I’m working on 1 Corinthians 15 at the moment, and a number of interesting things keep striking me. Significantly, I’m considering what might have been meant by those who said that there was no resurrection of the dead.
Many commentators seem to think that this can be explained by reasoning that the resurrection-deniers in Corinth preferred the idea of the immortality of the soul to the idea of the raising of bodies: The chief problem, it is said, is a Greek distaste for physicality. However, I find this problematic for a few reasons:
- Of the six generally agreed upon sections in ch15, only one carries the theme and terminology of bodies – vv35-49… and within this section, it’s only from 35-44 that bodies are central.
- I don’t see why a problem with resurrection based on a general distaste for physicality wouldn’t have been dealt with by Paul in the 18 months that he had spent in Corinth
- The most consistent problem in ch15 seems to be a distaste for death itself – and indeed, a Corinthian distaste for cruciformity has pervaded the whole letter…
Here in the climactic chapter, Paul brings his response to Corinthian cruciphobic pride to a fitting conclusion: Those who are proudly claiming that there is no resurrection of the dead need to learn that, on the contrary, there is no resurrection of the living: They are called to embrace the labour of cruciformity, knowing that human death is the pre-requisite for the divine gift of resurrection.