This essay was originally presented as a lecture as part of the celebration of Professor dr. theol. Sverre Aalen’s 100’th anniversary at the Nor-wegian School of Theology, 7th of December 2009. The aim of the article was to highlight some main perspectives in several of Aalens scientific publications on the New Testament, which to a certain effect can be traced back to his doctoral dissertation from 1951, and it’s rich collection of data from Early and Rabbinic Judaism. As a biblical scholar Aalen was creative and innovative who succeeded to contextualize New Testament concepts and texts in their Jewish cultural context.
In 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:10 Paul points out that he prefers «rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord». This statement of Paul has been interpreted to mean that Paul prefers an existence for the soul without the body in an intermediate state before the resurrection. This however would correspond to a dualistic and platonic-like understanding of mans nature and existence in and after death. But is this what Paul believes? A closer analysis based on the context in the letter and the Jewish understanding compared to Greek-Hellenistic thought, shows that Paul most likely means to express the Christian hope for salvation, which is that the earthly human beeing – with the body – is being moved to God in a new existence. The earthly man is being dressed in heavenly clothings. One goes through a change, and at the same time the identity is secured. It is based on Pauls understanding of body and identity within the context of salvation.
«Narrative identity» is a central concept in Paul Ricoeurs Oneself as Another (1992) where he argues that personal identity can only be grasped through the structures of narrative. This article presents Ricoeurs theory of narrative identity and suggests that his theory can be further understood and emphasized by a close-reading of narratives of terminally ill patients.