Last Monday gave a paper on Σωμα-Paul’s Body Talk. He traced the all (?) the uses in Paul and argued that in all but the 1 Cor 15 uses, they specifically refer to a physical body in some way. He was arguing specifically against Bultmann and those who follow him in saying that σωμα represents the whole person and not just a physical body–’a person does not have a σωμα, a person is σωμα.’ Adams pointed out that he is in very close agreement with R. Gundry’s work in this area. He briefly noted Käsemann, too, and from what little memory I have about Käsemann’s disagreement about σωμα with Bultmann, Adams seems pretty close to him too. Here are Adams’ eight propositions on σωμα:
- 1 Cor 15.44 apart, when Paul uses the term σωμα, as an anthropological term, he means the physical, human body.
- A human being is not σωμα, s/he has a σωμα.
- The σωμα is the instrument of the self, the means by which the self communicates with others and interacts with the world (cf. Käsemann)
- Paul does not conceptualise or reflect on the ‘self’. In σωμα sayings, the ‘self”/’selves’ tends to be conveyed by personal pronouns.
- The body is not ‘the embodied me’ (contra Dunn), but the embodiment (tangible expression) of the self.
- Sometimes Paul’s usage implies a dualistic anthropology (most obvious in 2 Cor 5.1-10); sometimes it does not.
- Paul’s ‘integrated dualism’ does not involve a suspicion of the body as body.
- The σωμα φυχικον is the mode of embodiment appropriate to the present world. The σωμα πνευματατικον is the form of bodily existence appropriate to the coming world.
I thought on the argument was fairly convincing, but there were a few holes that emerged that took some of the punch away. The first was John Barclay’s question that Adams didn’t seem to have an answer for: If in 1 Cor 6 the belly and body are both referring to the physical (the same thing), then why does it not matter what you do with your belly but it does with your body? Bultmann (apparently) noted this and that in vs 14, we might expect that God would raise our ‘bodies’ in that context, but he uses ‘us’. Accordingly, is it not right to see σωμα as me? Also, a few of us were discussing afterwards the problem with looking up each instance and reading the majority meaning into each use. This assumes it can’t be used in different ways in different contexts, but context is as important for understanding word meaning as the lexical background (cf. James Barr’s important work on Semantics).
I can’t say anything bad about him because I’m connected to him in a couple of ways. He was John Barclay’s second, I think, PhD student. And when I submitted my Romans paper to the Paul Seminar at BNTS, Eddie passed it along to Angus Paddison, another one of John’s former PhD students, so I could present it in the hermeneutics section.