Within the scheme of contemporary Christian theology, there appears a common theme that the afterlife proposed in the Bible represents simply a doctrine of the immortality of the soul. Critics of this view have suggested that this viewpoint is a result of Platonic philosophy creeping into Christian theology, especially during the time of Plotinus and Anselm. These critics suggest that neither Jesus, nor St. Paul held a doctrine of the immortality of the soul. They often further posit that the Christian doctrine is, instead, a doctrine solely of the resurrection of the body. In order to address such conflicting viewpoints, a close textual analysis of scripture is necessary.It is the purpose of this paper to demonstrate that the Jewish notion, where it addresses the issue, is of the immortality of the soul. It is this paper's further purpose to demonstrate that early Christian theology maintains both a doctrine of the resurrection of the body, as well as a doctrine of the immortality of the soul. Furthermore, a comparison of Platonic philosophy to the systematic theology expressed in the Pauline letters shows that the Platonic influence had begun its onset even as early as St. Paul.
[...] For example, Job proclaims, as for me, I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He will witness at the last upon the dust; And when after my skin this is destroyed, then without my flesh shall I see God; Whom even shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another's.” Clearly the author of Job seems to be presupposing a form of spiritual life after death. In this case, it is clear that the author is maintaining that perception continues even without the physical organs of perception “then without my flesh shall I see God.” References to the soul and spirit continue in Psalms and Proverbs. [...]
[...] It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do Paul continues later, “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature [Or the flesh].” In Philippians, Paul further proclaims it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.” In these and many other passages, Paul adamantly exhorts Christians to cast away their physical bodies and to focus on their spiritual nature. [...]
[...] Jesus, Paul, and Plato The New Testament Although the Old Testament is often vague with regard to the existence of an afterlife and its nature, the New Testament is significantly less so. The New Testament is dualistic with respect to the body-soul dilemma. Implicit in the Gospels and explicit in the Pauline letters is the notion that humans possess an immortal soul. It is further clear that, by the time of Christ, the influence of Platonic thought had reached into Jewish culture in general, and that Plato had specifically influenced the thinking of Paul. [...]
[...] they can still serve to illuminate the authors' conceptions about the universe and the essence of humanity. It seems that, in the beginning, the ancient Hebrews had little to no conception of an afterlife of any sort, let alone a sophisticated set of metaphysical presuppositions. Instead, the Hebrew notion of God, as with most ancient cultures, was primarily anthropomorphic. With the exception of the first chapter of Genesis, which most scholars believe was inserted after the rest of the work was completed, the first book of the Bible is riddled with anthropomorphic imagery. [...]
[...] When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or something else.” He further elaborates, “There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of earthly bodies is another So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” From a metaphysician's point of view, it seems that the word entails something physical, and perhaps this is the case. [...]
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