Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Elements of Paul's Gospel

"Paul insists on the Resurrection as distinct from the appearances of Christ. [The German liberal theologian Karl Heinrich] Weizsäcker urges that Paul says nothing of what happened at the grave, to prove that he knew nothing of it. It is, of course, true that he gives no account, as do the Gospels, of appearances at the grave. But the Resurrection itself is a concrete fact for him. And what he meant by Resurrection is clear. It immediately follows the mention of the burial, and therefore must be explained as a resurrection of the physical body; and in another place he defines it as a 'quickening of the mortal body.' But this can only mean that the earliest apostolic tradition knew not only of appearances, but of a resurrection of the body. Further, we may well ask, What would have been the point of a reference to the burial of Jesus [in 1 Corinthians 15:4] if the body that was buried played no part in the Resurrection? If Paul's faith rested simply on appearances of Jesus, the body need have played no part, and resurrection would simply have meant a manifestation of the spirit of Jesus from heaven. But when we remember that for Paul resurrection meant a quickening of the mortal body, and when we read [in 1 Corinthians 15:4] that Christ was buried and rose again the third day, we are not at liberty to interpret him as meaning anything else than that the body, which was placed in the tomb dead, was quickened into life, quitted the grave, and appeared to the disciples. On the other interpretation Paul need have said no more than that Jesus died and on the third day appeared to the disciples. But in a summary statement of this kind [in 1 Corinthians 15] we are not entitled to treat the burial as irrelevant and the Resurrection as identical with the appearances; each of the four points - death, burial, resurrection, appearances - was vital to his case. And therefore we may conclude that Paul himself had no doubt that the death and burial of Jesus were followed by the resurrection of the body and the leaving of the tomb." (Arthur S. Peake, Christianity: Its Nature and Its Truth [London: Duckworth and Company, 1908], pp. 202-203.)

“The Gospel consists of certain facts and their interpretation, received from others, handed on by him [Paul] to them [the Corinthians]: Christ’s death on account of sins as set forth in Scripture, the burial (explicitly mentioned, not merely to guarantee the fact of death, but to indicate that the next clause speaks of what happened to the body), the resurrection on the third day also in harmony with prophecy, the appearances mentioned as a fact distinct from the resurrection." (Arthur S. Peake, A Commentary on the Bible [New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1920], p. 846.)

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