This article is about the religious meaning of the word "Resurrection". For other meanings see Resurrection (disambiguation).
Resurrection occurs on different planes. Some resurrections are of the physical body, brought back to life, indistinguishable to the life it had prior to its death. Other resurrections are symbolic, not of a physical body, but of a ghost body seen after the death of a person's body.
While the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the foundational beliefs of Christianity, accounts of other resurrections also figure in religion, myth, and fable.
Examples of a resurrected deity are found in Mithraism; Syrian and Greek worship of Adonis; Egyptian worship of Osiris; the Babylonian story of Tammuz; and rural religious belief in the Corn King. Some secular historians, arguing that Christianity does not begin with tabula rasa, conjecture that the New Testament's accounts of the resurrection of Jesus were in some ways influenced by the traditions of resurrected Divine Heroes from surrounding cultures, especially the Hellenistic culture of contemporary Greeks and Romans. (Notice the New Testament is written entirely in Greek and the majority of peoples accepting Christianity are gentiles living within the confines of the Roman Empire. The Greek text of 2 Peter 2:4 tells the reader God holds the sinning angels in (Taptapos) Tartarus, the Greek and Roman underworld.) See Osiris-Dionysus and Orpheus. (Only Orpheus, carrying a flute and a sheep, "the Good Shepherd", appears in the earliest Christian art on the walls at the Catacombs of Rome). Some early Christians, such as Justin Martyr, believed that some of these pagan beliefs were influenced by the prophecies of Moses and other Israelites. The great biblical archaeologist, William Foxwell Albright, went so far as saying pagan resurrections were the Divine preparations for Jesus. ( Homer W. Smith, author of Man and His Gods, found this utterly ridiculous. See note 2) Many Christians hold that the Christian stories are significantly different, and that the similarities are superficial and thus, that no special significance need be attached to the similarities.
In the New Testament, Jesus is said to have raised several persons from death , including 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 three days. At the moment of Jesus' death tombs open and many who are dead waken. After Jesus' resurrection many of the dead saints come out of their tombs and enter Jerusalem, where they appear to many, according to the gospel of Matthew.
Resurrections are credited to Christian apostles and saints. Peter raised a woman named Dorcas (called Tabitha), and Paul restored a man named Eutychus who had fallen asleep and fell from a window to his death, according to the book of Acts.
The Virgin Mary is also believed by some Christians to have been taken bodily into heaven, after her death (this belief, the Assumption of Mary, is held as dogma by the Roman Catholic Church). In one tradition Mary's assumption takes place at Ephesus.(See Note 3) Here, she lived out her later years, under the care of the apostle John. There have been many claims through the centuries of seeing Mary.
In the Tanakh (also called Old Testament), Elisha is said to have raised a young boy from death. However, all of these persons are traditionally held to have later died. Also of interest are the Biblical accounts that Enoch and the prophet Elijah were removed into the presence of God without experiencing death, and the traditional belief that the grave of Moses cannot be found because the prophet was raised from the dead. Both Moses and Elijah are to be seen with Jesus during the transfiguration.
Since Christianity is largely derived from Judaic sources, it is worthwhile pointing out that Judaism insists that belief in Revival of the Dead is one of the cardinal principals of the Jewish faith. A famous Jewish halakhic - legal authority, Maimonides, set down 13 (thirteen) main principles of the Jewish faith according to Orthodox Judaism and Resurrection is one of them which is printed in all Rabbinic prayer books to the present time. It is the thirteenth principle and states:
- "I believe with complete (perfect) faith, that there will be techiat hameitim - revival of the dead, whenever it will be God's, blessed be He, will (desire) to arise and do so. May (God's) Name be blessed, and may His remembrance arise, forever and ever"
The knowledge of the bodily disappearance of Divine Heroes, or Saviors, in other religions around the world (See below) is relatively new and sometimes unwelcome. For these similarities, contemporary evangelical Christians have coined the phrase "Satanic Counterfeits", a dark emotional condemnation. In ancient times, known pagan similiarities were many times explained by early Christian writers (curiously except Justin Martyr) as the work of demons.
As the knowledge of different religions has grown, the bodily disappearance of Divine Heroes has been found to be common. Gesar, the Savior of Tibet, at the end, chants on a mountain top and his clothes fall empty to the ground. The bodies of the Divine Gurus of Sikhism vanish after their deaths. There is a traditional spot whence, while mounted, Muhammad and his horse both ascend into the sky. This shows a variety in traditions, for Muhummad's famous tomb is visited each year in Mecca.
Lord Raglan's Hero Pattern lists many Divine Heroes whose bodies disappear, or have more than one sepulchre. B. Traven, author of The Treasure of Sierra Madre, wrote that the Inca, Divine Hero, Virococha, walked away on the top of the sea and vanished. It has been thought that teachings regarding the purity of the Divine Hero's human body are linked to this phenomena.
[[ca:Resurrecci�]] de:Auferstehung [[es:Resurrecci�n]]
- Essays on the ResurrectionJesus' resurrection is the beginning of the 'end,' and the resurrection of all believers is (one feature of) the final end of the 'end'. The world as a whole has entered the last days, in which Jesus rules as Messiah and Lord. These days will continue until all that oppose or threatens his rule has/ been dealt with. Finally, death itself--the ultimately dehumanizing and anticreation power--will be destroyed, and God will be all in all. The significance of Jesus' resurrection is not simply that it opens up hope for life after death for individual Christians, but that the new creation has already begun." -N.T. Wright (See Note 1)
Note 1: When N.T. Wright's article "What Really Happened at Gethsemane" appeared in Bible Review magazine (Apr 1998) it was met with a storm of negative criticism. The response was: How could anyone possibly and rationally know "what really happened in Gethsemane" 2000 years ago? This is a very extravagant claim! Soon after, N.T. Wright resigned from the editorial staff of Bible Review. At present (2004) he is very popular and often quoted by conservatives.
Note 2: The forward to Homer W. Smith's Man and His Gods, Lttle Brown, 1952, is written by Albert Einstein. Einstein denies the existence of the supernatural (not God) and afterlife, and warns of the horrors of extreme nationalism, genocide and nuclear weapons. Einstein was confident a fanatical belief in the power of magic and the supernatural no longer posed a danger to humanity.
Note 3: In Ephesus stood one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the the Greek Temple of Artemis, Goddess of fertility. Fertility is a matter of life and death in ancient agrarian cultures: crops, livestock, children, etc. Artemis, to the Romans, became Diana, the huntress and Goddess of perpetual virginity. Also here in Ephesus in 431 A.D. Christian bishops deliberated and declared Mary, Theotokos, God-bearer or Mother of God, a theological condemnation of Arianism and an official approval of her growing numbers of feminine followers and their devotion.
William Foxwell Albright, From Stone Age to Christianity: Monotheism and Historical Process
B. Traven, The Creation of the Sun and Moon, 1968
Alexandra David-Neel, The Superhuman Life of Gesar of Ling ( While still in oral tradition, the Divine Hero of Tibet and Asia is discovered and recorded for the first time, by an early European traveler.)
New Testament, Acts 19:23-40, St. Paul confronts the craftsmen of Artemis in Ephesus.
Edwin Hatch, Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages Upon the Christian Church (1888 Hibbert Lectures)
Ronald F. Hock, The Favored One: How Mary Became the Mother of God, Bible Review, p12-25, Jun 2001 also in this issue see: Vasiliki Limberis, The Battle Over Mary, top of p22-23