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St Paul and Dualism: The Pauline Conception of Resurrection

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2009

C. F. D. Moule
Cambridge, England


Everybody knows that the relation between Paul's beliefs and expectations about life beyond death and those of his contemporaries is obscure and hotly disputed. Everybody knows, too, about the debate over the origins of gnosticism and the extent to which Paul shared its dualism; and I am not so simple as to imagine that I can provide clarity and precision where great scholars, past and present, have confessed to bewilderment. In discussing Paul's attitude to the material world, all that I shall attempt is, after defining certain areas of the problem, to defend Paul's basic consistency on certain particular issues; and, in this connexion, to suggest an interpretation of certain parts of II Cor. v which, as I believe, throws light on his degree of consistency.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1966

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page 106 note 1 In discussing this famous passage, I am indebted not only to commentaries and to discussions, alluded to below, by Sevenster, J. N., Thrall, M. E., and Ellis, E. E., but also to the following, even where I reach different conclusions: A. Oepke, λυμν⋯ς in T. W.N. T. 1 (1933)Google Scholar; Feuillet, A., ‘La Demeure Céleste et la Destinée des Chrtiéns, Exégèse de II Cor., v, 1–10 et contribution ά l'etude des fondements de l'eschatologie paulinienne’, Recherches de Science Religieuse, XLIV (1956), 161 ff., 360 ff.Google Scholar; Hettlinger, R. F., ‘2 Corinthians 5. 1–10’, S. J. T. X, 2 (06 1957), 174 ff.Google Scholar

page 106 note 2 Die Gnosis in Korinth’, F. R. L. A. N. T. XLVIII (1956), 240 f.Google Scholar I had not access to the new edition when preparing this paper.

page 109 note 1 Lev. R. 18.1 (in Freedman, H. and Simon, M., Midrash Rabbah translated into English, Soncino Press, 1939)Google Scholar: ‘And the almond tree shall blossom[= Eccles.xii.5] refers to the luz (nut) of the spinal column’; and than follows the story (which occurs also in Gen. R.28.3) of R. Joshua b. Hanania demonstrating to Hadrian the indestructibility of this bone.

page 110 note 1 Prümm, K., Diakonie Pneumatos (1960), ii, 1, 171Google Scholar, n. 1 cites Comte du Mesnil du Buisson, Les peintures de Doura Europos (Rome, 1939), 99Google Scholar; and refers also to Delling, G., ‘Speranda futura. Jüdische Grabinschriften Italiens über das Geschick nach dem Tode’, Th. L. Z. LXXVI (1951), 521 ff.Google Scholar Delling concludes that the emphatic Leiblichkeit of the resurrection marks a deep guìf between New Testament thought and Hellenistic expectations (not to mention other contrasts–between being bound to history and sitting loose to it, between social thinking and individualism); and the Jewish hope, as evidenced by these inscriptions, in the same sort of way, stands over against the mystery religions.

page 110 note 2 Lietzmanns, , ıı (2 1950), 313.Google Scholar

page 110 note 3 See S.-B. III, 474.

page 110 note 4 Paul and Rabbinic Judaism (1948), pp. 305 ff.Google Scholar

page 111 note 1 The Resurrection of the Body (SCM, 1962), p. 94.Google Scholar

page 112 note 1 De Resurrections (Epistula ad Rheginum), Codex Jung fo. XXIIr to fo. XXIIv (pp. 43–50), edd. Malinine, M., Puech, H. C., Quispel, G., Till, W. (Rancher Verlag, Zürich u. Stuttgart, 1963).Google Scholar The text it is here stated, is in subakhmimic, but is evidently a translation from Greek.

page 112 note 2 Cf. The Gospel of Philip, 21. 15 ff., 90. 1 ff., with comments in the edition by Wilson, R. McL. (1962).Google Scholar

page 112 note 3 Cf. Schmithals, W., Die Gnosis in Korinth (1956), p. 137.Google Scholar

page 112 note 4 So, explicitly, 48.15, ‘the world (κóσμος) is an illusion (φαντασία)’; so, again, 48. 27 f.

