar enough with the early Church that he would have known about a trial for grave robbery, and yet he was completely ignorant that the earliest Christians believed in 2BT.

Conclusion

In presenting my case, I have produced four passages from Paul which unambiguously affirm 1BT. Carrier has not produced any Pauline texts which affirm 2BT. All of the texts he appeals to are either better explained on 1BT, or are ambiguous (in fact, some of the texts don't even have anything to do with resurrection, such as 1 Corinthians 5:5 and Colossians 3:5). Rather than focus strictly on an exegesis of Paul, Carrier spends much of his time talking about the Gospels, Acts, the rabbis, and the Church Fathers. But the best way to find out what Paul thought is to see what he actually says. And Paul says multiple times that the body which is buried is the same one that rises.
In conclusion, I will recap the most blatant instances of poor exegesis on the part of Carrier:
  1. Paul calls the soul mortal and corruptible in 1 Corinthians 15:54.
  2. Creation is redeemed by being destroyed, and it eagerly looks forward to its destruction (Romans 8:19-23).
  3. In Romans 8:23, Paul uses "body" in a way different from the ways he uses it everywhere else in his epistles.
  4. Paul uses "put on" literally in 1 Corinthians 15:53-54, but he uses it figuratively everywhere else in his epistles.
  5. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:36 that what dies will be brought to life, but Paul does not actually believe that this is so, since he thinks we will getting a new resurrection body that never died.
  6. Colossians 3:5 implies that we have body parts which are not on earth.


Notes

[1] Gerhard Kittel, ed., The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. 2 (trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley) (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964), p. 320.
[2] Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek Lexicon: Founded Upon the 7th Edition of Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1889), p. 284.
[3] William Arndt, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1957).
[4] G. W. H. Lampe, ed., A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford, England: Clarendon, 1961), p. 544.
[5] Margaret E. Thrall, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Edinburgh, England: T&T Clark, 1994), p. 372.
[6] Linda L. Belleville, 2 Corinthians (Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), p. 132.
[7] Richard C. Carrier, "The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb" in The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave, Robert M. Price and Jeffrey Jay Lowder, eds. (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2005): 105-231, pp. 142-143.
[8] E.g. BADT, p. 38; An Intermediate Greek Lexicon, p. 37.
[9] Dale B. Martin, The Corinthian Body (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995), pp. 108-129.
[10] Dale Martin thinks that Paul resolves the problem in another way, namely, by arguing that the flesh will be sloughed off and that only the pneumatic parts of the present body will be resurrected. But in either case, Paul is answering the Corinthians' objection by focusing on the discontinuity between the two bodies.
[11] For an exegesis of Paul that agrees with Dale Martin's proposal as to the reason for the Corinthians' objection, but nevertheless argues that Paul believed in the resurrection of the flesh, see Andy Johnson, "On Removing a Trump Card: Flesh and Blood and the Reign of God," Bulletin for Biblical Research Vol. 13, No. 2 (2003): 175-192.
[12] See, for example, William Lane Craig, Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus (rev. ed) (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2003), pp. 16-22.
[13] I argue that the appearances were indeed nonglorious in "Jesus' Resurrection and Collective Hallucinations," Tyndale Bulletin, forthcoming.
[14] On multiple attestation, see John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1991), pp. 74-75.
[15] C. F. Moule, "The Post-Resurrection Appearances in Light of Festival Pilgrimages," New Testament Studies 4 (1957-1958), pp. 58-61; Craig, Assessing, pp. 223-225.
[16] "John Versus the Synoptics on Mary Magdalene's Visit to the Tomb," Conspectus, forthcoming.
============

Carrier's Closing Statement (2008)


The Stronger Case Prevails


I remain convinced. More likely than not, Paul did not believe the corpse of Jesus rose from the dead, but that Jesus left his corpse behind and rose from the dead in an entirely new body. Therefore, Paul did not need to believe the tomb of Jesus was empty in order to believe Jesus had risen, and there is no evidence he did.

1. The Cumulative Case For This Is Strong

  • Several scholars have come to the same conclusion or concede it's possible.
  • There were other Jews of the time besides Paul who held such a view (of the general resurrection of the people of Israel).
  • Even some pagans of the time held such a view (of the resurrection of gods).
  • Paul outright says it.[1]
    "That which you sow is not the body that will come to be" (1 Corinthians 15:37).

    Instead of raising the body that dies, God will "give" you an immortal one (1 Corinthians 15:38, 44, 46, etc.).

    "Our earthly house of a tabernacle" will be "destroyed," and instead of God rebuilding that one, we'll get "a house from God, eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1).

