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The Resurrection-Physical, Spiritual Or Mythical?

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On the one hand, for me its hard to explain how Christianity could have spread as widely as it did, unless those early followers were convinced Jesus rose from the grave. Resurrection as I understand it means not the resuscitation of a corpse, but transformation into a whole new mode of physicality-- a body animated by Gods spirit which transcends the limits and decay of mortal existence, yet is still solid and physical. I couldnt feel a relationship with Jesus until I became convinced that the resurrection really happened, setting him apart from every other great spiritual leader. But theres no need to believe that to relate to the living Jesus.


And the other possibility is just as plausible. I just finished Robin Meyers Saving Jesus from the Church (thanks to Steve for the recommendation), which says The disciples conviction that he was still with them was itself the resurrection. Jesus has been resurrected in his disciples, who have all the proof they need hearts that burn within them. Meyers suggests that Jesus may not have been buried at all, but suffered the common fate of crucified victims. The point is that a growing number of people were convinced Jesus way was alive, unextinguishable. As Meyers says, What must be celebrated at Easter is not a particular view of resurrection but the integrity of a first-century act of devotion. There was nothing unique about claiming that some notable person had been raised from the dead. What turned human history on its axis was the claim that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Easter was Gods Yes to a peasant revolutionary, and No to the Roman Empire.

Edited by rivanna
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Hi BoE,


I have said this before in other posts but it is indeed relevant in this holy week. For me my faith of Christianity relies on a transcendental but real communicative relationship with Jesus NOW. The object of my worship is not contained between two dust covers, but is real and alive, and able to walk with us in a resurrected form. So, consequently, I need to have a resurrection. Now this can be either bodily or what I call Spongian, ie, a spiritual resurrection in the hearts and minds of the disciples. Whatever the form, I need Jesus to have conquered the grave and be living now, otherwise, to be frank, I wouldn't be a Christian. Just my personal take of course.


Another aspect is what the resurrection meant. For me the performing of the resurrection was a sacred YES from the limitless divine, that how this man lived his life, what this man taught, and how this man died, was a template for each of us, and to show just how special Yeshua was, the limitless divine did something so extraordinary that we had to take notice.



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Now this can be either bodily or what I call Spongian, ie, a spiritual resurrection in the hearts and minds of the disciples. Whatever the form, I need Jesus to have conquered the grave and be living now, otherwise, to be frank, I wouldn't be a Christian. Just my personal take of course.


Hi Adi,


I follow you here and it does make sense. When I go to church and see the many illustrations in the stained glass windows, hear the litanies and songs, I'm not confronted with a Jesus who was a historical figure in the past and stayed there, but with a living reality that has been fundamental to the life of the church since day one. Regardless of what I tend to think about the resurrection as historical fact, to lose that metaphysical sense of Christ, for me, would be to lose the central logic of self-identifying as Christian in the first place. Of course everyone is different, and that is fine with me.


Peace to you,


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I have talked to many liberals..a majority which told me they were raised Catholic..that they got really burned on the idea of belief based on dangling comic threats or eternal rewards..and so they opt to only live in the now and do with out either. I understand getting ride of cosmic threats aka hellfire threats...but I don;t understand why so many feel that they must also gide ride of any after life hope. I don;t believe in dangling threats or rewrds either..but I don;t really understand the need to get ride of any after life hope. Why must an after life hope havHAVE to be attached to a threat? Why do so many feel you can NOT have one with out the other?

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I think many people are simply skeptical of the afterlife, and if they affirm any sort of afterlife at all, it is in a more philosophical and metaphysical sense. To be honest I fall into this category too. I see my life as just being one small part of the divine life.


But there are also many who really believe in the afterlife, as in conscious, personal survival after death. And not just because it happens to be in the bible, but because either they feel that they've experienced it, or known someone who has. Or because they studied the subject and feel that the evidence merits that conclusion. I don't have a problem with this, but at this point in my life, I have no means of verifying this, so I prefer to stick with what is available to me and not pursue rabbit trails of, what is from my perspective, speculation. Of course, what I call speculation might to another person be experience. That is fine, as we all must make do with what we have.


Peace to you,


Edited by Mike
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Article intitled,

Far From Heaven

By Lisa Miller | NEWSWEEK

Published Mar 25, 2010

From the magazine issue dated Apr 5, 2010


Jesus died and rose again so that all his followers could, eventually, do the same.People yearn for reunions with friends and relativesand even with their pets.


