Soul and body in life after death : an examination of the New Testament evidence with some reference to patristic exegesis
This thesis examines the NT evidence regarding the post-mortem relation of soul and body with special emphasis on whether the NT supports the traditional Christian view that after death the soul continues to exist apart from the body and that the two entities are reunited only at the Parousia. The background section discusses the ideas of the hereafter in ancient Egypt, Canaan, Mesopotamia/Iran, Greece, in the OT, intertestamental literature and in Gnosticism. The NT evidence is discussed with some reference to patristic exegesis. The following conclusions are reached: (1) (a) The NT evidence supports the traditional view. While Oscar Cullmann is right in defending the traditional view, he does not argue his point in detail. (b) The intermediate state cannot be de-temporalized by saying that from the perspective of the dead there is no time-lag between death and resurrection (so F.F. Bruce, T.F. Torrance. K. Hanhart). There is no evidence that the NT writers held this view. (c) The intermediate state of the soul cannot be disposed of by holding with Bruce and J. Harris that the future body is received at the moment of death. This view is not demanded by the exegesis of 2 Car. 5: 1-10, and is irreconcilable with Paul's teaching elsewhere that the resurrection body comes only at the Parousia. (2) The body which is reunited with the soul is not said to be immaterial. However, it will be transformed to be like Christ's glorious body. (3) With regard to the patristic exegesis, while we get some idea of how the Fathers interpreted various NT passages, they do not make any real contribution to our understanding of the passages dealing with body and soul. Examples are given to show how they were influenced in their exegesis by their historical circumstances.