Sunday, October 08, 2006

Augustine on bodily resurrection

"The bodies of the saints, then, shall rise again free from blemish and deformity, just as they will be also free from corruption, encumbrance, or handicap. Their facility [facilitas] will be as complete as their felicity [felicitas]. This is why their bodies are called "spiritual", though undoubtedly they will be bodies and not spirits. For just as now the body is called "animate" [animale], though it is a body and not a "spirit" [anima], so then it will be a "spiritual body," but still a body and not a spirit.

"Accordingly, then, as far as the corruption which weighs down the soul and the vices through which "the flesh lusts against the spirit" (Gal 5:17) are concerned, there will be no "flesh," but only body, since there are bodies that are called "heavenly bodies." (1 Cor 15:40). This is why it is said, "Flesh and blood shall not inherit the Kingdom of God," and then, as if to expound what was said, it adds, "Neither shall corruption inherit incorruption." (1 Cor 15:50). What the writer first called "flesh and blood" he later called "corruption," and what he first called "the Kingdom of God" he then later called "incorruption."

"But, as far as the substance of the resurrection body is concerned, it will even then still be "flesh." This is why the body of Christ is called "flesh" even after the resurrection. Wherefore the apostle also says, "What is sown a natural body [corpus animale] rises as a spiritual body [corpus spirituale]." (1 Cor 15:44). For there will then be such a concord between flesh and spirit—the spirit quickening the servant flesh without any need of sustenance therefrom—that there will be no further conflict within ourselves. And just as there will be no more external enemies to bear with, so neither shall we have to bear with ourselves as enemies within.'

- Augustine, Enchiridion, §91.

My most recent heavenly post has started a discussion on the nature of the resurrection body. Come and join in.

18 comments:

Rob said...

Fantastic exposition by Augustine. Thanks for posting this.

John P. said...

What becomes most fascinating for me in this discussion are the nuances that emerge in Augustine's take on the resurrected body in City of God XXII.

The resurrected will be raised:

-"with a body of the same size as they had, or would have had, in the prime of life" (16). This seems to mean we will be raised around the same age which Christ himself was raised.

-"in such a way that, while the integrity of the body's substance is preserved, the deformity will perish" (19).

-so that "neither fat persons nor thin ones fear that their appearance at the resurrection will be other than they would have wished it to be here" (19).

some issues: Does particularity remain for the individual? It seems as though this is the case, based on his discussion of the marks of the martyrs, but does this apply to all? Also, what is this "pleasentness of colour" (19) which he speaks of? Is it helpful to follow Augustine's approach to the resurrected body as perfect proportion and ideal appearance? A more modern critique from disability theology suggests that this is a homogenizing of identity, erasing a very significant part of people's existence here on earth. I wrestle, without resolution, with these ideas.

thoughts? suggestions?

as an aside, i was watching a History Channel program on Hell last night which was simply awful. Its "panel of scholars" was laughable. But more surprising was how blatantly wrong it was regarding its discussion of Augustine's life and thought: Even in something as simple and well known as his conversion, the narrator explained that Augustine converted to christianity at the side of his mother's deathbed. I actually laughed outloud. I wont even get into their depiction of his theology...

simply stunning.

great posts by the way!

Rob said...

Hey John,

How funny that you caught that History channel program on Hell as well. I only saw a bit (the pentecostal preacher exorcising people) and the muslim bit of it.

Dealing with your disability thing -

I am not physically disabled in the typical way (MS, born without a limb or whatever), but I do have cystic fibrosis. It is certainly an important part of my existence here on earth, but I don't think it defines me. In fact, I wouldn't want this peculiarity at all in my resurrection body! I long for the healing and goodness which defined Adam's, and now Christ's body, and which will one day define mine.

I see these kinds of sicknesses and disabilities as a result of the fall, however crucial they may be to some people's identities in this life.

byron said...

John, Augustine is clear that we remain recognisable (in both City of God and the Enchiridion). Amusingly, in both cases, he thinks it worth mentioning that while you will receive back all the bits of you you ever had (or ought to have had), they mightn't be the same body part - lest we all end up with grotesquely long hair and fingernails!

Whatever Augustine's culturally limited views of phsyiological beauty (or our own), his point remains: what is sown in dishonour is raised in glory.

byron said...

And thanks Rob for sharing your own experience.

I expect the same could be said of character flaws - we might fear 'losing ourselves' were some trait removed or transformed, but this is not the case.

we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3.2-3)

And I think too of this Lewis quote (see end of post), picking up again on 1 Cor 15.36: "what you sow does not come to life unless it dies."

Steven Carr said...

' Wherefore the apostle also says, "What is sown a natural body [corpus animale] rises as a spiritual body [corpus spirituale]." (1 Cor 15:44). '

Sadly, Paul never wrote that. And the fact that Christians have to rewrite the text to make it say what they want it to say is very telling.


