There's no question that the "heavenly vision" Paul experienced is entirely different than the interaction Luke depicts in Luke 24:39-43 where he has the disciples talking and eating with Jesus' resuscitated corpse. If the earliest belief in the Risen Christ was more of a spiritual "visionary" concept (there's nothing in the entire Pauline corpus that indicates otherwise), while the later beliefs (Luke/John) were more "physical," then this is an important distinction to be made.
Several fundamental confusions:
i) For starters, you mischaracterized the nature of the glorified body. It's not a "resuscitated corpse." I realize you're enamored with that phrase, but it's theologically uninformed.
A resuscitated corpse would be like somebody who drowned in freezing water and was resuscitated 40 minutes later. The freezing process inhibited necrosis, and he is still mortal after he was revived.
By contrast, a body that's been dead for over 48 hours would undergo significant, irreversible necrosis. That can't be "resuscitated." Unless it was miraculously preserved, it would require a degree of miraculous restoration.
In addition, the glorified body is immortal, not mortal. That's a point Paul accentuates in the very chapter (1 Cor 15) from which you attempt to prooftext your claim.
The question at issue isn't whether you believe it. Rather, you need to assume the opposing position for the sake of argument in order to attack it. Otherwise, you are burning a straw man.
ii) To assure that "There's no question that the "heavenly vision" Paul experienced is entirely different" begs the question. In both cases, the Risen Christ appears to them. In both cases, their perception of the event is divinely manipulated.
iii) Finally, you're confused about "earlier" and "later" beliefs. For instance, Alf Wight, (better known by his pen name James Herriot), became world-famous when he published All Creatures Great and Small in 1972. He died in 1995, and his son (Jim Wight) published a biography of his later father in 1999.
After he became famous, many people wrote about Alf Wight. This was much earlier than Jim Wight's biography.
It would, however, be muddled-headed to suppose the later writing by his son reflects a "later belief," or is less historically authentic than stuff written earlier about Alf Wight. In the nature of the case, his son knew many things about his father that no one else knew or even could know.
Likewise, if the Gospels of Matthew or John were written by disciples of Jesus, it makes no difference if they were written later than Mark, for they draw on earlier memories. By the same token, Luke's sources are earlier than Luke's Gospel.
The exact "physicality" of a "spiritual body" is unclear from 1 Cor 15. It's this "spiritual body" that is contrasted with the "natural body".
As several scholars have documented, the adjective ("spiritual") refers to the agency of the Holy Spirit, not the composition of the body.
Paul thought that the spiritual body was made of "material" but there is no indication that he believed the "spiritual body" had anything to do with the former earthly body.
Even if we grant your contention for the sake of argument, that means what they saw was not a subjective vision of Jesus, but a materially embodied Jesus. So your own representation destroys your central argument.
Scholars still disagree over exactly what Paul meant but you can't claim that Paul envisioned Jesus' corpse rising out of a grave.
You suffer from a wooden notion of "raised," as if that means "a corpse rising out of the grave." Wrong. It's an idiom for restoration to physical life.
Jesus wasn't buried in the ground. So, not, he didn't literally "rise out of a grave." That misses the point. You've been watching too many horror flicks.
The only way you reach that conclusion is by prematurely reading in the later empty tomb narrative.
I just corrected your fallacious inference about what's "later" (see above).
Paul was a Hellenized Jew and influences of Stoicism and other Greek thought can be found in his letters.
No, Philo was a Hellenized Jew. Paul was a Diaspora Jew educated in Palestinian Judaism at Jerusalem.
The physicality of a resuscitated corpse that walks around talking and eating with the disciples then later floats to heaven? Ok. Where exactly does Paul "emphatically discuss" that?
i) Another example of your rampant confusion. I didn't refer to the resurrected body of Christ, but the nature of the resurrected body in general.
ii) Jesus didn't "float to heaven" (see below).
