Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(ἀνάστασις ) OF THE BODY, the revivification of the human body after it has been forsaken by the soul, or the reunion of the soul hereafter to the body which it had occupied in the present world. This is one of the essential points in the creed of Christendom.
I. History of the Doctrine. — It is admitted that there are no traces of such a belief in the earlier Hebrew Scripture. It is not to be found in the Pentateuch, in the historical books, or in the Psalms; for Psalms 49:15 does not relate to this subject; neither does Psalms 104:29-30, although so cited by Theodoret and others. The celebrated passage of Job 19:25 sq. has indeed been strongly insisted upon in proof of the early belief in this doctrine; but the most learned commentators are agreed, and scarcely any one at the present day disputes, that such a view of the text arises either from mistranslation or misapprehension, and that Job means no more than to express a confident conviction that his then diseased and dreadfully corrupted body should be restored to its former soundness; that he should rise from the depressed state in which he lay to his former prosperity; and that God would manifestly appear (as was the case) to vindicate his uprightness. Thatno meaning more recondite is to be found in the text is agreed by Calvin, Mercier, Grotius, Le Clerc, Patrick, Warburton, Durell, Heath, Kennicott, Doderlein, Dathe, Eichhorn, Jahn, De Wette, and a host of others. That it alludes to a resurrection is disproved thus:
1. The supposition is inconsistent with the design of the poem and the course of the argument, since the belief which it has been supposed to express, as connected with a future state of retribution, would in a great degree have solved the difficulty on which the whole dispute turns, and could not but have been often alluded to by the speakers.
2. It is inconsistent with the connection of the discourse; the reply of Zophar agreeing, not with the popular interpretation, but with the other.
3. It is inconsistent with many passages in which the same person (Job) longs for death as the end of his miseries, and not as the introduction to a better life (Job 3; Job 7:7-8; Job 10:20-22; Job 19; Job 17:11-16).
4. It is not proposed as a topic of consolation by any of the friends of Job; nor by Elihu, who acts as a sort of umpire; nor by the Almighty himself in the decision of the controversy.
5. The later Jews, who eagerly sought for every intimation bearing on a future life which their Scriptures might contain, never regarded this as such; nor is it once referred to by Christ or his apostles.
6. The language, when exactly rendered, contains no warrant for such an interpretation; especially the phrase "yet in my flesh shall I see God," which should rather be rendered "out of my flesh." (See JOB, BOOK OF).
Isaiah may be regarded as the first Scripture writer in whom such an allusion can be traced. He compares the restoration of the Jewish people and state to a resurrection from the dead (Isaiah 26:19-20); and in this he is followed by Ezekiel at the time of the exile (ch. 37). From these passages, which are, however, not very clear in their intimations, it may seem that in this, as in other matters, the twilight of spiritual manifestations brightened as the day-spring from on high approached; and in Daniel 12:2 we at length arrive at a clear and unequivocal declaration that those who lie sleeping under the earth shall awake, some to eternal life, and others to everlasting shame and contempt.
In the time of Christ, the belief of a resurrection, in connection with a state of future retribution, was held by the Pharisees and the great body of the Jewish people, and was only disputed by the Sadducees. Indeed, they seem to have regarded the future life as incomplete without the body; and so intimately were the two things-the future existence of the soul and the resurrection of the body-connected in their minds that any argument which, proved the former they considered as proving the latter also (see Matthew 22:31; 1 Corinthians 15:32). This belief, however, led their coarse minds into gross and sensuous conceptions of the future state, although there were many among the Pharisees who taught that the future body would be so refined as not to need the indulgences which were necessary in the present life; and they assented to our Lord's assertion that the risen saints would not marry, but would be as the angels of God (Matthew 22:30; comp. Luke 20:39). So Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6:13, is conceived to intimate that the necessity of food for subsistence will be abolished in the world to come.
