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CHAPTER LXXXIXOf the quality of Risen Bodies in the Lost

THE bodies of those who are to be lost must be proportionate to their souls. Now the souls of the wicked have a nature which is good, as created by God: but the will in them will be disorderly, falling short of its proper end. Their bodies therefore, so far as nature goes, will be restored to entirety: thus they will rise at a perfect age without any diminution of organs or limbs, and without any defect or detriment, which any malformation or sickness may have brought on. Hence the Apostle says: The dead shall rise incorrupt (1 Cor. xv, 52): and that this is to be understood of all men, good and bad alike, is clear from the context.10521052This interpretation rests on the Vulgate reading of 1 Cor. xv, 51, and is sound theology, even though it be not correct exegesis: that is to say, the opinion is theologically right, though St Paul did not say so there. But inasmuch as their soul will have its will turned away from God and deprived of its proper end, their bodies will not be spiritual (1 Cor. xv, 44, in the sense of being wholly subject to the spirit, but rather their soul will be in effect carnal. Nor will their bodies be agile, obeying the soul without difficulty, but rather ponderous and heavy and insupportable to the soul, even as their souls are by disobedience turned away from God. Their bodies will remain liable to suffering, even as now, or more so: they will suffer affliction from sensible things, but not corruption; as their souls will be tormented by the natural desire of happiness made frustrate. Their bodies too will be opaque and darksome, as their souls will be void of the light of divine knowledge. This is the meaning of what the Apostle says, that we shall all rise again, but we shall not all be changed (1 Cor. xv, 51): for the good alone shall be changed to glory, and the bodies of the wicked shall rise without glory.10531053Adopting for this verse 51 the reading of the Vatican manuscript, πάντες οὐ κοιμησόμεθα, πάντες δὲ ἀλλαγήσομεθα, I have been led to take a different view of this chapter. “The whole chapter is written on the theme of the resurrection of the just: the wicked are nowhere considered” (Notes on St Paul pp. 131 sq.; cf pp. 378, 381, on Romans viii, 21-39). It is St Paul’s manner at times to prescind from the wicked, and treat of the destiny of the normal Christian; or, as St Thomas would put it, to tell us of what is per se, and omit what is per accidens. St Thomas himself, in this very chapter, takes 1 Cor. xv, 44, to refer only to the resurrection of the just. Elsewhere however, on the solemn occasion of his trial before Felix, St Paul bears witness to the resurrection of the wicked: Having hope in God that there is to be resurrection of the dead, both just and unjust (Acts xxiv, 15).

Some may think it impossible for the bodies of the wicked to be liable to suffering, and yet not liable to disintegration, since every impression suffered, when it goes beyond the common, takes off from the substance: so we see that if a body is long kept in the fire, it will be entirely consumed; and when pain becomes unusually intense, the soul is separated from the body. But all this happens on the supposition of the transmutability of matter from form to form. Now the human body, after the resurrection, will not be transmutable from form to form, either in the good or in the wicked; because in both it will be entirely perfected by the soul in respect of its natural being.10541054According to the schoolmen, the reason why any substance is changeable is because its matter is not fully actuated by its substantial form, and thus remains in potentiality to other forms. The heavenly spheres (corpora coelestia) they thought were fully actuated by their forms, and were therefore imperishable. They applied this doctrine to the body after the resurrection, saying that then the body, whether of a good or of a wicked man, was fully actuated by the soul, and therefore was incorruptible. This doctrine however had its difficulties, as we see here, in respect of the lost being subject to sensible pain, and even the just being susceptible of pleasurable impressions of sense. Cf. II, Chap. XCVIII (a passage not translated): “The matter of a heavenly sphere is so thoroughly perfected by its own form as not to lie potentially open to other forms.” Just so is every risen human body, good or bad.

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