page 113 note 1 And σάρξ, of course, means, for Paul, more than we mean by the merely physical side of things. See Schweizer, E., article σάρξ, T. W. N. T. VII (1960), 98 ff.Google Scholar

page 113 note 2 For convenience, I use the translation by Vermes, G., The Dead Sea Scrolls in English (Penguin Books, 1962)Google Scholar, not, however, retaining his line-divisions, which do not correspond to the original, nor his capitals.

page 114 note 1 Cf. Marcion's derogatory descriptions of the body in Tert. Marc. 1, 29; III, 10Google Scholar; IV, 21.

page 114 note 2 ‘Paul and the Dead Sea Scrolls: Flesh and Spirit’, in The Scrolls and the New Testament, ed. Stendahl, K. (1st British ed., SCM, 1958), pp. 157Google Scholar if. See p. 163. Cf. Kuhn, K. G., ‘Fleisch der Schwachheit, Bösheit, Sünde’, Z.Th.K. XLIX (1952), 200Google Scholar if. Kuhn makes the point that, whereas in rabbinic Judaism is the standing phrase for man (in his creatureliness and limitations), in the Qumran literature the single term occurs, and can stand for evil, over against the good God.

page 114 note 3 Kuhn, loc. cit., rightly draws a parallel between the two-powers concept of Qumran, and the N.T. idea that temptation comes from the Devil and is a temptation to be disloyal to God. But the difference I have indicated still remains. Both alike are a moral dualism; but their conception is different.

page 114 note 4 The Reverend J. Pryke, in conversation, mentioned the following: CD iii. 20; ıQS iv.7, 8; IQH iii. 20 ff., vi. 29 ff.; ıQM i. But I do not feel fully convinced that phrases such as (CD iii. 20, IQS iv. 7), (IQS iv. 8), (IQH iii. 21) necessarily signify what we are looking for. See, however, Black's, M.very important views to the contrary in The Scrolls and Christian Origins (1961), esp. pp. 135 ff.Google Scholar

page 114 note 5 Strugnell, J., ‘The Angelic Liturgy at Qumran’, Congress volume, Oxford, 1959, Supp. Vetus Test. VII (1960), 318 ff.Google Scholar

page 114 note 6 Op.cit. pp. 211 f.

page 115 note 1 Cf. Eleazar's, dualism in Bell. VII, 344 ff.Google Scholar (suicide as the release of the soul). Georgi, D., Die Gegner des Paulus im 2. Korintherbrief.o Studien zurreligiosen Propaganda in der Spatantike(W.M.A.N.T. ıı, 1964), 144 n.Google Scholar ı, thinks that Josephus has deliberately put this heterodox speech in Eleazar's mouth to denigrate the sicarii;he contrasts Josephus’ own monism in Bell. III 361 ff.

page 115 note 2 Georgi, ibid. 144 n. 4.

page 116 note 1 Contra Berry, R., ‘Death and Life in Christ: the meaning of 2 Corinthians 5. 1–10’, S. J. T. XIV (1961), 60 ff.Google Scholar Instead of a change of mindin II Corinthians, Berry finds merely that in II Corinthians Paul is in two mindsabout death-welcoming one aspect of it (nearness to Christ), dreading the other (‘nakedness’).

page 116 note 2 It is noteworthy that even in I Cor. v. 3f., where Paul distinguishes his σ⋯μα (in which he will be absent from the Corinthian meeting) from his πνε⋯μα(in which he will be present), he scrupulously reverts to the use of σάρξ in v.5, when he says (with reference to the excommunicated man) ‘… for the destruction of the flesh, in order that the spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord’.

page 116 note 3 In urging this, I am not denying a point which is extremely well made by Laeuchli, S., ‘Monism and Dualism in Pauline Anthropology’, Biblical Research (Papers of the Chicago Society of Biblical Research), m (1958), 15 if.Google Scholar This is a well-justified protest against any too rigidly monistic and Hebraistic interpretation of Paul's doctrine of man. Laeuchli rightly recognizes a degree of pluralism in Paul's descriptions of human personality, as against those who would tie him down to a completely consistent refusal to ‘subdivide’ personality into departments.

