Tappenden, Frederick S. 2017. “Coming Back to Life in and through Death: Early Christian Creativity in Paul, Ignatius, and Valentinus.” Pages 181–213 in Coming Back to Life: The Permeability of Past and Present, Mortality and Immortality, Death and Life in the Ancient Mediterranean. Edited by Frederick S. Tappenden and Carly Daniel-Hughes, with the assistance of Bradley N. Rice. Montreal, QC: McGill University Library. Online: http://comingbacktolife.mcgill.ca.


This paper examines notions of coming back to life in/through death in the writings of Paul and two of his second century interpreters: Ignatius of Antioch and Valentinus. I demonstrate that, in the Pauline tradition, there are many ways of mapping notions of death and life to the human body. My departure point is 2 Corinthians 3–4, where notions of life in death and life through death are configured in relation to recurrent spatial metaphors of verticality, proximity, and containment. With these spatial mappings in view, I turn next to Ignatius of Antioch and Valentinus, demonstrating that the conceptual tension Paul proposes in 2 Corinthians tends to be parsed out and prioritised differently among his early readers. Ignatius and Valentinus utilise the same spatial categories as Paul, though they do so with different emphases: Ignatius stresses all the same somatic spaces, though he does so with a different connective logic; Valentinus, on the other hand, tends to prioritise notions of proximity and containment over those of verticality. In the end, though Paul is quite forthcoming regarding the body and its place in his resurrection ideals, his early readers build on and modify this somatic element. Paul’s thinking about resurrection is marbled by interpretive creativity that attempts to negotiate both the apostle’s own writings and the lines between death and life for those who follow in his footsteps.

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