May 19, 2015

In biblical theology, human life is embodied life.

No gnostic anthropology around here. A thoughtful reminder from Robert Gundry that full humanness requires embodiment:
The separation of spirit from body affects the spirit as well as the body. In the Biblical perspective, the physical body is just as essential to life which is life indeed as is the spirit. Barring the effects of sin (which touch the spirit, too), the body as such does not shackle the spirit. It provides the spirit with an organ of expression and action, just as the spirit provides the body with animation and direction. By total separation, then, body and spirit die together. The whole man dies. 
The Biblical touchstone for truly human life is not consciousness of the spirit, let alone the material being of a physical object such as the body. Rather, man is fully himself in the unity of his body and spirit in order that the body may be animated and the spirit may express itself in obedience to God. Both parts of the human constitution share in the dignity of the divine image. That dignity lies in man's service to God as a representative caretaker over the material creation. For such a task, man needs a physical medium of action. Neither spirit nor body gains precedence over the other. Each gains in unity with the other. Each loses separation from the other.
From Robert H. Gundry, Sōma in Biblical Theology: With Emphasis on Pauline Anthropology, (SNTSMS 29, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1976), 159-160.