Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dialogue on Mortality and Immortality (Prima Pars)

The apostle Paul suggests that his earthly tent will undergo dissolution and it will then be replaced by a sturdy house, "eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1-2).

Nope. His mortal will be swallowed up by life.

You talk about an explicit assertion hermeneutic, when you are in fact reading ideas into the apostle's language. In 2 Corinthians 5:1-5, Paul does not say that his "mortal body" will be swallowed up by life. To the contrary, he writes that if his mortal body is "torn down," then he and other Christians will receive a "building from God" not made by human hands: a figurative structure that is eternal in the heavens. He says nothing about his mortal "body" being swallowed up by life. His exact words are: "In fact, we who are in this tent groan, being weighed down; because we want, not to put it off, but to put on the other, that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life" (2 Cor 5:4).

Notice that he says nothing about his body being swallowed up by life: only what is mortal is "swallowed up" with life. And lest you construe Paul's paradoxical language in 2 Cor. 5:4 as proof that he desired to have his fleshly body clothed in immortality, see Philippians 1:21-26. We could read his words at 2 Cor. 5:1ff this way: "I want my mortal condition to be replaced with an immortal one." The context supports just such a reading.

To substantiate this point, check out what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:8: "But we are of good courage and are well
pleased rather to become absent from the body and to make our home with the Lord."

Here it seems that Paul is referring to being absent from the mortal body (our current body of flesh); however, the apostle likely does not mean that he would be bodiless or incorporeal in toto. See 1 Corinthians 15:42ff. Paul would assume a spiritual body as opposed to a body of flesh (1 Corinthians 15:35-49).

1 Cor 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be **raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed**.
53 For **this corruptible** must put on incorruption, and **this mortal** must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy
victory? {grave: or, hell}

Read the passage in context. Notice that Paul says nothing in the verses you cite about bodily alterations. Instead, he writes πάντες οὐ κοιμηθησόμεθα πάντες δὲ ἀλλαγησόμεθα (1 Cor 15:51). Where is there any mention of a body being changed in this verse? It simply is not there. Moreover, your interpretation of this Pauline unit ignores the entire context of 1 Cor 15:35ff where Paul assuredly makes it plain that "What you sow is not made alive unless first it dies; and as for what you sow, you sow, not the body that will develop, but a bare grain, it may be, of wheat or any one of the rest; but God gives it a body just as it has pleased him, and to each of the seeds its own body" (1 Cor. 15:35-38).

In other words, the body that is sown is not the identical body that will be raised. One is rooted in the other, but they are different bodies.

If the mortal body is not raised, but dissolved in death and corruption, then the saying does not come to pass, and the Adamic fall is not undone.

What saying does not come to pass? Surely you don't mean "the saying" in 1 Cor. 15:50-55 since the apostle plainly shows that the body that is raised is not the same as the body that was sown. Additionally, 2 Cor. 5:1-2 could not be clearer in what it has to say about the earthly tent being dissolved (καταλυθῇ) to make way for the building from God.

There is no "replacement" in view. It is not "my immortal soul must put on a different body" but rather "this mortal body, this corruptible must be changed..."

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