General Information

The concept of resurrection from the dead is found in several religions, although it is associated particularly with Christianity because of the central belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hope of a resurrection from the dead may have entered Judaism from Persian sources, although the idea has deeper roots in Old Testament Yahwism and the concept of God's covenant with Israel. The resurrection life was variously conceived, but the type of hope that passed into early Christian thought centered on the transformation of human life from the dead into a transcendental mode of existence. This was expressed poetically as "shining like the stars in heaven" (Dan. 12:3) or becoming "like the angels" (Mark 12:25).

After the Easter experiences, earliest Christianity expressed its faith in what had happened to Jesus as resurrection in the transcendental sense. This concept is sharply distinguished from resuscitation, or a return to this worldly existence, as narrated in the raisings of Lazarus and others attributed to Jesus. Saint Paul conceived the resurrection of Jesus as the first instance of an apocalyptic type resurrection ("Christ the first fruits," 1 Cor. 15:20, 23); as a result of Christ's resurrection, all believers may hope for resurrection at the Second Coming of Christ. Paul indicates that the resurrection body will be new and "spiritual" (1 Cor. 15:35 - 54); most theologians interpret this to mean that it is the personality that is resurrected.

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Islam also believes in the resurrection of the dead, as did traditional Judaism.

Reginald H Fuller

R H Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives (1971); S H Hooke, The Resurrection of Christ as History and Experience (1967); P Perkins, Resurrection: New Testament Witness and Contemporary Reflection (1984); N Perrin, The Resurrection according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke (1977).


Advanced Information

That Jesus Christ died and afterward rose from the dead is both the central doctrine of Christian theology and the major fact in a defense of its teachings. This was true in the earliest church and remains so today.

The Centrality of the Resurrection

It is the witness of the NT that the resurrection of Jesus is the pivotal point of Christian theology and apologetics. Paul reports an early creed in I Cor. 15:3ff. which both includes the resurrection as an integral part of the gospel and reports several eyewitness appearances.

Then Paul relates the importance of this event, for if Jesus did not literally rise from the dead, then the entire Christian faith is fallacious (vs. 14) and ineffective (vs. 17). Additionally, preaching is valueless (vs. 14), Christian testimony is false (vs. 15), no sins have been forgiven (vs. 17), and believers have perished without any Christian hope (vs. 18). The conclusion is that, apart from this event, Christians are the most miserable of all people (vs. 19). Paul even states that without the resurrection we should "eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (vs. 32). If Jesus was not raised, believers have no hope of resurrection themselves and may as well turn to hedonistic philosophies of life. He thereby strongly implies that it is this event that separates Christianity from other philosophies.

Paul teaches the centrality of the resurrection in other passages as well. In another ancient creed (Rom. 1:3-4) he recites a brief Christology and asserts that Jesus was shown to be the son of God, Christ, and Lord by his resurrection (cf. Rom. 14:9). This event also provides salvation (Rom. 10:9-10) and ensures the resurrection of believers (I Cor. 15:20; II Cor. 4:14; I Thess. 4:14).

Similarly, Luke's writings relate several instances where the resurrection provided the basis for the Christian proclamation. Jesus taught that his death and resurrection was a central message of the OT (Luke 24:25-27). Peter held that the miracles which Jesus performed, and his resurrection in particular, were the chief indications that God approved of his teachings (Acts 2:22-32). Paul's teaching frequently utilized the resurrection as the basis of the gospel message (cf. Acts 13:29-39; 17:30-31).

Other NT writings share the same hope. Jesus utilized his resurrection as the sign vindicating the authority of his teachings (Matt. 12:38-40). This event both ensures the believer's salvation (I Pet. 1:3) and provides the means by which Jesus serves as the believer's high priest (Heb. 7:23-25).

Even such a brief survey indicates the centrality of the resurrection for the NT writers. Clearly, early believers such as Paul realized that this event provided the central claim of Christianity. With it the Christian message of eternal life is secure, resting on the reality of Jesus' victory over death. Without it the Christian message is reduced to that of one of man's philosophies.

The earliest postapostolic writings held this same message of the centrality of Jesus' resurrection. For example, Clement of Rome asserts that this event both demonstrates the truthfulness of Christ's message (Cor. 42) and is an example of the believer's resurrection (24-26). Ignatius insists on the literal facticity of this occurrence as an event in time (Mag. 11; Trall. 9; Smyr. 1), which is the believer's hope (Trall., Introduction) and an example of our resurrection (Trall. 9). He also stresses the belief that it was Jesus' flesh that was raised (Smyr. 3).

This latter issue of whether it was Jesus' flesh which was resurrected, as supported by Ignatius and later by Tertullian, or whether it was a resurrected body not composed of flesh, as championed by the Alexandrian school and Origen in particular, was a major question in early Christian theology. It was the former position, or forms of it, which gradually became the more widely accepted view in the medieval church and even afterward.

For many scholars today who accept the literal resurrection of Jesus, the emphasis has shifted to stress Paul's concept of the "spiritual body" (I Cor. 15:35-50, e.g.), endeavoring to do justice to both elements. Thus, Jesus was raised in a real body which had new, spiritual qualities.

The Resurrection and Contemporary Theology

There is virtual agreement, even among most critical theologians, that the resurrection of Jesus is the central claim of Christianity. Willi Marxsen asserts that it is still the decisive issue in Christian theology today; to have uncertainty concerning this claim is to jeopardize all of Christianity. Gunther Bornkamm agrees that without the message of Jesus' resurrection there would be no church, no NT, and no Christian faith even to this day. Jurgen Moltmann clearly states that Christianity either stands or falls with Jesus' resurrection.

Yet a major issue here concerns the question of whether all that is required is the message of the resurrection, or the literal event itself. This is not only a dispute between evangelicals and higher critical theologians, but also among these critical scholars themselves. The pivotal fact, recognized as historical by virtually all scholars, is the original experiences of the disciples. It is nearly always admitted that the disciples had real experiences and that "something happened." Yet, while contemporary scholars rarely utilize the naturalistic alternative theories, various views exist concerning the exact nature of these experiences. At the risk of oversimplification and partial repetition, at least four major critical positions can be outlined with regard to this question.

