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Resurrection
Bonnat01

The Resurrection of Lazarus, painting by Leon Bonnat, France, 1857.

Edit

Resurrection, anglicized from Latin resurrectio, refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a Resurrection of the Dead at the end of the world. The Resurrection of the Dead is a standard eschatological belief in the Abrahamic religions. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the central focus of Christianity.

The term, while acceptable in certain religious and spiritual contexts, is typically not used in medical circles to describe the return to life of one who was clinically dead, although rare extreme cases are properly classified scientifically as examples of the 'Lazarus syndrome', a term originating from the corresponding Biblical resurrection story.

Ancient religions in the Near EastEdit

See also: Life-death-rebirth deityThe concept of resurrection is found in the writings of some ancient non-Abrahamic religions in the Middle East. A few extant Egyptian and Canaanite writings allude to dying and rising gods such as Osiris and Baal. Sir James Frazer in his book The Golden Bough relates to these dying and rising gods,[1] but many of his examples, according to various scholars, distort the sources.[2] Taking a more positive position, Mettinger argues in his recent book that the category of rise and return to life is significant for the following deities: Ugaritic Baal, Melqart, Adonis, Eshmun, Osiris and Dumuzi.[3]

Ancient Greek religionEdit

In ancient Greek religion, a number of men and women were made physically immortal as they were resurrected from the dead. Asclepius, was killed by Zeus only to be resurrected and transformed into a major deity. Achilles, after being killed, was snatched from his funeral pyre by his divine mother Thetis and resurrected, brought to an immortal existence in either Leuce, Elysian plains or the Islands of the Blessed. Memnon, who was killed by Achilles, seems to have a received a similar fate. Alcmene, Castor, Heracles, and Melicertes, were also among the figures sometimes considered to have been resurrected to physical immortality. According to Herodotus's Histories, the seventh century BC sage Aristeas of Proconnesus was first found dead, after which his body disappeared from a locked room. Later he found not only to have been resurrected but to have gained immortality.

Many other figures, like a great part of those who fought in the Trojan and Theban wars, Menelaus, and the historical pugilist Cleomedes of Astupalaea, were also believed to have been made physically immortal, but without having died in the first place. Indeed, in Greek religion, immortality originally always included an eternal union of body and soul. The philosophical idea of an immortal soul was a later invention, which, although influential, never had a breakthrough in the Greek world. As may be witnessed even into the Christian era, not least by the complaints of various philosophers over popular beliefs, traditional Greek believers maintained the conviction that certain individuals were resurrected from the dead and made physically immortal and that for the rest of us, we could only look forward to an existence as disembodied and dead souls.[4]

This traditional religious belief in physical immortality was generally denied by the Greek philosophers. Writing his Lives of Illustrious Men (Parallel Lives) in the first century CE, the Middle Platonic philosopher Plutarch's chapter on Romulus gave an account of his mysterious disappearance and subsequent deification, comparing it to traditional Greek beliefs such as the resurrection and physical immortalization of Alcmene and Aristeas the Proconnesian, "for they say Aristeas died in a fuller's work-shop, and his friends coming to look for him, found his body vanished; and that some presently after, coming from abroad, said they met him traveling towards Croton." Plutarch openly scorned such beliefs held in traditional ancient Greek religion, writing, "many such improbabilities do your fabulous writers relate, deifying creatures naturally mortal."

The parallel between these traditional beliefs and the later resurrection of Jesus was not lost on the early Christians, as Justin Martyr argued: "when we say … Jesus Christ, our teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propose nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you consider sons of Zeus." (1 Apol. 21). There is, however, no belief in a general resurrection in ancient Greek religion, as the Greeks held that not even the gods were able to recreate flesh that had been lost to decay, fire or consumption. The notion of a general resurrection of the dead was therefore apparently quite preposterous to the Greeks. This is made clear in Paul's Areopagus discourse. After having first told about the resurrection of Jesus, which makes the Athenians interested to hear more, Paul goes on, relating how this event relates to a general resurrection of the dead: "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, `We shall hear you again concerning this.'"[5]==Judaism== Main article: Jewish eschatologyThere are three explicit examples in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) of people being resurrected from the dead:

  • The prophet Elijah prays and God raises a young boy from death (1 Kings 17:17-24)
  • Elisha raises the son of the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:32-37); this was the very same child whose birth he previously foretold (2 Kings 4:8-16)
  • A dead man's body that was thrown into the dead Elisha's tomb is resurrected when the body touches Elisha's bones (2 Kings 13:21)

ChristianityEdit

In Christianity, resurrection most critically concerns the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, but also includes the resurrection of Judgment Day known as the Resurrection of the Dead by those Christians who subscribe to the Nicene Creed (which is the majority or Mainstream Christianity), as well as the resurrection miracles done by Jesus and the prophets of the Old Testament.