The number of Americans who say they believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ has dropped 10 points since 2003 to 70 percent, according to the most recent Harris poll, according to a 1997 Time/CNN poll. Thanks to the growth here of Eastern religions, reincarnationthe belief that after death a soul returns to earth in another bodyis gaining adherents. Nearly 30 percent of 2003 Harris poll respondents said they believed in reincarnation; of self-professed Christians, that number was 21 percent.




In recent years, some scholars who profess to be Christians have published books and articles dismissing Jesus' resurrection as a fable [ A Mere 'Metaphore' Or Positive 'Myth'] and have initiated a fierce debate over this subject. In their search for "the historical Jesus," various scholars argue that the Gospel accounts of the empty tomb and Jesus' post-resurrection appearances are pure fiction.



BOE: But, the question is why? And what has caused this?


In Ancient Times...


BOE: Amazingly, the Newsweek article admits:


Even in biblical times, resurrection deniers who hoped for an afterlife took an alternative route. This is what scholars call "the immortality of the soul." Embraced by Plato and popular today.


{For A Majority] The immortality of the soul [seems] easier to swallow than [The Platoism Meets Christianity version of the] resurrection [as we know it today].


After death, the soulunique and indestructibleascends to heaven to be with God while the physical body, and all our low human desires, stays behind to rot. This view, has a serious defect: a disembodied soul attaching itself to God in heaven offers no more comfort or inspiration than an escaped balloon.


From Restoration Fellowship.org




Evangelicals and liberals both have substituted an instant rice "heaven" at death for the Kingdom of God coming at the return of Jesus. Jesus' Gospel preaching has been adversely affected and evangelicals wonder why their "Gospel of the cross" lacks power. The fact is that the Gospel's most fundamental element the Kingdom has been eliminated from the popular gospel.



Consolation was not the goal of Plato's afterlife. Without sight or hearing, taste or touch, a soul in [Platonized version of Christianity] heaven can no more enjoy the "green, green pastures", than it can play a Bach cello suite or hit a home run. So-called "Traditional" Visions of heaven fail to satisfy.


BOE: Why Do Religious Liberals Reduce The Resurrection Down To Merely 'Metaphoric'?


The Newsweek continues:


Another popular way out of the Easter conundrum"I want to believe in heaven but can't get my head around the revivification of human flesh" a bodiless ascension to God.


Religious Liberals frequently fall back on resurrection-as-metaphor, for it allows them to celebrate Easter while also expressing a reasonable agnosticism. They quote that great theological cop-out: "We cannot know what God has in store for us."


BOE: Answering the unattractive dis-embodied spirit problem...of Platonistic version of Christianity


The Laymen's Home Missionary Movement



SoulHuman . . . The Bible tells us plainly just what the human soul really is. According to Gen. 2: 7, "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed Hebrew, (blew) into his nostrils the breath of lives [the Hebrew word here is in the pluralchayim]; and man became a living soul." Note carefully, it does not say that man was given a living soul, but man became a living soul.The human soul or being can hear, see, touch, swear, work, rest, eat, drink and be merry (Lev. 5: 1, 4; 7: 18, 20, 21, 27; 23: 30; Luke 12: 19). And since animals also are sentient beings or souls, it is easy to understand how in Num. 31: 28 beeves, asses and sheep are spoken of as souls (compare Eccles. 3: 19). Animals, as well as human, can see, hear, feel, taste and smell. " (1 Cor. 1: 20)! 68-23



Question (1972)I have received from the American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC) a paper that discusses the nature of the human soul. It says that "animals do not have souls," that "death is the separation of the soul from the body" and that at death "the soul shall return unto God who gave it, according to Eccles. 12: 7." are these statements correct?


Answer.Animals they do have lives or souls i.e., they are living souls, even as humans are living souls (Gen. 2: 7). The Hebrew word for "soul" is nephesh, which primarily means life (and is often so translated); and because life is the basis of the souls existence the word nephesh has by virtue of this relation taken on a second meaning, i.e., soul, or sentient being. Gods Word makes it very plain that both men and beasts are souls, when in Num. 31: 28 it speaks of a tribute of "one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep." Both humans and animals have soul-quality, or intelligent, conscious, sentient being.


The term "immortal soul" is nowhere found in the Bible; rather, there are many statements to the contrary, showing that the soul can die, that it is mortal. Psa. 22: 29); "He spared not their soul from death" (Psa. 78: 50); "Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin . . . . He hath poured out his soul unto death" (Isa. 53: 10, 12); "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezek. 18: 4, 20; comp. 22: 27); "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death" (Matt. 26: 38); "He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death" (James 5: 20), etc.!


