Thursday, July 4, 2019

Heavenly and earthly, spirit, soul, and flesh

I am a part of a group that meets monthly to discuss theological ideas, led by Paul VanderKlay. One of the participants sent this.

On Thu, Jul 4, 2019 at 11:43 AM Kevin Zabihi <> wrote:
Hi guys,
Read this article today. Reminded me of our conversation last time, on what “is” the spirit. Thoughts? 

Notes I took as I read both the article Kevin linked to, and the original one the author referenced.

The earth on which we live, for example, is not divided from the several heavenly spheres by the lunary sphere, nor is the aerial realm of generation and decay here below separated by that sphere from the imperishable ethereal realm of spiritual forces there above. Thus, for us today, even such words as “heavenly” (ἐπουράνιος) and “earthly” (χοϊκός) convey practically nothing of the exquisite cosmology—at once concretely physical and vibrantly spiritual—in which the authors of the New Testament livedFrom <>

Reminds me of what Paul has said about the world the people of the Bible lived in vs. what we live in -- the sky like a dome or a bowl and so on. Reminder of how differently the words we read were understood by the readers/listeners of the time.

In the world of Protestant scriptural scholarship, this latter strategy reached a kind of cartoonish climax in the early editions of the New International Version of the Bible, where the word “flesh” was in many cases rendered as something like “sinful nature” (I would check the exact wording, but that would involve picking up a copy of the NIV).From <>

Made me laugh out loud, This guy really hates the NIV!

Hence, according to Paul, the body of the resurrection is not one of flesh and blood animated by “soul,” but is rather a new reality altogether, an entirely spiritual body beyond composition or dissolution. And this is how his language would have been understood by his contemporaries.From <>

Resurrected body is a different kind of body. Richard Rohr says?

If we could hear the language of πνεῦμα with late antique ears, our sense of the text’s meaning would not be that of two utterly distinct concepts—one “physical” and one “mystical”—only metaphorically entangled with one another by dint of a verbal equivocity; rather, we would almost surely hear only a single concept expressed univocally through a single word, a concept in which the physical and the mystical would remain undifferentiated. To be born of spirit (or Spirit), to be born of the wind of life, to be born of the divine and cosmic breath vivifying and uniting all things—it would all make perfectly simple, straightforward, “physical” sense to us. Whatever the case, though, this much is certain: it was widely believed in late antiquity that, in human beings, flesh and soul and spirit were all present in some degree; “spirit” was merely the element that was imperishable by nature and constitution.From <> For Paul, both psychical and spiritual bodies were in the proper sense natural objects, and both in fact are found in nature as it now exists. He distinguished, therefore, not between “natural” and “spiritual” bodies, but only between σώματα ἐπίγεια (“terrestrial bodies”) and σώματα ἐπουράνια (“celestial bodies”). And this, again, is a distinction not between natural and supernatural life, but merely between incommiscible “natural” states: ἀφθαρσία (“incorruptibility”) and φθορά (“decay”), δόξα (“glory”) and ἀτιμία (“dishonor”), δυνάμις (“power”) and ἀσθένεια (“weakness”).  In speaking of the body of the resurrection as a “spiritual” rather than “psychical” body, Paul is saying that, in the Age to come, when the whole cosmos will be transfigured into a reality appropriate to spirit, beyond birth and death, the terrestrial bodies of those raised to new life will be transfigured into the sort of celestial bodies that now belong to the angels: incorruptible, immortal, purged of every element of flesh and blood and (perhaps) soul.From <>

Subjective as real as the objective. Just recently heard a discussion of that. Was it on one of Paul's videos? I can't remember.  Interesting to think of Christ as having a spiritual body similar to the body that angels have.

At the same time, of course, no other gospel places greater emphasis upon the physical substantiality of the body of the risen Christ—Thomas invited to place his hands in Christ’s wounds, the disciples invited to share a breakfast of fish with him beside the Sea of Tiberias—but even this is perfectly compatible with Paul’s language. It is, as I say, extraordinarily difficult for modern persons to free their imaginations from the essentially Cartesian prejudice that material bodies must by definition be more substantial, more concrete, more capable of generating physical effects than anything that might be denominated as “soul” or “spirit” or “intellect” could be. Again, however, for the peoples of late Graeco-Roman antiquity, it made perfect sense to think of spiritual reality as more substantial, powerful, and resourceful than any animal body could ever be. Nothing of which a mortal, corruptible, “psychical” body is capable would have been thought to lie beyond the powers of an immortal, incorruptible, wholly spiritual being. It was this evanescent life, lived in a frail and perishable animal frame, that was regarded as the poorer, feebler, more ghostly of the two conditions; spiritual existence was something immeasurably mightier, more robust, more joyous, more plentifully alive. And this definitely seems to be the picture provided by the gospels in general. The risen Christ, possessed of a spiritual body, could eat and drink, could be felt, could break bread between his hands; but he could also appear and disappear at will, unimpeded by walls or locked doors, or could become unrecognizable to those who had known him before his death, or could even ascend from the earth and pass through the incorruptible heavens where only spiritual beings may venture.From <>

Spiritual body capable of all that the physical body has and does, and more. 

As a result, he seems to be laboring under the impression that I was claiming that Paul believed resurrection to be an escape from—rather than a transfiguration of—the conditions of incarnation, and that a “spiritual body” is somehow a “bodiless spirit.”From <>

Talking about Ware's criticism. Not escape but transfiguration. I like the emphasis on transfiguration. We shall all be changed.

We cannot help, it seems, but think of “soul” and “spirit” as utterly incorporeal, lacking all extension and physical presence, pure instances of res cogitans.From <>

Spiritual beings were very real to me as a child, though I never saw them other than in my imagination, It made me quite a fearful child, although I hardly ever talked to anyone about it. I believe because I was brought up with Bible stories, I believed there was this whole invisible (to me) world of spirits all around me, some good and some bad -- hence the fear. Now, as I try to get deeper into Ignation spiritual practices, especially contemplative prayer where you use your imagination as a way to be with and even hear from God, I wonder about that world I lived in as a child, and what was real and was not. Am I still living in that world?

Only God was beyond all embodiment by nature, and therefore omnipresent. All spiritual creatures possessed bodies, albeit of an especially aetherial nature, and all of them were therefore bound to some kind of local existence. Many, for instance, lived in the heavens above, divine or angelic “glories” (James 1:17, 2 Peter 2:10-11), or the astral bodies of the glorified righteous (Daniel 12:3, Wisdom 3:7).From <>

Interesting. All spiritual beings have a body, except God. But then does that mean Jesus, since he is God, lost his spiritual body after he ascended?

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