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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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1. In OT . In our study of the OT doctrine of the resurrection we recognize the need for taking into consideration the chronological order of the different documents of which it is composed. No other belief, perhaps, presents a history into which the process of slow and halting development enters so visibly and consistently. That the later orthodox Jews advocated the existence in their earlier Scriptures of the principles which give vitality and a rational basis to this doctrine, is seen in their satisfaction with the answer of Jesus to the Sadducean cavils of His day (see Mark 12:28; cf. Luke 20:39 , Matthew 22:34 ). The gradual awakening of human consciousness in this respect is the best attestation to the Divine self-accommodation to the needs and limitations of the race. Beginning with the vague belief in the existence of a germinal principle of Divine life in man (cf. Genesis 2:7 ), the latest passages of the OT dealing with the subject embody a categorical assertion of the resurrection of individual Israelites (cf. Daniel 12:2 f.). Between these two utterances we have the speculations of Psalmists and Prophets, while death became gradually shorn of many of its terrors and much of its power. The common Jewish belief in the time of Jesus finds expression in the words of Martha concerning her brother Lazarus ( John 11:24 ), while this formed one of the deep lines of religious cleavage between the Pharisees and the Sadducees ( Acts 23:6 ff.; cf. Jos. [Note: Josephus.] BJ II. viii. 14; Schürer, HJP [Note: JP History of the Jewish People.] ii. ii. 13).

A peculiar feature of Jewish thought as to human life, marking it off clearly from some of the ethnic speculations and philosophic conceptions, consists in their habit of regarding the body as essential to man’s full existence. The traditions embodied in the stories of the translations of Enoch and Elijah (Genesis 5:24 , 2 Kings 2:11 ) receive their explanation on the assumption that in this way alone would they be enabled to enjoy the continuance of a full and complete life beyond the grave. It was this idea also that gave such a strong feeling of the incompleteness of the existence in Hades, and inspired the Psalmist’s assurance, ‘Thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption’ ( Psalms 16:10 , cf. Job 14:13 ff; Job 19:25 f.).

The first specific mention of the hope of a resurrection is found in Hosea, where the prophet’s words are rather of the nature of an aspiration than the distinct announcement of a future event (Hosea 6:2 , cf. Hosea 13:14 ). This is, however, the expression not of an individual who looks forward to being raised from the dead, but of one who sees his nation once more quickened and ‘brought up again from the depths of the earth’ ( Psalms 71:20; cf. Kirkpatrick, The Psalms, ad loc. ). A similar hope finds expression in Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones ( Ezekiel 37:1-14 ). A distinct advance on these utterances is found in the post-exilic prophecy, Isaiah 26:19 , where the prophet breathes a prayer for the resurrection of the individual dead. When this passage is contrasted with the confident assertion of Isaiah 26:14 it is seen that as yet there was no thought of a resurrection save for the Israelite. The same restriction is also found to exist at the later date, when the Book of Daniel was written. In this book there is a clear, unambiguous assertion of the resurrection of individuals, and at the same time a no less clear announcement that there is a resurrection of the wicked as well as of the righteous ( Daniel 12:2 ). It is true that these words not only have no message of a resurrection hope for nations other than Israel, but even limit its scope to those of that nation who distinguish themselves on the side of good or of evil (cf. Driver, ‘Daniel,’ ad loc. , in Camb. Bible ). At the same time it is easy to see that a great stride forward had been taken already, when the atrocities of Antiochus Epiphanes brought religious despair to the hearts of all true Israelites, and roused the fervid patriotism of Judas Maccabæus and his followers.

2. In the Apocrypha . The development of this doctrine in the deutero-canonical and apocryphal literature of the Jews presents a varied and inharmonious blend of colours. Inconsistencies abound, and can be explained only on the ground that each writing was influenced by the individual experience as well as by the theological Idiosyncrasies of its author.

Sirach . The oldest of the deutero-canonical books is that of ben-Sira, and in his work we look in vain for the idea of a resurrection, either national or individual. On the other hand, the eschatological conceptions of this author do not seem to advance beyond those of Ecclesiastes (cf. Sir 17:30 ).

Book of Enoch . Very different from the foregoing are the ideas prevalent in this composite apocalyptic writing. The oldest portion contains an elaborate theory of Sheol, and teaches the resurrection of all righteous Israelites, and so many of the wicked as have escaped ‘without incurring judgment in their life time’ (22.10f.). The sinners who have suffered here ‘will not be raised from thence’ (22.13), inasmuch as retribution, in part at least, has overtaken them. Another writer of a somewhat later date speaks of the resurrection of righteous Israelites only. These shall be raised, after judgment and retribution have been meted out to sinners, to share in the glories of the Messianic Kingdom (90.29 33). A similar opinion is expressed in another part of this writing. None but the righteous shall rise (91.10); but the author seems to interpret the resurrection as that of the spirit only, and not of the body (103.3f.).

