Friday, 1 May 2015

Jennifer Strawbridge: ‘In what bodies did they rise?’: The Essential Role of Lazarus in Early Christian Arguments for Resurrection of the Flesh

While the locus classicus for early Christian arguments concerning resurrection of the flesh is Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Paul does not clarify what elements make up the resurrected body. Moreover, his statement in 15.50 that ‘flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God’ further complicates early Christian understandings of resurrection and its form. Given the ambiguities of Paul’s language and conflicting interpretations of this Corinthian passage within the early Church, this paper will examine how early Christians needed to engage other scriptural texts in order to develop and firmly argue for the resurrection of the flesh. In order to do this, early Christian writers such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and later Augustine, turned to gospel stories of healing and resurrection. In particular, the raising of Lazarus in the Gospel of John is used within their writings to argue for the integrity and salvation of the flesh and an assurance of bodily resurrection. Focusing primarily on the writings of Irenaeus and Tertullian, this paper argues for the crucial role played by Lazarus and John 11 to support these writers’ understanding of 1 Corinthians 15 and the developing doctrine of bodily resurrection. In this way, the story of Lazarus allows each writer to grapple with the ambiguous nature of scriptural interpretation and the theological issues that such interpretation raises.

No comments:

Post a Comment