The Bible clearly shows that the spirit of life is common to all Gods creatures, all living souls, and not possessed by man only. Note, e.g., "All flesh wherein is the breath of life [ruach: the spirit or breath of life of all flesh]" (Gen. 6: 17; 7: 15). "All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life [margin, ruach: the spirit or power of life] (Gen. 7: 22). "The spirit of Jacob . . . revived [ruach: Jacobs vital or life powers revived]" (Gen. 45: 27). "When he [samson] had drunk, his spirit [ruach] came again, and he revived [his strength, vigor, energy returned to him]" (Judges 15: 19). "In whose hand is the soul [nephesh, lifesee margin] of every living thing, and the breath [ruach, the power or privilege to live] of all mankind" (Job 12: 10). When a human soul (the nephesh, the sentient being) dies, his life ceases, and the spirit (the power or privilege to live) returns to God who gave it, and only He can restore it. This He will do through Christ in the resurrection awakening (John 5: 28, 29; Dan. 12: 2; 1 Cor. 15: 22). 72-6



BOE: At the beginning statement made at the very begiining of that Newsweek article, Jesus died and rose again so that all his followers could, eventually, do the same. This Newsweek article author makes claim that they believe the whole reason that Religious Liberals have reduced the resurrection down to a mere "Positive Myth" or metaphore is because the so-called 'traditional' Evangelical church view that has been tainted by Greek Platoism and thus has made their version of the resurrection unattractive, replusive and unearthly. I have brought to light here from 3 different sources' explainations showing how the origional Judeo-Christian belief of the resuurection of the WHOLE person has been lost and replaced instead with the disembodied Plato concept of the immortal soul.


Thus, IF..the resurrection concept can be restored back to earthly and wholistic..that is..that the resurrection..can and does reunit the breath of life with IN the physical body..rather than a seperation of the two..it seems to me the revoltion of resurrection to religious liberals should be resolved.




Adapted from the forthcoming book Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination With the Afterlife by Lisa Miller.

Edited by BeachOfEden
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Guest billmc

For me, I don’t know what happened to Jesus at the first Easter…and I don’t think anyone else does either. The gospel accounts, if taken literally, don’t agree with each other as to what happened, when it happened, and who saw whatever happened. Modern biblical scholarship tells us that none of the gospel accounts were written by eyewitnesses and are, therefore, hearsay. Something happened. But what that something was has been, I believe, lost to us as a result of the mythology which came to enshroud Jesus as he became more and more deified over the decades.


Being a naturalist, I wouldn’t accept the mythologized accounts of Jesus’ resurrection as being literal any more than I would accept that his ascension means that he literally flew through the atmosphere, up just above the clouds, and sat down on a physical throne next to God which floated over the city of Jerusalem. We have charted our planet’s surface and atmosphere pretty well now and there is no evidence whatsoever that either Jesus or God have a throne floating over Jerusalem, despite the insistence of the biblical writers that this is exactly, literally what happened.


Personally, I don’t find that the creation of the church requires Jesus’ resurrection. Many religions have begun without the claim of a resurrected leader. Conversely, just because someone is reported to have been raised from the dead doesn’t mean that they are fit for worship or that a church must start to mark that event. Neither Lazarus nor Jairus’ daughter were worshipped as God or began churches as a result of their raising.


My faith in Jesus as a God-infused human being doesn’t require his resurrection. In fact, I find that the accounts of his resurrection make him, at least for me, less believable, not more. My faith doesn’t require me to be in some kind of contact with an immortal or a ghost as a spirit-guide. To me, Jesus’ teachings and self-sacrificial lifestyle are wise and good in and of themselves, and don’t necessitate a resurrection in order to them to have some kind of stamp of approval by God.


Going against the teachings of Paul and the church, I don’t find the resurrection of Jesus to be a necessary part of my faith in him. While some need a living Christ to legitimate their faith, I find such view to make him less human, less an example to follow, and less believable. Our world is still interested in Jesus, in what he had to say and in how he lived, but I don’t think they find the notion of an undead, flying, hovering Jesus to be convincing in our day and time. Culturally, we have grown past that kind of superstition, just as most of us know that Santa does not have a workshop at the North Pole.


So I guess my answer is "mythical".

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