First, more radical critics hold that the nature of the original eyewitnesses' experiences cannot be ascertained. For example, Rudolf Bultmann and his followers claim that the actual cause of the disciples' transformation is obscured in the NT text. Regardless, it is not really important to inquire into the object of these experiences. Similarly, Marxsen also believes that the constitution of these encounters cannot be known, including whether the disciples actually saw the risen Jesus. Paul van Buren believes that "something happened" which changed the disciples' outlook from discouragement of faith. Although these experiences were more than subjective and were expressed in terms of actual appearances of Jesus, we still cannot judge their nature.

A second group of scholars is distinguished from the first not only by exhibiting some interest in the nature of the disciples' experiences, but often by the acceptance of the literal resurrection itself. Yet while the naturalistic theories are usually rejected, this group still insists that the event can be known only by faith completely apart from any verification.

The theologians in this second group have usually been influenced by Soren Kierkegaard and more recently by Karl Barth, who held that the resurrection may be accepted by faith as a literal event, but that it cannot be ascertained by any historical investigation. Barth emphatically rejected naturalistic theories and asserted that Jesus appeared empirically to his disciples, yet this event occurred in a different sphere of history and thus cannot be verified by history. Similar views were held by neo-orthodox theologians such as Emil Brunner and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and are also popular in more contemporary works. For example, Bornkamm notes the invalidity of naturalistic theories but yet, in a manner reminiscent of Barth, states that this event can be accepted only by faith apart from historical examination.

The third position is characterized by a significant interest in more historical aspects of the resurrection. Not only are naturalistic theories usually rejected, but the empty tomb is often held to be a historical fact. Additionally, these scholars proceed a step further by setting forth a more or less abstract reconstruction of the historical nature of the appearances. However, it is still held that the resurrection itself is an eschatological event and is not demonstrable by historical methodology, although some hold that it will be verifiable in the future.

Moltmann holds that the disciples were the recipients of appearances of the risen Jesus, which involved spoken messages and commissioned the hearers to service in the world. These events, which are not strictly verifiable, are placed in eschatological history and are subject to future verification. Ulrich Wilckens likewise concludes that history cannot decide exactly what happened. Thus, while naturalistic theories can be refuted and the facticity of the empty tomb upheld, the appearances themselves were private revelations, indications of a future, eschatological existence.

Reginald Fuller notes that the disciples' transformations necessitate a cause. This cause is Jesus' appearances, which are historically defined as visionary experiences of light and auditions of meaning communicated to the earliest eyewitnesses. The messages both proclaimed that Jesus was risen and imparted a mission to his followers. Such phenomena were not subjective visions but actual experiences. They were the source of the Easter faith and message, but are removed from historical demonstration. Joachim Jeremias similarly taught that the appearances of Jesus were spiritual visions of shining light by which the disciples experienced Jesus as the risen Lord.

The fourth approach to the resurrection is that the available historical evidence demonstrates the probability that Jesus was literally raised from the dead. Perhaps the best-known recent theologian accepting this conclusion is Wolfhart Pannenberg, who both argues against naturalistic theories and concludes that the historical facts demonstrate the empty tomb and the literal appearances of Jesus. Yet Pannenberg argues against a corporeal resurrection body in favor of appearances which are described in terms of a spiritual body which was recognized as Jesus, who appeared from heaven, imparted an audition, and, at least in Paul's case, was accompanied by a phenomenon of light.

A. M. Hunter utilizes historical investigation to conclude that Jesus' resurrection can be demonstrated by the facts. J. A. T. Robinson points out that historical studies cannot ascertain the exact details, but they may be sufficient to formulate a probable case for the probability of this event. Raymond Brown, after an extensive study of the textual data, likewise supports the historical verification of Jesus' resurrection. Additionally, Hunter, Robinson, and Brown all favor the concept of the spiritual body.

It is important to note that of these four critical positions only the first is generally characterized by a rejection of or agnostic attitude toward the literal resurrection of Jesus. Just as significant is the observation that the first position not only appears to be losing ground, but varying positions which support the facticity of the resurrection are presently quite popular.

The Resurrection as History

Historical arguments for the resurrection have traditionally been based on two lines of support. First, naturalistic theories have failed to explain away this event, chiefly because each is disproven by the known historical facts.

Additionally, critics themselves have attacked each theory. For instance, in the nineteenth century David Strauss disarmed the swoon theory while Theodor Keim and others pointed out the weaknesses in the hallucination theory. Form critical studies later revealed the futility of the legend theory popularized by the history of religions school of thought. In the twentieth century such diverse thinkers as Barth, Tillich, Bornkamm, and Pannenberg are examples of higher critical theologians who have rejected these alternative hypotheses.

Second, historical evidences for the resurrection are often cited, such as the eyewitness testimony for Jesus' appearances, the transformed lives of the disciples, the empty tomb, the inability of the Jewish leaders to disprove these claims, and the conversion of skeptics such as Paul and James, the brother of Jesus. When combined with the absence of naturalistic alternative theories these evidences are quite impressive.

However, contemporary apologetics has moved even beyond these important issues to other arguments in favor of the resurrection. One crucial center of attention has been I Cor. 15:3-4, where Paul records material which he had "received" from others and then "delivered" to his listeners. It is agreed by virtually all contemporary theologians that this material contains an ancient creed that is actually much earlier than the book in which it is recorded.

The early date of this tradition is indicated not only by Paul's rather technical terms for receiving and passing on tradition, but also by the somewhat stylized content, the non-Pauline words, the specific names of Peter and James (cf. Gal. 1:18-19), and the possible Semitic idioms used.

These facts have accounted for the critical agreement as to the early origin of this material. In fact, Fuller, Hunter, and Pannenberg date Paul's receiving of this creed from three to eight years after the crucifixion itself. These data are quite significant in that they further indicate that both Paul and the other eyewitnesses proclaimed the death and resurrection of Jesus (I Cor. 15:11) immediately after the events themselves. This anchors their report firmly in early eyewitness testimony and not in legendary reports arising later.