The most important and best known section of the Book of Enoch (chs. 37 70), which is known as the Similitudes , contains an explicit assertion of a general resurrection (51.1). Whether, however, the writer intended to convey the idea of a resurrection of the Gentiles is somewhat doubtful. The words of this passage, if taken literally, would certainly convey the impression that a universal resurrection is meant. At the same time we must remember that this thought would be quite contrary to the whole habit of Jewish eschatological thinking, and would stand unique in Jewish pre-Christian literature. (For discussions of this question see the admirable critical edition of the Book of Enoch by R. H. Charles, passim .)

Psalms of Solomon . These are probably the product of the 1st cent. b.c. Here, too, a resurrection of the righteous alone is taught (3:16, 13:9, cf. 4:6). Moreover, no resurrection of the body is mentioned explicitly, though it would be rash to assume from his words that the author did not hold this doctrine.

2 Maccabees . A very definite doctrine of the resurrection is taught in this book, though the author expressly denies its applicability to the Gentiles ( 2Ma 7:14 , cf. 2Es 7:1-70 [79f]). The resurrection of the body is strongly held, as affording a powerful incentive and a glorious hope for those who underwent a cruel martyrdom ( 2Ma 14:46; 2Ma 7:11; cf. 2Ma 7:9; cf. 2Ma 7:14 ). At times the writer seems to be controverting the denial of a resurrection, as when he stops to praise the action of Judas in offering sacrifices and prayers for those who had fallen in battle, on the ground that he did so because ‘he took thought for a resurrection’ ( 2Ma 12:43 ). If there were no resurrection of the dead, such a course of action would be superfluous and idle ( 2Ma 12:44 ).

Book of Wisdom . It is only necessary to say of this writing that it is an Alexandrian work, written about the beginning of the Christian era, and that according to it the body is an incubus dragging the soul, which is destined for incorruption ( Wis 2:23; Wis 3:1 ), earthwards ( Wis 9:15 [cf. art. ‘Wisdom, Book of,’ in Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] iv. 930 f.]).

3. Position of the doctrine at and immediately subsequent to the time of Jesus Christ . It might be said, and said with justice, that the foregoing views were representative, not of contemporary popular beliefs and ideas, but of conceptions prevalent among the educated and thinking classes. It is reasonable, however, to expect that by the time of Jesus these lines of thought would have penetrated to the masses, with such modifications as they were likely to assume in and during the process. This expectation is found to be in harmony with what we observe to have actually existed; for, with one or two exceptions, when He felt called on to make a specific declaration (cf. Mark 12:18-27 = Matthew 22:23-32 = Luke 20:27-38 , John 5:28 f.). Jesus everywhere in His teaching assumed the truth of, and belief in, the resurrection of the dead. We know that materialistic views of this doctrine were held side by side with the more spiritual ideas so prominent in the Book of Enoch (cf. 51.4, 104.4, 8, 62.15f. etc.).

In the Apocalypse of Baruch, for example, the questions were asked, ‘In what shape shall those live who live in thy day?’ ‘Will they then resume this form of the present, and put on these entrammelling members, which are now involved in evils, and in which evils are consummated, or wilt thou perchance change these things which have been in the world, as also the world?’ (49.2f.). To these the answer is given, that the bodies of the dead shall be raised exactly as they were when committed to the ground, in order that they may be recognized by their friends (50.2ff.). After this object has been achieved, a glorious change will take place: ‘they shall be made like unto the angels, and be made equal to the stars, and they shall be changed into every form they desire, from beauty into loveliness, and from light into the splendour of glory’ (51.10, cf. Mark 12:25 = Luke 20:36 = Matthew 22:30 ). Even in Rabbinical circles sensuous conceptions were frequent, so that even the clothes in which one was to be buried became a subject of anxious care (see The Apoc. [Note: Apocalypse, Apocalyptic.] of Baruch ed. R. H. Charles, notes on chs. 50 51, and Introd. p. lxxx).