    Therefore "we groan" in our current body, "yearning to don" our new one (2 Corinthians 5:2).

  • And a lot of what Paul says implies it.[2]
    1. In his shell-seed analogy.[3]
    2. In his analogies of changing houses and clothes.[4]
    3. In his inner-and-outer man metaphor.[5]
    4. In his clay-pots vs. divine-vessels comparison.[6]
    5. In his repeated allusion to resurrection as a new Genesis (hence a new creation).
    6. In his emphasis on the need for a new and different body.
    7. In his emphasis on our current bodies being the organs we have on earth, and our future bodies as the ones we'll wear in heaven.[7]
    8. In his repeated emphasis that our current bodies will and must be destroyed (so we'll need new, indestructible ones).[8]
    9. In his allusion to a passage in the Greek Psalms that entails exchanging clothes rather than transforming them.
    10. In his use of the vocabulary of mercantile exchange in that very context.[9]
    11. And in the fact that Paul conspicuously never says the risen body is the same as the dying body, despite numerous occasions where this would be the obvious thing for him to say if he believed it.
    12. Whereas, instead, while some Jews who advocated single-body resurrection assumed we would exchange our grave clothes for splendid clothes, Paul turned the analogy around to argue that our bodies would be the clothes, using the exact same analogy to defend a two-body resurrection.[10]


  • In fact, Paul sounds nothing like single-body resurrection advocates (whether Christians or Jews), yet sounds a lot like two-body resurrection advocates, like Origen, who himself understood Paul to be advocating a two-body resurrection.[11]
  • The points of dissimilarity in this regard are numerous and strong.
    1. One-body advocates had many ideal scriptural prooftexts to cite, and cited them. Paul cites none of them.
    2. One-body advocates had many obvious and illuminating analogies to employ in illustrating how a burned, destroyed, decrepit, mangled, or rotted corpse would be raised, and used them. Paul uses none of them, or anything remotely like them.
    3. One-body advocates all emphasized that the resurrection body had to be the same body that died. Paul never says anything like this. In fact, if anything, he says exactly the opposite.
    4. One-body advocates realized the obvious and most challenging objection to their idea of resurrection involved problems of assembly and improvement, so they addressed them. Paul not only ignores these problems, but explicitly bypasses them by insisting we'll get entirely new bodies. Only a two-body resurrection theory can bypass the conspicuous problems that one-body advocates all had to address, and that's exactly the tactic Paul appears to take.[12]

  • Additionally, the Gospels provide no reliable help in determining what Paul believed, and the evidence is lacking or even against any of their contents (pertaining to the resurrection body) having been in circulation in his day. In fact, Paul never mentions any evidence of a risen Jesus other than revelatory visions and hidden messages in scripture.[13]
  • And finally, the content of Acts argues so strongly against there having been any claim of an empty tomb in the early years of the Church (when Paul joined) that either Acts is complete fiction, or there was no claim of an empty tomb at that time, which implies early Christians (like Paul) were claiming Jesus had not left an empty tomb, but had left his corpse behind and risen in a new body.[14]