page 116 note 4 I have no wish to ignore a further fact-that I Cor. xv and II Cor. v are distinguished also by the former being concerned with ‘collective’ eschatology, the latter with individual eschatology.

page 117 note 1 It is noteworthy, incidentally, that Paul did not, in Phil. ii. 7, make use of the έκδὺεσθαı which he might have got out of the of Isa. liii. 2, had he used Isa. liii more than he did, and used the M.T. of it.

page 117 note 2 My translation from the German of Till, W. in Z.N.T.W. ı(1959), 171.Google Scholar

page 117 note 3 From the translation by Wilson, R. McL. (1962).Google Scholar Cf. Cantanzaro, C. J. de in J.T.S. N.S. XIII (1962), 35 ff.Google Scholar See also Asc. Isa. ix.9, and Odes of Sol. xv. 8 ’ (translation by Bernard, J. H., Texts and Studies, 1912).Google Scholar We have already met the metaphor also in the Letter to Rheginus, xlv. 30.

page 118 note 1 It is on the understanding of ò δέ κατεργασάμενος ήμ⋯ς εìς αὐτό το⋯το θεóς…(ν.5) that my interpretation largely turns. If ν.4 means ‘we groan because we do not want to strip off but rather to add clothing’, then ν.5 must mean, either (i) ‘andit is God who has made (?, see next note) us for this very thing, viz. to add clothing’, or (ii) ‘but it is God who has made (?) us for this very thing, viz. to strip off clothing (and receive new clothing in exchange)’. Interpretation (i) seems to make nonsense of the groaning (if one gives its proper meaning of ‘because not’ rather than ‘not because’); therefore (ii) seems preferable.

page 118 note 2 The weakest part of this interpretation, linguistically, is the necessity of taking κατερλασάμενος to mean ‘designed’, ‘created’—though, ironically enough, commentators who interpret the whole passage quite differently from me are ready to give it this sense. Héring in be, renders: ‘celui qui nous a formes pour cette destinee’; Lietzmann-Kummel, ‘dafur zubereitet hat’; New English Bible, ‘shaped us for this very end’. But Bauer,s.v.3 jmdn. zu etw. instand setzen, can quote no parallels except Hdt. VII, 6, 1, Xen.Mem.II, 3, II,εί τıνα τ⋯ν λνωρ¯μων βο⋯λοıτο κατερλάσασθαı, ⋯π⋯τε θ⋯οı, καλείν σε έπì δείπνον, and both of these seem clearly to mean not ‘make’ but ‘prevail upon ’—see L. and S. .s.v.

page 119 note 1

page 119 note 2 Pace Sevenster, J. N., ‘Some remarks on the ΓYMN02 in II Cor. v. 3’, Studia Paulinain hon. J. de Zwaan (Haarlem, 1953), pp. 202 if. (see p. 214).Google Scholar

page 120 note 1 We must not be deceived by Paul's use of λυμνóς in the phrase (I Cor. xv. 37) λυμνòν κóκκον. In the context, this clearly means ‘ meregrain’, as contrasted with the plant into which it will be transformed; it does not indicate that Paul was, at this point, thinking of a preliminary divestiture. The ξóξξος never has been other than λυμνóς. The use of λυμνóς in II Cor. v. 3 is in a different context.

page 120 note 2 Malinine's note (pp. 26f.) on de resurrections 45. 14 cites Tert. de resurr. mortuorum 42 and 54, and Heracleon's use of I Cor. xv. 54 apud Orig. injoh. XIII, 60(59), 418, and compares P. Oxy. 2074 (? a fragment of Melito), if one accepts Campbell Bonner's proposed restoration of lines 54 f. ( Melito of Sardis, The Homily on the Passion (1940), 54Google Scholar): [σὺεì η κα]ταπı⋯σ[αρò]ν[θάνατον]—with reference to the Truth, identified with Christ. And of course the idea of feeding on death which feeds on us is a philosophic commonplace: cf. Valentines (?) apudClem. Alex. Strom. IV,13, 89:… τòν θάνατονἠθ⋯λετε μερíσασθαı εìς ⋯αυτοúς, ίνα δαπαν⋯σητε αὐτ⋯ν καλ άναλώσητε….