In the second century AD, Christians forged a rewrite of the chapter in a fake letter called 3 Corinthians.

In the fake letter, Paul says all the things about the resurrection of the flesh that the real Paul just never said.

Why forge letters, unless you feel Paul wasn't really saying what you want him to say?

What is the Greek words in 1 Corinthians 15:44 which mean 'what is'?

There are none.

There are 2 subjects , meaning 2 bodies.

Augstine was lying when he said '"What is sown a natural body [corpus animale] rises as a spiritual body [corpus spirituale].'

Or , more likely, the translator of Augustine has doctored the translation.

But Paul just never wrote ''"What is sown a natural body [corpus animale] rises as a spiritual body [corpus spirituale].''

But Augustine was right about one thing.

'Animal body' is a good translation.

Paul uses the word 'psyche' (soul) to mean life.

It is what Adam got when the clay was made alive, and 'life' is what you lose when you die.

People with only a 'natural body' will lose their life when they die. They only have a natural body, and so have no hope. Natural bodies die.

But Christians are building a spiritual body.They will lose their natural body, because natural bodies die. They will lose their 'psyche' (life), when they die.

But , like Jesus, they will have a body made from spirit, a spiritual body, and so live on in a 'life-giving' spirit.

Paul is contrasting the life we have now in our natural bodies, which we will lose, with the life-giving spirit that we will be when we are resurrected.

Something animated by 'psyche' (life) will be worthless once the life has gone.

That is why the Corinthians were idiots for wondering what happened to their natural bodies. Paul thought of that as just worthless dust once it is dead.

Steven Carr said...

john writes 'What becomes most fascinating for me in this discussion are the nuances that emerge in Augustine's take on the resurrected body in City of God XXII.

The resurrected will be raised:

-"with a body of the same size as they had, or would have had, in the prime of life" (16). This seems to mean we will be raised around the same age which Christ himself was raised.

-"in such a way that, while the integrity of the body's substance is preserved, the deformity will perish" '

All very sensible questions.

What does Paul write about people who wonder with what sort of body the dead will return with?

1 Corinthians 15 'But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" How foolish!'

If you believe that resurrection involves the raising of a corpse, then it is very natural to wonder with what kind of body they will return.

Augustine did so. John did so.

The Corinthians did so, and concluded that corpses can't rise.

But Paul regarded such questions as foolishness.

They are just totally irrelevant to his conception that the natural bdy will just be worthless once the life has gone from it.

byron said...

There are 2 subjects, meaning 2 bodies.
1 Cor 15.44
Literally, 'It is sown a soul-powered body; it is raised a Spirit-powered body.' (or 'It is sown an animated (not 'animal' or 'natural') body; it is raised a Spiritual body'. It is entirely appropriate to read the same subject in both phrases. Of course, it is not precisely the same, since it has become something new as it is raised.

As for the pseuopigraphic 3rd Corinthians, it's existence again shows what Irenaeus argued, that catholic Christians had always taken the resurrection as physical. It was gnostics, latecomers with their own reasons to misread Paul, who proposed a non-physical resurrection.

If you believe that resurrection involves the raising of a corpse, then it is very natural to wonder with what kind of body they will return. Augustine did so. John did so. The Corinthians did so, and concluded that corpses can't rise. But Paul regarded such questions as foolishness.
No, Paul regarded Corinthians scoffing at the very notion of resurrection (as demonstrated in 15.12) to be foolish. The fact that he goes on to answer the question shows that for those seriously asking, he has a serious answer (which is, a body that is both continuous and radically discontinuous, like a seed and plant).

'What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.' Yet it is (in one sense) what you sow that does indeed come to life, even if it is so different that it is also important to say that 'you do not sow the body that is to be.'

Paul believed in the goodness of the created body (cf. 1 Tim 4.1-5; Col 1.15-20); the problem was not with God's creation, but with the reign of sin and death which had corrupted it.

But , like Jesus, they will have a body made from spirit
The ikos ending on adjectives generally refers not to the material from which the noun is made, but to its animating/energising force. It is not a body made from spirit, but one brought to life and transformed by God's Spirit, of which Jesus' resurrection by the Spirit was the first fruits. It is this Spirit of God, now known also as the Spirit of Christ, who will give life to our mortal bodies (Romans 8.11). That Jesus' Spirit is the source of new life means that the second Adam has become a life-giving Spirit. The 'problematic' issue here (in 1 Cor 15.45) is not the physicality of the Spirit raising our mortal bodies, but the close identification of Jesus with the Spirit.

Steven Carr said...

'Literally, 'It is sown a soul-powered body; it is raised a Spirit-powered body.''