Another extremely strong argument for the resurrection is derived from the known facts that are admitted as historical by virtually all critical scholars who deal with this subject. Events such as Jesus' death by crucifixion, the subsequent despair of the disciples, their experiences which they believed to be appearances of the risen Jesus, their corresponding transformations, and the conversion of Paul due to a similar experience are five facts which are critically established and accepted as historical by most scholars.

Of these facts the nature of the disciples' experiences is the most crucial. As historian Michael Grant asserts, historical investigation demonstrates that the earliest eyewitnesses were convinced that they had seen the risen Jesus. Carl Braaten explains that skeptical historians agree with this conclusion. One major advantage of these critically accepted historical facts is that they deal directly with the issue of these experiences. On a more limited scale these facts are capable both of arguing decisively against each of the naturalistic alternative theories and of providing some strong evidences for the literal appearances of the risen Jesus as reported by the eyewitnesses.

Not only can the historical resurrection be established on this basis, but the additional advantage of these facts is that they are admitted by virtually all scholars as knowable history. Since such a minimum number of facts is adequate to historically establish the literal resurrection as the best explanation for the data, this event therefore should not be rejected even by those critics who disbelieve the reliability of Scripture. Their questions on other issues do not disprove this basic conclusion, which can be established by critical and historical procedures.

Especially when viewed in conjunction with the eyewitness evidence from the early creed, we have a strong twofold apologetic for the historicity of Jesus' resurrection. This contemporary approach also complements the more traditional apologetic summarized earlier, all of which combine to historically demonstrate the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead.

As Paul asserted in I Cor. 15:12-20, the resurrection is the center of the Christian faith and theology. This event signals the approval of Jesus' teachings (Acts 2:22-23) and thus continues to provide a basis for Christian belief today. It guarantees the reality of eternal life for all who trust the gospel (I Cor. 15:1-4, 20).

G R Habermas
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)

K. Barth, Church Dogmatics, IV/1, 334-52; D. Bonhoeffer, Christ the Center; G. Bornkamm, Jesus of Nazareth; R. E. Brown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus; E. Brunner, Dogmatics, II, 366-72; R. Bultmann, Theology of the NT; D. P. Fuller, Easter Faith and History; R. H. Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives; M. Grant, Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels; G. R. Habermas, The Resurrection of Jesus: An Apologetic; A. M. Hunter, Bible and Gospel; J. Jeremias, NT Theology; W. Marxsen, The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth; J. Moltmann, Revolution and the Future; J. Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus; W. Pannenberg, Jesus, God and Man; J. A. T. Robinson, Can We Trust the NT? P. M. van Buren, The Secular Meaning of the Gospel; U. Wilkens, Resurrection.


Advanced Information

The Resurrection is one of the cardinal facts and doctrines of the gospel. If Christ be not risen, our faith is vain (1 Cor. 15:14). The whole of the New Testament revelation rests on this as an historical fact. On the day of Pentecost Peter argued the necessity of Christ's resurrection from the prediction in Ps. 16 (Acts 2:24-28). In his own discourses, also, our Lord clearly intimates his resurrection (Matt. 20:19; Mark 9:9; 14:28; Luke 18:33; John 2:19-22). The evangelists give circumstantial accounts of the facts connected with that event, and the apostles, also, in their public teaching largely insist upon it.

Ten different appearances of our risen Lord are recorded in the New Testament. They may be arranged as follows:

  1. To Mary Magdalene at the sepulchre alone. This is recorded at length only by John (20:11-18), and alluded to by Mark (16:9-11).
  2. To certain women, "the other Mary," Salome, Joanna, and others, as they returned from the sepulchre. Matthew (28:1-10) alone gives an account of this. (Comp. Mark 16:1-8, and Luke 24:1-11.)
  3. To Simon Peter alone on the day of the resurrection. (See Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5.)
  4. To the two disciples on the way to Emmaus on the day of the resurrection, recorded fully only by Luke (24:13-35. Comp. Mark 16:12, 13).
  5. To the ten disciples (Thomas being absent) and others "with them," at Jerusalem on the evening of the resurrection day. One of the evangelists gives an account of this appearance, John (20:19-24).
  6. To the disciples again (Thomas being present) at Jerusalem (Mark 16:14-18; Luke 24:33-40; John 20:26-28. See also 1 Cor. 15:5).
  7. To the disciples when fishing at the Sea of Galilee. Of this appearance also John (21:1-23) alone gives an account.
  8. To the eleven, and above 500 brethren at once, at an appointed place in Galilee (1 Cor. 15:6; comp. Matt. 28:16-20).
  9. To James, but under what circumstances we are not informed (1 Cor. 15:7).
  10. To the apostles immediately before the ascension. They accompanied him from Jerusalem to Mount Olivet, and there they saw him ascend "till a cloud received him out of their sight" (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-52; Acts 1:4-10).
It is worthy of note that it is distinctly related that on most of these occasions our Lord afforded his disciples the amplest opportunity of testing the fact of his resurrection. He conversed with them face to face. They touched him (Matt. 28:9; Luke 24:39; John 20:27), and he ate bread with them (Luke 24:42, 43; John 21:12, 13). (11.) In addition to the above, mention might be made of Christ's manifestation of himself to Paul at Damascus, who speaks of it as an appearance of the risen Saviour (Acts 9:3-9, 17; 1 Cor. 15:8; 9:1). It is implied in the words of Luke (Acts 1:3) that there may have been other appearances of which we have no record.

The resurrection is spoken of as the act (1) of God the Father (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:24; 3:15; Rom. 8:11; Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12; Heb. 13:20); (2) of Christ himself (John 2:19; 10:18); and (3) of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 3:18). The resurrection is a public testimony of Christ's release from his undertaking as surety, and an evidence of the Father's acceptance of his work of redemption. It is a victory over death and the grave for all his followers.

The importance of Christ's resurrection will be seen when we consider that if he rose the gospel is true, and if he rose not it is false. His resurrection from the dead makes it manifest that his sacrifice was accepted. Our justification was secured by his obedience to the death, and therefore he was raised from the dead (Rom. 4:25). His resurrection is a proof that he made a full atonement for our sins, that his sacrifice was accepted as a satisfaction to divine justice, and his blood a ransom for sinners.

