Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: Not the Soul, But the Natural Body Which Died, is that Which is to Rise Again. The Resurrection of Lazarus Commented on. Christ's Resurrection, as the Second Adam, Guarantees Our Own.
Chapter LIII.—Not the Soul, But the Natural Body Which Died, is that Which is to Rise Again. The Resurrection of Lazarus Commented on. Christs Resurrection, as the Second Adam, Guarantees Our Own.
Some, however, contend that the soul is “the natural (or animate) body,” 7687 with the view of withdrawing the flesh from all connection with the risen body. Now, since it is a clear and fixed point that the body which is to rise again is that which was sown in death, they must be challenged to an examination of the very fact itself. Else let them show that the soul was sown after death; in a word, that it underwent death,—that is, was demolished, dismembered, dissolved in the ground, nothing of which was ever decreed against it by God: let them display to our view its corruptibility and dishonour (as well as) its weakness, that it may also accrue to it to rise again in incorruption, and in glory, and in power. 7688 Now in the case of Lazarus, (which we may take as) the palmary instance of a resurrection, the flesh lay prostrate in weakness, the flesh was almost putrid in the dishonour of its decay, the flesh stank in corruption, and yet it was as flesh that Lazarus rose again—with his soul, no doubt. But that soul was incorrupt; nobody had wrapped it in its linen swathes; nobody had deposited it in a grave; nobody had yet perceived it “stink;” nobody for four days had seen it “sown.” Well, now, this entire condition, this whole end of Lazarus, the flesh indeed of all men is still experiencing, but the soul of no one. That substance, therefore, to which the apostles whole description manifestly refers, of which he clearly speaks, must be both the natural (or animate) body when it is sown, and the spiritual body when it is raised again. For in order that you may understand it in this sense, he points to this same conclusion, when in like manner, on the authority of the same passage of Scripture, he displays to us “the first man Adam as made a living soul.” 7689 Now since Adam was the first man, since also the flesh was man prior to the soul 7690 it undoubtedly follows that it was the flesh that became the living soul. Moreover, since it was a bodily substance that assumed this condition, it was of course the natural (or animate) body that became the living soul. By what designation would they have it called, except that which it became through the soul, except that which it was not previous to the soul, except that which it can never be after the soul, but through its resurrection? For after it has recovered the soul, it once more becomes the natural (or animate) body, in order that it may become a spiritual body. For it only resumes in the resurrection the condition which it once p. 587 had. There is therefore by no means the same good reason why the soul should be called the natural (or animate) body, which the flesh has for bearing that designation. The flesh, in fact, was a body before it was an animate body. When the flesh was joined by the soul, 7691 it then became the natural (or animate) body. Now, although the soul is a corporeal substance, 7692 yet, as it is not an animated body, but rather an animating one, it cannot be called the animate (or natural) body, nor can it become that thing which it produces. It is indeed when the soul accrues to something else that it makes that thing animate; but unless it so accrues, how will it ever produce animation? As therefore the flesh was at first an animate (or natural) body on receiving the soul, so at last will it become a spiritual body when invested with the spirit. Now the apostle, by severally adducing this order in Adam and in Christ, fairly distinguishes between the two states, in the very essentials of their difference. And when he calls Christ “the last Adam,” 7693 you may from this circumstance discover how strenuously he labours to establish throughout his teaching the resurrection of the flesh, not of the soul. Thus, then, the first man Adam was flesh, not soul, and only afterwards became a living soul; and the last Adam, Christ, was Adam only because He was man, and only man as being flesh, not as being soul. Accordingly the apostle goes on to say: “Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual,” 7694 as in the case of the two Adams. Now, do you not suppose that he is distinguishing between the natural body and the spiritual body in the same flesh, after having already drawn the distinction therein in the two Adams, that is, in the first man and in the last? For from which substance is it that Christ and Adam have a parity with each other? No doubt it is from their flesh, although it may be from their soul also. It is, however, in respect of the flesh that they are both man; for the flesh was man prior to the soul. It was actually from it that they were able to take rank, so as to be deemed—one the first, and the other the last man, or Adam. Besides, things which are different in character are only incapable of being arranged in the same order when their diversity is one of substance; for when it is a diversity either in respect of place, or of time, or of condition, they probably do admit of classification together. Here, however, they are called first and last, from the substance of their (common) flesh, just as afterwards again the first man (is said to be) of the earth, and the second of heaven; 7695 but although He is “of heaven” in respect of the spirit, He is yet man according to the flesh. Now since it is the flesh, and not the soul, that makes an order (or classification together) in the two Adams compatible, so that the distinction is drawn between them of “the first man becoming a living soul, and the last a quickening spirit,” 7696 so in like manner this distinction between them has already suggested the conclusion that the distinction is due to the flesh; so that it is of the flesh that these words speak: “Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual.” 7697 And thus, too, the same flesh must be understood in a preceding passage: “That which is sown is the natural body, and that which rises again is the spiritual body; because that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural: since the first Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam a quickening spirit.” 7698 It is all about man, and all about the flesh because about man.
What shall we say then? Has not the flesh even now (in this life) the spirit by faith? so that the question still remains to be asked, how it is that the animate (or natural) body can be said to be sown? Surely the flesh has received even here the spirit—but only its “earnest;” 7699 whereas of the soul (it has received) not the earnest, but the full possession. Therefore it has the name of animate (or natural) body, expressly because of the higher substance of the soul (or anima,) in which it is sown, destined hereafter to become, through the full possession of the spirit which it shall obtain, the spiritual body, in which it is raised again. What wonder, then, if it is more commonly called after the substance with which it is fully furnished, than after that of which it has yet but a sprinkling?
What in our version is rendered “a natural body,” is St. Pauls σῶμα ψυχικόν, which the heretics held to be merely a periphrasis for ψυχή. We have rendered Tertullians phrase corpus animale by “animate body,” the better to suit the argument.586:7688
1 Cor. 15:42, 43.586:7689
Compare 1 Cor. 15:45, Gen. 2:7.586:7690
See this put more fully above, c. v., near the end.587:7691
See the De Anima, v.–ix., for a full statement of Tertullians view of the souls corporeality.587:7693
1 Cor. xv. 45.587:7694
1 Cor. xv. 46.587:7695
1 Cor. 15.47.587:7696
1 Cor. 15.45.587:7697
1 Cor. 15.46.587:7698
1 Cor. 15:44, 45.587:7699
2 Cor. 1:22, 2 Cor. 5:5, Eph. 1:14.
Next: Death Swallowed Up of Life. Meaning of This Phrase in Relation to the Resurrection of the Body.
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