The Church has always had a problem with heretics who denied that Jesus was saved totally body and soul from death and suffering and evil and that this was done by raising him bodily from the dead to eternal life.  If the Bible teaches a spiritual resurrection its doctrine is no more special than most ghost stories where you have a spirit that seems physical in some respects but which is not.  The value of Christianity drops. The value of Jesus drops.


In the book Jesus is Dead by Robert Price we read about bishop Wright who tries to get around the references in the Bible to the risen Jesus as a spirit. "When he gets to Luke, Wright laughs off the screaming contradiction between Luke 24:40 (“Touch me and see: no spirit has flesh as you can see I have.”) and 1 Corinthians 15:50 and 45 (“Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.”“The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”). The contexts of both passages make it quite clear that the terms are being used in the same senses, only that one makes the risen Jesus fleshly, while the other says the opposite. Wright’s laughable hair-splitting is a prime example of the lengths he will go to get out of a tight spot. Similarly, when he gets to 1 Peter 3:18 (Jesus was “put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and made proclamation to the spirits in prison,” etc.), Wright rewrites the text to make it say what he wants: “he was put to death by the flesh, and brought to life by the Spirit.” This is just ridiculous."

It is interesting that Christians go to any lengths to make contradictions in the Bible fit but they don't say, "Jesus rose from the dead in his body but his body evolved into a spirit." How is that for a reconciliation?


In the synoptics, Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus when asked if a woman marries seven men whose wife will she be when they all rise again in the resurrection. Jesus says there is no marriage in Heaven or giving in marriage for the dead when they rise are like angels. Some say he just means the risen just lose their sex drive but are not like angels any other way. Some say he means that since angels are spirits with no bodies or materiality the dead are like spirits and have bodies that are not physical or barely physical. If Jesus rose like a non-physical or nearly non-physical angel that would be very interesting. It would show that his resurrection did not require the revival of his crucified body. Jesus does not say anything about sex in the context but only says there is no marrying in Heaven and marriages are terminated by death. Marriage can exist without sex. The spiritual "body" interpretation is the correct one. It proves that the gospels do not actually say that Jesus’ entire body was raised though it did vanish.

Jesus actually hinted she would be nobody's wife. Marriage is ended by death and there is no marrying in Heaven. This reflects his doctrine that man and woman get married because their bodies fit each other - the two become one flesh in sex. No bodies means no marriage.

Jesus in the gospels never says clearly that he is raised in his body. He asks for his hands and feet to be examined but ghosts can do that too.  There are legendary accounts that show that Jesus had spiritual rivals who were perhaps more credible than him!  Take Apollonius of Tyana. 

Apollonius was clearer. He as good as said he was resurrected bodily.

Here is a relevant quote.

Damis groaned out loud, and said something like, “Gods above, will we ever see our good, noble comrade?”

Apollonius, who was now standing at the entrance of the grotto, heard this and said, “You will, in fact you already have.”

“Alive?” asked Demetrius. “But if dead, we have never stopped weeping for you.”

Apollonius stretched out his hand, and said, “Take hold of me. If I elude you, I am a ghost come back from Persephone’s domain, like the ghosts which the gods below reveal to men when mourning makes them too despondent. But if I stay when you grasp me, persuade Damis too, that I am alive and have not lost my body.

From Life of Apollonius by Philostratus. Translated by CP Jones. 8:12.

Attempts to say, "The version of resurrection that Jesus underwent is so different from anything and so unique that it is wise to assume it is not man-made" will not do.  A ghost story could suggest enough of it.


The friends of Jesus were told that Jesus was not in the tomb anymore but had been raised which seems to say the whole body was raised. We call John’s corpse John and we still say that John meaning his spirit is in Heaven. We might say, “John is not in that coffin anymore for he is a ghost standing by that fireplace”.

If Jesus’ body had showed up after the resurrection it would not have harmed the Christian Faith. They could have just reinterpreted their dogma of Jesus’ return.

Even if the early Christians believed Jesus was a physical body after the resurrection that they experienced in apparitions and even touched, they did not believe that this body was made of flesh. Paul speaks of spiritual bodies like the one Jesus had at his resurrection and says it differs from flesh like the heavenly substance of the sun and moon and stars differs from flesh (1 Corinthians 15: 37-50). If Jesus needed a new body from stardust, then it suggests that the early Christians had no concern for the one he lived in as a human being.