Ok, let's look at the wide range of meaning that the Greek word for raised (egēgertai) has…With such a wide range of meaning you can't claim that the earliest composers of the creed or Paul believed that a physical body literally "rose" out of a grave.
i) You keep repeating the same blunders. You don't understand how linguistic communication works. The fact that some words have multiple meanings in the abstract does not imply that all those senses are in play in the concrete. Except where a writer is using a double entendre, only one meaning is operative at a time.
It is the sentence and context that determine what sense is operative. The semantic range of a word considered in isolation is irrelevant to what it means in a particular sentence and context.
For instance, "run" has dozens of different meanings (e.g. to run for public office, a run in stockings, to run a red light, to run a tight ship, a run for his money). However, in sentences like "Johnny hit a home run," "There was a run on the bank," "We're running low on gas," all the other senses are excluded and dormant except for just one identifiable meaning in each particular case.
ii) You don't even grasp the position you presume to attack. No, Jesus didn't literally rise out of the grave–inasmuch as he was never literally buried in the first place. Rather, he was laid in a tomb. The corpse lay flat, in a sleeping position.
He "rose" in the sense that people raise themselves upright from a horizontal position. When I wake up in the morning, from a recumbent position in bed, I raise myself from the waist up to a vertical position, then stand up. And that may well be the imagery that lies behind the idiom of "raised" to life.
Just show me one verse from Paul where he explicitly indicates Jesus first rose to earth then only later rose to heaven. I bet you can't do it.
That's a classic ploy, in which one's opponent begins by tendentiously miscasting the issue, then celebrates his imaginary success if you "fail" to win his rigged game. But I don't concede your mischaracterization of the issue.
Paul says Jesus first died. A physical death. The "burial" language verifies death. And he later came back to life. Life that's an antithetical parallel to death. Physical death>physical life.
Based on the wide range of meaning for egēgertai, all you can say from the context of 1 Cor 15 is that Jesus was brought back to life "in some sense."
Which demonstrates an ignorant grasp of semantics and semiotics (see above).
If the word ōphthē can be used for spiritual "visions", as in the cases I cited, you can't rule out that possibility for the appearances in 1 Cor 15:5-8.
I can rule it out for the same reason I can rule out that "run" means the same thing in "home run" it means in "bank run."
There is nothing in the context that rules this out as the appearances are not described here.
Actually, there is, for reasons that I gave.
However, Paul is quick to align his own personal vision with that of the other "appearances" without making a distinction. Therefore, you can't claim they were any more "physical" than that.
I could agree with that, but draw the opposite conclusion. For your comparison rests on the mistaken notion that Paul's "vision" of Christ on the Damascus road wasn't physical.
Surely, if a physical body were present then it would have been seen.
Surely not, if the intensity of the light was too great.
How does this irrelevant response somehow overthrow the fact that the reports don't mention a physical body was seen?
Since you're so slow on the uptake, let's spell it out for you. You initially said radiance is incompatible with a physical body:
We know from the book of Acts, Paul’s description of his encounter on the Damascus road makes it clear that this was a vision – a light from heaven and a disembodied voice – not an encounter with a physically-revived former corpse returned to life.
So I cited two counterexamples. And both come from the same authors (Luke, Paul) that you yourself cite. And in one parallel (the Transfiguration, the Damascus road incident), both involve Jesus. Once again, you can't even keep track of your own argument.
Paul saw a vision involving a blinding light and a disembodied voice from heaven.
The account doesn't say he heard a "disembodied voice." You illicitly smuggled that into your description.
Why did you suddenly switch the topic from Paul's vision to the Emmaus road appearance?
Once again, since you're so slow on the uptake, let me take you by the hand and walk you through the process. You suggested the Damascus road incident was a subjective vision because the observers perceived different things.
I cite a counterexample by the very same author. Both involve Jesus appearing to people after the Resurrection. Both involve a distinction between physical sensation and psychological perception.
I will ignore this red herring until you give a proper response to my point about the subjectivity of the vision to Paul.
You suffer from a greatly exaggerated sense of your own importance.