In further proof of the commonness of a belief in the resurrection among the Jews of the time of Christ, see Matthew 22; Luke 20; John 11:24; Acts 23:6-8. Josephus is not to be relied upon in the account which he gives of the belief of his countrymen (Ant. 18:2; War, ii, 7), as he appears to use terms which might suggest one thing to his Jewish readers and another to the Greeks and Romans, who scouted the idea of a resurrection. It is clearly taught in the Apocryphal books of the Old Test. (Wisdom of Solomon 3:1, etc.; 4:15; 2 Maccabees 7:14; 2 Maccabees 7:23; 2 Maccabees 7:29, etc.). — Many Jews believed that the wicked would not be raised from the dead; but the contrary was the more prevailing opinion, in which Paul once took occasion to express his concurrence with the Pharisees (Acts 24:15).
But although the doctrine of the resurrection was thus prevalent among the Jews in the time of Christ, it might still have been doubtful and obscure to us had not Christ given to it the sanction of his authority, and declared it a constituent part of his religion (e.g. Matthew 22; John 5:8; John 5:11). He and his apostles also, were careful to correct the erroneous notions which the Jews entertained on this head, and to make the subject more obvious and intelligible than it had ever been before. A special interest is also imparted to the subject from the manner in which the New Test. represents Christ as the person to whom we are indebted for this benefit, which, by every variety of argument and illustration, the apostles connect with him, and make to rest upon him (Acts 4:2; Acts 26:3; 1 Corinthians 15; 1 Thessalonians 4:14, etc.).
II. Scripture Details. — The principal points which can be collected from the New Test. on this subject are the following:
1. The raising of the dead is everywhere ascribed to Christ, and is represented as the last work to be undertaken by him for the salvation of man (John 5:21; John 11:25; 1 Corinthians 15:22 sq.; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; Revelation 1:18).
2. All the dead will be raised, without respect to age, rank, or character in this world (John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15; 1 Corinthians 15:22).
3. This event is to take place not before the end of the world, or the general judgment (John 5:21; John 6:39-40; John 11:24; 1 Corinthians 15:22-28; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; Revelation 20:11).
4. The manner in which this marvellous change shall be accomplished is necessarily beyond our present comprehension, and therefore the Scripture is content to illustrate it by figurative representations, or by proving the possibility and intelligibility of the leading facts. Some of the figurative descriptions occur in Matthew 24; John 5; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Philippians 3:21. The image of a trumpet-call, which is repeated in some of these texts, is derived from the Jewish custom of convening assemblies by sound of trumpet.
5. The possibility of a resurrection is powerfully argued by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:32 sq., by comparing it with events of common occurrence in the natural world. (See also 1 Corinthians 15:12-14; and comp. Acts 4:2.) — Kitto.
6. The numerous instances of an actual raising of individuals to life by our Lord and his apostles, not to speak of a few similar acts by the Old Test. prophets, and especially the crowning fact of our Lord's resurrection from the grave, afford some light on these particulars. (See below.):
7. The fact of the general judgment (q.v.) is conclusive as to the literal truth of this great doctrine.
But although this body shall be so raised as to preserve its identity, it must yet undergo certain purifying changes to fit it for the kingdom of heaven, and to render it capable of immortality (1 Corinthians 15:35 sq.), so that it shall become a glorified body like that of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:49; Romans 6:9; Philippians 3:21); and the bodies of those whom the last day finds alive will undergo a similar change without tasting death (1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Corinthians 15:53; 2 Corinthians 5:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:15 sq.; Philippians 3:21).
