The Bible

A Little Death: Mysticism and Patriarchy in Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians College

It becomes clear in 1 Corinthians 15 that Paul’s notion of death is not fixed to the permanent retirement of a being’s cell activity. The stopping of the breath, the failure of the pulse, the ceasing of the heartbeat is never the greatest detriment to the life of a person under God for Paul. He writes, for example: “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’”. Evidently, some of the Corinthians whom Paul addresses in this epistle have remained skeptical as to whether or not Jesus Christ was actually raised from the dead. Paul responds to their skepticism bluntly: if it is not believed that the dead can be raised -- that is to say if we fail to understand Jesus Christ as having been resurrected -- then it must necessarily follow that we die inside ourselves because we have strayed from God, who is the one true purveyor of life, in that we have lost faith in the power of God to do even so little as to move men from their graves.

Literal permanent human death, for Paul, is ungodly. 1 Corinthians 15, which is divided into “The Resurrection of Christ” (15:1-11), “The Resurrection of the Dead” (15:12-34) and “The Resurrection Body” (15:35-58), is riddled with antagonistic language portraying death as the...

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