crazymulgogi at gmail.com
Sat Mar 18 10:24:12 EST 2006
2006/3/18, Peter Kirk <peter at qaya.org>:
> On 18/03/2006 13:14, Herman Meester wrote:
> > ...
> > I did, and I read in 15,35-49 exactly that Paul does not consider this
> > resurrection of the dead to happen literally to corpses. Paul says
> > (44) σπειρεται σωμα ψυχικον, εγειρεται σωμα πνευματικον "sown a
> > physical [="with psyche"] body, raised a spiritual body" And
> > immediately following that: "if there's a physical body [again, a
> > material, earthly body to which a psyche is added], then there's an
> > immaterial/spiritual [pneumatikon] body, too."
> But you have misunderstood ψυχικον psuchikon. This adjective does not
> mean "physical", but in fact relates to ψυχη psuche (or psyche) which is
> the Greek word for "soul"! So the contrast is certainly not between
> physical and immaterial, but between "soulish" and spiritual. I'm not
> quite sure what "soulish" means here. One translation has "natural",
> i.e. related to the ordinary human nature. Possibly it is something to
> do with being subject to sin. But it certainly does not mean "physical".
> But the word "body" does imply "physical". Yes, in Paul's teaching there
> is a difference between the old and the new body, but it is not that the
> old is physical and the new is immaterial.
I'm afraid the misunderstanding is on your part.
The word ψυχικον, naturally, derives of ψυχη.
As I argued before, (in Hellenistic thought) the earthly (σαρξ) body
of man is not alone, it can only live when there is "soul" (ψυχη) in
it. The soul keeps the body warm and alive, because its element is
fire, which can be empirically proved when the soul leaves the body:
it gets cold. So the (living, breathing) earthly body is ψυχικον.
This makes sense, I believe, and my Greek dictionary explicitly says
of ψυχικον: "non-spiritual". In fact, the word ψυχικον is completely
parallel to the word "animal", which means, etymologically, "with
breath/soul". The soul is, again, material and not immaterial - unlike
the divine realm, which is completely spiritual. The soul is material,
because the element of fire that it's made of, belongs to the material
world. Πνευμα, "spirit", however, does not belong to the material
In your explanation, if both ψυχικον and πνευματικον would mean
something like "non-earthly", or "immaterial", what would the
distinction be? It gets vague, and your reference to "sin" can't solve
that. Paul is often hard to understand, but harder for us than for his
contemporary Hellene audience. They must have heard things they would
be expected to understand, otherwise, why keep his letters in the
> > Paul himself is very clear (15,50):
> > σαρξ και αιμα βασιλειαν θεου κληρονομησαι ου δυναται ουδε η φθορα την
> > αφθαρσιαν κληρονομει: "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of
> > God, nor does the perishable inherit the perishable"; ...
> Another aspect of the distinction between the old body and the new,
> related in some way to the "soulish"/spiritual one, is that the old one
> is perishable and corruptible but the new one is imperishable and
> incorruptible. Of course a body can hardly be imperishable and
> incorruptible if it is not a physical body at all.
In 1Cor 15,44-49 it all becomes clear. Paul even a couple of times
contrasts "soul" (apparently: earthly) and "spirit": (v.45)
Εγενετο ο πρωτος ανθρωπος Αδαμ εις ψυχην ζωσαν,
ο εσχατος Αδαμ εις πνευμα ζωοποιουν.
And in 46:
αλλ' ου πρωτον το πνευματικον, αλλα το ψυχικον, επειτα το πνευματικον.
This would make no sense unless here the "animate, bodily (=physical)"
is contrasted with the "spiritual".
The fact that Paul binds the word "body" to "spiritual" although we
have learned at school that "bodies" are always physical, is of no
concern to Paul. Of course, to Paul, there are spiritual bodies. The
ekklesia itself, in its faith "en Christoi", was a body, although this
is just an image to express that if one limb or organ of this body is
ill, the whole body is ill.
We have to stress that although Paul uses more or less logical,
reasonable ways of expressing himself, he was by no means a theologian
that wanted to set out a doctrine, system of thought, or something
like that. His concern was for the events of the eschaton that would
soon take place, and the parrhesia of Jesus Christ, and he had no time
for doctrinal debates on the precise nature of the resurrection of the
dead. Which for him was pretty clear already. The issue in
1Corinthians is * if * there is such a resurrection, not how.
Paul says what he has to say, and we have to take it at face value
without reading into it whatever all kinds of theologians in the
centuries after Paul have read into it - if we desire to use certain
critical methods, of course. Any understanding of Paul other than
mine, of course, is equally legitimate from a religious perspective.
After all, every text comes to life only when it is read, and there
are as many versions of Paul's letters as there are readers.
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