Did Paul think that Jesus’s appearance was merely an epiphany-like revelation (exclusively non-visual and in his heart/mind)?
Paul proclaimed that Jesus “appeared” to him, but in doing so, did Paul mean that Jesus in some sense appeared to him non-physically—in an ecstatic or revelatory way that was close to being an epiphany, insofar as it was purely intra-mental and non-visual?
Paul: “Jesus physically appeared to me”
Paul denies that Jesus appeared non-physically (e.g. intra-mentally), insisting instead that what appeared to him was quite physical and extra-mental; it was Jesus in the flesh, and so externally perceptible. It was not a mere vision or epiphany.
This page analyzes these 6 arguments:
- 1 Cor 9:1 (“I've seen”) denotes normal sight.
- 1 Cor 15 (“buried-appeared”) = physical appear.
- 1 Cor 15:6 (“most remain”) meant witnesses.
- Paul: “Jesus-appearances and visions differ.”
- Paul: “Jesus resurrected physically.”
- An overtly immaterial visit'd not persuade.
- Acts: “Paul says Jesus’ visit hit his group.”
- Acts: “Jesus physically appeared to Paul.”
This is relevant because there nothing “merely epiphany-like” about Jesus physically appearing in the flesh before your eyes.
[A feeling would not convert Paul]
[Brackets] mean forthcoming.
- Paul was psychologically prepared to convert.
“Ophthe” implies visuality, vision or not
The word translated "appeared" (ōphthē) is the passive form of ὁράω, and indicates that there was something to be seen.
See full page here (documenting the fact that most experts agree).
This is relevant because Paul used this word to describe Jesus's appearance to him,1 and if there was a visual component associated with Jesus appearing (being seen), then it was not simply an epiphany-like revelation or merely auditory experience.
- 1 Cor 15:8 — ἔσχατον δὲ πάντων ὡσπερεὶ τῷ ἐκτρώματι ὤφθη κἀμοί.
Gal 1:12 (“revelation”) = intra-mental
Galatians 1:12 (“I received it [the gospel] through a revelation”) indicates that Paul believed the “appearance” of Jesus was an intra-mental revelation at his conversion.
This full page debates two arguments:
This is relevant because Paul is an authority on what he experienced here, and if it is instrumental then it is not physical.
- The author of Acts accurately represents Paul.
- “Revelation” sounds non-visual, but Paul had a visual experience.
Gal 1:16 “His Son in me” = intra-mentally
In Galatians 1:16, when Paul says that God “revealed His son in me,” is Paul intending to communicate that the Jesus appearance he received was mystical, ecstatic, or vision-like (perhaps even psychological).
- Gal 1:16 says “IN me,” not “TO me”
This is relevant because if Paul felt Jesus only was revealed intra-mentally during the appearance, then he would not have simultaneously thought it was a physical appearance.
But so what?
- “in me” sounds non-visual, but Paul had a visual experience.
2 Cor 4:1-6 (“shown in our hearts”) = Jesus’ appearance to Paul
In writing 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (“[Jesus] has shone in our hearts”) Paul is he referring to Jesus’ appearing to him?1 This is relevant because “shown in our hearts” is straightforwardly subjective, like an inner illumanation (rather than being physically perceptible to others.)
- When Paul says “our,” he includes Timothy etc.
- Paul’s conversion was shocking (not warm)
- In Acts, Jesus’ visit wasn't simply in Paul’s “heart”
- Context: it’s the “light of the gospel” that “shone”
And so what?
- In Acts, the light from heaven was extra-mental.
- If it did refer to Paul's conversion, it's just focusing on the internal part. (See here.)
- There are two evidences in support of this claim, but interestingly they both more specifically support that the appearance was a vision (i.e. with a visual component), and this is incompatible with it simply being an epiphany. So we do not list those evidences here.
Paul’d detail what he saw in 1 Cor 15
If Paul’s experience were extra-mental, then he would’ve outlined what precisely he saw in 1 Corinthians 15. [Forthcoming]