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What We Are Debating (2008)


Welcome to On Paul's Theory of Resurrection: The Carrier-O'Connell Debate. Here Richard and Jake co-wrote and approved a joint statement stating as clearly as possible what claims each intends to defend here.


In this debate Richard Carrier will defend the thesis that the Apostle Paul probably embraced "a two-body doctrine of the resurrection, where the identity of Jesus was believed to have left one body to enter another," not in the sense of what's sometimes called a "spiritual resurrection" (as a mere revival of Christ's soul or spirit), but in the sense that Paul "believed Christ had really been raised, and raised bodily, even as his earthly body continued to rot in its tomb," because Paul believed Jesus rose in a different body, one of supernatural material instead of flesh, thus having left the flesh behind.[1] If this is correct, then Paul either would not have believed or would not have needed to believe that the tomb of Jesus was empty (whether it was or not), but he could still have believed that Jesus rose from the dead in an actual body.

Jake O'Connell will defend the thesis that Paul more probably embraced a "one body" doctrine of the resurrection. That is, Paul believed that Jesus' post-resurrection body was numerically identical to his pre-resurrection body (even if changed in some way, e.g. even if made of different material). If this is correct, then no matter what the nature of Jesus' resurrection body was (or was thought to be), Paul must still have believed on conceptual grounds that Jesus' tomb was empty in order to affirm that Jesus rose from the dead.

[1] Quotations (and comprehensive evidence and argument for this thesis) in Richard Carrier, "The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb," The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave (Prometheus: 2005), edited by Bob Price and Jeffrey Jay Lowder: pp. 105-231 (quotes: p. 105). Dr. Carrier also defended this thesis in a live debate at UCLA: Licona vs. Carrier: On the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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