That is not a literal translation.

There is no word corresponding to 'it'

There is no word corresponding to 'powered'.

And Paul uses 'psyche' to mean 'life' , not 'soul'.

'No, Paul regarded Corinthians scoffing at the very notion of resurrection (as demonstrated in 15.12) to be foolish.'

I shall quote Paul again, scoffing at the very questions that Augustine and John were asking.

1 Corinthians 15 'But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" How foolish!'


'The ikos ending on adjectives generally refers not to the material from which the noun is made, but to its animating/energising force.'

Just like a metallic car and a metallic noise, it varies.

And there cannot be a 'spritual' thing without 'spirit' being classed as a substance.

This is why Paul stresses to the Corinthians the different kinds of substances that there are in the world.


That is what they didn't get. Resurrected bodies were made of a different substance.

And let me quote Paul accurately, as many people here have changed his words.

'The first Adam became a created being, the last Adam a life-giving spirit'.

How much more clearly can Paul write that Jesus became a spirit, than by saying that Jesus became a spirit?

And all 3 Corinthians shows is that later Christians had to rewrite Paul to make him say things that the real Paul never said, that the resurrection was a resurrection of the flesh.

Steven Carr said...

'The fact that he goes on to answer the question shows that for those seriously asking, he has a serious answer (which is, a body that is both continuous and radically discontinuous, like a seed and plant).'

Paul stresses to the Corinthians that the seed DIES.

They were scoffing at the idea of a corpse being raised, and Paul tells them they are idiots , because of course the corpse is dead.

It is just a seed which dies, and God creates a new body.

People knew perfectly well that what comes out of a seed is not the discarded case of the seed, which is just dead and discarded.

The plant is something which was previously invisible inside the seed.

Steven Carr said...

And everybody agrees that Romans 8:11 is not about the resurrection, but about already having the spirit of Christ inside us. It is about the present, not the future.

Without that, we are just dead men walking, according to Paul.

'That Jesus' Spirit is the source of new life means that the second Adam has become a life-giving Spirit.'

Of course, the typology of 'Adam' means that we will share in the nature of the second Adam and also become life-giving spirits (just as we shared in the nature of the first Adam and had a 'body of death')

byron said...

'Literally, 'It is sown a soul-powered body; it is raised a Spirit-powered body.''
That is not a literal translation. There is no word corresponding to 'it'

No single Greek word, no. But the third person singular subject is built into the verb, so translating with an 'it' is entirely appropriate. The two verbs are parallel and there is no reason to think there has been a change of subject between them.

There is no word corresponding to 'powered'.
This is the usual meaning of the ikos ending, as I mentioned above.

And Paul uses 'psyche' to mean 'life' , not 'soul'.
I am using 'soul' to mean '(mortal) life'. I realise this is another whole debate, but I am not a dualist. My point is simply that if you are taking 'spirit' to be a substance, then wouldn't you also have to take psyche to be a substance for the same reasons?

'The ikos ending on adjectives generally refers not to the material from which the noun is made, but to its animating/energising force.'
Just like a metallic car and a metallic noise, it varies.

Do you have evidence to support this claim?

And there cannot be a 'spritual' thing without 'spirit' being classed as a substance.
I'm not sure about this. There are intelligent things, but we don't need to postulate a substance called 'intelligence'. Not all adjectives imply corresponding substances (leaving aside for the moment the debate about whether talk of substances has already given the game away to Aristotle!).

'The first Adam became a created being, the last Adam a life-giving spirit'.
A 'living being', or a 'living mortal', or even a 'living soul' (see discussion again). The issue is that Paul uses two words for 'life' here, one qualifying the other. I'm just pointing out that the first Adam is called a 'soul'/'life' (qualified as 'living'), so the fact that the last Adam is called 'a life-giving Spirit' needs to be interpreted in parallel with the tricky first part of the construction. The two distinctions seem to be (a) that whereas Adam was just alive, Jesus was life-giving, and (b) that whereas Adam was psyche (soul/life), Jesus was pneuma (s/Spirit). Pneuma for Paul is nearly always associated very closely with God's Holy Spirit. Given Paul's associations of the Holy Spirit with the risen Jesus elsewhere (e.g. Rom 8.11), there seems no reason to not think he is making a similar point here.

Paul stresses to the Corinthians that the seed DIES.
Yes, in order that the seed might rise. There is no distinction being envisioned between the seed and its 'shell'. It is the seed itself which dies, and which is then transformed into the new life.

