Wednesday 23 October 2019

What relation does the resurrection body have to the mortal body?

My understanding is that an eternal and indestructible resurrected body has no physical relation to the mortal body; but is 'regenerated' from the soul: regenerated from that which survives death.

This is confirmed for me by the possibility of reincarnation, which seems to have been the 'normal' thing for souls in many parts of the world throughout history - including the ancient Hebrews and first Christians - since the possibility or prophecy of prophets being reborn is mentioned several times in the Old and New Testaments (including the Fourth Gospel Chapter 1, when discussing the identity of John the Baptist).

If a person is to be reincarnated, especially when widely separated by time, then this must presumably be with different bodies - showing that the principle is established whereby a soul may be housed in different bodies - including, potentially, the resurrection body.

On the other side; the indications that resurrection involves re-animating the mortal body can be taken to be implied by two episodes in the Fourth Gospel ('John'): the raising of Lazarus (assuming, like me, you regard this as a resurrection) and by the episode in the 20th chapter where the resurrected Jesus twice shows the wounds in his sides and hands to the disciples.

Some would assume that Lazarus is brought to life in the same physical body that has died, presumably after it had been miraculously repaired; and that the continued presence of wounds in Jesus's hands and side means that we all should expect to be resurrected in the same physical bodies in which we died - or at least one that looks the same.

Instead, my assumption is that these particular public demonstrations of  resurrection are not intended to be a pattern for all possible ones. In these; I assume that the resurrected body formed in more-or-less the same physical space as the dead mortal body; as a proof of continued identity for bystanders. But this is not necessary - nor indeed usual.

Unless resurrection was intended to be restricted only to those who had died without serious damage to their bodies, the process of resurrection (whatever it is) cannot depend on the survival intact of the physical body. There is no indication anywhere in the Fourth Gospel that resurrection is so restricted.

Furthermore, I personally do not hang too much on the 'showing of the wounds' episode, since it may well be a later addition to the Gospel by another hand and is unconfirmed by other parts of the Gospel. For example, when Mary Magdalene first met the risen Jesus at the tomb, she seems not to have seen any wounds - or else she would (surely?) immediately have recognised him.

(It is characteristic of the Fourth Gospel that all key points are repeated in different sections; I suppose so that they are emphasised, and also in order to better explain them using different 'metaphors' and contexts.) 

Therefore, lacking confirmation, I would not want to depend on the showing of the wounds as decisive evidence; especially as I am sure that the immediately adjacent and interpolated passage in Chapter 20 - about the coming of the Holy Ghost - is a later and false insertion.

It may be that most of Chapter 20 is not from the beloved disciple (whom I recognise as Lazarus); and instead based on later hearsay and the not-from-Jesus hence alien, 'imminent second coming' agenda.

But either way, I think that the fact of resurrection being the provision of a 'new' body (eternal and incorruptible) by a 'process' that does Not require any contribution from the mortal body, was something known and assumed at the time the Fourth Gospel was written.

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