By Paul Badham
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Extra resources for Christian Beliefs About Life After Death
Then he appeared to over five hundred of our brothers at once, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, and afterwards to all the apostles. In the end he appeared even to me. ' 38 One of the most interesting features of this list is that Paul should append his own experience to something which looks like an authoritative list of the original resurrection appearances of Jesus. This strongly suggests that Paul regarded his experience on the Damascus road as being of the same type as the experiences of the first apostles, and consequently if we explore the nature of Paul's own experience we may gain an insight into how the resurrection appearances of Jesus were originally understood by the first Christians.
22 Athenagoras presents the case best: 'Would any believe unless taught by experience that in the soft seed alike in all its parts there was deposited such a variety and number of great powers, or of masses, which in this way arise and become consolidated - I mean of bones and nerves and cartilages, of muscles too and flesh and intestines and the other parts of the body. ' Athenagoras goes on to argue 'though neither the seed has inscribed upon it the life and form of man, nor the The Traditional Belief in the Resurrection of the Flesh 51 life and dissolution into primary elements, yet the succession of natural occurrences makes things credible which have no credibility apart from the phenomena themselves.
However I do not think the concept is valid, for I am impressed by Don Cupitt's argument that a 'spiritual body' is a logical hybrid. The body is considered tangible enough to be seen, yet intangible enough to pass through locked doors. It seems, as Don Cupitt suggests, to belong to those "theories which postulate a para-normal seeing of a para-normal object, which it is commonly claimed, is nevertheless available to historical investigation ... ' 78 It has to be tangible enough to be seen and heard with the physical organs and strong enough to support clothes, and yet intangible enough to pass through the walls of the upper room.