This is an excerpt from a Jewish text entitled the “Apocryphon of Ezekiel,” which survived in Greek but was probably composed originally in Hebrew. This story is an imaginary conversation between Marcus Aurelius (Antoninus) and Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nasi. Both the Talmud and patristic Christian writers comment on some of these stories, which helps us to date this document to the end of the 1st century CE.

Antoninus said to Rabbi (Yehuda ha-Nasi), “The body and the spirit are both able to escape from judgment. How? The body says, ‘The spirit sinned, for from the day it separated from me; behold, I have been lying like a silent stone in the grave.’ Also, the spirit can say, ‘The body sinned, for from the day I separated from it, behold, I have been flying in the air like a bird.’ ” And he (Rabbi) said to him, “I will give you an illustration:

The lame and blind men in the garden “To what may this be compared? To a king of flesh and blood who possessed a beautiful garden which had beautiful early figs. And he set in it two guards, one lame and one blind. The lame man said to the blind man, ‘I see beautiful early figs in the garden. Come and carry me on your back, and we will gather (them) to eat them.’ The lame man rode upon the blind man and they gathered them and ate them. “After a few days, the owner of the garden came. He said to them, ‘Where are those beautiful early figs?’ Then the lame man said to him, ‘Do I have feet to walk with?’ Then the blind man said to him, ‘Do I have eyes to see with?’

“What did he (the king) do? He made the lame man ride upon the blind and he judged them as one. So the Holy One, blessed be he, brings the spirit and placing it in the body, he also judges them as one. For it is said, ‘He will call to the heavens from above and to the earth, so he might judge his people.’ ‘He will call to the heavens from above’—this to the spirit. ‘And the earth so he might judge his people’—this to the body.” (Apocryphon of Ezekiel 1)

17 COMMENTS

  1. It would be interesting to know the context of the discussion on how the fable came to be written. It also prompts thought about the body, and in particular the populist (but not biblical) belief we will rise from the dead in our physical bodies. Imagine a maggot eating a human body – that of a believer true. It eats its full of human and this enables the maggot to turns into a fly. The fly, moments after breaking free from its pupae is eaten by a trout, which absorbs the fly into its flesh. The trout is caught and eaten by another believer true and the trout is absorbed into his flesh, but is killed. In the resurrection, whose body would that piece of human belong to? None, for it is not a physical body that is resurrected, but the being created in His image and redeemed.

    • To answer your question there are studies on this book which can probably be accessed in relation to further context. A nice scenario, Thomas. There is a flip side to the logic you propose. In Jewish thought, a human without a physical body is not a human. It is exactly our bodies that make us adam and spirit without the body is incomplete. And as far as losing any parts in a complex and even untraceable way and resurrection… if a lizard can regrow a tail, what is lost can be brought back just as easily without having to take away the original parts from their new domains – Hashem can recreate anything. We ponder the mysteries of God such as resurrection, but sometimes we make the LORD too much like us, limited by the laws we observe in this word he created for us.

  2. I absolutely agree that we are an entire entity – body and spirit. Without one or the other we are not “human”. Never-the-less today we do have a far more comprehensive understanding of the body, its God-breathed ‘life force’, and have unraveled massive amounts of the mystery of how we are wonderfully made. The body dies and the molecules are dispersed. In that context we do not have to believe in a reconstituted molecular body. Paul talks about a new body, one suitable for heaven. We live in a vehicle – our body. That image we are created in the form of is eternal. God is spirit, we are spirit. Our apprenticeship is served on earth. Death frees us from our earthly domain to live eternally as He is eternal.

  3. Marcus Aurelius wasn’t born until about 120 CE and wasn’t emperor until mid century. So your dating to late first century is way off

  4. My understanding is that man was created and spirit was left, spiritual person is therefore created, the inner being. Also that multiple individual spiritual people forming a spiritual body. Thus spiritual man and spiritual body instead of the fleshly body – human.

  5. Surely the resurrected body is a spirit body, at one with the Creator and of the same substance. The spirit body capable of materialising at will where and when so ever it chooses. A body capable being a solid in an instant and passing through solid earth walls next.

    • Well done Robert. I think this is very insightful. “…the resurrected body is a spirit body, at one with the Creator and of the same substance.” The next sentence “The spirit body capable of materialising…” would have a lot of credible biblical examples, such as angels. When Abraham (Gen 18) met the Lord, the Lord was apparently in human form, as did the angels. This next is not biblical but I can imagine, given the multiple trillions of stars and planets, that we who are in heaven’s many “dwelling places” will get to the galaxies. Perhaps terra-form planets using our made in God-imaged ability to originate thought and imagine new life-forms. What a glorious eternity we will have!

  6. When I became born again it was me whole self, body, mind and spirit. I didn’t comprehend it at first, and I tried to act like other Christians, but soon realized it didn’t work that way. It took a long time of hearing God’s Word preached, being in Bible studies

    • Hi Edwina. I like the bracketing of those three word (body, mind and spirit) to describe ones whole self. We don’t have a soul, we are the soul. The mind is the interface between the material body and eternal spirit I would suggest. I believe that at conception we become a living soul. As we are the combination of our parents genetic DNA forms a new body, so too, is our spirit a procreation. A new creature for eternity. Created in the image of the creator, able to originate thought, to do right and to know wrong, to have individual sovereignty, to KNOW the Majesty on High.

  7. Jesus rose bodily, ascended bodily, and will return bodily. At the resurrection, we will be like Him, having a glorified body. Yes, Paul calls it a spiritual body in 1Co15, but it is a perfected, incorruptible, complete body, made so by God the Father for eternal fellowship with Him.

  8. Anyyhing short of this is is dangerously close to the gnosticism that plagued the church as people incorporated philosophy and tradition on a par or under-par with Scripture. Though thenphilosophy may be well intentioned and the traditions practical, they must always – always be subservient to Scripture.

  9. Yes Prof Shir. Greek thought saw it as a dichotomy, and JESUS CHRIST too. Galatians 5.17 (Jesus to His disciples) For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other….The huge havoc is not because of the Greeks.

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