Resurrection of JesusEdit

Main articles: Life-death-rebirth deity, Resurrection of Jesus, Easter, and Resurrection appearances of JesusMany Christians regard the resurrection of Jesus as the central doctrine in Christianity. Others take the Incarnation of Jesus to be more central; however, it is the miracles — and particularly his Resurrection — which provide validation of his incarnation. According to Paul, the entire Christian faith hinges upon the centrality of the resurrection of Jesus and the hope for a life after death. The Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians: "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep."[6]Nearly all Christians - Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant and adherents of the Assyrian Church of the East - accept the resurrection of Jesus as a real historical event, and condemn the denial of the physical reality of the resurrection as a heresy. Docetism, the heresy that denied the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus by emphasizing that Jesus was only God and not man, was condemned by Proto-orthodox Christianity in the late 1st to early 2nd century.

Resurrection miraclesEdit

Main article: Miracles of Jesus#Resurrection of the deadDuring the Ministry of Jesus on earth, before his crucifixion, he commissioned his Twelve Apostles to, among other things, raise the dead.[7] In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus is said to have raised several persons from death, but none of these became immortal in the process. These resurrections included the daughter of Jairus shortly after death, a young man in the midst of his own funeral procession, and Lazarus, who had been buried for four days. According to the Gospel of Matthew, after Jesus's resurrection, many of the dead saints came out of their tombs and entered Jerusalem, where they appeared to many.

Similar resurrections are credited to Christian apostles and saints. Peter allegedly raised a woman named Dorcas (called Tabitha), and Paul revived a man named Eutychus who had fallen asleep and fell from a window to his death, according to the book of Acts. Proceeding the apostolic era, many saints were said to resurrect the dead, as recorded in Orthodox Christian hagiographies.

Resurrection of the deadEdit

Main article: Resurrection of the deadChristianity started as a religious movement within 1st-century Judaism (late Second Temple Judaism), and it retains the Pharisaic belief in the resurrection of the dead. Whereas this belief was only one of many beliefs held about the world to come in Second Temple Judaism, and was notably rejected by the Sadducees, this belief became dominant within Early Christianity and soon included an insistence on the resurrection of the flesh, against gnostic teachings that flesh was evil. Most modern Christian churches continue to uphold the belief that there will be a general resurrection of the dead and "world to come", perhaps as prophesied by Paul when he said: "...he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world..." (Acts 17:31 KJV) and "...there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust." (Acts 24:15 KJV). Most also teach that it is only as a result of the atoning work of Christ, by grace through faith, that people are spared eternal punishment as judgment for their sins.

Belief in the resurrection of the dead, and Jesus Christ's role as judge, is codified in the Apostles' Creed, which is the fundamental creed of Christian baptismal faith. The Book of Revelation also makes many references about the Day of Judgment when the dead will be raised up.

Platonic philosophyEdit

In Platonic philosophy and other Greek philosophical thought, at death the soul was said to leave the inferior body behind. The idea that Jesus was resurrected spiritually rather than physically even gained popularity among some Christian teachers, whom the author of 1 John declared to be antichrists. Similar beliefs appeared in the early church as Gnosticism. However, in Luke 24:39, the resurrected Jesus expressly states "behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Handle me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." For Greeks holding to more traditional ancient Greek religion, this insistence on the physical nature of the resurrection held a distinct appeal as they usually considered immortality to be dependent on an eternal union of body and soul.

Contemporary Biblical criticismEdit

According to Herbert C. Brichtothe, writing in Reform Judaism's Hebrew Union College Annual, the family tomb is the central concept in understanding biblical views of the afterlife. Brichtothe states that it is "not mere sentimental respect for the physical remains that is...the motivation for the practice, but rather an assumed connection between proper sepulture and the condition of happiness of the deceased in the afterlife" According to Brichtothe, the early Israelites apparently believed that the graves of family, or tribe, united into one, and that this unified collectivity is to what the Biblical Hebrew term Sheol refers. Although not well defined in the Tanakh, Sheol in this view was a subterranean underworld where the souls of the dead went after the body died. The Babylonians had a similar underworld called Aralu, and the Greeks had one known as Hades. For biblical references to Sheol see Genesis 42:38, Isaiah 14:11, Psalm 141:7, Daniel 12:2, Proverbs 7:27 and Job 10:21,22, and 17:16, among others. According to Brichtothe, other Biblical names for Sheol were: Abaddon (ruin), found in Psalm 88:11, Job 28:22 and Proverbs 15:11; Bor (the pit), found in Isaiah 14:15, 24:22, Ezekiel 26:20; and Shakhat (corruption), found in Isaiah 38:17, Ezekiel 28:8.[8]

