The Christian Church is based on the belief that Jesus Christ rose again three days after he was crucified.

For many liberal believers, the resurrection had nothing at all to do with his body. What happened was Jesus was brought back to life but as a spirit and his body was not raised up. Keith Ward has pointed out in his book More than Matter? that the risen Jesus was soma pneumatikon (more than mere matter) and not soma psychikon. This indicates that the resurrection had some connection to his body but perhaps not much. Jesus could have risen while his corpse rotted in the tomb. God could have transformed some element of it into a new body.

William Lane Craig tells us:

The prominent New Testament scholar Dale C. Allison, Jr., is emphatic: nowhere in the Bible or in old Jewish or Christian literature does the language of resurrection refer to a materially new body, physically unconnected to the old. A resurrected body is always the old body or a piece of it come back to life and/or transformed. . . . Resurrection meant bodies in the ground coming back to life. To rise from the dead was to rise from one’s tomb. Dale C. Allison, Jr., “The Resurrection of Jesus and Rational Apologetics,” Philosophia Christi 10 (2008): 315-338. When Allison says “or a piece of it,” he is referring to the bones of the deceased, which were, in fact, the principal object of the resurrection in Jewish belief and, hence, carefully preserved in ossuaries for the resurrection day.

End of quotation. Read it again. Todays theologians mostly think that it does not matter where the risen body comes from for resurrection is giving life back to a person not a body.

For moderate believers and even some extremists, God took a seed, piece, from the corpse and made a new semi-physical body that could change shape and go through walls and which had no need of food and drink. This body can even change its appearance. Jesus can look like Brad Pitt today and Orlando Bloom tomorrow. This body is called a spiritual body for it has the powers we attribute to ghosts and spirits and is like them. Other moderate believers believe that the entire human body of Jesus was turned into this kind of spiritual body. The extreme view is that Jesus’ body was physically raised from the dead and is physical though Jesus has the power to keep it alive forever and make it appear here and there like it came out of nowhere.

Which view does the Bible teach?


Paul is the only writer we have who directly claimed to have seen the risen Jesus.

Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 tries to explain how the resurrection body is not physical the way our bodies are now but is more spiritual than physical. Romans 8:11 has Paul saying that God will make alive our mortal bodies just like Christ's. That allows for dramatic transformation so that the risen body is very unlike the unrisen When Paul wrote that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom it is said he explained what he meant. He said the perishable cannot inherit the imperishable in Heaven so flesh and blood just mean our fragile flesh and blood the way they are now. That needs a lot of renovation so the end result will be very unlike the body we now have.

Paul is dealing in 1 Corinthians 15 with people who think the dead cannot rise and that culture tended to be okay with a person living on after death as a spirit (immortality of the soul) but the idea of a body rising was insane to them. What Paul does is he does not argue that a body can come back but he argues that it is changed radically which is why it can come back. It is a spiritual body which can be almost pure spirit if you like but not quite. A spiritual body for Paul does not necessarily mean a body that cannot have any physical powers or characteristics. But it can. He shows them that if you don’t think dead bodies are just revived that is fine and it is also fine if you think life after death is very spiritual but argues that the truth is somewhere in between. Both views have merit but are not the full picture.

It is said that when Paul wrote that you rise as a spiritual man he did not mean an ethereal and non-material or ghostly "man." If so then he meant you will rise as a creature who is natural and physical but whose spirit is all about God and God gives you this spirituality. If so then there is no room then for the idea that Christianity is just another form of materialism. You have the physical in the afterlife but it is not about the physical.

See 1 Corinthians 2:

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

His statement that Jesus was raised as a life giving spirit is said to mean that Jesus was raised not as a ghost but as spiritual man.

First, Paul's wording does not fit that interpretation.

Second, it would imply Jesus in some way was disconnected with God - perhaps as a sinner - before he was fixed at the resurrection. Paul won’t say clearly that Jesus has a body. That settles the argument.

Physicality statements aside, even the evidence that the body or whatever it was of Jesus could be touched is dreadful.

Jesus appears to Thomas who thought he did not rise and asks him to touch him but the account does not tell us if he did which looks like something was being hidden.


It is argued that Paul avoided using the word anastasis which means physical resurrection in relation to Jesus. He used a word signifying to wake up. The word is eigiro. The word was used to waking up out of sleep (Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?) in Romans 13:11.

Dan Barker says that Paul won’t use anastasis or anistemi which means resurrection but uses egeiro which can mean just rise or wake up which is enough to suggest what may only be a non-physical return from the dead. One can surmise that if the resurrection of Jesus is not just a resuscitation or a spiritual resurrection but something in between then there is no word for it as such only approximations. Paul does not define exactly what he means but does say that flesh and blood cannot enter God’s kingdom. Paul in Romans 1:4 writes that Jesus was made God’s son by anastaseos from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15 is regarded as riddled with examples of his exploiting egeiro or anastasis in such a way as if either word would do. He says that Jesus is preached as being raised which is egegertai so nobody can say there is no resurrection anastasis of the dead. He says that if there is no anastasis then Jesus has not been egegertai – raised. This admittedly is very odd. He does not write as if the two words are interchangeable. He writes as if the two words are only approximations. He struggled to get the idea of spiritual resurrection across which is why there was that problem. Its not a man rising from the dead even if healthier and better than before.

