Saturday, April 5, 2014

Reply to The Richard Carrier Project

A few years ago I wrote an article ( responding to Richard Carrier's claim that the earliest Christians believed that Jesus had been raised from the dead in a spiritual sense only, leaving a corpse behind in his tomb. It's funny to me that Carrier (a PhD, and a man I have no personal beef with) has some of the most zealous "fans" (yes, Carrier even refers to them as "fans," as opposed to students or followers).

The so-called "Richard Carrier Project" ( describes my response like this: "Benscoter quote-mines Carrier horribly to portray his argument as though he thinks Paul believed in an immaterial resurrection body. He does this despite the fact that the surrounding text goes out of its way to say the exact opposite. Carrier claims Paul believed Jesus rose in a body made of heavenly materials that are different (and improved) than earthly materials, but are still materials. Benscoter neither portrays Carrier's claims correctly nor engages the vast majority of the evidence Carrier has amassed to support his conclusion (even in an outdated article)." The "Project" also calls my response "lame." I'm not offended by this, though. In fact, I would find it funny if it weren't so sad.

First, note that the text being cited is 1 Cor. 15 (written by the Apostle Paul), and I wholeheartedly agree that it goes out of its way to deny the "immaterial resurrection body" hypothesis, which would have been a contradiction in terms to a first-century Palestinian Jew. If they agree with me on this point, then what is there left to debate? Secondly, these are the words Carrier uses to describe this early Christian belief: Jesus "was resurrected by being given a new body, one not made of flesh or physical matter as we know it, but of some kind of ethereal, spiritual material." (

Notice I never claimed that Carrier asserted that early Christians believed that Jesus was raised without any materials whatsoever. However, it's Carrier's thesis that the earliest Christians believed that Jesus's corpse was left to rot in his tomb, and interprets the change described in 1 Cor. 15 as an "exchange" (a secondary translation) as opposed to a "transformation" (the primary translation). In further support of the transformation translation, we also have Rom. 8:11 (also written by the Apostle Paul): "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." We also have Paul's writing in Phil. 3:20-21: "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory . . ." Finally, there's the text of 1 Cor. 15:42: "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body . . ." What dies is what rises, albeit a transformed body.

So it's not Doug Benscoter who quote-mines Carrier, but the folks who run The Richard Carrier Project who misinterpret Carrier's own hypothesis that he spends hours debating Michael Licona with here:

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