Disappointed by Marshall

June 21, 2006

I'm almost done with "New Testament Theology" by Marshall. Overall, it has been an educational and entertaining read. I especially enjoyed the chapter on Revelation. However, while reading a chapter on 1 John, Marshall wrote something which I considered troubling:

 "The new significant item is the identification of the error that indicates that people are not in a right relationship with God, namely, the refusal to acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.  It is unfortunate that so important a belief is expressed in a rather unclear manner. The problem is the tense. A perfect or aorist participle would probably give a reference to the earthly, human life of Jesus as heaving really taken place. But the participle is imperfect. It could be in effect future ("who is going to come in the flesh"); if so, we would then have a reference to a future human coming of Jesus that is not paralleled elsewhere in the New Testament; the future coming (parousia) of Jesus is firmly enough attested, but there is not a present stress on his coming in the flesh; indeed according to Paul he will have a spiritual body. So this can heardly be the meaning. From the evidence of 1 John we can only conclude that despite the puzzle of the participle, the elder is referring to the life of the earthly Jesus." – I. Howard Marshall, New Testament Theology, pg. 532

  After having read The Resurrection of the Son of God by Wright, I am fairly convinced that "pneumatikon" means spirit-animated, not made of spirit. Because of my interpretation of 1 Cor 15 in this manner, Marshall's dismissing of an apparently clear indication of a physically embodied Jesus returning in the parousia is bothersome. If Jesus is not returning in a physical body, in what way does Marshall envisage Jesus' return? And if he ascended in a glorified, nonetheless physical body, what happened to it? 



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