Zen BuddhismEdit

There are stories in Buddhism where the power of resurrection was allegedly demonstrated in Chan or Zen tradition. One is the legend of Bodhidharma, the Indian master who brought the Ekayana school of India to China that subsequently became Chan Buddhism.

The other is the passing of Chinese Chan master Puhua (J., Fuke) and is recounted in the Record of Linji (J., Rinzai). Puhua was known for his unusual behavior and teaching style so it is no wonder that he is associated with an event that breaks the usual prohibition on displaying such powers. Here is the account from Irmgard Schloegl's "The Zen Teaching of Rinzai". 65. One day at the street market Fuke was begging all and sundry to give him a robe. Everybody offered him one, but he did not want any of them. The master [Linji] made the superior buy a coffin, and when Fuke returned, said to him: "There, I had this robe made for you." Fuke shouldered the coffin, and went back to the street market, calling loudly: "Rinzai had this robe made for me! I am off to the East Gate to enter transformation" (to die)." The people of the market crowded after him, eager to look. Fuke said: "No, not today. Tomorrow, I shall go to the South Gate to enter transformation." And so for three days. Nobody believed it any longer. On the fourth day, and now without any spectators, Fuke went alone outside the city walls, and laid himself into the coffin. He asked a traveler who chanced by to nail down the lid. The news spread at once, and the people of the market rushed there. On opening the coffin, they found that the body had vanished, but from high up in the sky they heard the ring of his hand bell.[9]

Disappearances (as distinct from Resurrection)Edit

See also: Ascension, assumption, and translationAs knowledge of different religions has grown, so have claims of bodily disappearance of some religious and mythological figures. In ancient Greek religion, this was a way the gods made some physically immortal, including such figures as Cleitus, Ganymede, Menelaus, and Tithonus.[10] In his chapter on Romulus from Parallel Lives, Plutarch criticises the continuous belief in such disappearances, referring e.g. to the allegedly miraculous disappearance of the historical figures of Romulus, Cleomedes of Astypalaea, and Croesus. In ancient times pagan similarities were explained by the early Christian writers, such as Justin Martyr, as the work of demons and Satan, with the intention of leading Christians astray.[11]

In somewhat recent years it has been learned that Gesar, the Savior of Tibet, at the end, chants on a mountain top and his clothes fall empty to the ground.[12] The body of the first Guru of Sikhs Guru Nanak Dev is said to have disappeared and flowers were left in place of his dead body. There is a traditional spot in Jerusalem whence, the Prophet Muhammad mounted the steed Al-Buraq and ascended to Heaven in the night.

Lord Raglan's Hero Pattern lists many religious figures whose bodies disappear, or have more than one sepulchre.[13] B. Traven, author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, wrote that the Inca Virococha, walked away on the top of the sea and vanished.[14] It has been thought that teachings regarding the purity and incorruptibility of the hero's human body are linked to this phenomenon. Perhaps, this is also to deter the practice of disturbing and collecting the hero's remains. They are safely protected if they have disappeared.[15]

In Deuteronomy (34:6) Moses is secretly buried. Elijah vanishes in a whirlwind 2 Kings (2:11). After hundreds of years these two earlier Biblical heroes suddenly reappear, and are seen walking with Jesus. Then again they vanish. Mark (9:2-8), Matthew (17:1-8) and Luke (9:28-33). The last time he is seen, Luke (24:51) alone tells of Jesus leaving his disciples, by ascending into the sky. But again, these are disappearances, and are thus distinctly different from resurrection. The first such case mentioned in the Bible is that of Enoch (son of Jared, great-grandfather of Noah, and father of Methuselah). Enoch is said to have lived a life where he "walked with God", afterwhich "he was not, for God took him". (Genesis 5:1-18)[16] He is also represented in the Book of Enoch, which formed part of the Dead Sea Scrolls collection.

ZombiesEdit

Main article: ZombieA zombie (Haitian Creole: zonbi; North Mbundu: nzumbe) can be either a fictional undead monster or a person in an entranced state believed to be controlled by a bokor or wizard. These latter are the original zombies, occurring in the West African Vodun religion and its American offshoots Haitian Vodou and New Orleans Voodoo.