It is also a pledge and an earnest of the resurrection of all believers (Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:14; 15:47-49; Phil. 3:21; 1 John 3:2). As he lives, they shall live also. It proved him to be the Son of God, inasmuch as it authenticated all his claims (John 2:19; 10:17). "If Christ did not rise, the whole scheme of redemption is a failure, and all the predictions and anticipations of its glorious results for time and for eternity, for men and for angels of every rank and order, are proved to be chimeras. 'But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.'

Therefore the Bible is true from Genesis to Revelation. The kingdom of darkness has been overthrown, Satan has fallen as lightning from heaven, and the triumph of truth over error, of good over evil, of happiness over misery is for ever secured." Hodge. With reference to the report which the Roman soldiers were bribed (Matt. 28:12-14) to circulate concerning Christ's resurrection, "his disciples came by night and stole him away while we slept," Matthew Henry in his "Commentary," under John 20:1-10, fittingly remarks, "The grave-clothes in which Christ had been buried were found in very good order, which serves for an evidence that his body was not 'stolen away while men slept.' Robbers of tombs have been known to take away 'the clothes' and leave the body; but none ever took away 'the body' and left the clothes, especially when they were 'fine linen' and new (Mark 15:46). Any one would rather choose to carry a dead body in its clothes than naked. Or if they that were supposed to have stolen it would have left the grave-clothes behind, yet it cannot be supposed they would find leisure to 'fold up the linen.'"

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)


From: Home Bible Study Commentary by James M. Gray

Matthew Chapter 28

Perhaps the most important comment we can make on this chapter will be the order of the ten events on the day of which it speaks. (1) The three women, Mary Magdalene; Mary, the mother of James; and Salome, start for the sepulcher, followed by other women bearing spices. (2) These find the stone rolled away and Mary Magdalene, goes to tell the disciples (Luke 23:55-24:9; John 20:1, 2). (3) Mary, the mother of James, draws near the tomb and discovers the angel (Matthew 28:2). (4) She returns to meet the other women bearing the spices. (5) Peter and John arrive, look in and go away. (6) Mary Magdalene returns, sees the two angels and Jesus (John 20:11-18). (7) She goes to tell the disciples. (8) Mary, the mother of James, returns with the other women, all of whom see the two angels (Luke 24:4, 5; Mark 15:15). (9) They receive the angel's message. (10) While seeking the disciples are met by Jesus (Matthew 28:8-10).

Another comment of interest is the order of the appearances of Jesus on this day. (1) To Mary Magdalene (John 20:14-18); (2) To the women returning from the tomb with the angel's message (Matthew 28:8-10); (3) To Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5); (4) To the two on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-31); (5) To the apostles in the absence of Thomas (Luke 24: 36-43; John 20:19-24)).

In dividing the chapter we have (1) The narative of the resurrection with the appearance of Jesus to the women (vv. 1-10); (2) The false invention of the Jews (v. 11-15); (3) The gathering in Galilee (vv. 16-20). We can only touch upon the most important things, one of which is Christ's reference to His disciples as His "brethren" (v. 10). For the first time does he use that word in such connection, showing that until His death and resurrection on their behalf the relationship had not become possible. (Compare Ps. 22: 22 and Heb. 2:11, 12.)

Another important thing is verse 13, "Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole Him away while we slept." We give excerpts from Gaebelein on this verse: "The watch recover from their fright, and some hasten to the city. Surely something happened or why should they leave their post to make a report? Then it is strange they went to the priests first and not the Roman governor. This was an irregular proceeding, from which we conclude that what they had to report was of greater importance for the priests than Pilate. Who knows but these priests had instructed the guard that if He should come forth they were to come to them first of all?

Their report was a witness of the resurrection and that the tomb was empty. "The Sanhedrin was hastily summoned to receive the report in an offical way. The straightforward statement, as men of military training are apt to report, made doubt about veracity impossible. To impeach them would have been insane. But what would happen if this truth got out among the people? "The resurrection must be denied which could only be by inventing a lie. The only possible lie was that His disciples stole the body. The story is incredible.

It is easier to believe He arose from the dead than to believe what the Jews invented about His resurrection. The disciples had forgotten about the resurrection promised and they were a scattered, poor, timid lot of people. But even if they had been anxious to steal the body, how could they have done it? Here was the company of armed men. Then there was the sealed, heavy stone. "But the ridiculous side of the lie came out with the report the soldiers were to circulate. The disciples came and stole the body, while they were sleeping! It is incredible that all these men had fallen asleep at the same time, and so fast asleep that the commotion of rolling away the stone and the carring away of the dead did not disturb them.

Furthermore, sleeping at a post meant death for the Roman soldier. One might have nodded and risked his life, but that all slept is an impossiblity. But the report is foolish; they were asleep, and while asleep witnessed how the disciples stole the body of Jesus! It was a miserable lie, and is continued to the present day." We might mention here the testimony of Josephus, who says in his antiquities: "He appeared to them alive on the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning Him."

A third matter of importance is the "Great Commission" as it is called (vv. 19, 20). Note the word "Name" as indicative of the Trinity. It is not names but "Name." "Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the final name of the one true God. The conjunction in one name of the three affirms equality and oneness of substance." Note the peculiarity of the terms. This is the Kingdom commission, as another expresses it, not the Christian commission. The latter is in Luke, distinctively the Gentile Gospel, but not here, which is distinctively the Jewish Gospel. And this is all the more remarkable because in Luke, the disciples are commanded to go to the Jews (24:47), while here they are commanded to go to "all nations."

It points to the close of the age when the commission will be carried out by the faithful remnant of the Jews so often spoken about. It has not yet been carried out. The story of the Acts is not its fulfilment. Its accomplishment has been interrupted, but will be taken up before the Lord comes to deliver Israel at the last.

Questions 1. Repeat the order of the events on the day of resurrection. 2. Do the same with reference to the appearances of Jesus. 3. Divide the chapter into three parts. 4. How would you answer the argument that the disciples stole the body of Jesus? 5. What is the significance of the word "Name" in the "Great Commission"? 6. How do you distinguish the "Commission" in Matthew from that in Luke?