page 120 note 3 Cited (without reference!) by Bernard, J. H. in his note on Odes of Sol. xv. 8Google Scholar ( Texts and Studies, 1912, P. 79Google Scholar).

page 120 note 4 The fact that the metaphor of ‘swallowing up’ is used in the Nag Hammadi de resurreciionealso (albeit without reference to a future parousia) isa hint that Paul, at this stage, had come near to an unrealistic, gnostic attitude to matter. And the fact that ‘swallowing up’ is, in II Cor. v. 4, associated with precisely the hope that now has to be rejected, fits my theory of a change in Paul's perception at this point.

page 120 note 5 E.g. Cullmann, O., Christ us and die Zeit8 (1962), p. 214Google Scholar; and Sevenster, J. N., ‘Some remarks on the in II Cor. v. 3’, Studia Paulina in hon.3. de Zwaan (Haarlem, 1953), pp. 202 ff.Google Scholar

page 121 note 1 Cf. Robinson, J. A. T., The Body (1952), 77.Google Scholar My theory is not, I think, invalidated by the fact that the clause εί λε καì ένδυσάμενοı (ένδυσάμενοı pace Bultmann's, Theologie 3 (1958), p. 203Google Scholar, is the less likely reading-see Lietzmann in loc.; and whether or not elnep is preferable to εί λε makes little difference to the sense, though Thrall, M. E., Greek Particles in the New Testament (1962), pp. 86ff.Google Scholar, points to some slight distinction. She argues for both particles as here expressing confidence) is attached to the expression of longing for an additional garment. Admittedly, it would have been more straight-forward if Paul had attached the expression of fear not to ένδυσάμενοı but to έκδὐσασθαı, as though to say ’. But it is really more forceful if he is saying ‘We want to add, not to subtract. Even so, we sometimes fear that it may be all a hoax.’ In the Gospel of Philip, 26 ff., there is a striking passage beginning with the words: ‘Some are afraid lest they rise naked’ and it appears to urge that the only way to receive true clothing is to be unclothed. See the discussion in Wilson's, R. McL. edition (1962), pp. 87 ff.Google Scholar

Ellis, E. E., ‘II Cor. v. 1–10 in Pauline Eschatology’, J.N.T.S. III (1959), 211 ff.Google Scholar, suggests that ‘naked’ means ‘guilty, not having a wedding garment’; but this is scarcely plausible. His interpretation of έκδνμείν as meaning ‘casting off the securities of earthly existence’ fits my scheme well.

page 121 note 2 It is interesting that a passage in the Nag Hammadi de resurrection seems to be meeting the same anxiety as Paul expresses, about whether ‘exchange’ is not going to be for the worse, but meeting it in dualistic terms of ‘departure’: xlvii. 20–2, ‘…absence is an advantage. For thou wilt not give up what is better if thou shouldst depart’. This immediately follows the very negative sentence (17–19): ‘The after-birth (χóρıον) of the body (σ⋯μα) is old age, and thou art corruption.’

page 122 note 1 Would Paul have said that, although the Lord did not see φθορά (Acts ii. 31), yet the physical body was usedup in the resurrection? It seems to me that, so far from being unconcerned for the empty tomb, Paul actually suggests it when, in I Cor. xv. 4, he specifies óρı έτάφη.

page 122 note 2 Just so, in I Cor. xv, he was regarding the supervening of the παρουσíα on this life as the climax of that putting on of Christ which had taken place at baptism, for each believer. Death is, as it were, the sacrament and summing up of the whole process of detachment, just as the trapovola sums up the triumph of the new over the old.

page 123 note 1 Cf. Jeremias, J., ‘The Key to Pauline Theology’, E.T. LXXVI, I (October 1964), 27 ff.Google Scholar (see p. 29b).

page 123 note 2 Cf. Nock, A.D., ‘Gnosticism’ (posthumously edited by Stewart, Zeph.), K.T.R. LVII (1964), 255 ff. (see p. 271Google Scholar).