Saturday, October 15, 2022

Your Own Resurrected “Form” and Entelechy (Gospels 8)


But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?”

. . . So also is the resurrection of the dead

. . . It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body

. . . flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God;

nor does corruption inherit incorruption

. . . We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed

. . . the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

(1 Corinthians 15:35-53 NKJV)



To what form will resurrected Christians be changed?  As mentioned in the previous blogpost, Paul, in Romans 12:2, uses the verb metamorphoō/μεταμορφόω (the verb of metamorphosis) to indicate the “transformation” that comes about by the renewing of your mind when you are not conformed/συσχηματίζω to this world.  Thus, he hints at a “transfiguration”-experience-of-sorts that is available to Christians, not just Christ.  In addition to the Romans 12 passage, Paul supplies a seemingly-related Philippians passage: “[W]e also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform/μετασχηματίζω our lowly body that it may be conformed/σύμμορφος to His glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21 NKJV).  In these two passages, Paul uses the roots of the words μορφή/form/morph and σχῆμα/shape/scheme interchangeably.  In the Philippian passage, Paul flip-flops the roots μορφή/form/morph and σχῆμα/shape/scheme, in such a way as to result in a combination of μετα- and μορφ pertaining to “our” resurrected body/sōma/σῶμα that appears to indicate that Christians will experience a metamorphosis similar to that of Jesus’ glorious body/sōma/σῶμα.  Paul confirms this doctrine in the 1 Corinthians 15:35-53 passage (printed above).  He twice asserts “we shall (all) be changed”—into a spiritual, non-flesh-and-blood, incorruptible, immortal body. 


But Jesus Still Had a Physical “Form” After his Resurrection


The many post-resurrection appearances of Jesus demonstrate that he (unlike God?) still had a μορφή/form after he was resurrected.  Two times, this μορφή/form was not recognized immediately (with Mary, in the garden, and on the road to Emmaus); at other times, it was completely recognized (as with Thomas, in the upper room).  The only instance in which we are told Jesus’ form went unrecognized for an extended period of time was while he was on the road to Emmaus.  There, his “other/ἑτέρᾳ/hetera form/μορφῇ” (from Mark 16:12 and Luke 24:13-31) was certainly different from his pre-crucifixion “form/ μορφή” and it was also different from his upper room post-resurrection appearances.  Hugo Odeberg (p.68) quotes E. F. Scott: “John involves himself in a view which may fairly be described as semi-physical.”  There were indicators (such as the women on his day of resurrection grabbing hold of his feet and worshiping him [Matthew 28:9]) that indicate that he had a definite physical form.  This incident appears to me to be the same incident described in John 20:17, where “touching/ἅπτω” Jesus was strangely forbidden to Mary Magdalene because he had not yet ascended to his Father.  Since touching his body was not forbidden (and was even encouraged by Jesus) to the eleven, especially Thomas, and since the Matthew 28:9 uses a term for the women who “grabbed hold” of his feet that almost means “to seize forcefully,” we must assume that simple “touching” was not what Jesus was refusing for Mary Magdalene in John 20:17.  Although the KJV and ASV translate the term ἅπτω as “touch,” the CEB, NIV, NRSV, and CEV versions translate it as “hold on to.”  The NKJV, NASB2020, ESV, and CSB translate the term as “cling to.”  One of the latter two translations is preferable, in light of the Matthew 28:9 description.

It is possible that Jesus’ post-resurrection form was very-similar-to-but-not-quite-the-same-as the forms of Adam and Eve before the Fall—not “mortal” (because Adam and Eve had not yet sinned) but still flesh.  Apparently, the wild beasts that Adam “named” in Genesis 2:19-20 represented no physical threat to Adam, just as Jesus’ severe wounds in his hands, feet, and side represented no physical threat to Jesus.  Perhaps, that is what Paul meant by "incorruptible."  Just as Jesus “ate” in the presence of his disciples, Adam and Eve were given every tree in the Garden (except one) as food.  It was important to Jesus that he demonstrate by empirical proofs that his resurrected body was still fleshly, not a “spirit” form.  Luke 24:36-43 (NKJV) reports:


 Jesus Himself stood in the midst of [the twelve minus Judas], and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were . . . frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why . . . do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet . . . He said to them, “Have you any food here?” So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence.