The gospel of Mark denies the physical resurrection for it has the women who discovered the tomb empty being told by the men in white that Jesus has risen as in eigiro not anastasis the word for physical revival from death (page 201, Jesus Lived in India; Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?). The rest of Mark which has Jesus appearing is a forgery. Mark implies that God let something destructive happen to the body – perhaps he let thieves take it and burn it – in order to prevent the witnesses of the tomb from thinking that Jesus physically came back to life in his complete old body. Most people in the past considered things like cremation to be attacks on the power of God to raise the dead for they assumed that bodies that were cremated could not be revived which was why the disappearing body act was necessary. These naïve women at the tomb might have accepted much the same idea.

The most alarming thing about Mark is that though it has an early forged ending - not a single hint that anybody touched the risen Jesus appears in it. It is all apparitions. Yet it is accepted that it is not enough for Jesus to just appear. A resurrection demands that the body be touched at some point. Mark does not teach the bodily resurrection properly or did he believe in it at all?


In the book Jesus is Dead by Robert Price we read about bishop Wright who tries to get around the references in the Bible to the risen Jesus as a spirit. "When he gets to Luke, Wright laughs off the screaming contradiction between Luke 24:40 (“Touch me and see: no spirit has flesh as you can see I have.”) and 1 Corinthians 15:50 and 45 (“Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.”“The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”). The contexts of both passages make it quite clear that the terms are being used in the same senses, only that one makes the risen Jesus fleshly, while the other says the opposite. Wright’s laughable hair-splitting is a prime example of the lengths he will go to get out of a tight spot. Similarly, when he gets to 1 Peter 3:18 (Jesus was “put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and made proclamation to the spirits in prison,” etc.), Wright rewrites the text to make it say what he wants: “he was put to death by the flesh, and brought to life by the Spirit.” This is just ridiculous."

It is interesting that Christians go to any lengths to make contradictions in the Bible fit but they don't say, "Jesus rose from the dead in his body but his body evolved into a spirit." How is that for a reconciliation?


In the synoptics, Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus when asked if a woman marries seven men whose wife will she be when they all rise again in the resurrection. Jesus says there is no marriage in Heaven or giving in marriage for the dead when they rise are like angels. Some say he just means the risen just lose their sex drive but are not like angels any other way. Some say he means that since angels are spirits with no bodies or materiality the dead are like spirits and have bodies that are not physical or barely physical. If Jesus rose like a non-physical or nearly non-physical angel that would be very interesting. It would show that his resurrection did not require the revival of his crucified body. Jesus does not say anything about sex in the context but only says there is no marrying in Heaven and marriages are terminated by death. Marriage can exist without sex. The spiritual "body" interpretation is the correct one. It proves that the gospels do not actually say that Jesus’ entire body was raised though it did vanish.

Jesus actually hinted she would be nobody's wife. Marriage is ended by death and there is no marrying in Heaven. This reflects his doctrine that man and woman get married because their bodies fit each other - the two become one flesh in sex. No bodies means no marriage.


The friends of Jesus were told that Jesus was not in the tomb anymore but had been raised which seems to say the whole body was raised. We call John’s corpse John and we still say that John meaning his spirit is in Heaven. We might say, “John is not in that coffin anymore for he is a ghost standing by that fireplace”.

If Jesus’ body had showed up after the resurrection it would not have harmed the Christian Faith. They could have just reinterpreted their dogma of Jesus’ return.

Even if the early Christians believed Jesus was a physical body after the resurrection that they experienced in apparitions and even touched, they did not believe that this body was made of flesh. Paul speaks of spiritual bodies like the one Jesus had at his resurrection and says it differs from flesh like the heavenly substance of the sun and moon and stars differs from flesh (1 Corinthians 15: 37-50). If Jesus needed a new body from stardust, then it suggests that the early Christians had no concern for the one he lived in as a human being.

Matthew never says that the disciples did not take the body. He only reports what he believes happened and that the Jews blamed the disciples for the missing body.

John 2 has Jesus saying he will demolish the temple, his body, and raise it up in three days. Just like bits of the old temple might be used for the reconstruction so it will be with his body.

Acts has Peter quoting Psalm 16 to argue that Jesus rose and it says God will not leave somebody’s soul in the grave or let him see corruption or rotting. It could fit the idea that the person was raised and then not allowed to corrupt alive or by dying again. All bodies corrupt alive and shed dead cells.

It is reported in John that the disciple believed in an unspecified something when he saw the empty tomb and says he did not know the scripture that Jesus must rise yet. What he believed was that the tomb was robbed of the body for he had been told that happened and that was why he ran to the tomb. There is no hint that he simply believed that the body was missing. That is out of the textual context. Attempts to reconcile John with the rest have it that the disciple knew by then of the women claiming to have met Jesus so the unspecified something was the resurrection. But John never said anything about that so that must be rejected. John could not have meant a resurrection was believed when he never mentioned the reports. He also said the disciple did not know the scripture that Jesus would rise which is only worth mentioning if the disciple did not believe in the resurrection. If the disciple believed that Jesus rose bodily there is no hint given that he was right which is important. Also, John just wants to say that Jesus rose and does not go into what kind of resurrection it was.