General Resurrection

Catholic Information

Resurrection is the rising again from the dead, the resumption of life. The Fourth Lateran Council teaches that all men, whether elect or reprobate, "will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear about with them" (cap. "Firmiter"). In the language of the creeds and professions of faith this return to life is called resurrection of the body (resurrectio carnis, resurrectio mortuoram, anastasis ton nekron) for a double reason: first, since the soul cannot die, it cannot be said to return to life; second the heretical contention of Hymeneus and Philitus that the Scriptures denote by resurrection not the return to life of the body, but the rising of the soul from the death of sin to the life of grace, must be excluded. (We shall treat of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in a separate article; here, we treat only of the General Resurrection of the Body.) "No doctrine of the Christian Faith", says St. Augustine, "is so vehemently and so obstinately opposed as the doctrine of the resurrection of the flesh" (In Ps. lxxxviii, sermo ii, n. 5). This opposition had begun long before the days of St. Augustine: "And certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoics", the inspired writer tells us (Acts 17:18, 32), "disputed with him [Paul] ...and when they had heard of the resurrection of the dead, some indeed mocked, but others said: We will hear thee again concerning this matter." Among the opponents of the Resurrection we naturally find first those who denied the immortality of the soul; secondly, all those who, like Plato, regarded the body as the prison of the soul and death as an escape from the bondage of matter; thirdly the sects of the Gnostics and Manichæans who looked upon all matter as evil; fourthly, the followers of these latter sects the Priscillianists, the Cathari, and the Albigenses; fifthly, the Rationalists, Materialists, and Pantheists of later times. Against all these we shall first establish the dogma of the resurrection, and secondly consider the characteristics of the risen body. A. DOGMA OF THE RESURRECTION The creeds and professions of faith and conciliar definitions do not leave it doubtful that the resurrection of the body is a dogma or an article of faith. We may appeal, for instance, to the Apostles' Creed, the so-called Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, the Creed of the Eleventh Council of Toledo, the Creed of Leo IX, subscribed by Bishop Peter and still in use at the consecration of bishops the profession of faith subscribed by Michael Palaeologus in the Second Council of Lyons, the Creed of Pius IV, and the Decree of the Fourth Lateran Council (c. "Firmiter") against the Albigenses. This article of faith is based on the belief of the Old Testament, on the teaching of the New Testament, and on Christian tradition. (1) Old Testament The words of Martha and the history of the Machabees show the Jewish belief towards the end of the Jewish economy. "I know", says Martha, "that He shall rise again, in the resurrection at the last day" (John 11:24). And the third of the Machabee martyrs put forth his tongue and stretched out his hands, saying: "These I have from heaven, but for the laws of God I now despise them: because I hope to receive them again from him" (2 Maccabees 12:11; cf. 9:14). The Book of Daniel (xii, 2; cf. 12) inculcates the same belief: "Many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth, shall awake: some unto life everlasting, and others unto reproach, to see it always." The word many must be understood in the light of its meaning in other passages, e.g. Is., liii, 11-12; Matt., xxvi, 28; Rom., v, I8-19. Though Ezechiel's vision of the resurrection of the dry bones refers directly to the restoration of Israel, such a figure would be hardly Israel, such a figure would be hardly intelligible except by readers familiar with the belief in a literal resurrection (Ezekiel 37). The Prophet Isaias foretells that the Lord of hosts "shall cast down death headlong forever" (xxv, 8), and a little later he adds: "Thy dead men shall live, my slain shall rise again. . . the earth shall disclose her blood, and shall cover her slain no more" (xxvi, 19-21). Finally, Job, bereft of all human comfort and reduced to the greatest desolation, is strengthened by the thought of the resurrection of his body: "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth. And I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I shall see God. Whom I myself shall see, and my eyes shall behold, and not another; this hope is laid up in my bosom" (Job 19:25-27). The literal translation of the Hebrew text differs somewhat from the foregoing quotation, but the hope of resurrection remains. (2) New Testament The resurrection of the dead was expressly taught by Christ (John 5:28-29; 6:39-40; 11:25; Luke 14:14) and defended against the unbelief of the Sadducees, whom He charged with ignorance of the power of God and of the Scriptures (Matthew 22:29; Luke 20:37). St. Paul places the general resurrection on the same level of certainty with that of Christ's Resurrection: "If Christ be preached, that he rose again from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen again. And if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (1 Corinthians 15:12 sqq.). The Apostle preached the resurrection of the dead as one of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, at Athens, for instance (Acts 17:18, 31, 32), at Jerusalem (xxiii, 6), before Felix (xxiv, 15), before Agrippa (xxvi, 8). He insists on the same doctrine in his Epistles (Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:12 sqq.; 2 Corinthians 4:14; 5:1 sqq.; Philippians 3:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:12-16; 2 Timothy 2:11; Hebrews 6:2), and in this he agrees with the Apocalypse (xx, 12 sqq.). (3) Tradition It is not surprising that the Tradition of the early Church agrees with the clear teaching of both the Old and New Testaments. We have already referred to a number of creeds and professions of faith which may be considered as part of the Church's official expression of her faith. Here we have only to point out a number of patristic passages, in which the Fathers teach the doctrine of the general resurrection in more or less explicit terms. St. Clement of Rome, I Cor., xxv; St. Justin Martyr, "De resurrect.", vii sqq.; Idem, "Dial. c. Tryph.", lxxx; Athenagoras, "De resur. carn.", iii; Tatian, "Adv. Graec.", vi; St. Irenæus, "Contra haer.", I, x; V, vi, 2; Tertullian, "Contra Marcion.", V, ix; Idem, "De praescript.", xiii; Idem, "De resurrect. carn.", I, xii, xv, Ixiii; Minucius Felix, "Octav.", xxxiv; Origen, tom. XVII, in Matt., xxix; Idem, "De princip.", praef., v; Idem, "In Lev.", v, 10; Hippolytus, "Adv. Graec." in P. G., X, 799; St. Cyril of Jerusalem, "Cat.", XVIII, xv; St. Ephraem, "De resurrect. mort."; St. Basil, "Ep. cclxxi", 3; St. Epiphanius, "In ancor.", lxxxiii sq., xcix; St. Ambrose, "De excessu frat. sui Satyri", II, lxvii, cii; Idem, "In Ps. cxviii", serm. x, n. 18; Ps. Ambr., "De Trinit.", xxiii, in P. L. XVII, 534; St. Jerome, "Ep. ad Paul" in LIII, 8; Rufinus, "In symbol.", xliv sq.; St. Chrysostom (Ps. Chrysostom), "Fragm. in libr. Job" in P. G., LXIV, 619; St. Peter Chrysologus, serm. 103, 118; "Apost. Constit.", VII, xli; St. Augustine "Enchirid.", 84; Idem, "De civit. Dei", XX, xx; Theodoret, "De provident.", or. ix; "Hist. eccl.", I, iii. The general resurrection can hardly be proved from reason, though we may show its congruity. As the soul has a natural propensity to the body, its perpetual separation from the body would seem unnatural. As the body is the partner of the soul's crimes, and the companion of her virtues, the justice of God seems to demand that the body be the sharer in the soul's punishment and reward. As the soul separated from the body is naturally imperfect, the consummation of its happiness, replete with every good, seems to demand the resurrection of the body. The first of these reasons appears to be urged by Christ Himself in Matt., xxii, 23; the second reminds one of the words of St. Paul, I Cor., xv, 19, and II Thess., i, 4. Besides urging the foregoing arguments, the Fathers appeal also to certain analogies found in revelation and in nature itself, e.g. Jonas in the whale's belly, the three children in the fiery furnace, Daniel in the lions' den, the carrying away of Henoch and Elias, the raising of the dead, the blossoming of Aaron's rod, the preservation of the garments of the Israelites in the desert, the grain of seed dying and springing up again, the egg, the season of the year, the succession of day and night. Many pictures of early Christian art express these analogies. But in spite of the foregoing congruities, theologians more generally incline to the opinion that in the state of pure nature there would have been no resurrection of the body. B. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE RISEN BODY All shall rise from the dead in their own, in their entire, and in immortal bodies; but the good shall rise to the resurrection of life, the wicked to the resurrection of Judgment. It would destroy the very idea of resurrection, if the dead were to rise in bodies not their own. Again, the resurrection, like the creation, is to be numbered amongst the principal works of God; hence, as at the creation all things are perfect from the hand of God, so at the resurrection all things must be perfectly restored by the same omnipotent hand. But there is a difference between the earthly and the risen body; for the risen bodies of both saints and sinners shall be invested with immortality. This admirable restoration of nature is the result of the glorious triumph of Christ over death as described in several texts of Sacred Scripture: Is., xxv, 8; Osee, xiii, 14; I Cor., xv, 26; Apoc., ii, 4. But while the just shall enjoy an endless felicity in the entirety of their restored members, the wicked "shall seek death, and shall not find it, shall desire to die, and death shall fly from them" (Revelation 9:6). These three characteristics, identity, entirety, and immortality, will be common to the risen bodies of the just and the wicked. But the bodies of the saints shall be distinguished by four transcendent endowments, often called qualities. The first is "impassibility", which shall place them beyond the reach of pain and inconvenience. "It is sown", says the Apostle, "in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption" (1 Corinthians 15:42). The Schoolmen call this quality impassibility', not incorruption, so as to mark it as a peculiarity of the glorified body; the bodies of the damned will be incorruptible indeed, but not impassible; they shall be subject to heat and cold, and all manner of pain. The next quality is "brightness", or "glory", by which the bodies of the saints shall shine like the sun. "It is sown in dishonour," says the Apostle, "it shall rise in glory" (1 Corinthians 15:43; cf. Matthew 13:43; 17:2; Philippians 3:21). All the bodies of the saints shall be equally impassible, but they shall be endowed with different degrees of glory. According to St. Paul: "One is the glory of the sun, another the glory of the moon, another the glory of the stars. For star differeth from star in glory"'(1 Corinthians 15:41-42). The third quality is that of "agility", by which the body shall be freed from its slowness of motion, and endowed with the capability of moving with the utmost facility and quickness wherever the soul pleases. The Apostle says: "It is sown in weakness, it shall rise in power" (1 Corinthians 15:43). The fourth quality is "subtility", by which the body becomes subject to the absolute dominion of the soul. This is inferred from the words of the Apostle: "It is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual body" (1 Corinthians 15:44). The body participates in the soul's more perfect and spiritual life to such an extent that it becomes itself like a spirit. We see this quality exemplified in the fact that Christ passed through material objects. Publication information Written by A.J. Maas. Transcribed by Donald J. Boon. Dedicated to Bishop Andre Cimichella of Montreal, and to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XII. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Catholic Information

