Did Paul think he saw Jesus physically appear to him (i.e. not as just a vision or epiphany)?

“Yes, after all…
  • 1 Cor 9:1 (“I've seen”) means normal sight

      In 1 Cor 9:1 (“have I not seen”) Paul is saying the the saw appear before his physical eyes in the normal way.

      This full article analyzes 1 evidence...
      That’s what ἑόρακα (heōraka) means.

      This is relevant because in order for Paul to think he physically saw Jesus with his eyes, he will have also had to think Jesus physically appeared to him.

  • 1 Cor 15 (“buried-appeared”) = physical appear

      When Paul writes (and recites) a formula saying Jesus was “buried, raised, and appeared,” the implication is that what appeared is what was buried and raised.

      A forthcoming article discusses at least these 2 evidences...
      • “buried” & “raised” are juxtaposed.
      • “buried…appeared” summarizes gospel tradition.

      This is relevant because Paul definitely believes Jesus was physically resurrected, and obviously Jesus’ burial could only be physical.

  • 1 Cor 15:6 (“most remain”) meant witnesses

      In writing 1 Corinthians 15:6 (“[he appeared to] five hundred brethren… most of whom remain until now”) Paul implied that witnesses to a large group-appearance of Jesus remained and could be questioned.

      A forthcoming article discusses at least these 2 evidences...
      • The comment is gratuitous otherwise.
      • It matches similar appeals to public knowledge.

      This is relevant because Paul’s encouraging others to question these “witnesses” about their personal vision/epiphany is counter-productive, communicating to critics that that resurrection is and non-physical after all (and that the appearances are plausibly psychological!).

      N. T. Wright: “As we saw earlier, those who have wished to say that the risen Christ was not that kind of being, that the resurrection was not that sort of event, that it did not have that kind of evidence, and that any witnesses would simply be speaking of their own inner conviction and experience rather than the evidence of their eyes, have had to say that Paul has here undermined the point he really should have been making.

  • Paul: “Jesus-appearances and visions differ”
  • Paul: “Jesus resurrected physically”

      Paul maintained that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was a physical rising (i.e. leaving behind an empty grave).

      A forthcoming article analyzes at least these 8 evidences:
      • 1 Cor 15:2-11 (“died,… buried,… rose”) says so.
      • Col 2:9 (“bodily form”) says so.
      • Grk. “anastasis” = physical resurrection (by default).
      • Grk. “egeiro” = physical resurrection (by default).
      • Paul taught a personal return of Christ.
      • Jesus overthrows death; he doesn’t flee it.
      • Jesus’s resurrection matches how ours will be.
      • Rom 8: 11 (“give life, mortal bodies”).

      This is relevant because it would likely dictate how Paul interpreted what appeared to him, since Paul believed that what he saw was the very thing that was raised—Jesus Christ himself.

      But no...
      See below

  • An overtly immaterial visit'd not persuade

      An overtly hallucination-like vision of Jesus (e.g. with an ethereal figure) would not persuade Paul that Jesus was God incarnate etc.

      A forthcoming article analyzes at least these 3 evidences...
      • Paul knew of hallucinations.
      • Paul’s conversion would be radical.
      • Few hallucinations are persuasive.

      This is relevant because Paul did believe Jesus was God incarnate etc. as a result of this event, so Paul therefore did at least believe it was a physical appearance.

      But no…
      • Paul couldn't tell the difference. (cf. 2 Cor 12:1-4) [Forthcoming]

  • Acts: “Paul says Jesus’ visit hit his group”
  • Acts: “Jesus physically appeared to Paul”

      The author of the book of Acts makes it very clear that the reported appearance of Jesus to Paul on the road to Damascus was physical in nature.

      Acts: “Paul says Jesus’ visit hit everyone.”
      • Acts: “Jesus rose physically.”

      This is relevant because the author of Acts accurately represents Paul’s report of his own beliefs.

      But no…
      • The Acts 26:19 “vision” is non-physical. [Forthcoming]
      • Acts: “An ascended Jesus’d just use visions”[Forthcoming]

  • “No, after all…
  • E.g. Paul: “I just felt Jesus ‘appear’ inside me”
  • E.g. Paul: “I saw Jesus as an intangible vision”
  • Paul: “Jesus resurrected non-physically”

      Paul maintained that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was a non-physical rising (i.e. leaving the body behind).

      • Paul says we are raised non-physically.
      • Paul doesn’t know of an empty tomb.
      • 1 Cor 15:45 (“life-giving spirit”) says its non-physical.
      • Paul says Jesus fills all (Eph 1:23).
      • 1 Pet 3:18 (made alive in the spirit).
      • Paul is critical of physical bodies.

      This is relevant because if Paul would assume that Jesus appeared in the same form/body in which he resurrected.

      But no…
      See above.

      So what? Plausibly…
      • Why wouldn’t a non-physical Jesus look physical?

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