If the Risen Jesus was not a body then if the women and the apostles saw in their hearts that Jesus was alive they could talk as if they had visions or locutions though they saw nothing with their physical or mental eyes or heard nothing with their ears or inside their heads. Books that say the resurrection could be a myth are not contradicting themselves when they do not impute lies to the witnesses. But people will think they are when they are not told how stories of visions and voices are necessary to express what they experienced.

The Pharisees understood resurrection to be the revival of the whole dead body (page 103, The Resurrection Factor) and it is thought that Jesus had to rise fully because of that. But the earliest record sees Jesus’ resurrection as different. Jesus was not what they expected the Messiah to be so why should he rise again in the way the Pharisees thought it should be done? What matters is what the Christians thought and it was not hard to make up the idea of a ghost style resurrection body. Christians have no business bringing irrelevant material into the equation. That is one of their favourite apologetic tricks.

Keep in mind that in theology, resurrection is not the same thing as revival or resuscitation. It is salvation of the body and giving it eternal life. In the John Gospel, Jesus tells Magdalene not to touch him. John does not tell us what he meant by saying, “Don’t touch me for I have not gone to the Father yet.” To the unbiased theologian Jesus talks as if he is only a revived corpse at that point in time. Going to the Father is possibly a way of saying God has not changed his body into the resurrection body that Paul talks about that is more like a spirit body than an ordinary one. The way is opened to saying that the spiritual body doctrine was not based on anything but theology and hypothesis for all the apostles said they met was a ordinary man back from the dead.


The gospel of Mark ends abruptly and the two existing endings are inauthentic. They are not Mark's work.

It has been observed that the prologue of Mark is the mirror image of the abrupt conclusion. The pattern shows that the abrupt end of Mark at the point where the women being told that Jesus rose go and say nothing to anybody is how Mark may have meant the gospel to end. His gospel refused to mention resurrection appearances meaning we should decide ourselves how we can hold Jesus rose from the dead. He thought that visions were worthless in that respect. If the sudden end was deliberate it was meant to urge you to start reading again from the beginning. This to me would suggest the risen Jesus was not important and the normal Jesus was but that Mark wanted Jesus to rise again in our hearts. That could be understood in a non-literal way. Soon after the gospel starts Jesus gets the Holy Spirit. If Jesus were God then, the Holy Spirit could not possibly be given to him for he would have the Spirit with him. Near the end Jesus feels abandoned by God as if the Spirit left him. Jesus dies normal. This is further support for this position about the ending.


In the resurrection visions, Jesus appeared with nail marks. Is that deceptive if that body is gone? Does it matter when it is the same person? If Jesus was made from a few cells or is really best described as a spirit then what? They are marks of an experience. There is no fraud any more that if the old body had been used and was changed into something very different. It would have been deceptive or more deceptive if Jesus’ new incarnation had had no stigmata for they are a part of his identification. And if there had been an integrity problem with the wounds it might only mean that the writers never realised that if Jesus rose spiritually the wounds were not the same ones. However, it is undeniable that if Jesus came back in a body that could pass through walls, live forever and levitate into Heaven then the problem arises is, “Is this really the same Jesus or same person or is it just a copy?” When he is too different you cannot know if it is him. Christians say he can even change his appearance and turn into a dove if he wants.


There are far more people today who have seen the risen Elvis Presley than there were who saw the risen Jesus. The Christian says that we know these stories are untrue despite the numbers because Elvis still lies in his grave. But how do they know that the body in the grave is still there or that it is Elvis’s body? And if a spiritual resurrection is possible then it does not matter about the body! The New Testament assertion that Jesus’ body vanished is not offered as proof that Jesus rose at all. When the Christians sneer at the Elvis stories they are saying that Christianity is proved merely by an empty tomb and not even by the visions of Jesus. If they want to say that then fine. It will save us the trouble of setting their converts straight for they won’t be winning any. They are also stating that the visions of Paul who never saw the empty tomb are insufficient as proof.


The Gnostic Treatise on the Resurrection comes from the late second century AD and it relates that Jesus rose from the dead and it is more fitting to say the world is an illusion than that Jesus’ resurrection was. This is used in books like He Walked Among Us to defend the resurrection (page 96). But Gnostics saw the resurrection not in physical but spiritual terms. For the Gnostic, Jesus’ resurrection was principally Jesus rising from ignorance and material existence into enlightenment and spiritual existence. The spiritual is the only real or important thing in Gnostic theology. That is why the Treatise prefers a person to deny the existence of the world for it is less real or important than spirit. The Treatise really destroys the resurrection. It says it is better to deny the world than to deny the resurrection. It means in this that the spiritual is more real than the physical. The resurrection then cannot be a physical event but a spiritual one.


The data shows that whatever it was like to see the risen Jesus it was not seeing as in seeing a brick and the body is more of a spirit entity than a concrete body.