A Resurrection of Flesh and Bone?

In 1 Cor 15, Paul declares that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.” This text appears in the larger context of a defense of the resurrection, which seems to create a problem. How can Paul defend the resurrection, but in the very same passage declare that flesh and blood cannot go to heaven?

The difficulty of this passage was debated strenuously in antiquity. Those who defended the “resurrection of the flesh” wrestled mightily with this problem, while those who argued for a more spiritual resurrection relied heavily on this text to prove their point.

Mormons have been bothered by this passage as well not only because we are defenders of a resurrection of the flesh, but also because we have a notion of an embodied God. To my knowledge, our exegetical solution to this problem is unique. We argue that is true that flesh and blood together cannot inherit the KoG, but that the combination of “flesh and bone” can. We simply drop blood out of the equation. In antiquity they wondered about the blood of resurrected beings. Origen argued that Jesus’ blood was not Ichor, the sacred blood of the gods. He never said what it was instead.

So what then do resurrected beings have in thier veins? Is blood the only thing that is missing from the resurrected body? Can a body really be a body without it, or is it something else?

6 Replies to “A Resurrection of Flesh and Bone?”

  1. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Four 1839–42, p.199As concerning the resurrection, I will merely say that all men will come from the grave as they lie down, whether old or young; there will not be “added unto their stature one cubit,” neither taken from it; all will be raised by the power of God, having spirit in their bodies, and not blood. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, p.76 – p.77NATURE OF A SPIRITUAL BODY. Now what is a spiritual body? It is one that is quickened by spirit and not by blood. Our Father in heaven and our Savior and all those who have passed through the resurrection have physical bodies of flesh and bones, but their bodies are quickened by spirit and not by blood, hence they are spiritual bodies and not blood bodies. The immortal body is quickened by spirit, but the mortal body is quickened by blood. The Lord said to Noah, that blood is the life of the body in this mortal sphere.Incidentally, I have never heard any member who was troubled by this scripture. FWIW.

  2. m&m,Thanks for supplying some citations about what I was talking about. I think that the reason that Mormons aren’t “troubled” by this scripture is because we have an exegetical tradition that seems to solve for it. They are particularly interesting inasmuch as “spirit” is a physical substance. As I said, I think that this exegetical tradition is unique to Mormonism.I guess two questions remain, that one’s that I mentioned in the original post. The first is whether or not we have actually solved the exegetical problem of the 1 Cor passage by simply saying that “blood” is what defines a mortal body, not flesh. The second question is about what it means to speak of a resurrection of the body. Is blood really the only thing which is different between the mortal and resurrected bodies? Do we need livers and kidneys? Why do we keep these organs and not blood? My guess is that the whole reason behind this tradition is simply the exegetical requirement of explaining a resurrection of the flesh in light of 1 Cor 15.

  3. Here’s the way I see it…blood supplies all of our organs, right? I am not sure about how that will all work, but we won’t need to eat, our bodies won’t produce waste…they simply won’t function in the same way they do now. There won’t be any dying matter or potential for death. That to me says there is a significant change that will come about. That said, we know the Savior ate after His resurrection, so where that food goes?…. ;)I would say, though, that blood is really the defining factor in mortality, as, like I said, it feeds all other organs as well. Flesh (and bone) is something that defines perfected beings, but obviously doesn’t mean quite the same thing that it does to us, as flesh as we know it is also kept alive by blood. If we do have organs in the next life (I’m not convinced we will) then clearly they won’t have the same functions, because their functions are clearly mortality-based (to keep us alive — with their absence or failure generally equalling death or at least sickness, neither of which will exist in the resurrection). Do you have something that indicates we will have organs in the resurrection?

  4. Generally speaking, our organs can have spiritual functions besides their temporal functions. For example we often feel things in our heart. Other than that it is hard to say.It is worth noting that Paul uses the terms spirit and spiritual to describe resurrected bodies [1], but he also uses the term flesh to describe the same [2].And of course the resurrected Lord used the term spirit (as translated) in a different sense, specifically stating that spirits did not have bodies of flesh and bone as [of the type] ye see me have [3], and ate a fish to prove it.Now in verse 50 of 1 Cor 15 Paul equates flesh and blood with corruption. But since as just a few verses earlier he stated that celestial bodies were of a superior type of flesh, it seems quite apparent that he identifies corruption with blood.[1] 1 Cor 15:44-49[2] 1 Cor 15:39-40[3] Luke 24:39

  5. I think our “thing” over blood comes mostly from Luke. (And I think the reason I think this is because of something in the LDS Bible Dictionary, but I can’t check now.)In Luke, the resurrected Jesus asks the disciples to establish his presence by calling attention to his flesh and bone. The intent here is on his “touchability.” The presence or absence of blood is immaterial to Luke’s point and not mentioned.The use of this passage to suggest that resurrected folks don’t have blood is an overreading.How about the exegesis of 1 Cor 15, just to hear what Paul was really talking about — in his historical context?

  6. Mogget,I think that you are exactly right about the Luke passage. I think that the LDS reading of this passage in conjunction with 1 Cor 15 produces a really fascinating reading. You’re right that to single out “blood” as the defining problem of mortality is an “overreading” of Luke, but the two texts together are quite interesting. As for my reading of 1 Cor 15, I think that Paul was describing a body that was radically different from our current, mortal body. I don’t think that he beleived in a resurrection of flesh, but a resurrection of a “spritual body.” This body was material, but the same material that makes up the “glory” of the heavenly bodies, like the sun, moon, and stars. For the passages that Mark Butler points to about different kinds of flesh, I think that here Paul is showing that there are different kinds of bodies, both heavenly and earthly in order to demonstrate the possibility of a human, spiritual body.

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