At this period, too, the ideas of a universal and of a first and a second resurrection were held and taught (Apoc. [Note: Apocalypse, Apocalyptic.] Bar 30.2 5, 2Es 7:28; 2Es 7:31-37 ). For our purpose it is not necessary to do more than refer to the Hellenistic or Pythagoræan speculations of the Essenes to which Josephus makes reference (see BJ II. viii. 11; Schürer, HJP [Note: JP History of the Jewish People.] ii. iii. 205). The only form of Judaism which contained principles of continuity and life was represented by Pharisaism. The view of this, the most religions and the most orthodox of the Jewish sects, with regard to the resurrection, limited it to the righteous, for whom they postulated a new and a glorified body (see BJ II. viii. 14, cf. Ant. XVIII. i. 3). While this doctrine of a personal resurrection seems to have made much more headway in the Judaism of this age than the other ideas referred to above, it also clearly appears that the limitation of its scope to the righteous was more universally held than its extension to the wicked, in spite of the teaching in Daniel ( Daniel 12:2 ), Apoc. [Note: Apocalypse, Apocalyptic.] of Baruch (30.2 5), and 2 Esdras (72:32 37). Moreover, a difference of opinion continued to exist as to the time when it was supposed to take place, some writers placing it immediately before (cf. En 51.1f.) and others immediately after the close of the Messianic era (cf. En 91.10, 92.3, Apoc. [Note: Apocalypse, Apocalyptic.] Bar 40 42, 2Es 4:41 , Ps-Sol 3:16, 13:9 etc.).

4. Teaching of Jesus

( a ) The Synoptics . Many of the passages in which Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection is recorded by the Synoptists might be interpreted as leaving no room for the doctrine that the wicked shall rise again from the dead. The most conspicuous, perhaps, of these is that Incorporated in the Lukan narrative of His controversy with the Sadducees ( Luke 20:35 f.). The form of the expression ‘the resurrection from the dead,’ as has been pointed out, ‘implies that some from among the dead are raised, while others as yet are not’ (see Plummer, ‘St. Luke’ in ICC [Note: CC International Critical Commentary.] , ad loc. ). The other expression, ‘sons of the resurrection,’ is remarkable for a similar reason. There seems to be an implied antithesis between those whose sonship results in immortality and those who can have no such hope (cf. Plummer, op. cit. Luke 20:36 n. [Note: . note.] ). Other instances, which might be considered as lending countenance to this view, speak of the ‘resurrection of the just’ ( Luke 14:14 ), and contain promises of restoration in the glory of His Kingdom to ‘his elect’ ( Mark 13:27 = Matthew 24:31 ). When, on the other hand, we take a general survey of the eschatological teaching of Jesus, we find that the doctrine of a general bodily resurrection occupies a very assured position even in the Synoptic records. Not only do we find, as already noted, that His teaching on this subject, as against Sadducean negations, was pleasing in Pharisaic circles (cf. Luke 20:39 ), but He is also seen to refer to this question in terms of current Jewish orthodoxy. The future life is personal in the fullest sense, and it is not incorporeal, for’ many shall come from the east and the west and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven’ ( Matthew 8:11 , cf. Luke 13:29 ).

( b ) The Fourth Gospel . The Johannine record of Jesus’ eschatological teaching reveals a profounder view of the resurrection life than that contained in the Synoptics, for it is there dealt with as a spiritual process intimately connected with the quickening life which is ‘given to the Son’ ( John 5:26; cf. John 17:2; John 1:4 ). When Martha expresses her assurance that her brother ‘shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day’ ( John 11:24 ), Jesus at once lays broader and deeper the foundations upon which this belief is to rest for the future. While tacitly acquiescing in her conviction as a ‘sure and certain hope,’ He establishes an organic relationship, immediate and spiritual, between Himself and those committed to Him. This living relationship, in which all believers share, contains the germ of that resurrection life which springs into being at present, and will be perfected at ‘the last day’ ( John 11:26 , cf. John 6:40; John 6:44; John 5:21; John 3:36 ).

It is true that Jesus seems to have given no thought to the difficulty of conceiving a resurrection of the wicked on the ground that all resurrection life has its origin in Himself; at the same time no doubt can be reasonably entertained that He looked for the resurrection of all men (see John 12:48; cf. those passages which speak of the body being cast with the soul into Gehenna, Matthew 10:28; Matthew 5:29 f.). Perhaps He considered that a sufficient explanation consisted in asserting the omnipotence of ‘the Father’ after the manner of the OT; ‘The Father raiseth the dead and quickeneth them’ ( John 5:21; cf. Deuteronomy 32:38 , 2 Corinthians 1:9 ). In the Lukan version of Jesus’ argument with the Sadducees we may understand a reference to the idea of the resurrection of all men based on the truth that ‘all live unto him’ ( Luke 20:38 , cf. a slightly different expression in Acts 17:28 ).

