The Christian Church is based on the belief that Jesus Christ rose again three days after he was crucified.

For many liberal believers, the resurrection had nothing at all to do with his body. What happened was Jesus was brought back to life but as a spirit and his body was not raised up. Keith Ward has pointed out in his book More than Matter? that the risen Jesus was soma pneumatikon (more than mere matter) and not soma psychikon. This indicates that the resurrection had some connection to his body but perhaps not much. Jesus could have risen while his corpse rotted in the tomb. God could have transformed some element of it into a new body.

William Lane Craig tells us:

The prominent New Testament scholar Dale C. Allison, Jr., is emphatic: nowhere in the Bible or in old Jewish or Christian literature does the language of resurrection refer to a materially new body, physically unconnected to the old. A resurrected body is always the old body or a piece of it come back to life and/or transformed. . . . Resurrection meant bodies in the ground coming back to life. To rise from the dead was to rise from one’s tomb. Dale C. Allison, Jr., “The Resurrection of Jesus and Rational Apologetics,” Philosophia Christi 10 (2008): 315-338. When Allison says “or a piece of it,” he is referring to the bones of the deceased, which were, in fact, the principal object of the resurrection in Jewish belief and, hence, carefully preserved in ossuaries for the resurrection day.

End of quotation. Read it again. today's theologians mostly think that it does not matter where the risen body comes from for resurrection is giving life back to a person not a body.

For moderate believers and even some extremists, God took a seed, piece, from the corpse and made a new semi-physical body that could change shape and go through walls and which had no need of food and drink. This body can even change its appearance. Jesus can look like Brad Pitt today and Orlando Bloom tomorrow. This body is called a spiritual body for it has the powers we attribute to ghosts and spirits and is like them. Other moderate believers believe that the entire human body of Jesus was turned into this kind of spiritual body. The extreme view is that Jesus’ body was physically raised from the dead and is physical though Jesus has the power to keep it alive forever and make it appear here and there like it came out of nowhere.

Which view does the Bible teach?


Paul is the only writer we have who directly claimed to have seen the risen Jesus.

Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 tries to explain how the resurrection body is not physical the way our bodies are now but is more spiritual than physical. Romans 8:11 has Paul saying that God will make alive our mortal bodies just like Christ's. That allows for dramatic transformation so that the risen body is very unlike the pre-risen When Paul wrote that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom it is said he explained what he meant. He said the perishable cannot inherit the imperishable in Heaven so flesh and blood just mean our fragile flesh and blood the way they are now. That needs a lot of renovation so the end result will be very unlike the body we now have.

Paul is dealing in 1 Corinthians 15 with people who think the dead cannot rise and that culture tended to be okay with a person living on after death as a spirit (immortality of the soul) but the idea of a body rising was insane to them. What Paul does is he does not argue that a body can come back but he argues that it is changed radically which is why it can come back. It is a spiritual body which can be almost pure spirit if you like but not quite. A spiritual body for Paul does not necessarily mean a body that cannot have any physical powers or characteristics. But it can. He shows them that if you don’t think dead bodies are just revived that is fine and it is also fine if you think life after death is very spiritual but argues that the truth is somewhere in between. Both views have merit but are not the full picture.

It is said that when Paul wrote that you rise as a spiritual man he did not mean an ethereal and non-material or ghostly "man." If so then he meant you will rise as a creature who is natural and physical but whose spirit is all about God and God gives you this spirituality. If so then there is no room then for the idea that Christianity is just another form of materialism. You have the physical in the afterlife but it is not about the physical.

See 1 Corinthians 2:

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

His statement that Jesus was raised as a life giving spirit is said to mean that Jesus was raised not as a ghost but as spiritual man.

First, Paul's wording does not fit that interpretation.

Second, it would imply Jesus in some way was disconnected with God - perhaps as a sinner - before he was fixed at the resurrection. Paul won’t say clearly that Jesus has a body. That settles the argument.

Physicality statements aside, even the evidence that the body or whatever it was of Jesus could be touched is dreadful.

Jesus appears to Thomas who thought he did not rise and asks him to touch him but the account does not tell us if he did which looks like something was being hidden.


It is argued that Paul avoided using the word anastasis which means physical resurrection in relation to Jesus. He used a word signifying to wake up. The word is eigiro. The word was used to waking up out of sleep (Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?) in Romans 13:11.