2. There Has Been No Adequate Rebuttal

§
  • Nothing about Paul's resurrection vocabulary argues the contrary.[15]
Regarding anastasis there are simply (i) too few examples of usage and (ii) too great a variability in usage to warrant any sweeping generalization of the sort O'Connell maintains. O'Connell's Yahweh analogy is thus in both respects invalid.
As for N.T. Wright's remarks: as I represented, his statements are quite clear and thus not as dismissible as O'Connell claims. I think O'Connell overlooks the fact that N.T. Wright's book contains material written at different times over the course of some twenty years, and Wright clearly made little effort to smooth over the inconsistencies produced by his evolving positions.[16] It remains a fact that nowhere does Wright say what O'Connell originally alleged regarding the word anastasis, nor would Wright have had any valid basis for such an assertion even had he made it. In contrast, Wright does say, and quite clearly, what I said he did. Moreover, several other experts explicitly concur with my view.
§
  • No passage in Romans provides any clear argument to the contrary.[17]
In none does Paul actually say we will be raised in the same body that died. O'Connell keeps trying to bootstrap two vague statements there into assertions of one-body resurrection, but his efforts depend upon an array of assumptions that are no more secure than O'Connell's desired conclusions. For example...
I. Debating Pauline Eschatology
Most New Testament texts on the end times clearly describe destruction of the world and its replacement (most explicitly in 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 21:1-5), and if Jesus taught anything, he taught essentially this (so it would be odd of Paul to disagree).[18] Paul clearly seems to imply as much himself when he says "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 15:50), everything we "see" is "temporary" and only what we "do not see" is "eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18), and "the form of this world is passing away" (1 Corinthians 7:31)—plus many other allusions in his writings to God ultimately destroying the things of the world.[19] O'Connell believes Paul still fundamentally differed from other New Testament authors on this point. But I doubt it, and O'Connell can't prove it. Although many early Christians (including Paul) may have assumed God would assemble the new world from the purified elements of the old, the New Testament attests to the common view that the present world still had to be dissolved (which would certainly explain why Paul, and Jesus, expected everyone in the end to be taken up into the sky—you don't need an earth no one's going to live on).[20]
Accordingly, Romans 8:14-25 speaks of creation (notably ktisis, not the kosmos) awaiting the inheritance of the Christians as adopted sons of God (Romans 8:19-22), which would make them formal heirs to the future Kingdom. But Paul says no flesh or blood will "inherit" that kingdom, in fact nothing that decays will (1 Corinthians 15:50). Paul likewise says the whole scheme of the world will pass away (1 Corinthians 7:31), all that is mortal will be "swallowed up" (katapothê to thnêton, 2 Corinthians 5:4; similarly, 1 Corinthians 15:53-54), and what we see now will end and be replaced by what lasts forever (2 Corinthians 4:18). Hence I think Paul did in fact imagine the destruction of the world as its liberation: it is freed from the bondage of the corrupt, worldly elements and powers by being dissolved and rebuilt—or replaced with the perfect things of heaven (like the Celestial Garden of 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 and Celestial Temple of Hebrews 9, and thus like our Celestial Bodies of 2 Corinthians 5:1), which may be the only parts of Creation that yearn to be freed and that Christians will inherit. Since Paul says of the terrestrial world that the very elements themselves are corrupt and in fact the very origin of the world's bondage (Galatians 4:3, 4:9; Colossians 2:8, 2:20; cf. Romans 7:18), they must be destroyed. And since "corruption cannot inherit incorruption" (1 Corinthians 15:50), when Paul says "even the creation itself shall be freed from the bondage of corruption" (Romans 8:21), he must mean the world will be refashioned, freed from the bondage of the elements by being dissolved and cleansed, and put back together (with only incorruptible elements the second time around), as would accord with Paul's 'New Genesis' theme.
That the old creation would look forward to its cleansing this way is not unthinkable, in fact it's an exact analogy to our own resurrection, which is Paul's point in this very chapter of Romans: that not only do we groan inside our burdensome shells, which are the visible bodies that will pass away and be destroyed and then replaced with new incorruptible versions (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:2), so does the universe groan inside its burdensome shell, the visible world that will pass away and be destroyed and then replaced with a new incorruptible version (Romans 8:21-24). The parallels are so close as to surely be intended. And again, the case for this is at least as strong as any case O'Connell can make to the contrary.
II. Denying the Inner-and-Outer Man Metaphor
Despite O'Connell's protestations to the contrary, I think there is a strong case to be made that Paul's inner and outer man metaphor connects with his concept of resurrection.[21] Nothing O'Connell presents contradicts this. As O'Connell himself attests, the flesh is indeed the "outer man" and the spirit is indeed the "inner man," but the question is: How will the inner man survive death? For Paul, only if it joins the Spirit of Christ. Everyone else will be destroyed (as far as Paul seems to say, body and all).[22] Similarly, in 2 Corinthians 12, Paul actually doesn't say which body he might have gone to heaven in, so O'Connell again imports unwarranted assumptions into the text (contrast my discussion of this very passage).[23] Otherwise, I agree with O'Connell that Philo's view of resurrection is very similar to Paul's.[24] That's no objection to my case.
III. Begging the Question of Pauline Usage