It may be pointed out here that Jesus seems to have made no attempt to answer the often debated question of the curious as to the nature of the resurrection body . He compared the condition of those who had arisen to that of the angels ( Mark 12:25 ), a comparison which is noteworthy for what it implies as well as for the reserve which Jesus used when speaking on this subject. At the same time, we must remember that certain incidents in the post-resurrection life of Jesus on earth appear to have been designed to meet what is legitimate in speculation of this kind. He was anxious to prove that His was a bodily resurrection ( Luke 24:41 ff., John 20:20; cf. Acts 10:41 ), and that His risen body was capable of being identified with the body to which His disciples had been accustomed for so long ( John 20:27 ). On the other hand, the conditions of His existence underwent a complete alteration. For Him now physical limitations, as regards time or space, did not exist ( Matthew 28:2 , John 20:19; John 20:25 , Luke 24:15; cf. Luke 24:34 ); and this freedom from temporal conditions resulted in a life which transcended ordinary experience. Sometimes He remained unrecognized until a well-known characteristic phrase or act revealed His personality ( John 20:14 f., John 21:4 , Luke 24:16; cf. the author’s comment ‘but some doubted’ In Matthew 28:17 ).

5. Apostolic teaching

( a ) The Acts . Although the Apostles do not seem at first to have shaken themselves free from Judaistic conceptions of the Messianic Kingdom ( Acts 1:6 ), it is plain that they looked on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection as of primary importance (see Acts 1:22 ). At all costs this must be placed in the forefront of their evangelistic work, and the principal element of their Apostolic claims to the attention of their Jewish hearers lay in their power, as eye-witnesses, to offer irrefragable proof of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead ( Acts 2:24; Acts 2:32; Acts 3:15; Acts 4:10; Acts 4:33; Acts 5:30; Acts 5:32; cf. Acts 10:40 f.). When we compare the fragmentary reports of Petrine teaching in the Acts with the doctrine of 1Peter , we find that in the latter document the Apostle is no less insistent on the fact ( 1 Peter 1:21 ), while he has learned to assign to it the power of penetrating the present life and renewing it ‘unto a living hope’ ( 1 Peter 1:3 ). Christian Baptism for him receives its spiritual validity ‘through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,’ which enables us to satisfy ‘the appeal of a good conscience toward God’ ( 1 Peter 3:21 ). At the same time we must not forget that elements of this power are recognized more than once in his discourses in Acts. The Pentecostal outpouring, the work of healing, the gifts of repentance and forgiveness of sins, are all described as (flowing from the risen life of Jesus (see Acts 2:33; Acts 4:10; Acts 5:31; cf. Acts 5:20 , where the angelic messenger speaks of the Apostolic teaching as having reference to ‘this life’).

( b ) St. Paul . When we turn to the teaching of St. Paul as it gradually comes into contact with Hellenic and Gentile thought, we find the doctrine of the resurrection assuming a new and developed prominence in connexion with the resurrection of Jesus. When addressing Jewish audiences, he emphasizes the fact that God raised up Jesus according to certain promises recorded in the OT (of. Acts 13:32 f., Acts 26:6 ff.), and at the same time bases his doctrine of the resurrection on its necessity, and on the relationship of Jesus and the human race. When, however, he came face to face with the Greek mind, his experience was entirely different. The philosophers of Athens met his categorical assertion of the resurrection of Jesus not merely with a refusal to credit his statement, but with a plain derision of the very idea ( Acts 17:32; cf. Acts 26:8 ). It was doubtless the calm mockery of the Athenian Stoics that made him feel that his mission to them was hopeless ( Acts 18:1 ), and caused him, when writing afterwards to the essentially Greek community of Corinthian Christians, to expound fully his doctrine of the resurrection. In the first of the two letters addressed to this Church he establishes the fact of the resurrection of Jesus, by revealing its harmony with the Divine plan set forth to the Jews in the OT, and showing that it was attested by numerous witnesses of His post-resurrection existence. He next goes on to demonstrate the organic connexion between this resurrection and that of those ‘who are fallen asleep in Christ’ ( 1 Corinthians 15:16 ff.), and the necessity of accepting the doctrine as fundamentally essential to Christian belief and hope ( 1 Corinthians 15:3 f., 1 Corinthians 15:19 , cf. Hebrews 6:1 ).

