[b-hebrew] hell

Peter Kirk peter at qaya.org
Sat Mar 18 11:34:53 EST 2006

On 18/03/2006 15:24, Herman Meester wrote:
> 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.
> Dear Peter,
> I'm afraid the misunderstanding is on your part. ...

Look, Herman, I don't want to prolong a discussion which has nothing to 
do with biblical Hebrew. But if there is such a misunderstanding, it is 
not on my part but on behalf of the best scholars and Bible translators, 
who entirely reject your idea that psuchikon means "material" as opposed 
to pneumatikon meaning "immaterial". I found for example the following 
in Fee's commentary on 1 Corinthians, on 15:44:
> [Pneumatikon] is "spiritual," not in the sense of "immaterial" but of 
> "supernatural," as [Paul] will explain with the help of Scripture in 
> v.45 ...

And the following from the NIV Study Bible:
> "Spiritual body" does not mean a nonmaterial body but, from the 
> analogies, a physical one similar to the present natural body 
> organizationally, but radically different in that it will be 
> imperishable, glorious and powerful, fit to live eternally with God.

 From the UBS Handbook, in fact on 2:13:
> Paul and other New Testament writers were deeply influenced by Hebrew 
> thought. So they did not make a sharp distinction between body, mind, 
> and soul or spirit. The Hebrew word for ”flesh “ usually meant human 
> nature with its weakness; the word for ”soul “ meant human nature with 
> special reference to its inner life and vitality; and the word for 
> ”spirit “ referred to the ”breath of life, “ which was not essentially 
> part of man at all, but was breathed into him by God (Gen 2.7). 
> However, here Paul is making a distinction between human beings who 
> are governed by their own inner (sinful) nature, and those who are 
> governed by the spirit of God.

 From the IVP Bible Background Commentary:
> A “natural” or “physical” body is literally a “soulish” body, in 
> contrast to a “spiritual” body. Paul does not teach a future body made 
> out of “spirit” (although the *Stoics taught that spirit was a 
> material substance), any more than a present body made out of “soul.” 
> Rather, the present body is adapted for current natural existence, and 
> the future body for the life even now ruled by God's *Spirit.

 From the SIL Exegetical Summaries for 15:44, summarising the opinions 
of many commentators:
> It-is-sown (a) natural body,
> QUESTION—What is meant by a σῶμα ψυχικόν ‘natural body’?
> It is a body that is animated by the ψυχή ‘soul/life’ as animal life [Ho],
> and is adapted to the conditions of existence on earth [Ho, ICC].
> It does not mean a body that is composed of ψυχή ‘soul/life’ [Gdt, 
> Herm, Ho, ICC].
> It has reference to the natural world in contrast to the supernatural 
> [AB, TNTC].
> The ψυχή is the immaterial part of the body that gives it life [Ln].
> A natural body is the one that is the instrument of the soul [Ed, Gdt, 
> Ln].
> It is suited for the physical world and limited to it [EGT, Herm, 
> It indicates a life that is earthly and belongs to this present age 
> [NIC2].
> It is body that is subject to hunger, thirst, and fatigue and is 
> limited to time and space [NTC].
> It indicates the animal body that is animated and informed by the soul 
> [Alf, HNTC].
> It is a body that is governed by the soul.
> Through the soul, the self expresses itself and relates to others [Vn].

> it-is-raised (a) spiritual body.
> QUESTION—What is meant by a σῶμα πνευματικόν ‘spiritual body’?
> It means either it is composed of spirit or it is under the rule of 
> the Spirit of God or both [AB].
> It is a body controlled by the Spirit of God [AB, NIC, NIC2, NTC].
> It is a body completely filled by the Spirit of God [NTC].
> It is a body created new by the Spirit of God [NIC].
> It is a body that is given life by the Spirit of God [HNTC, TH, Vn].
> It is a body created by a life principle the function of which is to 
> serve the spirit [Gdt].
> It is a body that is adapted to heavenly existence [EGT, Ho, HNTC, MNTC].
> It is a body that is controlled by the spirit and is in harmony with 
> God’s Spirit [ICC].
> It is a body in which the spirit is predominant and is guided by the 
> Spirit of God [Alf].
> It does not mean a body that is composed of πνεῦμα ‘soul/life’ [Gdt, 
> Ho, ICC, Ln, NIC2, TH, TNTC].
> The πνεῦμα ‘spirit’ is the immaterial part of the body that is 
> sensitive to the Spirit of God.
> A ‘spiritual body’ is one that is an instrument for the spirit and one 
> which the spirit controls [Ln].
> It does not indicate an immaterial body, but a supernatural one—one 
> that belongs to the Spirit and the coming age.
> It is one that resembles Christ’s resurrection body (see 15:49) [NIC2].
> It is a body that is not limited by time and space, yet one that is 
> material—a body that Jesus’ disciples could recognize [NTC].
> The spiritual body is one that is the appropriate instrument for the 
> supernatural activity of the Holy Spirit [Ed].
> A spiritual body is one that corresponds to the needs of a spirit [TNTC].

I do not see one of these many exegetes, who are looking for Paul's 
original meaning, not for church tradition or later theology, supporting 
you idea that the distinction here is between a material psuche and an 
immaterial pneuma.

Now, Herman, your interpretation of Paul is perhaps not impossible, 
especially as one of the "as many versions of Paul's letters as there 
are readers". But you should realise that you are disagreeing on this 
not just with me but with all of the scholars of Paul who have written 
commentaries on this letter.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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