Resurrection is the rising again from the dead, the resumption of life. In this article, we shall treat only of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. (The General Resurrection of the Body will be covered in another article.) The fact of Christ's Resurrection, the theories opposed to this fact, its characteristics, and the reasons for its importance must be considered in distinct paragraphs.


The main sources which directly attest the fact of Christ's Resurrection are the Four Gospels and the Epistles of St. Paul. Easter morning is so rich in incident, and so crowded with interested persons, that its complete history presents a rather complicated tableau. It is not surprising, therefore, that the partial accounts contained in each of the Four Gospels appear at first sight hard to harmonize. But whatever exegetic view as to the visit to the sepulchre by the pious women and the appearance of the angels we may defend, we cannot deny the Evangelists' agreement as to the fact that the risen Christ appeared to one or more persons. According to St. Matthew, He appeared to the holy women, and again on a mountain in Galilee; according to St. Mark, He was seen by Mary Magdalen, by the two disciples at Emmaus, and the Eleven before his Ascension into heaven; according to St. Luke, He walked with the disciples to Emmaus, appeared to Peter and to the assembled disciples in Jerusalem; according to St. John, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalen, to the ten Apostles on Easter Sunday, to the Eleven a week later, and to the seven disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:3-8) enumerates another series of apparitions of Jesus after His Resurrection; he was seen by Cephas, by the Eleven, by more than 500 brethren, many of whom were still alive at the time of the Apostle's writing, by James, by all the Apostles, and lastly by Paul himself.

Here is an outline of a possible harmony of the Evangelists' account concerning the principal events of Easter Sunday:

The holy women carrying the spices previously prepared start out for the sepulchre before dawn, and reach it after sunrise; they are anxious about the heavy stone, but know nothing of the official guard of the sepulchre (Matthew 28:1-3; Mark 16:1-3; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).