And everybody agrees that Romans 8:11 is not about the resurrection, but about already having the spirit of Christ inside us. It is about the present, not the future.
Unsure who you are reading to think that 'everyone' takes this as about our present life. I thought that there was almost something of a consensus that Paul never speaks of believers as presently raised outside of Colossians and Ephesians, indeed, this is one of the main reasons their Pauline providence is questioned. That matter aside and just looking at the verse, the tense is future. I realise that following a conditional, this is not necessarily watertight, but the fact that the passage goes to discuss at great length the future hope of resurrection (8.18-23) indicates that Paul is thinking of the future 'redemption of our bodies' (8.23), a hope for which we still wait (8.24). NB Notice that it is our bodies which are to be redeemed.

Anonymous said...

very much on an aside: Do you hate Picasso? I hate picasso so much, in that facsination/hatred way. I just have to keep staring, because there is some kind of fascination/pleasure in the experience of the revulsion I experience when looking at his paintings.
also on an aside: does your use of the word "wherefore" refect early or a lot of exposure to the authorized translation of the Bible? There's something lovely about that--it seems to me that one almost never sees "wherefore" nowadays.

byron said...

Benjamin, unforunately, 'wherefore' is Augustine's (or rather his translator's) choice. I'll try to use it more often.

As for Pablo, I'm afraid I'm very boring and love his work. The Picasso Museum in Paris was a blast (though this one is in NYC).

Steven Carr said...

'The two distinctions seem to be (a) that whereas Adam was just alive, Jesus was life-giving, and (b) that whereas Adam was psyche (soul/life), Jesus was pneuma (s/Spirit). Pneuma for Paul is nearly always associated very closely with God's Holy Spirit.'

Yes, correct. Jesus became 'pneuma' at his resurrection.

And the typology of calling Jesus 'Adam' , clearly implies that we too will become pneuma.

After all, Paul uses the same verse as a contrast of the resurrection of the second Adam with a quote from Genesis 2:7 about the creation of the first Adam (where the first Adam is created from dead matter)



And 'pneumatikos' clearly implies the corresponding substance.

Unless you know of 'ikos' words which don't.

And '-ikos' does not mean 'powered by'......


No more than a 'metallic' sound means one that is powered by metal.

Steven Carr said...

'Redemption' is a bad translation of Romans 8:23.

Notice that Hebrews 11@35 uses *exactly* the same word to mean the *very opposite* of resurrection.

The word means 'liberation', usually from a prison-like situation.

Once again, Paul uses language implying that there is something inside us which needs to escape from our 'body of death' (as he calls our bodies in Romans 7)

But , of course, 1 Corinthians 15 and 2 Corinthians 5 are far more detailed accounts of what Paul meant by saying that we would become a 'life-giving spirit'

byron said...

'Redemption' is a bad translation of Romans 8:23.
No, it's the primary meaning of the term apolutrosis. Here is one dictionary:
1) a releasing effected by payment of ransom
1a) redemption, deliverance
1b) liberation procured by the payment of a ransom
Liberation and redemption are quite close semantically.

Notice that Hebrews 11@35 uses *exactly* the same word to mean the *very opposite* of resurrection.
It is not the opposite; it simply an alternative option - either being set free or dying in the hope of resurrection. The captivity from which they were not redeemed was physical incarceration. The captivity from which we hope to be released in Romans 8.23 is not gaol, nor something trapped in our bodies, but it is from the 'bondage to decay'. Once liberated from this, bodies are no longer mortal and falling apart. This is the perfection, not the abandonment of our body.

Once again, Paul uses language implying that there is something inside us which needs to escape from our 'body of death' (as he calls our bodies in Romans 7)
No. The hope of which Paul speaks is not redemption from our bodies, but the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8 is a clear affirmation of bodily resurrection.

byron said...

And 'pneumatikos' clearly implies the corresponding substance.
Not true.
'Adjectives of "material" tend to form in -inos (Moulton 1980-76, 2.359); those which end in -ikos indicate what something is "like", giving an ethical or dynamic relation is opposed to a material one (Moulton 2.378, quoting Plummer on 1 Cor 3.1). Robertson and Plummer 1914 [1911] take this more or less for granted: "Evidently, psychikon does not mean that the body is made of pysche, consists entirely of pysche: and pneumatikon does not mean it is made and consists entirely of pneuma. The adjectives mean 'congenital with,' 'formed to be the organ of.'" See too Conzelmann 1975 [1969], 283, quoting Bachmann Kümmel: "soma pneumatikon is not simply a body consisting of pneuma, but one determined by penuma" (my ital.); Witherington 1995, 308f.'
Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 351-52, footnote #120.

'The [-ikon] adjective describes, not what something is composed of, but what it is animated by.' Ibid, 352.

Unless you know of 'ikos' words which don't.
Sure. Aristotle speaks of wombs that are 'swollen with wind', hysterai pneumatikai. Vitruvius (1stC BC) speaks of a machine 'moved by wind', pneumatikon organon.