O'Connell claims Paul never uses the word sôma of a second body, yet that seems quite explicitly what he is doing in 1 Corinthians 15:44-49 and quite implicitly in 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:7. It begs the question to assert these are not such occasions.
IV. Huh?
I can detect no valid logic in how O'Connell derives his last conclusion regarding Romans 8:11. I see none of the things he claims are "clear" in the text, and I don't see how his conclusion follows. As for his last remark, a mortal body that doesn't stay dead is simply not mortal. Paul says so: "what is corruptible cannot inherit incorruptibility" (1 Corinthians 15:50). Which is why Paul insists we'll need immortal bodies. That our current bodies can never be immortal is the entire point of Paul's two Corinthian discourses. My arguments stand.[25]
§
  • There are no other passages in the whole of Paul's authentic corpus that argue the contrary—in contrast with numerous passages in several letters supporting my conclusion.
Ultimately, none of Paul's analogies or vocabulary entail retention or continuity of the corpse. In fact, they tend to imply the opposite (e.g. his exchange-of-houses analogy, or his reference to "getting out of" our earthly bodies before "getting into" our new heavenly ones).[26]
O'Connell can only wiggle out of this by making dubious grammatical claims. For example, he claims Paul meant we'll "put on" our new bodies the same way he meant us to "put on" the "breastplate of faith" (1 Thessalonians 5:8), evidently unconcerned with the fact that if this were so, Paul would be denying a literal resurrection (since then the resurrection body would be as unreal as "the breastplate of faith"). I agree Paul is speaking figuratively (the body is not literally an overcoat, or a house), but surely he means an actual body (he outright says it's the "tent" in which we "live"). So although he can speak of wearing a metaphorical Jesus (in Romans 13:14), he is not speaking of wearing a metaphorical body.
Likewise, regarding the pronoun in 1 Corinthians 15:53-54, O'Connell claims we can assume a grammatical pick-up of a subject-noun ten verses away, but that is hardly defensible. It would be contrary to all sound practice for an educated Greek, which is why modern professional commentators like Jean Héring agree with me, and not O'Connell. Worse, the verse O'Connell cites (again!) doesn't even have the word "body" in it (1 Corinthians 15:42; he must be confusing this for 1 Corinthians 15:44, but that doesn't even entail "body" is the subject of the preceding verbs, as I've noted elsewhere—though here at least it could be).[27]
O'Connell is also entirely incorrect to claim that my (and Héring's) interpretation of this passage "reduces to the view that it is the soul which is being described as mortal and corruptible," as I have very clearly argued elsewhere that Paul did not believe in what O'Connell means by a soul and is not referring to such a thing here (a point also made by Héring).[28] We (and Paul) are here speaking of a condition (in the abstract), not a physical thing (whether a soul or a body—again, the word "thing" is not in the text).
§
  • As already noted, there were other Jews who advocated two-body resurrection (e.g. Josephus), and there were Christians who understood Paul to be one of them (e.g. Origen) or who imagined similar views (e.g. Clement would allow that our bones could remain behind).[29]
O'Connell's "reinterpretation" of Josephus constitutes special pleading (on any plain reading, Josephus is certainly not saying what O'Connell wants), and as I have pointed out in my published work (cited in my opening), there is evidence some Rabbis (and many other Jews) may have held a two-body view. We can expect such views were suppressed in later Rabbinical writings (in the Talmudic drive to develop an orthodoxy, contrary to the diversity that prevailed in the first century).
§
  • There is no valid challenge to my seed-sowing analysis.
All of O'Connell's arguments here depend on certain of his interpretations of the texts being correct. I argue those interpretations are improbable or not established.[30] O'Connell offers nothing to challenge that.
1. John 12:24: O'Connell now agrees that this intends the analogy Jesus = dying seed, Church = resulting fruit, but then claims "the thing that dies ... and the thing that produces fruit ... are understood as the same thing," yet the contrast drawn is between what is buried (that which dies) and what rises (the resulting fruit), not what dies and what produces. For the latter are both Jesus, and O'Connell just agreed John 12:24 is contrasting Jesus with the Church, not Jesus with Jesus. Since Jesus and the Church are not "the same thing," O'Connell's argument becomes an explicit non sequitur. My argument stands.[31]
2. 1 Clement 26:3: Nothing O'Connell argues here rebuts anything I actually argued against the relevance of this passage to interpreting Paul. My arguments stand.[32]
3. Talmud: It is possible Rabbi Meir (like Clement) didn't know the basic agricultural facts of seeds and believed there was no shell left behind. But I doubt it. The context of his remarks wasn't entirely of Jews being buried naked, but in their grave clothes, and whether they would rise in new splendid clothes or the rags they were buried in. But in any case, Paul clearly did understand the agricultural facts, so Rabbi Meir's ignorance (even if we grant it) bears no relevance to interpreting Paul. For contrary to O'Connell's interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:36, Paul immediately says in the next verse (1 Corinthians 15:37) that the seed that dies in fact is not the seed that rises. Observe that Paul also calls this a "naked grain of wheat" (gymnon kokkon ... sitou), exactly as Meir does, yet he still clearly understands (as I believe Meir did) that this is what is destroyed and what we take off (2 Corinthians 5:1-4), and is a distinct thing from what rises (1 Corinthians 15:37-38, 44, 46).
As with other passages in 1 Corinthians 15:35-54, Paul equivocates with pronouns as to whether the "dead" (person) is meant, or his "body" (corpse).[33] But when 1 Corinthians 15:36-38 are taken together, it's clear that what God will "quicken" is the person, not the corpse, and he will do this by giving him a new body.
§
  • Finally, in accordance with my analysis of Acts, there is no adequate case to be made that there was ever in fact an empty tomb.[34]

