The Catholic University of America

Rev. Terrence P. Ehrman Defense

Final Examination of Rev. Terrence P. Ehrman, C.S.C.
For the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Friday, December 16, 2011 2:00p.m., Caldwell Room 125


Chad C. Pecknold, Ph.D.


"The Metaphysics of the Resurrection: Exploring Human Embodiedness beyond Richard Swinburne’s Dualism and Kevin Corcoran’s Christian Materialism"

This study investigates the relationship between eschatology and anthropology through a philosophical and theological analysis of the doctrine of bodily resurrection.  Catholic theology over the last four decades has seen a widespread replacement of the traditional eschatological model of death – intermediate state – resurrection on the Last Day, with its associated Thomistic body-soul anthropological model, by a resurrection in death eschatology with its associated phenomenological anthropology which eliminates the aporia associated with the anima separata and in which an experiential but not physical body is raised.  The eschatological model invoked has diverging implications for anthropology and specifically for an understanding of embodiedness.  Both contemporary theologians and analytic philosophers concern themselves with the question about what kind of anthropology is needed to express the coherence of bodily resurrection.

This study first investigates the debates in eschatology, ranging through the 1970’s and 1980’s, in which Joseph Ratzinger defended a traditional eschatology against Gisbert Greshake’s resurrection in death.  Ratzinger criticized Greshake’s eschatology as being counter to revelation and its associated anthropology as dematerializing the resurrection by severing any connection between the earthly and risen body.   Because neither Greshake nor Ratzinger developed a robust anthropology to support their respective views of embodiedness and bodily resurrection, this work turns to analytic philosophy to fill this void.

After a discussion of various anthropologies ranging from biblical to ancient and modern Christian and secular, the anthropologies of two contemporary Christian analytic philosophers, representatives from two ends of the dualism-materialism spectrum, are discussed and analyzed in relation to resurrection.  The compositional dualism of Richard Swinburne and the constitutional materialism of Kevin Corcoran, however, are both insufficient to account for the unity of the human person.  David Braine fills the space between dualism and materialism with an anthropology which understands human beings as psychophysical wholes, linguistic animals who think in a medium of words.  Braine draws upon an Aristotelian-Thomistic notion of soul and insights from Wittgenstein about language use to demonstrate human transcendence beyond bodily death.  Braine’s anthropology allows a recovery of Thomistic thought and provides a metaphysical foundation to defend a physical, bodily resurrection of the numerically identical person.