Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bodily Resurrection in Paul? part two

One question I have for those favoring a bodily resurrection is this: Do you believe that your own physical body will be reconstituted and changed into a spiritual body during the general resurrection? Paul calls Christ the “first fruits” of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15), implying that those who belong to Jesus will be raised in similar fashion. If Jesus was raised bodily, then his followers will be raised this way as well. Let’s think out the implications of this through the person of St. Paul.

Let’s say Paul was killed in Rome sometime in the 60’s. I’m sure many people assume that he is in heaven with Jesus. But if Jesus has been physical raised and Paul has not (yet), are they currently together but in different bodies? Is Paul awaiting the general resurrection and his actual spiritual body which will be his former physical body transformed? If he is, then where are the materials of that body today? Surely Paul was buried, probably not in a proper tomb if he was martyred by Rome, and his body has decomposed. His remains have long since been transformed into earth. Perhaps parts of that earth have since become grass and animals have fed on that grass. Perhaps people have eaten some of those animals and then reproduced over generations. Even if this is not exactly right, we know that Paul’s physical remains have transformed into others things many, many times since his death. Maybe there are materials in thousands of people all over the world that were once part of the Apostle Paul. At the general resurrection at the end of the world, who gets to claim those parts? If Paul does, will molecules fly out of people, animals, plants and earth all over the world? And let’s remember that every molecule that made up Paul was once something else, and quite probably someONE else.

to be continued...


  1. I like how you talk about Paul’s composition and how it gets recycled. This brought a question to mind, what is Paul? As we all know, we are made up of organs > tissues > cells > molecules > atoms… and so on. Another thing we all know is that our cells are constantly dying off and we are constantly rebuilding our bodies out of the material we ingest. Quite literally, you are what you eat!

    So if God were to resurrect Paul, which compilation of molecules would he choose? Paul from 60’s AD, Paul from 37AD, Paul from 3:00pm on the third Tuesday after the winter solstice of 29AD… One objection that might be made is that a molecule is a molecule and there is not a way to distinguish one carbon chain from another identical carbon chain. In this sense, it is the configuration of molecules that matters, not the actual molecules. But this does not help as much as it seems on the surface, as not only are the compositions of bodies in a state of constant change, so is the configuration – especially in the brain, the location one might find “Paul” in this sea of change.

    The idea of physical resurrection, especially millennia after death, is one that only makes sense to the scientifically ignorant. If we are seriously going to talk about this, I think the term recreation is better suited.

  2. Thanks for taking the idea to a new level. yes, molecules that used to make up Paul are all over the world, but which Paul? We are all changing over every moment, there is no fixed Skyhook, for instance.

    Interesting stuff.