Final Conclusion

Despite O'Connell's best efforts, the preponderance of evidence remains heavily on my side. His efforts have nevertheless been admirable. Most critics resort to arguments that are so far from valid they only expose their advocate's incompetence. O'Connell has safely avoided such arguments (for the most part), while still deploying what I believe to be every remaining argument possible. Hence I do believe O'Connell has presented the best case to be made against my view. Which is precisely why I hold that view: the case against it is simply too weak to credit.


Notes

[1] For this and all three points above, see §1 of my opening statement (and later remarks in this closing statement).
[2] For this and all following sub-points see §2 of my opening statement.
[3] See also §5 of my first rebuttal (and later remarks in this closing statement).
[4] See also §2 of my first rebuttal (and later remarks in this closing statement).
[5] See also §3.4 of my second rebuttal (and later remarks in this closing statement).
[6] See also §2 of my second rebuttal.
[7] See also §3.2 of my second rebuttal.
[8] See also §3.1 of my second rebuttal (and later remarks in this closing statement).
[9] For this and previous point see also §3.2 of my second rebuttal.
[10] See last part of §5 of my first rebuttal (and later remarks in this closing statement).
[11] See §3 of my opening statement.
[12] For all the points above regarding the comparative evidence see §3 of my opening statement and §4 of my second rebuttal.
[13] See §4 of my opening statement and §5 of my second rebuttal.
[14] See §5 of my opening statement and §7 of my second rebuttal.
[15] See §1 of my first Rebuttal.
[16] See, again, the relevant FAQ response.
[17] See §3 of my first rebuttal and §4 of my first rebuttal.
[18] See, for example, Mark 13:31, Matthew 13:24-53 (esp. Matthew 13:40-43). See also Matthew 5:22-30, 10:28, 18:8-9, 25:41; Mark 9:43-49; Luke 12:49-55; John 15:6. Scriptural precedents: Zephaniah 1:14-16, 18; Psalms 102:25-27.
[19] See §3.1 of my second rebuttal and pp. 136-38 and n. 160 (on p. 211) of Richard Carrier, "The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb" in The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave (2005). See also note 10 in my Opening Statement, and related Empty Tomb FAQ response.
[20] Paul: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (as also implied in 1 Corinthians 15:45-52 and Philippians 3:20). Jesus: Mark 13:24-27, Matthew 20:30-31 (etc.).
[21] See §3.4 of my second rebuttal along with note 15 there and pp. 137-38 of Richard Carrier, "The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb" in The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave (2005).
[22] See material cited in note 8 in my First Rebuttal and note 15 in my Second Rebuttal, along with p. 125 (and n. 138 on p. 209) in Richard Carrier, "The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb" in The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave (2005).
[23] On pp. 152-53 of Richard Carrier, "The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb" in The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave (2005).
[24] On pp. 110-13 of Richard Carrier, "The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb" in The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave (2005).
[25] In §4 of my first rebuttal. By "Paul's Corinthian discourses" I mean 1 Corinthians 15:35-54 and 2 Corinthians 4:18-5:9.
[26] See §2 of my first rebuttal and §5 of my first rebuttal and §1 of my second rebuttal.
[27] See pp. 127-28 of Richard Carrier, "The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb" in The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave (2005).
[28] See references in note 22 above.
[29] Besides §1 of my opening statement: for Josephus, see §3.4 of my second rebuttal; for Clement, see the middle part of §5 of my first rebuttal; and for Origen, see §3 of my opening statement and §1 of my second rebuttal.
[30] In §5 of my first rebuttal.
[31] In §3.1 of my first rebuttal.
[32] In §3.2 of my first rebuttal.
[33] On this ambiguity issue, see, e.g., pp. 127 and 138-39 of Richard Carrier, "The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb" in The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave (2005).
[34] See §6 of my second rebuttal, along with Part II ("The Legend of the Empty Tomb") of Richard Carrier, "The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb" in The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave (2005): cf. pp. 155-231 (and associated FAQ).
=================

Total Assessment

Winner: Jake O'Connell
Average Score: ⌈0.25⌉ = 1

Meet the Judges

David Instone-Brewer:
Dr. Instone-Brewer is a senior research fellow in Rabbinics and the New Testament at Tyndale House (Cambridge), whose published books include Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible and Techniques and Assumptions in Jewish Exegesis Before 70 CE.
John P. Dickson:
Dr. Dickson is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University (Sydney), where he teaches Jewish and Christian origins. He is the author of a dozen books, including Mission Commitment in Ancient Judaism and in the Pauline Communities and Jesus: A Short Life.
Tony Burke:
Dr. Burke is an Assistant Professor at York University (Toronto, Canada), whose work includes the article "Heresy Hunting in the New Millennium," the entry on "The Infancy Gospel of Thomas" in Paul Foster's The Non-Canonical Gospels, and a forthcoming critical edition of The Infancy Gospel of Thomas for Corpus Christianorum Series Apocryphorum.
Dennis MacDonald:
Dr. MacDonald is Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the Claremont School of Theology (California), whose published books include Does the New Testament Imitate Homer? and Acts Of Andrew: Early Christian Apocrypha.