While Jesus’ post-resurrection/pre-ascension form, however, changed in its perceptibility from time to time and appeared and disappeared at will, we find no evidence that Adam and Eve experienced similar phenomena.  Nevertheless, Adam and Eve, in their pre-Fall naked existence were just exactly as God had created them (seemingly in the prime of life) with no “growth” or other kinds of form changes, such as Jesus experienced, to account for.  That might explain some of Jesus’ and Adam’s differences, but not all.  Yet, when Paul says that we will be transformed into the likeness of “His glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21 NKJV), this Adam-esque type of body (immortal, but semi-physical) may be what Paul promised—but with a difference?

On the other hand, all of these pre- and post-resurrection/pre-ascension forms (μορφή) seem to be different from his transfiguration form/μορφή.  Nowhere, among the post-resurrection/pre-ascension appearances, do we see Jesus’ form as being shining and white.  Nevertheless, at the transfiguration, the form/eidos/εἶδος (Luke 9:29) or morphē/μορφή of Jesus’ face/πρόσωπον was shining like the sun (Matthew 17:2) and his clothes were glisteningly white (Mark 9:2 and Luke 9:29).  This same picture of Jesus’ face and clothing being bright and white is found in John’s Revelation (1:12-16 NKJV), describing the “ascended” Jesus: “I saw . . . One like the Son of Man . . . His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow . . . and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.”  This post-ascension picture of Jesus that matches his transfiguration picture even smacks of a description of God Almighty.  These descriptions in Revelation may have been simply borrowed from Daniel, however.  The question remains: Was there a further transformation of Jesus following his ascension that would have been equivalent to his transfiguration appearance?  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:50 (NKJV), “[F]lesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.”  If there was a further transformation of Jesus following his ascension that would have been equivalent to his transfiguration appearance, would that transfiguration and post-ascension appearance be similar to the picture of Jesus in the loins of his Father before Logos became flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us?  As I comment in my blogpost Apocalyptic?  #14:  Morphing Jesus—Which Jesus do YOU see?  (Rev. 1:9-20):

To Daniel’s description of the Son of Man, John in Revelation borrows the following element from (Daniel 7:9 NIV): “the Ancient of Days [i.e., God Almighty] took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool.”  John, however, in Revelation 1:14, says concerning the Son of man: “The hair on his head was white like wool.”  Thus, John describes Jesus after his ascension in language that Daniel had formerly used to describe God Himself (the Ancient of Days).


Viewing Jesus and Our Resurrected Forms Entelechially


Is there a concept that accommodates all of these various “forms” of Jesus?  Yes.  In a word, it is “entelechy.”  Even though Odeberg is unaware of Aristotle’s concept of entelechy, Odeberg (p. 68) recognizes the same phenomenon: “In [John’s] complex of ideas, the dominating notions of the present, preceding, and following contexts are recognizable.”  Shall we add to Odeberg’s comment the words “simultaneously and instantly”?  Is this not another way of saying that the end and the middle are implicit in the beginning (Entelechy)?  As I ask in the afore-mentioned “Morphing Jesus” blogpost,

[W]hen you “see” Jesus, what Jesus do YOU see?  . . . a baby in a manger, a carpenter’s assistant, a twelve-year-old boy questioning the Jewish scholars in the Temple, a young man whose mother asked him (before his time) to solve a problem with the lack of wine at a wedding feast in Cana, a man coming to John the Baptist to be baptized, a healer of diseases, a preacher to 5000 on the side of a mountain, a form walking on water at night, an individual being transfigured into a brilliant image, a shamed convict being crucified, a corpse being wrapped in a shroud and laid in a tomb, a resurrected man whose hands, feet, and sides show the crucifixion wounds?  Or do you see the “lion from the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:3) or the “lamb that had been slain” (Revelation 5:6)?  Now, morph your picture of Jesus into what John, in chapter 1 of Revelation, is “seeing.”