Paul indicates no distinction between the appearances and we know that the Damascus road "vision" was subjective to Paul because he's the only one that was blinded and understood the voice.
He wasn't physically blinded by a subjective vision. Subjective visions don't have that force.
As for the 500, where are the actual reports from these supposed 500 eyewitnesses? Why don't any of the gospel authors mention this amazing occurrence? They must have not found it very worthy of reporting huh?
i) To begin with, you wouldn't believe it if Mark reported it, so your demand is disingenuous.
ii) They focus on what happened to them, or what they know about personally.
Were the thousands of people that saw the Virgin Mary in Zeitoun, Egypt in a simultaneous trance state?
i) What are you even trying to say? You're the one who invokes the category of a subjective vision. That involves a trance state. So are you affirming or denying that what the Egyptians spectators allegedly saw was a subjective vision?
ii) How do you think that example is supposed to disprove my position? I don't deny the possibility of postmortem apparitions.
iii) Even if Mary actually appeared to someone today, they wouldn't know who it was. No one for the past 19 centuries remembers what she looked like. Only someone who actually knew Mary when she was still alive would be able to recognize her on sight.
And unlike God, Mary can't take control of someone's mind and reveal her true identity to them telepathically.
iv) Since you yourself don't think that was a genuine Marian apparition, why is that a problem for me? What if it's a optical illusion which some people interpret as the mother of Jesus based on traditional Marian iconography?
How about the thousands that witnessed the "Miracle of the Sun" in Portugal?
What makes you assume they didn't witness an objective atmospheric phenomenon?
If Paul indicates no knowledge of the empty tomb…
That's not what I said. Do you not understand the significance of adjectives? I said Paul had no "firsthand knowledge" of the empty tomb. He wasn't on the scene at the time. That doesn't mean he had no knowledge of the empty tomb.
…nor of the Risen Jesus in resuscitated corpse form interacting with the disciples on earth, then the empty tomb/bodily resurrection could be a later development. Arguments from silence can be valid under certain circumstances and this one is quite strong considering the lack of mention of Luke's amazing details from Paul, Mark and Matthew (authors who were in the position to know of such details if they had really occurred).
i) The argument from silence is meaningless in context. To begin with, Paul is writing a letter, not a biography.
In addition, Paul is reminding the Corinthians of familiar Jesus traditions. They already know about the empty tomb and the post-Resurrection appearances. That's why he summarizes the evidence in his appeal to Jesus traditions.
ii) Since Luke was a confidant of Paul, Paul would be privy to what Luke knew.
I'm talking about the stuff like discarded grave cloths, people touching Jesus, Jesus eating and his physical form flying up into heaven.
Jesus didn't "fly up into heaven." In the Ascension account (Acts 1), he levitated above the ground, then he was enveloped by the Shekinah cloud. That's how he went to heaven.
Why don't the earliest sources mention these amazing details?
Which reiterates your persistent confusion about what's early and late (see above).
So Paul couldn't see anything because he was blinded and the companions "saw no one". That pretty much rules out that a physical body was present.
Are you just a hopeless dunce? Go back to the Transfiguration account. If a physical body becomes so intensely radiant that you can't look straight at it, that hardly rules out the presence of a physical body.
Irrelevant. Paul and Peter are two of the earliest witnesses according to 1 Cor 15.
Peter is the earliest by…a few minutes? He saw the empty tomb a minute before John.
The only firsthand material we have is from Paul…
That begs the question regarding the traditional date and authorship of the Gospels.
He also admits to having "visions" and "revelations" and evidently Peter was having "visions" as well. You may consider people from 2,000 years ago having "visions" as reliable testimony but I, like any rational person, don't. I'd like to see you present your case before a judge and jury explaining why we should accept testimony from people who were susceptible to having "visions" 2,000 years ago. Do you think they would take you seriously?
If you were truly rational rather than posturing, and if you bothered to inform yourself, you'd know about the literature on veridical dreams and visions. And that's not confined to 2,000 years ago. All you've done is to illustrate your provincial, ethnocentric bias.