Zombies became a popular device in modern horror fiction, largely because of the success of George A. Romero's 1968 film Night of the Living Dead[17] and they have appeared as plot devices in various books, films and in television shows. Zombie fiction is now a sizeable sub-genre of horror, usually describing a breakdown of civilization occurring when most of the population become flesh-eating zombies – a zombie apocalypse. The monsters are usually hungry for human flesh, often specifically brains. Sometimes they are victims of a fictional pandemic illness causing the dead to reanimate or the living to behave this way, but often no cause is given in the story.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Sir James Frazer (1922). The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion Ware: Wordsworth 1993.
  2. ^ Jonathan Z. Smith "Dying and Rising Gods" in Mircea Eliade (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Religion: Vol. 3. New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan 1995: 521-27.
  3. ^ Mettinger, Riddle of Resurrection, 55-222.
  4. ^ Erwin Rohde Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality among the Greeks. New York: Harper & Row 1925 [1921]; Dag Øistein Endsjø. Greek Resurrection Beliefs and the Success of Christianity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2009.
  5. ^ Acts 17:30-32
  6. ^ Corinthians 15:19-20
  7. ^ Not in the Great Commission of the resurrected Jesus, but only in the so-called Lesser Commission of Matthew, specifically Matthew 10:8.
  8. ^ Herbert Chanon Brichto "Kin, Cult, Land and Afterlife - A Biblical Complex", Hebrew Union College Annual 44, p.8 (1973)
  9. ^ Schloegl, Irmgard; tr. "The Zen Teaching of Rinzai". Shambhala Publications, Inc., Berkeley, 1976. Page 76. ISBN 0-87773-087-3.
  10. ^ Erwin Rohde Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality among the Greeks. New York: Harper & Row 1966.[1921]; Dag Øistein Endsjø. Greek Resurrection Beliefs and the Success of Christianity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2009.
  11. ^ Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho (ca 147-161 A.D.) Catholic University Press, 2003
  12. ^ Alexandra David-Neel,and Lama Yongden, The Superhuman Life of Gesar of Ling, Rider, 1933, While still in oral tradition, it is recorded for the first time by an early European traveler.
  13. ^ Otto Rank, Lord Raglan, and Alan Dundes, In Quest of the Hero, Princeton University Press, 1990
  14. ^ B. Traven, The Creation of the Sun and Moon, Lawerence Hill Books, 1977
  15. ^ See: Michael Paterniti, Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain, The Dial Press, 2000
  16. ^ Genesis 5:18-24
  17. ^ Smith, Neil (March 7, 2008). "Zombie maestro lays down the lore". London: BBC News. Retrieved 2009-10-01.

Further readingEdit

  • Dag Øistein Endsjø. Greek Resurrection Beliefs and the Success of Christianity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
  • Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov. Philosophy of Physical Resurrection 1906.
  • Edwin Hatch. Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages Upon the Christian Church (1888 Hibbert Lectures).
  • Lange, Dierk. "The dying and the rising God in the New Year Festival of Ife", in: Lange, Ancient Kingdoms of West Africa, Dettelbach: Röll Vlg. 2004, pp. 343–376.
  • Richard Longenecker, editor. Life in the Face of Death: The Resurrection Message of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.
  • Tryggve Mettinger. The Riddle of Resurrection: "Dying and Rising Gods" in the Ancient Near East, Stockholm: Almqvist 2001.
  • Markus Mühling. Grundinformation Eschatologie. Systematische Theologie aus der Perspektive der Hoffnung. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2007, ISBN 978-3-8252-2918-4, 242–262.
  • George Nickelsburg. Resurrection, Immortality, and Eternal Life in Intertestmental Judaism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972.
  • Pheme Perkins. Resurrection: New Testament Witness and Contemporary Reflection. Garden City: Doubleday & Company, 1984.
  • Erwin Rohde Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality among the Greeks. New York: Harper & Row, 1925 [1921].
  • Charles H. Talbert. "The Concept of Immortals in Mediterranean Antiquity", Journal of Biblical Literature, Volume 94, 1975, pp 419–436
  • Charles H. Talbert. "The Myth of a Descending-Ascending Redeemer in Mediterranean Antiquity", New Testament Studies, 22, 1975/76, pp 418–440
  • Father Alfred J Hebert. Raised from the Dead: True Stories of 400 Resurrection Miracles

External linksEdit

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