Exegesis Of I Corinthians 15:35–44, As Illustrated By Natural History And Chemistry -- By: Edward Hitchcock

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 017:66 (Apr 1860)
Article: Exegesis Of I Corinthians 15:35–44, As Illustrated By Natural History And Chemistry
Author: Edward Hitchcock


Exegesis Of I Corinthians 15:35–44, As
Illustrated By Natural History And
Chemistry1

Rev. Edward Hitchcock

The apostle, in this passage, seems to have three leading objects in view: the first, is to answer a very natural and forcible objection to the resurrection of the body; the second, to show the great difference between the natural and spiritual body; the third, to show the superiority of the spiritual or resurrection body over the natural body laid in the grave.

The objection he states in the 35tb verse: How are the dead raised up; and with what body do they come? That is, as it has been reiterated and amplified, in every age, especially since the days of Avicenna, the Arabian physician, in the tenth century: How can the body be raised out of the grave, when all the particles composing it have been scattered to the ends of the earth, and have entered into other bodies, even the bodies of other men? Can even Omnipotence make the same particles a part of two bodies?

The language and translation of this passage require but little attention; since there is but little diversity of opinion concerning them. I shall attempt only one or two critical remarks. John Locke supposed the meaning of σάρξ, in the 39th verse, to be “an organized animal body,” instead of flesh as the substance of the body. This opinion seems to me quite probable. The word certainly had such a meaning, not only among, the later classical writers, but in the New Testament (Matt. 26:41): The spirit is willing; but the flesh is weak. Now the apostle seems to be describing the difference between the various classes of animals, rather than the different character of their muscles. Or, if the latter, or com-

mon interpretation be retained, it cannot be doubted that Paul meant to put a part for the whole; that is, he meant to describe the well-known permanent differences among various classes of animals. This brings the meaning of his πᾶσα σάρξ into harmony with the other objects mentioned in the passage. But if we make σάρξ; literal flesh, the chemist and physiologist might raise a question whether the muscle of man can easily be distinguished from that of some of the beasts.

But my chief object is to look at this passage from the stand-point of natural history and chemistry. I have no idea, indeed, that Paul or any other sacred writer used the strict scientific language of the nineteenth century; but he does describe things in harmony with modern science. Let us l...

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