Having been preserved in the “dark ages” of Europe by Islamic and Jewish scholars, Aristotle’s writings were rediscovered and were of great importance to Christian theology. His views on the soul influenced the traditional Christian views of body and soul, yet his writings did not challenge the idea of life after death, or the immortality of the soul. Christianity traditionally believes not only in resurrection of soul, but of body. The main supporting evidence for bodily resurrection is the resurrection of Jesus. We can read in Thessalonians 4:14 “for since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.” This bodily resurrection is supported by Peter Geach, who believes it is the “only meaningful way of talking about life” – he questions how someone can be meaningfully identified after death with only a spiritual entity. However, whilst seemingly supporting the unity of body and soul, the Christian faith can be interpreted both dualistically and monastically, the soul being breathed into the nostrils of Adam (Genesis 2:7), seeming to show a separation of body and soul.
More inclined to reject the idea of dualism, yet not dismiss the existence of an afterlife are the views of John Hick. As a soft materialist, Hick believed in the body as a Psycho-somatic unity. By this he meant that the body and soul were united. In “resurrection of the person” he wrote “the concept of mind or soul is thus not that of a “ghost in the machine” but of the more flexible and sophisticated ways in which human beings behave and have it in them to behave.” His replica theory states that resurrection is a divine action in which a replica of us is created in a different place. This replica has exactly the same “consciousness, memory, emotion and volition” as our earthly self. Therefore, in Hick’s eyes, the soul is not distinct from the body, and whilst our physical body of this world isn’t eternal, it will later be replicated. Interestingly, the idea of rebirth is also seen in Hinduism, contrasting Christianity’s belief in resurrection. Depending on the karma (good and bad deeds) built up in the previous life, an Atman (soul) will be reincarnated into a new body. This belief gives way to an immaterial soul, yet unlike Hick’s belief, this soul is separate from our physical bodies.