O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
I’m hoping someone can clue me in on how Frost has defeated Max King’s “seed” explanation in his most recent article. Article here
Here are some excerpts and a follow up post so you don’t have to wade through the whole episode of Sam’s. What I’m having a problem with is that Frost says that half of King’s book is devoted to 1 Cor 15 yet he doesn’t interface with John 12:24 … “King nowhere mentions this verse when dealing with I
Co 15!”. However I found that King indeed does interface fully with John 12:24 and 1 Cor 15 concerning the
seed analogy on pages 169, 171 [extensively] and 225-226. All one had to do was check the index in the back of King’s book the “Cross and the Parousia” to find that out.
Again if someone could make some coherence out of what Frost point is below in the excerpts I am quoting I would appreciate it. It seems at first glance that Frost has invented another straw man argument that doesn’t make a lick of sense like he did on the infinity issue so that he can dispose of all things full Preterist
and especially now the corporate body view which he used to heavily defend.
It appears that Frost has now completely misapplied the context of John 12:24 and 1 Cor 15 concerning the “seed” analogy to the point of non-recognition. Give me your thoughts on his take.
Begin Frost excerpts … “Through a series of arguments
concerning the “time texts” (“near” “at hand” “about to be” “this generation” et
al) the Full Preterist believes that all things relating to the resurrection
of the dead were fulfilled. The dead were raised in AD 70. Obviously, the
traditional notion of the “self-same body” of individual believers being
transformed into a glorified body did not happen. But, since the AD 70 event is
the terminus, and since the Bible nowhere, ever speaks about the end of
time (Preston, op. cit., 2-3), then one must, by design of the
framework, come up with how the dead were raised, and how those
“who are alive and remain” were changed. A huge task.
The given of the AD 70 terminus demands that
such a task be undertaken. This is one of the key arguments this series will
interact with later on. King impressively undertakes this task and produced
his tome as a result. Half of the 784 pages of his book is devoted to chapter
15 of I Co. There King interacts with the traditional view as well as
various commentaries noting their inconsistency in the text itself. This
is another key argument. One must consistently keep the definition of “the
dead” intact through all 58 verses. Showing how the commentaries do not, in
fact, do this, disarms the objections a bit. For me, it disarmed it enough in
order to start to see that maybe, just maybe, it was possible that, given
the presuppositions above, a 70 AD resurrection was in view. Since I was
already fully committed to the AD 70 terminus, then I had no other
choice but to look.
The first argument, though it may appear that I am going out
of order, that I want to tackle is exegetical (actually, there are at least
two, but I will deal with the others later on in the series). King does not say
this in his book, but when I heard him speak for the first time, he spoke of
the “seed analogy” of Paul in I Co 15.35-44. It was somewhat comical,
intentionally. The seed, in Paul’s analogy, is first sown, and then
dies. If the seed is taken as a metaphor for the individual human body, the
analogy fails. I paraphrase King, “Make sure I am dead before you bury
me!” Lots of laughter. On a more serious note, King wrote, “One does not sow
that which is dead already. Paul’s point is not, “that which is dead is not quickened
unless it is sown,” but, “that which you sow is not quickened, except it
die”" (King, 543). I nearly fell off the pew.
I had been taught, and never questioned up to this point,
that the seed represented the dead body going down into the ground and one day
being raised back up again. Never questioned it. My undergraduate work never
questioned it since I went to a traditional Bible College. This was when I
knew, simply from hearing this and reading it, that there was more than a
possibility. Something was truly going on here with the way I heard all of my
life in church, and now. I mean, there it was: a seed goes into the ground first,
and then it dies. That can’t be talking about individual corpses!
From that moment, 19 years ago, I never questioned this retort.
This was strengthened by the fact that when King quoted some
commentaries (he does not interact with a ton of material here like one would
find in a technical commentary. King rarely appealed to the Greek text) which,
more or less, saw the analogical comparison as faulty, but urged that we
“cannot press Paul’s analogy here.” When I consulted other commentaries,
including some of my favorites, they all basically said the same thing.
And here came another strength in the King approach: King’s exegesis CAN
press the analogy perfectly. For his approach, the seed does die after
it is sown and at the same time (concurrently) was being made alive at
the same time. My further research (noted in my book Exegetical Essays)
discovered that Paul consistently used the present tense-aspect in the
indicative mood in the Greek text (I had seminary Greek training under my
belt). We will discuss these arguments later in the series.
