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Did Paul think he saw Jesus physically appear to him (i.e. not as just a vision or epiphany)?
Does Paul deny that Jesus appeared to him non-physically (i.e. intra-mentally), insisting instead that what appeared to him was quite physical and extra-mental?
Paul reportedly experienced literal visions somewhat frequently, visions whose content was not localized in space-time, essentially meaning their contents were not perceptual relations to objects in space-time reality. Was Paul’s alleged experience of Jesus appearing to him just one of these visions or experiences located entirely within his mind (Divinely caused or not), rather than Jesus’s actually physically appearing to him in the flesh?
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 page analyzes 1 evidence...
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 full page will discusses at least these 2 arguments:
- “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 full page will cover at least these 2 arguments:
- 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 merely personal vision/epiphany would have been counter-productive, communicating to critics that the resurrection is psychological or non-physical after all.
- 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. [The Resurrection of the Son of God (Fortress, 2003), 383.]
Paul: “Jesus-appearances and visions differ”
Paul firmly believed that mere visions of Jesus and the actual appearances of Jesus were very different things.
This full page analyzes 4 arguments:
This is relevant because Paul was adamant in saying “Jesus appeared to me,” rather than saying he merely had a vision.
Paul: “Jesus resurrected physically”
Paul maintained that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was a physical rising (i.e. leaving behind an empty grave).
A full page will analyze at least these 8 arguments:
- 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.
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 full page will analyze at least these 3 arguments:
- 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.
- Paul couldn't tell the difference. (cf. 2 Cor 12:1-4) [Forthcoming]
Acts: “Paul says Jesus’ visit hit his group”
According to Acts, Paul was clear that Jesus’s appearing to him on the road to Damascus physically impacted all his companions who he was traveling with.
This full page analyzes these 4 arguments:
- The author of Acts just misrepresents Paul. [Forthcoming]
- Paul was lying. [Forthcoming]
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.
This full page analyzes these 2 positive evidences:
This is relevant because the author of Acts accurately represents Paul’s report of his own beliefs.
- The Acts 26:19 “vision” is non-physical.
- Acts: “An ascended Jesus’d just use visions”[Forthcoming]
E.g. Paul: “I just felt Jesus ‘appear’ inside me”
Paul believed that Jesus’ appearing to him was purely intra-mental, an ecstatic revelatory event akin to an epiphany.
This full page analyzes these 4 arguments:
This is relevant because Paul's thinking he felt Jesus show up in his heart was akind of way for him to think Jesus appeared to him non-physically.
E.g. Paul: “I saw Jesus as an intangible vision”
According to Paul, rather than seeing a physical Jesus, he saw something which signified to him that he was instead seeing a vision of Jesus, or even just a light that represented Jesus.
This full page analyzes these 3 arguments:
This is relevant because Paul's thinking he saw Jesus as an intangable vision is a kind of way for him to think Jesus appeared to him non-physically.
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 Paul would assume that Jesus appeared in the same form/body in which he resurrected.
So what? Plausibly…
- Paul thought Jesus rose non-physically, but appeared physically.