Individual Assessments

David Instone-Brewer:

Winner: No one
Average Score: 0
Much of this debate concerned whether Paul taught that mortal bodies are transformed into resurrected bodies, or that mortal bodies are replaced by resurrected bodies. Both sides were able to show that Paul could be interpreted to agree with them, and in the end the deciding factors were definitions. Does ependyomai mean "to put on [a garment over another]," or "to put on [a garment instead of another]"? Does kataluo mean "to destroy" or "to dismantle"? Does allasso mean "to exchange" or "to transform"? As so often, the context is decisive, and in this case, indecisive.
This impressive debate suggests that Paul was not concerned to make himself unambiguous, either because his meaning was obvious to any reader of the time, or the distinction didn't concern him. His meaning would be obvious if a reader at the time knew what he would believe. Each debater agreed that their contrary views both existed at the time of Paul, though most evidence comes from soon after—rabbinic Jews mainly followed the resurrected-body view, while Hellenised Jews tended towards a new-body view. Paul puts himself into both camps at different times, so a reader at the time would not be sure which view Paul held.
This leaves us with the conclusion that Paul was unconcerned about whether corpses were lifted out of the ground and transformed, or whether they stayed there and were replaced. This distinction wouldn't concern early Christians who believed that most of them would live to see the general resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17), but the subject soon became much more important. When corpses rotted, dispersed, and eventually fertilized the food which became other humans, questions arose about whether some bits would belong to more than one resurrected person. As Carrier pointed out, the Fathers asked such questions and Paul didn't. But as O'Connell pointed out, why should Paul ask such questions?
They also debated about whether the Gospels and Acts contained any historical evidence about Jesus' resurrection. O'Connell pointed out that this was outside the remit of the debate, but it continued to be a distraction which went nowhere due to lack of room for proper presentation of arguments.
Unfortunately, the original remit of the debate was almost completely ignored. The participants set out to debate whether Paul believed that Jesus' resurrection body was his transformed corpse or a new entity. Instead they debated about the corpses of believers in general.
Both debaters assumed that Paul regarded Jesus' resurrection exactly like that of his followers, but this is very questionable because Paul emphasized Jesus' divine and uberhuman nature. Unlike the Gospels, which present the human "Jesus" or "Son of Man," Paul consistently uses titles like "Son of God," "Lord," "Christ," and "First Adam." To say that Jesus was a special case for Paul is an understatement, so to assume that his resurrection is identical to everyone else needs strong justification. Carrier opened with texts which say that Jesus' resurrection was the start and the guarantee of the general resurrection, but only Romans 6:5 says they are "alike"—though this also says a believer's baptism and Jesus' death are "alike." Other believers don't appear to crowds after their death (1 Corinthians 15:4-7), or resurrect long before Judgment Day, so why should Paul assume that Jesus gained his new body in the exact same way as others?
Who was the best debater? Carrier had a better style, though both sides had equally weighted arguments. In the end, I have to reluctantly award a zero mark, not because they were equally weighted, but because neither addressed the question of Jesus' resurrection body, except as a side issue.


John P. Dickson:

Winner: Jake O'Connell
Average Score: 2
Richard Carrier's contention that Paul taught a two body theory of resurrection (2BT) was admirably argued given the limited evidence in its favor, but the case suffers from some serious difficulties which, for the most part, were highlighted by Jake O'Connell:
  1. Carrier's literal approach to Paul's seed-plant metaphor in 1 Corinthians 15 was striking from the opening lines. Metaphors in highly charged rhetorical contexts rarely mean exactly what they say at a surface level. Paul explains in what sense resurrection bodies are 'new' in vv. 42-44, as O'Connell stressed. Carrier's constant reference to this passage as 'clearly' teaching 2BT left the impression of protesting too much.
  2. Carrier failed to face the problem of Romans 8:23—the 'redemption of our body.' His suggestion that the passage refers to an inner resurrection body is, as O'Connell noted, special pleading. Romans 8 also undermines Carrier's background assumption that the eschaton for Paul is totally discontinuous with present creation. Carrier seemed evasive at this point.
  3. O'Connell successfully overturned one of Carrier's most important linguistic arguments—that allasso means 'exchange,' not 'change.' Lurkers can check Henry George Liddell & Robert Scott for themselves.
  4. O'Connell rightly described as anachronistic Carrier's repeated citation of Origen as evidence for what Paul meant (150 years earlier). Here the theologian was teaching the historian proper historical method.
  5. Carrier's insistence that Josephus 'clearly' believed in a 2BT was answered by O'Connell. The description is ambiguous, as all scholars agree. Some experts think Josephus might even be describing reincarnation. In any case, in Jewish Wars 2.162ff Josephus is not describing his own view at all, but that of the Pharisees generally. Does Richard Carrier think Palestinian Pharisees taught 2BT?
  6. Carrier's minor arguments about Acts and the Gospels were adequately answered by O'Connell. In any case, they had little relevance for understanding Paul, and seem to have been added for apologetic purposes.
I judge that O'Connell won the debate by a significant margin (2). I would have awarded him a victory 'by a large margin' (3) except for the agreed rule that "even a fallacious argument will be counted as a successful argument if it is not effectively rebutted." Fallacious arguments (not rebutted) include:
  1. Carrier was adamant that 1BT passages such as Daniel 12:2 'always' insist the dead are raised 'in the same body', and that Paul's neglect to do the same is revealing. A glance at Daniel 12:2 shows otherwise. While the implication of the passage is that dead bodies are reanimated, this is not stated. The same is true of Paul's teaching.
  2. A surprising historical misunderstanding is present in the statement: "Pilate would be compelled to haul every Christian in and interrogate every possible witness in a massive manhunt for what could only be in his mind an escaped convict." This misconstrues how prefects exercised authority and, in any case, wrongly assumes the Romans conducted police operations in the provinces. O'Connell answered aspects of Carrier's scenario, but it is unhistorical from the start.
  3. Carrier stated that Paul knew of Jesus' resurrection only through 'revelation' or 'scriptural interpretation.' This is mistaken. Paul also knows the 'testimony' of Peter, James, and others.
A final comment: Carrier's argument seems to be part of a larger project intended to undermine belief in Jesus' resurrection (clear from the opening paragraph) and, as a result, reads more like apologetics than scholarship. It suffers from the same problems associated with Christian apologetics: overstatement, avoidance of contrary evidence, rhetorical confidence, and a self-referential stance (obvious in the endnotes).
Both scholars (and Internet Infidels) are to be commended for the courteous tone of the debate.


Tony Burke:

Winner: Richard Carrier
Average Score: 1
The issue of Paul's notion of resurrection is not easy to settle. Is it that the same body is "transformed"? Or is it that a new body, distinct from the earthly body that remains buried, is provided? Both participants admit that many of Paul's statements about the resurrection are ambiguous; they both focus on one or two that they feel are unambiguous and interpret the others accordingly. Both are able to find interpretive avenues to make these statements fit their respective positions (depending on how literally or figuratively we take Paul's imagery, or on how we understand his eschatological vision). Thus it is difficult to decide between the two participants' positions using Paul alone.
Can the solution be found outside of Paul's writings? O'Connell assumes we must interpret Paul within the context of first-century Jewish notions of the resurrection; Carrier considers Paul to be one of a few writers who disagree with such notions (indeed, perhaps that is why Paul must defend his position). Arguments from silence are produced: Carrier asks why does Paul not use the analogies, scripture references, etc. of Jewish and Christian one-body theory proponents? Why do Paul and the author of Acts say nothing about the empty tomb? The silences are curious indeed, but ultimately insoluble, despite O'Connell's best efforts. It is one of the strengths of Carrier's position that he brings the audience's attention to the implications of the argument: what does Paul's position on resurrection indicate about the fate of Jesus' body? And it is one of O'Connell's weaknesses that he cannot effectively respond to the silences of the texts. No one can. So, why did he even try?
The "winner" in this debate is Carrier, though by only a small margin (1). Neither writer has convinced me of his position on Paul's view of the resurrection (or better, Paul's statements are shown to be hopelessly ambiguous). But at the end of the debate, Carrier's questions about the empty tomb linger on. O'Connell counters with several possible explanations (Paul had little space to devote to such issues; the Romans couldn't persecute the Christians for grave robbery because they would not be able to identify which Christians took the body; etc.), but none of them are convincing. Indeed, he tends to minimize the issue of the empty tomb, whereas Carrier keeps it central to the debate, beginning both his opening and closing statements with the topic. Carrier is also a more assertive writer, peppering his position with such declarations as "weak evidence never trumps strong," and "my arguments stand." In comparison, O'Connell's concluding list of examples of Carrier's "poor exegesis" reads like sour grapes. Again, O'Connell would have fared better had he confronted the arguments from silence with the appropriate agnosticism ("we simply do not know"), rather than countering Carrier's speculation with even weaker speculation.


