Re: [asa] Physicalism and Incarnation

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Thu Mar 01 2007 - 11:25:45 EST

Has Wright changed his position after "The Resurrection of the Son of God?"

On 3/1/07, Michael Roberts <> wrote:
> Like Bishop Tom Wright I do not believe in a physical resurrection.
> Michael
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* Janice Matchett <>
> *To:* Alexanian, Moorad <> ; Johan Jammart<>;
> *Sent:* Thursday, March 01, 2007 3:07 PM
> *Subject:* RE: [asa] Physicalism and Incarnation
> At 09:45 AM 3/1/2007, Alexanian, Moorad wrote:
> One must understand what the word "incarnation" means and see if one can
> define it in purely physical terms. If one cannot, then the incarnation of
> Christ is incompatible with physicalism. ~ Moorad
> *@ *For those interested, the commentary at this link touches on that
> subject:
> *The Impossible Faith Or, How Not to Start an Ancient Religion* - James
> Patrick Holding
> [snip]
> Below I offer *a list of 17 factors* to be considered -- places where
> Christianity "did the wrong thing" in order to be a successful religion. It
> is my contention that the only way Christianity did succeed is because it
> was a truly revealed faith -- and because it had the irrefutable witness of
> the resurrection. I may add more factors as my research continues. For now,
> this should be enough to keep the skeptics busy if they aren't otherwise
> engaged in such scholarly pursuits as looking for contradictions between
> numbers in 1 Kings and 1 Chronicles or digging up obscure and irrelevant
> pagan figures who sold snake oil. Veteran readers will note that there is
> little new actually reported in this article that is not found elsewhere on
> this site; indeed much of what is below is taken verbatim from other
> articles -- it is only the application that is new.
> [snip]
> *Factor #3 -- Getting Physical! The Wrong "Resurrection"
> *As we have shown here <>, the
> resurrection of Jesus, *within the context of Judaism, was thought by
> Gentiles to be what can be described as "grossly" physical.* This in
> itself raises a certain problem for Christianity beyond a basic Jewish
> mission. We have regularly quoted the dictum of Pheme Perkins:
> "Christianity's pagan critics generally viewed resurrection as misunderstood
> metempsychosis at best. At worst, it seemed ridiculous." It may further be
> noted that the pagan world was awash with points of view associated with
> those who thought matter was evil and at the root of all of man's problems.
> Platonic thought, as Murray Harris puts it, supposed that "man's highest
> good consisted of emancipation from corporeal defilement. The nakedness of
> disembodiment was the ideal state." Physical resurrection was the last sort
> of endgame for mankind that you wanted to preach.
> Indeed, among the pagans, resurrection was deemed impossible. Wright in
> Resurrection of the Son of God quotes Homer's King Priam: "Lamenting for
> your dead son will do no good at all. You will be dead before you bring him
> back to life." And Aeschylus Eumenides: "Once a man has died, and the dust
> has soaked up his blood, there is no resurrection." And so on, with several
> other quotes denying the possibility of resurrection. [32-3] Wright even
> notes that belief in resurrection was a ground for perseuction: "We should
> not forget that when Irenaeus became bishop of Lyons he was replacing the
> bishop who had died in a fierce persecution; and that one of the themes of
> that persecution was the Christians' tenacious hold on the belief in bodily
> resurrection. Details of the martyrdom are found in the letter from the
> churches of Vienne and Lyons to those of Asia and Phrygia. The letter
> describes how in some cases the torturers burnt the bodies and scattered the
> ashes into Rhone, so that no relic of the martyrs might still be seen on
> earth. This they did, says the writer, 'as though they were capable of
> conquering god, and taking away their rebirth [palingenesia]'."
> Judaism itself would have had its own, lesser difficulty, albeit not
> insurmountable: there was no perception of the resurrection of an individual
> before the general resurrection at judgment. But again, this, though weird,
> could have been overcome -- as long as there was evidence! Not so easily in
> the pagan world. We can see well enough that Paul had to fight the Gnostics,
> the Platonists, and the ascetics on these counts. But what makes this
> especially telling is that a physical resurrection was completely
> unnecessary for merely starting a religion. It would have been enough to say
> that Jesus' body had been taken up to heaven, like Moses' or like Elijah's.
> Indeed this would have fit (see here<>)
> what was expected, and would have been much easier to "sell" to the Greeks
> and Romans, for whom the best "evidence" of elevation to divine rank was
> apotheosis -- the transport of the soul to the heavenly realms after death;
> or else translation while still alive. So why bother making the road harder?
> There is only one plausible answer -- they really had a resurrection to
> preach.
> *[snip] *Continue here:
> ~ Janice

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Thu Mar 1 11:25:56 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Thu Mar 01 2007 - 11:25:56 EST