Dan Barker says that Paul won’t use anastasis or anistemi which means resurrection but uses egeiro which can mean just rise or wake up which is enough to suggest what may only be a non-physical return from the dead. One can surmise that if the resurrection of Jesus is not just a resuscitation or a spiritual resurrection but something in between then there is no word for it as such only approximations. Paul does not define exactly what he means but does say that flesh and blood cannot enter God’s kingdom. Paul in Romans 1:4 writes that Jesus was made God’s son by anastaseos from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15 is regarded as riddled with examples of his exploiting egeiro or anastasis in such a way as if either word would do. He says that Jesus is preached as being raised which is egegertai so nobody can say there is no resurrection anastasis of the dead. He says that if there is no anastasis then Jesus has not been egegertai – raised. This admittedly is very odd. He does not write as if the two words are interchangeable. He writes as if the two words are only approximations. He struggled to get the idea of spiritual resurrection across which is why there was that problem. It's not a man rising from the dead even if healthier and better than before.

The gospel of Mark denies the physical resurrection for it has the women who discovered the tomb empty being told by the men in white that Jesus has risen as in eigiro not anastasis the word for physical revival from death (page 201, Jesus Lived in India; Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?). The rest of Mark which has Jesus appearing is a forgery. Mark implies that God let something destructive happen to the body – perhaps he let thieves take it and burn it – in order to prevent the witnesses of the tomb from thinking that Jesus physically came back to life in his complete old body. Most people in the past considered things like cremation to be attacks on the power of God to raise the dead for they assumed that bodies that were cremated could not be revived which was why the disappearing body act was necessary. These naïve women at the tomb might have accepted much the same idea.

The most alarming thing about Mark is that though it has an early forged ending - not a single hint that anybody touched the risen Jesus appears in it. It is all apparitions. Yet it is accepted that it is not enough for Jesus to just appear. A resurrection demands that the body be touched at some point. Mark does not teach the bodily resurrection properly or did he believe in it at all?


The gospel of Mark ends abruptly and the two existing endings are inauthentic. They are not Mark's work.

It has been observed that the prologue of Mark is the mirror image of the abrupt conclusion. The pattern shows that the abrupt end of Mark at the point where the women being told that Jesus rose go and say nothing to anybody is how Mark may have meant the gospel to end. His gospel refused to mention resurrection appearances meaning we should decide ourselves how we can hold Jesus rose from the dead. He thought that visions were worthless in that respect. If the sudden end was deliberate it was meant to urge you to start reading again from the beginning. This to me would suggest the risen Jesus was not important and the normal Jesus was but that Mark wanted Jesus to rise again in our hearts. That could be understood in a non-literal way. Soon after the gospel starts Jesus gets the Holy Spirit. If Jesus were God then, the Holy Spirit could not possibly be given to him for he would have the Spirit with him. Near the end Jesus feels abandoned by God as if the Spirit left him. Jesus dies normal. This is further support for this position about the ending.


Witnesses to a dying and rising man who you can actually talk to outweigh long dead witnesses to Jesus rising who only supposedly left books.

There are far more people today who have seen the risen Elvis Presley than there were who saw the risen Jesus. The Christian says that we know these stories are untrue despite the numbers because Elvis still lies in his grave. But how do they know that the body in the grave is still there or that it is Elvis’s body? And if a spiritual resurrection is possible then it does not matter about the body! The New Testament assertion that Jesus’ body vanished is not offered as proof that Jesus rose at all. When the Christians sneer at the Elvis stories they are saying that Christianity is proved merely by an empty tomb and not even by the visions of Jesus. If they want to say that then fine. It will save us the trouble of setting their converts straight for they won’t be winning any. They are also stating that the visions of Paul who never saw the empty tomb are insufficient as proof.


The Gnostic Treatise on the Resurrection comes from the late second century AD and it relates that Jesus rose from the dead and it is more fitting to say the world is an illusion than that Jesus’ resurrection was. This is used in books like He Walked Among Us to defend the resurrection (page 96). But Gnostics saw the resurrection not in physical but spiritual terms. For the Gnostic, Jesus’ resurrection was principally Jesus rising from ignorance and material existence into enlightenment and spiritual existence. The spiritual is the only real or important thing in Gnostic theology. That is why the Treatise prefers a person to deny the existence of the world for it is less real or important than spirit. The Treatise really destroys the resurrection. It says it is better to deny the world than to deny the resurrection. It means in this that the spiritual is more real than the physical. The resurrection then cannot be a physical event but a spiritual one.


The argument that Jesus rose bodily from the dead in order to be with us and administer spiritual blessings to us is very vapid and thin.  Jesus is not with us physically and he did not need to rise again to help us.  It is a rationalisation.  Ghost stories with embodied style beings were rife in the ancient world so the Jesus story is not that special.  But it was an attempt to argue that Jesus was really alive.  The problem with saying that all you have of him now is visions means the story becomes banal for contradictory vision accounts are quite common.  The bodily resurrection was an attempt to make the story more than just visions.  It looks like it was not universally accepted by early Christians.  Paul uses mystical language and gives no evidence of knowing that the being he conversed with had a body raised from the dead and he knew for he touched it.

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