Virtually all the commentaries point to John 12.24:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground
and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” No one
doubts the meaning of this text: Jesus must die and be raised in order to bear
much fruit. He used a “kernel of wheat” (“a seed”) that first falls into
the ground and then dies. Same analogy. Same meaning. Then it hit me:
if the analogy here works, then why can it not work in I Co 15?
Interestingly enough, King nowhere mentions this verse when dealing with I
Co 15! Green does not mention it. Shirks doesn’t. Neither does Kroll. I, in
fact, do mention it (Frost, 63) but completely miss the point of the commentary
I footnoted (Gordon Fee). Is it anymore contradictory here in John? This
single verse exploded what had been perceived as so sound in my mind. Jesus
died before he was “sown” or “fell into the ground”. But, clearly, Jesus said
the kernel of wheat dies after it has been sown into the ground. And
then it hit me again: this is why the commentaries backed off pressing
Paul’s analogy, because they could no more press the same analogy in John 12.24.
The analogy was not meant to be pressed. It is merely meant to illustrate
the principle that life comes from death. Period. Paul’s “seed” does not
“stand for” the human body anymore than Jesus “stood for” the kernel of wheat.
These are not allegorical illustrations at all. They are illustrations
to help give an idea that life can proceed from that which has died.
Simple. If not, and if pressed, we would have to think that Jesus did not die
on the cross. Rather, he died after he was entombed – that is, if we pressed
The structure I had created in my mind began to crumble. For
the first time, my work on this text began to show signs of weakness. All the
times I had repeated the argument of King here were now in doubt. There it was.
Jesus’ own words. And this was just one of the arguments. In this series, I
will show others. A couple more key hooks from King have come into doubt as
well – and the answer was right there in front of me. Of course, I wasn’t
looking for an “answer” – I already had the answer: Full Preterism. My
presuppositions were strong. Like the one that “the Bible nowhere, ever, speaks
of the end of time.” Infinity took care of that one, rooted in the omniscience
of God. Now, I had an “end of time” and even a few texts (as I have noted in my
articles on Infinity, located on this site). But, what to do with I Co 15?
I mean, parousia, “the last trump”, and “the end” are all mentioned
there as they are in Mt 24, and that, I believe, is definitely speaking
of AD 70 even in a wealth of non-Full Preterist works. One of the key arguments
of Full Preterism was logical consistency (except when it came to infinity –
there many of them cried, “Paradox!”). If Mt 24 was fulfilled, then I
Co 15 must also be fulfilled, right?
Sam Frost … “I did want to point this out. I was cleaning up
around my library and found an older work by Jack Scott and Tim King, Covenant
Eschatology: A Comprehensive Overview from Living Presence Ministries (1998).
There, in the section on the seed analogy (I Co 15), John 12.24 is mentioned
(p. 42). They make no mention of King’s point about being dead before being
buried (sown). Jesus is the “inclusive seed body”. “How much clearer could
Jesus be that he is the inclusive seed body that dies, thus producing much
fruit?” (42). And, that’s it. That’s the only point they make. No “analogy”
break-down, no noticing that if Jesus is the seed, he is sown (entombed) before
he dies. I do not wish to judge the intention of anyone here, anymore than
judging my own intention at the time, that I just did not see the point I am
making now. I do not think “sleight of hand” or deliberate deception was going
on. I don’t think that they “saw” this point because they were not “looking”
for it anymore than I was. I do not wish at all to cast any doubts concerning
“motivations” and the like in that I believe that is sinful judgment. I have to
give benefit of the doubt that here are two guys I respected (and still do)
that quote John 12.24 in the context of Paul’s seed analogy and miss the very
point that it blows away Max King’s point about people being buried alive. The
seed analogy here is simply an illustration of moving “from death to life”
(43). That’s it and nothing more. Paul is not breaking down an allegory or
speaking parabolically here. He is not saying “the husk of the seed comes off
and what’s inside the seed comes out, like the physical body breaks off and the
soul comes out and God gives the soul a body as he has pleased”. Nope. That’s
pressing way, way too much, and, if that is pressed here, then there is NO
REASON why not to press it in John 12.24. Jesus’ flesh was not raised. His soul
was given a new body etc., etc. Jesus’ point and Paul’s point were exactly the
same: in God’s creation, we can take a seed for an example: from decay comes