Dennis MacDonald:

Winner: No one
Average Score: 0
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to my brothers, Jake Harris O'Connell and Richard Carrier, grace to you and peace. I give thanks that you invited me to evaluate your controversy about my "theory of resurrection," for it is clear that you both are intelligent, articulate, and attentive to detail. I am writing to you in English thanks to Dennis MacDonald.
I was astonished at how quickly both of you departed from some of the recognized standards for the study of my letters. For example, I don't know who wrote the letter to the Colossians to which you both appeal; it was not I. I surely could not have agreed with Colossians 2:11-15 and the statement that believers in Jesus "were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands in the putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ" (2:11). But I can see why Carrier would like the idea of "putting off the body of flesh," and why O'Connell would like the notion of the continuity of the body before and after baptism.
I found even more astonishing that both of you appealed to the Acts of the Apostles, which I had not read until MacDonald showed me a copy. As far as I can tell, there is absolutely nothing in Acts 1-3 that is historical, and I find the entire idea of an ascension of Jesus' body, together with "flesh and bones" (Luke 24:40), quite ludicrous. After all, "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." Carrier's arguments from Acts fall far short of the mark, but so do the responses of O'Connell.
I also found it remarkable that O'Connell approached to Gospels—more books that I now have read thanks to MacDonald—about what happened to Jesus' tomb. I read these accounts with baffled amusement. In my day, no one had heard of Jesus' empty tomb. I surely never did. Don't you think that if I had I would have mentioned it in my second letter to the Corinthians [1 Corinthians] to oppose those who denied that Jesus' body had been raised? The best I could do was to appeal to reports of visions of the risen Christ, including my own, but as any reader of Homeric epic would recognize, one can see even disembodied souls. My challenge was to interpret these visions as visions of transformed bodies. I was pleased to read in these Gospels about Joseph of Arimathea and Mary Magdalene; I wonder why I had never heard about them before.
As an aside, I should say that I have heard of some followers of Jesus in Palestine who denied that the risen Jesus appeared to anyone; indeed, they preferred to speak of Jesus' disappearance—like Enoch, Moses, or Elijah—and eventual return as the Son of Man [i.e., Q]. I prefer the tradition related to Peter and James that Jesus appeared to the Twelve and hundreds of others.
Now let me get to the crux—pun intended—of the nature of resurrection body. Here, it seems to me, that again, Carrier and O'Connell would have been benefited by another tenet of good scholarship on my letters: the reconstruction of the thinking of my opponents. The Corinthians really had me painted into a corner. They and I agreed that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God," but they, influenced as they were by Philo via Apollos, took this to mean that God raised only the soul, not the body; therefore; any appearance of Jesus to his followers was one of his risen soul.
How I wish I had thought of the idea of an empty tomb! I could have appealed to it as evidence of his risen body. Instead, I had to argue from the Jewish apocalyptic idea of the general resurrection of the dead. So my challenge was this: how to make sense of a resurrection body that did not consist of "flesh and blood." (I assume that Jesus' fleshly body rotted in a Palestine tomb.)
In order to make this case I fished about for metaphors that would speak of bodily transformation. Some of these metaphors emphasized discontinuity—say, different types of heavenly bodies, leaving one house to inhabit another, removing one garment and donning another. Other transformative metaphors, however, emphasized organic continuity—such as a seed becoming a plant or putting one garment on top of another. So I can see why Carrier thought that I spoke of two different bodies, and why O'Connell thought that I spoke of the metamorphosis of a single body. In my day, the debate was not about one body or two, but whether it made any sense to say that the soul after death was somatic in any way at all.
After I wrote 1 Corinthians, the dispute did not subside, so I addressed it again in 2 Corinthians, where one still sees the unresolved tensions in my metaphors. The same ambiguity appears in Romans 8:9-13, which we need not discuss any further. I just wish that both of you had dealt more with theories about metaphor and less about enthymemes.
Finally, brethren, I declare the debate a tie (scored = 0), though my sympathies generally favor Carrier. I found disappointing his arguments from Acts and his meat cleaver treatment of messy metaphors. But more objectionable was O'Connell's use of both Acts and the Gospels as historical records, and his general lack of attention to ancient anthropological dualism (e.g., Platonism). In the end, I found both of their contributions to be brilliant, energetic, and often enlightening, but neither overwhelmingly compelling. I greet you, as does my scribe, Dennis. Grace and peace.

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