St. Paul’s eschatological doctrine included a belief in a real bodily resurrection . This is quite certain not only from the chapter we have been considering, but also from incidental references scattered throughout his Epistles (cf. the expression, He ‘shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation,’ Philippians 3:21; see Romans 8:11; Romans 4:14 , 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 etc.). Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the Apostle’s contribution to this doctrine is contained in his conception of the nature of the resurrection body. It is evident from the analogies he employs that he intended to establish the identity of the mortal and the glorified bodies ( 1 Corinthians 15:35-41 ). this idea he puts on a rational, though an apparently paradoxical, basis by postulating the existence of ‘a spiritual body’ as distinct from ‘a natural body’ ( 1 Corinthians 15:44 ), and at the same time by insisting on their strict continuity (cf. the repeated doublets ‘it is sown’ … ‘it is raised,’ 1 Corinthians 15:42 ff.). Doubtless his presentment of this speculative and mysterious question was founded on what he had already learned regarding the nature of the traditional appearances of the risen Jesus. ‘The body of his glory’ Philippians 3:21 ) is the ultimate attainable glory of those whose ‘citizenship is in heaven’ ( Philippians 3:20; cf. Colossians 3:10 , Romans 8:20 , 1 John 3:2 , 1 Corinthians 15:49 ).

Side by side with the doctrine of a literal, bodily resurrection, St. Paul’s writings are rich with another conception which is more especially connected with the present life. Following the teaching of Jesus, who claimed to be the power by which resurrection life was alone possible, the Apostle declares that Christ gives this new and glorious life here and now. It is rooted, so to speak, in the earthly life of men, and its final growth and fruit are consummated hereafter (cf. Colossians 2:12; Colossians 3:1 , Philippians 3:10 f., Romans 6:5 ). This inchoative resurrection life has its origin in the spiritual union of baptized Christians with Christ (cf. Romans 6:3 f., Colossians 2:12 , Galatians 3:27 ), and the tremendous possibilities of development are, according to St. Paul, due to a transcendent fellowship with the glorified Jesus (see Ephesians 1:20 to Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 2:19 ff.). His resurrection is the power by which this union, in all its aspects, is perfected ( Philippians 3:10 f., cf. Romans 1:4 ). It was doubtless the one-sided presentation of Pauline eschatology that led to the heresy of Hymenæus and Philetus ( 2 Timothy 2:18 ), and the Apostle seems to have felt the necessity of balancing his mystical interpretation by an emphatic insistence on the literal truth that the resurrection is a future objective fact in the progressive life of man.

That St. Paul held the doctrine of the resurrection of the wicked as well as of the righteous is evident not only from the words of his defence before Felix at Cæsarea (Acts 24:15 , cf. Luke 14:14 ), but also from incidental remarks in his Epistles (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:22 f., where the emphasis which is laid on the first resurrection implies a second and a separate event; cf. Acts 26:7 f. and Philippians 3:11 , where the same implication may be observed). What the connexion is, however, between these two distinct resurrections does not appear to have occurred to the Apostle’s mind, and there seems to be little ground for the supposition that he believed in a distinction between them as regards time. Indeed, the particular passage upon which millenarians rely to prove the affinity of the Pauline and Apocalyptic doctrines in this respect says nothing of any resurrection except that of ‘those that are Christ’s’ (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:22 ff.). The resurrection of the wicked occupies a very subordinate place in Pauline eschatology, and we need not be surprised at the scanty notice taken of it, when we remember how constantly he is pressing on his readers’ attention the power by which the resurrection to life is brought about ( Romans 8:11 , 1 Corinthians 15:45; cf. John 6:40; John 6:44; John 6:54; John 5:21 for the teaching that it is the quickening Spirit of Christ which causes the resurrection ‘at the last day’). It is sufficient for him to urge men to the attainment of this resurrection which was the goal of his own aspirations (cf. Philippians 3:11 ), and to warn them of the fate attendant on the rejection of Christ (note the expressions ‘day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,’ Romans 2:5; ‘eternal destruction from the face of the Lord,’ 2Th 1:9; cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:10 , Philippians 3:19 etc.).

6. The Apocalypse . The principal contribution of the apocalyptic eschatology to the doctrine of the resurrection is contained in ch. 20. Although there is no specific reference to the resurrection of the wicked, this is implied in the expression ‘the first resurrection’ ( Revelation 20:5 ), as well as in the connexion established between the Resurrection and the Judgment. Rewards and punishments are meted out to all as they stand ‘before the throne,’ for ‘death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works’ ( Revelation 20:12 f.). What precisely is the interpretation by which the millennial reign of the martyrs and loyal followers of Jesus is to be adequately explained it is difficult to conjecture. See, further, artt. Chiliasm, Millennium.

For the Resurrection of Christ, see, further, Jesus Christ, p. 456 ff.

J. R. Willis.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Resurrection'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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