Matthew never says that the disciples did not take the body. He only reports what he believes happened and that the Jews blamed the disciples for the missing body.  He does not say anybody seen it transforming from a corpse into a physical-spiritual conundrum.  There was nothing stopping Jesus if there was nobody there from giving people a dream or vision to show what happened.  That nobody asked for a remote viewing is so strange that we doubt the whole narrative.

John 2 has Jesus saying he will demolish the temple, his body, and raise it up in three days. Just like bits of the old temple might be used for the reconstruction so it will be with his body.

Acts has Peter quoting Psalm 16 to argue that Jesus rose and it says God will not leave somebody’s soul in the grave or let him see corruption or rotting. It could fit the idea that the person was raised and then not allowed to corrupt alive or by dying again. All bodies corrupt alive and shed dead cells.

It is reported in John that the disciple believed in an unspecified something when he saw the empty tomb and says he did not know the scripture that Jesus must rise yet. What he believed was that the tomb was robbed of the body for he had been told that happened and that was why he ran to the tomb. There is no hint that he simply believed that the body was missing. That is out of the textual context. Attempts to reconcile John with the rest have it that the disciple knew by then of the women claiming to have met Jesus so the unspecified something was the resurrection. But John never said anything about that so that must be rejected. John could not have meant a resurrection was believed when he never mentioned the reports. He also said the disciple did not know the scripture that Jesus would rise which is only worth mentioning if the disciple did not believe in the resurrection. If the disciple believed that Jesus rose bodily there is no hint given that he was right which is important. Also, John just wants to say that Jesus rose and does not go into what kind of resurrection it was.

If the Risen Jesus was not a body then if the women and the apostles saw in their hearts that Jesus was alive they could talk as if they had visions or locutions though they saw nothing with their physical or mental eyes or heard nothing with their ears or inside their heads. Books that say the resurrection could be a myth are not contradicting themselves when they do not impute lies to the witnesses. But people will think they are when they are not told how stories of visions and voices are necessary to express what they experienced.

The Pharisees understood resurrection to be the revival of the whole dead body (page 103, The Resurrection Factor) and it is thought that Jesus had to rise fully because of that. But the earliest record sees Jesus’ resurrection as different. Jesus was not what they expected the Messiah to be so why should he rise again in the way the Pharisees thought it should be done? What matters is what the Christians thought and it was not hard to make up the idea of a ghost style resurrection body. Christians have no business bringing irrelevant material into the equation. That is one of their favourite apologetic tricks.

Keep in mind that in theology, resurrection is not the same thing as revival or resuscitation. It is salvation of the body and giving it eternal life. In the John Gospel, Jesus tells Magdalene not to touch him. John does not tell us what he meant by saying, “Don’t touch me for I have not gone to the Father yet.” To the unbiased theologian Jesus talks as if he is only a revived corpse at that point in time. Going to the Father is possibly a way of saying God has not changed his body into the resurrection body that Paul talks about that is more like a spirit body than an ordinary one. The way is opened to saying that the spiritual body doctrine was not based on anything but theology and hypothesis for all the apostles said they met was a ordinary man back from the dead.


In the resurrection visions, Jesus appeared with nail marks. Is that deceptive if that body is gone? Does it matter when it is the same person? If Jesus was made from a few cells or is really best described as a spirit then what? They are marks of an experience. There is no fraud any more that if the old body had been used and was changed into something very different. It would have been deceptive or more deceptive if Jesus’ new incarnation had had no stigmata for they are a part of his identification. And if there had been an integrity problem with the wounds it might only mean that the writers never realised that if Jesus rose spiritually the wounds were not the same ones. However, it is undeniable that if Jesus came back in a body that could pass through walls, live forever and levitate into Heaven then the problem arises is, “Is this really the same Jesus or same person or is it just a copy?” When he is too different you cannot know if it is him. Christians say he can even change his appearance and turn into a dove if he wants.


The data shows that whatever it was like to see the risen Jesus it was not seeing as in seeing a brick and the body is more of a spirit entity than a concrete body.  Nothing links it to the corpse of Jesus.  That link is a mere supposition.

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