The angel frightened the guards by his brightness, put them to flight, rolled away the stone, and seated himself not upon (ep autou), but above (epano autou) the stone (Matthew 28:2-4).

Mary Magdalen, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome approach the sepulchre, and see the stone rolled back, whereupon Mary Magdalen immediately returns to inform the Apostles (Mark 16:4; Luke 24:2; John 20:1-2).

The other two holy women enter the sepulchre, find an angel seated in the vestibule, who shows them the empty sepulchre, announces the Resurrection, and commissions them to tell the disciples and Peter that they shall see Jesus in Galilee (Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7).

A second group of holy women, consisting of Joanna and her companions, arrive at the sepulchre, where they have probably agreed to meet the first group, enter the empty interior, and are admonished by two angels that Jesus has risen according to His prediction (Luke 24:10).

Not long after, Peter and John, who were notified by Mary Magdalen, arrive at the sepulchre and find the linen cloth in such a position as to exclude the supposition that the body was stolen; for they lay simply flat on the ground, showing that the sacred body had vanished out of them without touching them. When John notices this he believes (John 20:3-10).

Mary Magdalen returns to the sepulchre, sees first two angels within, and then Jesus Himself (John 20:11-l6; Mark 16:9).

The two groups of pious women, who probably met on their return to the city, are favored with the sight of Christ arisen, who commissions them to tell His brethren that they will see him in Galilee (Matthew 28:8-10; Mark 16:8). The holy women relate their experiences to the Apostles, but find no belief (Mark 16:10-11; Luke 24:9-11).

Jesus appears to the disciples, at Emmaus, and they return to Jerusalem; the Apostles appear to waver between doubt and belief (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-35).

Christ appears to Peter, and therefore Peter and John firmly believe in the Resurrection (Luke 24:34; John 20:8).

After the return of the disciples from Emmaus, Jesus appears to all the Apostles excepting Thomas (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25).

The harmony of the other apparitions of Christ after His Resurrection presents no special difficulties.

Briefly, therefore, the fact of Christ's Resurrection is attested by more than 500 eyewitnesses, whose experience, simplicity, and uprightness of life rendered them incapable of inventing such a fable, who lived at a time when any attempt to deceive could have been easily discovered, who had nothing in this life to gain, but everything to lose by their testimony, whose moral courage exhibited in their apostolic life can be explained only by their intimate conviction of the objective truth of their message. Again the fact of Christ's Resurrection is attested by the eloquent silence of the Synagogue which had done everything to prevent deception, which could have easily discovered deception, if there had been any, which opposed only sleeping witnesses to the testimony of the Apostles, which did not punish the alleged carelessness of the official guard, and which could not answer the testimony of the Apostles except by threatening them "that they speak no more in this name to any man" (Acts 4:17). Finally the thousands and millions, both Jews and Gentiles, who believed the testimony of the Apostles in spite of all the disadvantages following from such a belief, in short the origin of the Church, requires for its explanation the reality of Christ's Resurrection, fot the rise of the Church without the Resurrection would have been a greater miracle than the Resurrection itself.


By what means can the evidence for Christ's Resurrection by overthrown? Three theories of explanation have been advanced, though the first two have hardly any adherents in our day.

(1)The Swoon Theory

There is the theory of those who assert that Christ did not really die upon the cross, that His supposed death was only a temporary swoon, and that His Resurrection was simply a return to consciousness. This was advocated by Paulus ("Exegetisches Handbuch", 1842, II, p. 929) and in a modified form by Hase ("Gesch. Jesu", n. 112), but it does not agree with the data furnished by the Gospels. The scourging and the crown of thorns, the carrying of the cross and the crucifixion, the three hours on the cross and the piercing of the Sufferer's side cannot have brought on a mere swoon. His real death is attested by the centurion and the soldiers, by the friends of Jesus and by his most bitter enemies. His stay in a sealed sepulchre for thirty-six hours, in an atmosphere poisoned by the exhalations of a hundred pounds of spices, which would have of itself sufficed to cause death. Moreover, if Jesus had merely returned from a swoon, the feelings of Easter morning would have been those of sympathy rather than those of joy and triumph, the Apostles would have been roused to the duties of a sick chamber rather than to apostolic work, the life of the powerful wonderworker would have ended in ignoble solitude and inglorious obscurity, and His vaunted sinlessness would have changed into His silent approval of a lie as the foundation stone of His Church. No wonder that later critics of the Resurrection, like Strauss, have heaped contempt on the old theory of a swoon.

(2) The Imposition Theory

The disciples, it is said, stole the body of Jesus from the grave, and then proclaimed to men that their Lord had risen. This theory was anticipated by the Jews who "gave a great sum of money to the soldiers, saying: Say you, His disciples came by night, and stole him away when we were asleep" (Matthew 28:12 sq.). The same was urged by Celsus (Orig., "Contra Cels.", II, 56) with some difference of detail. But to assume that the Apostles with a burden of this kind upon their consciences could have preached a kingdom of truth and righteousness as the one great effort of their lives, and that for the sake of that kingdom they could have suffered even unto death, is to assume one of those moral impossibilities which may pass for a moment in the heat of controversy, but must be dismissed without delay in the hour of good reflection.

(3) The Vision Theory

This theory as generally understood by its advocates does not allow visions caused by a Divine intervention, but only such as are the product of human agencies. For if a Divine intervention be admitted, we may as well believe, as far as principles are concerned, that God raised Jesus from the dead. But where in the present instance are the human agencies which might cause these visions? The idea of a resurrection from the grave was familiar to the disciples from their Jewish faith; they had also vague intimations in the prophecies of the Old Testament; finally, Jesus Himself had always associated His Resurrection with the predictions of his death. On the other hand, the disciples' state of mind was one of great excitement; they treasured the memory of Christ with a fondness which made it almost impossible for them to believe that He was gone. In short, their whole mental condition was such as needed only the application of a spark to kindle the flame. The spark was applied by Mary Magdalen, and the flame at once spread with the rapidity and force of a conflagration. What she believed that she had seen, others immediately believed that they must see. Their expectations were fulfilled, and the conviction seized the members of the early Church that the Lord had really risen from the dead.

