In 1 Corinthians 15, we see the famous early Christian creed:
“and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” 1 Corinthians 15:5-8
Often this verse is used as a proof-text by many to assert that Paul’s encounter with Jesus was a mere vision or hallucination. And then because Paul also uses the word ‘appeared’ regarding the apostles aswell, people make the claim that the “appearance” of Jesus was merely an appearance and thus not a bodily resurrection.
To be clear, I’m not asking about Paul’s view on a bodily vs spiritual resurrection on the last day, I merely want to know what he means by the use of the word “appear”, especially when using the same word to describe the disciples encounter with Jesus.
Even if we assert that Paul did encounter the risen Jesus in a vision, why would he use the same word for his experience of Jesus (re encountering a bright light in Acts 9) and the apostles when the apostles clearly had a different experience of the risen Jesus since they discovered the empty tomb and encountered him fully in Galilee?
Does this use of the word “appear” still affirm a full encounter with the physical risen Jesus? Why the use of the word “appear” in regards to a physical resurrection that the disciples saw?