Moreover, if he knew of the appearances why fail to report such stupendous details? Did he just think his audience wouldn't care?
It's a mark of historical accuracy that he doesn't say more than he knows. What about the "stupendous details" he records regarding the miracles of Christ?
Then you would fall into the fringe minority as opposed to the scholarly consensus which dates it to around 70. That doesn't mean that they are right but it does say something when it's the consensus view. You would have to have really good arguments for dating it that early and if they're so good why haven't they convinced more than just the evangelicals?
i) Your standard of comparison is circular because you preemptively discount scholars who don't espouse methodological atheism. By process of elimination, you arrive at a "consensus." Funny how one can manufacture a consensus by only counting the people who agree with you.
ii) Scholarly consensus is only as good as the supporting arguments. And scholarly consensus changes from one generation to the next.
iii) Your criterion is self-refuting. In your next response you appeal to Dale Allison. However, Allison is an independent scholar who often bucks scholarly consensus. Therefore, by your own yardstick, he represents a "fringe minority."
In any case, even if this were a physical reference it still comes after Paul and Mark indicating a story growing in the telling.
You keep repeating your chronic confusion. Jim Wight's biography of his father was published later than many things written about Alf Wight. But it was based on early information. Jim Wight knew his father long before his father became famous, long before people began to write about his father. You need to learn how to think.
Fringe position. Please divulge to us your amazing arguments and discoveries that overturn scholarly consensus dating!
Which just goes to show you only read one side of the argument.
Exactly. Some must have doubted that Jesus was actually resurrected. This doesn't speak well to the possibility that it actually happened though. Why would some doubt it?
Some parents vigorously deny that their teenager is addicted to drugs, despite compelling evidence to the contrary. Some spouses deny that their husband or wife is having an affair, despite compelling evidence to the contrary. Some people deny that jihadists flew planes into the Twin Towers, despite compelling evidence to the contrary.
Not sure why you'd quote other verses where this occurs before the resurrection.
Because it illustrates the reference to a physical action. You can't take hold of spectral feet.
Yes, it's quite clear you ignore critical scholarly consensus dating.
I don't ignore it–I reject it.
I see zero evidence for the view that Jesus was God in the synoptics.
That's not my problem. I don't exist to fetch your slippers.
This is not a scholarly position outside the evangelical circle. The gospel authors are anonymous. "We do not know who wrote the Gospels" - E.P. Sanders.
i) Your appeal to Sanders is self-refuting. For instance, the "Sanders Revolution" bucked the prior scholarly consensus. Therefore, you should dismiss his position regarding the New Perspective on Paul as a "fringe minority" view. It was a maverick position at the time, and it remains controversial.
ii) Your appeal is an illicit argument from authority. Sanders' opinion doesn't carry any independent weight. That's only as good as the supporting arguments.
iii) The Gospels are not anonymous. All our MSS have titles.
Luke also deliberately alters the appearance tradition to occurring in Jerusalem. Mark predicts, and Matthew has the appearances in Galilee. Luke leaves no room for any appearances in Galilee (Lk. 24:46-49; Acts 1:4).
You act as if Jesus couldn't appear in different places at different times. For that matter, Jesus had the supernatural ability to bilocate, if he so desired.
He also gets the dates of Theudas and Judas the Galilean mixed up...
That's another obtuse objection. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the dates are mixed up, it is Gamaliel, not Luke, who's confused. Luke is simply quoting a speech. You lack rudimentary critical judgment.
...as well as invents details about the census of Quirinius that are not historical.
I've discussed that canard many times.
Another extreme fringe position among scholars.
Because you have no counterarguments, you resort to labeling, as if that refutes anything.
What do any of your last three points have to do with Paul's vision and the earliest beliefs in the Risen Jesus?
You're not overly bright, are you? You habitually confuse a publication date with the date of a belief or underlying source. To recur to my illustration, Jim Wight believed things about his father long before he wrote things about his father. That's not a difficult distinction to grasp for anyone with even average intelligence.