III. Theories on the Subject, — Whether the soul, between the death and the resurrection of the present body, exists independent of any envelope, we know not. Though it may be that a union of spirit with body is the general law of all created spiritual life, still this view gives no countenance to the notions of those who have attempted to prove, from certain physiological opinions respecting the renewal — every few years — of the human frame during life, and the final transmission of its decomposed elements into other forms of being, that the resurrection of the body is impossible. The apostle asserts the fact that the "dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed; for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:35-53). While this passage affirms the identity of the body before and after the resurrection, it by no means affirms the identity of the constituent particles of which the body is, at different periods, supposed to be made up. The particles of a man's body may change several times betiween infancy and old age; and yet, according to our ideas of bodily identity, the man has had all the time "the same body." So also all the particles may be changed again between the process of death and the resurrection, and the body yet retain its identity (see the Bibliothec Sacra, 2, 613 sq.). Doubtless the future body will be incorruptible, infrangible, and capable of being moved at will to any part of the universe. The highest and most lengthened exercises of thought and feeling will doubtless not occasion exhaustion or languor so as to divert in any way the intellect and the affections from the engagements suited to their strength and perfection (see the Brit. and For. Evang. Rev. April, 1862). But that there is no analogy — that the new body will have no connection with, and no relation to, the old; and that, in fact, the resurrection of the body is not a doctrine of Scripture — does not appear to us to have been satisfactorily proved by the latest writer on the subject (Bush, Annistasis,.N. Y. 1845); and we think so highly of his ingenuity and talent as to believe that no one else is likely to succeed in an argument in which he has failed.
Among the speculations propounded as a solution of the problem of the resurrection, the most ingenious, perhaps, as well as fascinating, is the germ theory, which assumes that the soul at death retains a certain ethereal investiture, alndthat this ha's, by virtue of the vital force, the power of accreting to itself a new body for the celestial life. This is substantially the Swedenborgian view as advocated by the late Prof. Bush, and has recently received the powerful support of Mr. Joseph Cook in his popular lectures. It is thought to be countenanced especially by Paul's language (1 Corinthians 15) concerning the "spiritual body" of the future state (1 Corinthians 15:4), and his figure of the renewed grain (1 Corinthians 15:37). This explanation, however, is beset with many insuperable difficulties.
(a.) The apostle's distinction between the psychical (ψυχικόν, "natural") and thepneumatical (πνευματικόν , "spiritual") in that passage is not of material (φυσικόν, physical) as opposed to immaterial or disembodied; for both are equally called body (σῶμα, actual and tangible substance), such as we know our Lord's resurrection body was composed of (Luke 24:39). It is merely, as the whole context shows ("corruptible- incorruptible," "mortal-immortal," etc.), the difference between the feeble, decaying body of this life in its present normal state, and the glorious, fadeless frame of the future world in its transcendent condition hereafter; in short, its aspect as known to us here from natural phenomena, and its prospect as revealed to us in Scripture. This appears from the contrasted use of these terms in another part of the same epistle (1 Corinthians 2:14-15) to denote the unregenerate as opposed to the regenerate heart, the former being its usual or depraved, and the latter its transformed or gracious, state.
(b.) In like manner the apostle's figure of grain as sown, while it admirably illustrates, in a general way, the possibility of changes in the natural world as great as that which will take place in the resurrection body, yet — like all other metaphors — was never intended to teach the precise mode of that transformation, and accordingly it fails in several essential particulars to correspond to the revival of the body from the grave. 1. The seed never actually dies, nor any part of it. It is the germ alone that possesses vitality, and this simply expands and develops, gathering to itself the material of the rest of the seed, which undergoes chemical and vital changes fitting it for nutriment until the young plant attains roots and leaves wherewith to imbibe nourishment from the outer world. This whole process is as truly a growth as that anywhere found in nature; it is, in fact, essentially the same as takes place in the hatching of an egg or the gestation of an animal. 2. The real identity of the original plant or seed and its successor or the crop is lost in this transmutation, as the apostle himself intimates (v. 37). It is, in fact, the reproduction of another but similar thing rather than the continuation or renewal of the: same. The old plant, indeed, perishes, but it never revives. The seed is its offspring, and thus only represents its parent. Nor is the new plant anything more than a lineal descendant of the old one. We must not confound the resurrection with mere propagation. The young plant may, we admit, in one sense be said to be identical with the germ sown, notwithstanding the great change which it takes on in the process of growth; and this is the precise point of the apostle's simile. But we must not press his figure into a literal strictness when comparing things so radically different as the burial of a corpse and the planting of grain. The principle of life is continuous in the latter; but this is not a distinct substance, like the soul; it is merely a property of matter, and in the case of the body must cease with physical dissolution.
