Resurrections of dead people are found in the Tanakh, such as Elijah and the widow's son at Zarephath: "Behold your son lives." ; Elisha and the Shunammite woman: "Take up your son". . and contact with Elisha's bones reviving a dead man: "as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet". Ezekiel's Vision in the Valley of Dry Bones reads, "Thus says the Lord Yahweh to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live." .
According to the Jewish Encyclopedia article on Resurrection, the topic may be discussed in , , , and is argued in more detail in the Deuterocanonical books of Enoch, Jubilees, Apocalypse of Baruch, 2 Esdras and the Maccabees.
Orthodox Judaism holds that belief in resurrection as one of the cardinal principles of Rabbinical Judaism. Jewish halakhic authority Maimonides set down thirteen main principles of the Jewish faith which have ever since been printed in all Rabbinic Siddur (prayer books). Resurrection is the thirteenth principle:
This tenet is included at the end of the Nicene Creed, which concludes (in its version of 381 AD) that Christians "look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come." The Apostles' Creed explicitly ends with an affirmation of belief in "the resurrection of the body".
The Christian writers Irenaeus and Justin Martyr, in the 2nd Century, wrote against the idea that only the soul survived. Justin insists that a man is both soul and body and Christ has promised to raise both, just as his own body was raised. He wrote: "Seeing as ... the Saviour in the whole Gospel shows that there is salvation for the flesh, why do we any longer endure those unbelieving and dangerous arguments, and fail to see that we are retrograding when we listen to such an argument as this: that the soul is immortal, but the body mortal, and incapable of being revived? For this we used to hear from Pythagoras and Plato, even before we learned the truth. If then the Saviour said this, and proclaimed salvation to the soul alone, what new thing, beyond what we heard from Pythagoras and Plato and all their band, did He bring us? But now He has come proclaiming the glad tidings of a new and strange hope to men."
While the Christian doctrine of resurrection conforms to Jewish belief, there is, however, a minority point of view, held by certain Jewish mystics and others, which asserts that those Jewish beliefs are in contradiction with the resurrection as taught by Isaiah (Isaiah 8:16 and 26:19) and Daniel (12:1 and 13) in which the resurrection was understood as being a doctrine of physical 'Rebirth'.
Jesus appears to have been in general agreement with the position held by the Pharisees, as illustrated by his response to a question regarding marriage at the resurrection (and ).
Most Christian churches continue to uphold the belief that there will be a general resurrection of the dead at "the end of time", as described 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).
Many of the early Church Fathers cited the Old Testament examples listed in the Judaism section above as either foreshadowing Jesus's resurrection, or foreshadowing or prophesying a future resurrection of all the dead.
According to the New Testament, Jesus argued with the Sadducees over the doctrine of the resurrection. These passages are , , . See also Mark 12. The Gospel of John also contains teachings about the resurrection of the dead ().
The Sign of Jonah (, , cf. ) may be about the resurrection of the dead. From the Scholars Version translation of Matthew 12:38-42: "...At judgment time, the citizens of Ninevah will come back to life along with this generation ... At judgment time, the queen of the south will be brought back to life along with this generation ..."
The "resurrection of the righteous" is mentioned at . The "resurrection at the last day" is mentioned at .
In Paul argues: "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised." warns of some "who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some."
Additional cites are ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; .
A minority of Christians, including Martin Luther and denominations such as Seventh-day Adventists, believe that when a person dies conscious thinking and ability to do anything can not occur. Gen. 3:19: “In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Eccl. 9:10: “All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol [“the grave,” King James, Holy Bible Ronald Knox; “the world of the dead,” Today's English Version], the place to which you are going.”
Eccl. 9:5: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.”
Ps. 146:4: “His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts [“thoughts,” King James, 145:4 in Catholic Challoner-Douay; “all his thinking,” New English Bible; “plans,” Revised Standard, New American Bible] do perish.”
John 11:11-14: “‘Lazarus our friend has gone to rest, but I am journeying there to awaken him from sleep.’ . . . Jesus said to them outspokenly: ‘Lazarus has died.’” (Also Psalm 13:3)
Ezek. 18:4: “The soul [“soul,” Revised Standard, New English, King James, Catholic Challoner Douay, Holy Bible, Knox; “man,” Jerusalem Bible; “person,” Today's English Version] that is sinning—it itself will die.”
Isa. 53:12: “He poured out his soul [“soul,” Revised Standard, King James, Cahtolic Challoner Douay; “life,” Today's English Version; “himself,” Jerusalem Bible, Holy Bible, Knox, New American Bible] to the very death.” (Compare Matthew 26:38.)
Eccl. 9:6: “Their love and their hate and their jealousy have already perished, and they have no portion anymore to time indefinite in anything that has to be done under the sun.”
Isa. 26:14: “They are dead; they will not live. Impotent in death, they will not rise up.”
According to the Summa Theologica, spiritual beings that have been restored to glorified bodies will have the following basic qualities:
At the close of the medieval period, the modern era brought a shift in Christian thinking from an emphasis on the resurrection of the body back to the immortality of the soul. This shift was a result of a change in the zeitgeist, as a reaction to the renaissance and later to the enlightenment. Dartigues has observed that especially “from the 17th to the 19th century, the language of popular piety no longer evoked the resurrection of the soul but everlasting life. Although theological textbooks still mentioned resurrection, they dealt with it as a speculative question more than as an existential problem.”
This shift was supported not by any scripture, but largely by the popular religion of the Enlightenment, deism. Deism allowed for a supreme being, such as the philosophical first cause, but denied any significant personal or relational interaction with this figure. Deism, which was largely lead by rationality and reason, could allow a belief in the immortality of the soul, but not necessarily in the resurrection of the dead. American deist Ethan Allen demonstrates this thinking in his work, Reason the Only Oracle of Man (1784) where he argues in the preface that nearly every philosophical problem is beyond humanity’s understanding, including the miracles of Christianity, although he does allow for the immortality of an immaterial soul.
This is not to say that a belief in eternal life in heaven is contradictory to belief in the resurrection of the body. Most evangelicals believe that those who die in Christ go to be with Christ in heaven. But then at the second coming of Christ, there will be a rapture of all believers, including who have already died. ("For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17) It is at the point of rapture that the souls of dead believers become reunited with their bodies. Then all believers will continue to live with Christ in their glorified, physical bodies. They will be both body and soul, as humans were originally created.
In modern Christianity resurrection is in many places not mentioned much. Sometimes only heaven is spoken of as the goal of the believer. Early 20th century American preacher Billy Sunday epitomizes the sentiment in his sermon “Heaven: A Wonderful Place; Where There is No More Death; Blessed Hope of the Christian.” In the message Sunday characteristically explained the feelings of his audience by saying “Everybody wants to go to Heaven. We are all curious. We want to know, where Heaven is, how it looks, who are there, what they wear, and how to get there!” Sunday speaks of many aspects of the afterlife such as the nice weather and eternal health, although there is no mention of the resurrection of the dead. He ends with an illustration about a man who dies and goes to heaven exclaiming “Home, home at last!” as if he had arrived at the end of his eschatological journey.
The emphasis on the immortality of the soul in heaven instead of the resurrection of the dead continues largely in the 21st century through popular charismatic and evangelical preaching. Jesus is often spoken of as “the way to heaven” and personal eschatology is generally seen in terms of whether or not a person gets into heaven when they die, rather than how they will fare at the resurrection of the dead. However, there are a good number of theologians, such as Thomas Oden, popular Christian writers, such as Randy Alcorn and Christian scholars, such as the Anglican Bishop of Durham, N.T. Wright who have defended the primacy of the resurrection in Christian faith.
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