In the early Church the major controversy centered on the nature of the body of Christ before His resurrection. The Docetists rejected the true humanity of Christ arguing Christ to have been a phantom.
When the Fathers' argued that Christ "took something of Mary", it assumes that 'something' was the same something at the resurrection. If the Fathers thought that Christ rose in a spiritual sense then their apologetics against the docetists would have been centered around WHY Christ had to take a material physical body to only put it off at the resurrection.
St. Irenaeous wrote against those that claimed Christ only "appeared" to be in the flesh:
" Vain indeed are those who allege that He appeared in mere seeming. For these things were not done in appearance only, but in actual reality... And I have proved already, that it is the same thing to say that He appeared merely to outward seeming, and [to affirm] that He received nothing from Mary. For He would not have been one truly possessing flesh and blood, by which He redeemed us, unless He had summed up in Himself the ancient formation of Adam. Vain therefore are the disciples of Valentinus who put forth this opinion, in order that they may exclude the flesh from salvation, and cast aside what God has fashioned. (Against heresies bk 4 ch1)
But vain in every respect are they who despise the entire dispensation of God, and disallow the salvation of the flesh, and treat with contempt its regeneration, maintaining that it is not capable of incorruption... even as the blessed Paul declares in his Epistle to the Ephesians, that “we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.”He does not speak these words of some spiritual and invisible man, for a spirit has not bones nor flesh; but [he refers to] that dispensation [by which the Lord became] an actual man, consisting of flesh, and nerves, and bones,—that [flesh] which is nourished by the cup which is His blood, and receives increase from the bread which is His body. And just as a cutting from the vine planted in the ground fructifies in its season, or as a corn of wheat falling into the earth and becoming decomposed, rises with manifold increase by the Spirit of God, who contains all things, and then, through the wisdom of God, serves for the use of men, and having received the Word of God, becomes the Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ; so also our bodies, being nourished by it, and deposited in the earth, and suffering decomposition there, shall rise at their appointed time, the Word of God granting them resurrection to the glory of God, even the Father, who freely gives to this mortal immortality, and to this corruptible incorruption (ch 2)
Novatian was an excommunicated anti-pope but NOT for his theology His writing on the Trinity may have even been presented at Nicea for its Orthodoxy. Novatian refutes these heretics that claimed Christ was only an apparition, he claimed he was raied in the same body as the one He died in on the cross:
Neither, therefore, do we acknowledge that that is a Christ of the heretics who was—as it is said—in appearance and not in reality; for of those things which he did, he could have done nothing real, if he himself was a phantasm, and not reality. Nor him who wore nothing of our body in himself, seeing “he received nothing from Mary;” ...Nor do we acknowledge that to be Christ who chose an ethereal or starry flesh, as some heretics have pretended. Nor can we perceive any salvation of ours in him, if in him we do not even recognise the substance of our body; nor, in short, any other who may have worn any other kind of fabulous body of heretical device....And for this reason blood flowed forth from His hands and feet, and from His very side, so that He might be proved to be a sharer in our body by dying according to the laws of our dissolution. And that He was raised again in the same bodily substance in which He died, is proved by the wounds of that very body, and thus He showed the laws of our resurrection in His flesh, in that He restored the same body in His resurrection which He had from us. For a law of resurrection is established, in that Christ is raised up in the substance of the body as an example for the rest; because, when it is written that “flesh and blood do not inherit the kingdom of God, ”it is not the substance of the flesh that is condemned, which was built up by the divine hands that it should not perish, but only the guilt of the flesh is rightly rebuked, which by the voluntary daring of man rebelled against the claims of divine law. Because in baptism and in the dissolution of death the flesh is raised up and returns to salvation, by being recalled to the condition of innocency when the mortality of guilt is put away. (Concerning the Trinity, ch10)
Edited by Kosta, 02 March 2014 - 10:06 AM.