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Resurrection of the dead

This article concerns itself with how the Bible, Judaism and Christianity understand the concept of the resurrection of the dead.

Biblical views of the afterlife

Most of the Tanakh (Old Testament) makes no mention of any resurrection of the dead. Rather, the family tomb is the central concept in understanding biblical views of the afterlife. When Jacob dies, he says "I am about to be gathered to my kin. Bury me with my forefathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite." [Genesis 49:29] All the Jewish patriarchs (except Rachel) were buried in the family cave, and so were many other biblical personalities, including King Saul and King David. Herbert Brichto notes 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" [Herbert Chanon Brichto "Kin, Cult, Land and Afterlife - A Biblical Complex", Hebrew Union College Annual 44, p.8 (1973)]

The early Israelites apparently believed that the graves of family, or tribe, united into one. This unified collectivity became known as Sheol. Although not well defined in the Tanakh, Sheol 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. Other Biblical names for Sheol were: Abbadon (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

Denial of the afterlife in the Tanakh

Some books of the Bible seem to deny the existence of the afterlife. (The following quotes are from the new JPS translation.)

Isaiah 39:18 "For it is not Sheol that praises You, Not [the land of] Death that extols you; Nor do they who descend into the Pit hope for your grace. The living, only the living can give thanks to you.

Psalms 6:6 "For there is no praise of You among the dead; in Sheol, who can acclaim you?"

Psalms 115:17 "The dead cannot praise the Lord, nor any who go down into silence."

Job 7:7-10 "Consider that my life is but wind; I shall never see happiness again....As a cloud fades away, so whoever goes down into Sheol does not come up.."

Ecclesiastes. 9:4-5 "For he who is reckoned among the living has something to look forward to - even a live dog is better than a dead lion - since the living know that they will die. But the dead know nothing; they have no more recompense, for even the memory of them has died."

It is difficult to maintain that one is obligated to have a belief both in an afterlife, as well as in a physical resurrection of the dead, when these books of the Bible deny this possibility. It is only in the book of Daniel - the last Biblical book written - that a modern understanding of an afterlife appears

Christian views of resurrection

Most of this article is from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897. That was written from a nineteenth century Christian viewpoint, and may not reflect modern opinions or recent discoveries in Biblical scholarship. Please help the Wikipedia by bringing this article up to date.

Resurrection of the dead - will be simultaneous both of the just and the unjust (Dan. 12:2; John 5:28, 29; Rom. 2:6-16; 2 Thess. 1:6-10). The qualities of the resurrection body will be different from those of the body laid in the grave (1 Cor. 15:53, 54; Phil. 3:21); but its identity will nevertheless be preserved. It will still be the same body (1 Cor. 15:42-44) which rises again.

As to the nature of the resurrection body, (1) it will be spiritual (1 Cor. 15:44), i.e., a body adapted to the use of the soul in its glorified state, and to all the conditions of the heavenly state; (2) glorious, incorruptible, and powerful (54); (3) like unto the glorified body of Christ (Phil. 3:21); and (4) immortal (Rev. 21:4).

Jesus's resurrection secures and illustrates that of his people. "(1.) Because his resurrection seals and consummates his redemptive power; and the redemption of our persons involves the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23). (2.) Because of our federal and vital union with Christ (1 Cor. 15:21, 22; 1 Thess. 4:14). (3.) Because of his Spirit which dwells in us making our bodies his members (1 Cor. 6:15; Rom. 8:11). (4.) Because Christ by covenant is Lord both of the living and the dead (Rom. 14:9). This same federal and vital union of the Christian with Jesus likewise causes the resurrection of the believer to be similar to as well as consequent upon that of Christ (1 Cor. 15:49; Phil. 3:21; 1 John 3:2)." Hodge's Outlines of Theology.



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