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The Resurrection of Jesus

We illustrate the scientist-theologians’ discussion of this central Christian claim by extending our comparison of the work of two British scientist-theologians - Arthur Peacocke and John Polkinghorne.

The normative Christian miracle of the resurrection of JesusSee also God, Humanity and the Cosmos, pp182-84, on resurrection and immortality.finds Peacocke and Polkinghorne close in many respects, but with differences of emphasis.

  • Polkinghorne sees the New Testament accounts as, overall, offering a self-consistent account of a bodily resurrection which left a tomb empty and which led to appearances of the risen Lord in a transformed type of body. ‘The empty tomb is of great importance, “with its proclamation that the risen Lord’s glorified body is the transmutation of his dead body; that in Christ there is a destiny not only for humanity but also for matter.”’Polkinghorne, J, Scientists as Theologians (London: SPCK, 1996) p55

  • Peacocke would agree that something happened which was no mere trick within the psyches of the disciples, but he is much more reluctant to accept either the emptiness of the tomb, or indeed the theological desirability of an empty tomb.Peacocke, 1993, 279-88Clearly other human tombs are not empty. The atoms that were ‘us’ become dispersed at our death. If we are resurrected with any sort of embodied status, it is because the pattern that was most distinctively ourselves has been held in God. Jesus’ resurrection body was also of a different order, not easy to recognise, able to pass through walls. This must surely also reflect a pattern transmuted in God. So the atoms of Jesus’ body are, for Peacocke’s theological naturalism, much better left to disperse in the tomb.

  • See Peacocke and Polkinghorne compared, Peacocke and Polkinghorne: comparison of models of divine action, and the question of miracle.

Email link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate
Source: God, Humanity and the Cosmos  (T&T Clark, 1999)

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