(c.) We would ask those who maintain this theory a simple question: Is the so-called germ or "enswathement" which is supposed to survive, escape, or be eliminated from the body at death is it matter or is it spirit? We presume all will admit that there are but these two essential kinds of substance. Which of these, then, is it? It must, of course, belong to the former category. Then the body does not actually and entirely die! But this contradicts all the known phenomena in the case. The whole theory under discussion is not only a pure begging of the question really at issue, but it is improbable and inconsistent. There is absolutely not the slightest particle of scientific or historical evidence that the body leaves a vital residuum in dissolution, or evolves at death an ethereal frame that survives it in any physical sense whatever as a representation. We remand all such hypotheses to the realm of ghostland and "spiritualism."
(d.) In the case of the resurrection of the body of Jesus, which is the type of the general resurrection, and the only definite instance on record, it is certain that this theory will not apply. Not, only is no countenance given to it by the language of Holy Scripture concerning the agency which effected that resuscitation, viz. the direct and miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, but the circumstances obviously exclude such a process. There, was the defunct person, entire except that the spark of life had fled. If it be said that there still lingered about it some vital germ that was the nucleus around which reanimation gathered, what is this but to deny that Jesus was ttuly and effectually dead? Then thie whole doctrine of the atonement is endangered. In plain English, he was merely in a swoon, as the Rationalists assert. It may be replied, indeed, that the revivification of our Lord's body, which had not yet decomposed, of course differed in some important respects from that of the bodies of the saints whose elements will have dissolved to dust. But on the ordinary view the two agree in the essential point, viz. an actual and full return to life after total and absolute extinction of it; whereas under the theory in question one main element of this position is denied. It matters little how long the body has been dead, or to what extent disorganization has taken place — whether but a few hours, as in the case of the son of the widow of Nain; or four days, as in that of Lazarus; or thousands of years, as in thatof the saints at the final judgment. It is equally a resurrection if life have utterly left the physical organism, and not otherwise. We conclude, therefore, that there is no scriptural, consistent, or intelligible view except the one commonly entertained by Christians on this subject, viz. that the pure and immaterial soul alone survives the dissolution of the body, and that at the last day almighty power will clothe this afresh with a corporeal frame suitable to its enlarged and completely developed faculties, and that the identity of the latter will consist, not so much, if at all, in the reassemblage of the individual particles of which its old partner was composed, much less of some subtle and continuous tertium quid that emerged from the decaying substance and reconstructs a new physical home for itself, but in the similar combination of similar matter, similarly united with the same immortal spirit, and with it glorified by some such inscrutable change as took place in our Saviour's body at the transfiguration, and as still characterized it when preternaturally beheld by Saul on his way to Damascus.
IV. Literature. — This is very copious (see a list of works on the subject in the appendix to Alger's Doctrine of a Future Life, Nos. 2929-3181). We here mention only a few of the most important: Knapp, Christian Theology, translated by Leonard Woods, D.D., § 151-153; Hody, On the Resurrection; Drew, Essay on the Resurrection of the Human. Body; Burnet, State of the Dead; Schott, Dissert. de Resurrect. Corporis, adv. S. Burnetumn (1763); Teller, Fides Dogmat. de Resurr. Carnis (1766); Mosheim, De Christ. Resurr. Mort., etc., in Dissertatt. ii, 526 sq.; Dassov, Diatr. gua Judceor. de Resurr. Mort. Sentent. ex Plur. Rabbinis (1675); Neander, All. Geschichte, etc., I, 3:1088,1096; II, 3:1404-1410; Zehrt, Ueber d. Auferstehung d. Todten (1835); Hodgson, Res. of Hum. Body (Lond. 1853). (See RESURRECTION OF CHRIST).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Resurrection'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/r/resurrection.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.