Perhaps, the best answer to the question just asked is “Yes!”  Looking at all of these descriptions of the “form” of Jesus, we might be able to recognize him instantly and simultaneously in many different forms, just as we are able to recognize our middle-age children in the photos of their childhood.  That is the genius of viewing matters entelechially.  The final=telos/τέλος form/eidos/εἶδος (along with all middle forms) is implicit in the beginning=archē/ἀρχή form/eidos/εἶδος and vice versa.  Aristotle proves that the logic of entelechy is operative in the cosmos by looking at the seed (earthly thing) and understanding that every future “form’ the plant will assume is already implicitly present in the seed.   In this way, Jesus’ followers would be able to “see” Jesus, as a baby, a lad of twelve, a form walking on water, a brilliantly transfigured individual, a voice talking to Mary, an ascended Son of Man, or a friend of Thomas with nail and sword wounds, instantly and simultaneously. 


The Third Type of Entelechy:  Quality


With the possibility that Jesus’ post-ascension existence, like his transfiguration existence, might be on a still-different level, we consider our own resurrected bodies.  If our bodies will be changed to be like his glorious body, which Paul says will not be flesh and blood, Jesus’ existence at the right hand of God may, again, be “qualitatively” different from his post-resurrection/pre-ascension existence, which was, itself, “qualitatively” different from his earthly/fleshly/servant form   For now, we simply observe that the transformations of Jesus from the Logos (en archē/ἐν ἀρχῇ) to the Logos-become-flesh to the transfiguration form to the servant form to the resurrected form to the ascended form are neither of the two types of entelechy we have considered, thus far—neither substance (growth) nor quantity (filling).  Rather, these transformations are a third type of entelechy—quality.  Aristotle’s Physics lists the four types of entelechy as: (1) in substance [such as the “growth” examples]; (2) in quality, white and black; (3) in quantity [such as the “filling” examples], (4) in respect of locomotion [which we will consider in the next blogpost]. (Physics 201a5ff.).  The change of quality (as in white to black) occurs whenever a Caucasian gets a suntan.  There is neither “growth” nor “filling” involved in the “process.”  Yet there IS change/kinēsis/κίνησις.  A Caucasian’s tanned legs are “qualitatively” different from his/her pasty white legs.  (Trust me, I live in Florida and am an eye witness of such qualitative phenomena.)  Nevertheless, the legs are neither larger nor smaller when they are tanned, so there is no change/kinēsis/κίνησις in substance.  Furthermore, there are no additional legs or reduced number of legs when they are tanned, so there is no change/kinēsis/κίνησις in quantity.  Instead, the legs have simply changed in quality (from lighter to darker).  Similarly, when Jesus’ form changed from the Logos-become-flesh form to the transfiguration form to the servant form to the resurrected form to the ascended form, his form/morphē/μορφή changed in “quality.”


When Christians are resurrected, their bodily forms (morphē/μορφή) will also be changed (kinēsis/κίνησις) in “quality.”  It is possible that, in the world to come, we will recognize (know) each other “entelechially.”  That is to say, we might be able to see in a split second, so to speak, any or all the variations of form of anyone, just as we recognize all the snapshot variations of form for each of our children, regardless of their current ages.  Past, present, and future forms converge, in entelechy, into a single essence that might well be fully comprehensible to us in the world to come.  For the time being, as Paul comments in I Corinthians 13:9-12 (NKJV): “For we know in part . . . But when that which is perfect (τέλειον, from the same root as τέλος) has come, then that which is in part will be done away.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” In their mortal bodies, Jesus’ followers were not always capable of seeing the full entelechial picture of Jesus’ form (perhaps, only various synecdochic parts at different times).  Hence, the two on the road to Emmaus and Mary in the Garden did not, at first, know Jesus, but at a later point, they did, even as his “twelve” (sans Judas) disciples did.  When the final τέλος arrives in the world to come, entelechial knowledge will be perfected.  Whatever “form/s” our resurrected bodies assume, we will know fully, even as we also are known.

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