Such is the vision theory commonly defended by recent critics of the Resurrection. But however ingeniously it may be devised, it is quite impossible from an historical point of view.

It is incompatible with the state of mind of the Apostles; the theory presupposes faith and expectancy on the part of the Apostles, while in point of fact the disciples' faith and expectancy followed their vision of the risen Christ.

It is inconsistent with the nature of Christ's manifestations; they ought to have been connected with heavenly glory, or they should have continued the former intimate relations of Jesus with His disciples, while actually and consistently they presented quite a new phase that could not have been expected.

It does not agree with the conditions of the early Christian community; after the first excitement of Easter Sunday, the disciples as a body are noted for their cool deliberation rather than the exalted enthusiasm of a community of visionaries.

It is incompatible with the length of time during which the apparitions lasted; visions such as the critics suppose have never been known to last long, while some of Christ's manifestations lasted a considerable period.

It is not consistent with the fact that the manifestations were made to numbers at the same instant.

It does not agree with the place where most of the manifestations were made: visionary appearances would have been expected in Galilee, while most apparitions of Jesus occurred in Judea.

It is inconsistent with the fact that the visions came to a sudden end on the day of Ascension.

Keim admits that enthusiasm, nervousness, and mental excitement on the part of the disciples do not supply a rational explanation of the facts as related in the Gospels. According to him, the visions were directly granted by God and the glorified Christ; they may even include a "corporeal appearance" for those who fear that without this they would lose all. But Keim's theory satisfies neither the Church, since it abandons all the proofs of a bodily Resurrection of Jesus, nor the enemies of the Church, since it admits many of the Church's dogmas; nor again is it consistent with itself, since it grants God's special intervention in proof of the Church's faith, though it starts with the denial of the bodily Resurrection of Jesus, which is one of the principal objects of that faith.

(4) Modernist View

The Holy Office describes and condemns in the thirty-sixth and thirty-seventh propositions of the Decree "Lamentabili", the views advocated by a fourth class of opponents of the Resurrection. The former of these propositions reads: "The Resurrection of our Saviour is not properly a fact of the historical order, but a fact of the purely supernatural order neither proved nor provable, which Christian consciousness has little by little inferred from other facts." This statement agrees with, and is further explained by the words of Loisy ("Autour d'un petit livre", p. viii, 120-121, 169; "L'Evangile et l'Eglise", pp. 74-78; 120-121; 171). According to Loisy, firstly, the entrance into life immortal of one risen from the dead is not subject to observation; it is a supernatural, hyper-historical fact, not capable of historical proof. The proofs alleged for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ are inadequate; the empty sepulchre is only an indirect argument, while the apparitions of the risen Christ are open to suspicion on a priori grounds, being sensible impressions of a supernatural reality; and they are doubtful evidence from a critical point of view, on account of the discrepancies in the various Scriptural narratives and the mixed character of the detail connected with the apparitions. Secondly, if one prescinds from the faith of the Apostles, the testimony of the New Testament does not furnish a certain argument for the fact of the Resurrection. This faith of the Apostles is concerned not so much with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as with His immortal life; being based on the apparitions, which are unsatisfactory evidence from an historical point of view, its force is appreciated only by faith itself; being a development of the idea of an immortal Messias, it is an evolution of Christian consciousness, though it is at the same time a corrective of the scandal of the Cross. The Holy Office rejects this view of the Resurrection when it condemns the thirty-seventh proposition in the Decree "Lamentabili": "The faith in the Resurrection of Christ pointed at the beginning no so much to the fact of the Resurrection, as to the immortal life of Christ with God."

Besides the authoritative rejection of the foregoing view, we may submit the following three considerations which render it untenable: First, the contention that the Resurrection of Christ cannot be proved historically is not in accord with science. Science does not know enough about the limitations and the properties of a body raised from the dead to immortal life to warrant the assertion that such a body cannot be perceived by the senses; again in the case of Christ, the empty sepulchre with all its concrete circumstances cannot be explained except by a miraculous Divine intervention as supernatural in its character as the Resurrection of Jesus. Secondly, history does not allow us to regard the belief in the Resurrection as the result of a gradual evolution in Christian consciousness. The apparitions were not a mere projection of the disciples' Messianic hope and expectation; their Messianic hope and expectations had to be revived by the apparitions. Again, the Apostles did not begin with preaching the immortal life of Christ with God, but they preached Christ's Resurrection from the very beginning, they insisted on it as a fundamental fact and they described even some of the details connected with this fact: Acts, ii, 24, 31; iii, 15,26; iv, 10; v, 30; x, 39-40; xiii, 30, 37; xvii, 31-2; Rom., i,4; iv, 25; vi, 4,9; viii, 11, 34; x, 7; xiv, 9; I Cor., xv, 4, 13 sqq.; etc. Thirdly, the denial of the historical certainty of Christ's Resurrection involves several historical blunders: it questions the objective reality of the apparitions without any historical grounds for such a doubt; it denies the fact of the empty sepulchre in spite of solid historical evidence to the contrary; it questions even the fact of Christ's burial in Joseph's sepulchre, though this fact is based on the clear and simply unimpeachable testimony of history.


The Resurrection of Christ has much in common with the general resurrection; even the transformation of His body and of His bodily life is of the same kind as that which awaits the blessed in their resurrection. But the following peculiarities must be noted:

Christ's Resurrection is necessarily a glorious one; it implies not merely the reunion of body and soul, but also the glorification of the body.

Christ's body was to know no corruption, but rose again soon after death, when sufficient time had elapsed to leave no doubt as to the reality of His death.

Christ was the first to rise unto life immortal; those raised before Him died again (Colossians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 15:20).

As the Divine power which raised Christ from the grave was His own power, He rose from the dead by His own power (John 2:19; 10:l7-18).

Since the Resurrection had been promised as the main proof of Christ's Divine mission, it has a greater dogmatic importance than any other fact. "If Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (1 Corinthians 15:14).


Besides being the fundamental argument for our Christian belief, the Resurrection is important for the following reasons:

It shows the justice of God who exalted Christ to a life of glory, as Christ had humbled Himself unto death (Phil., ii, 8-9).

The Resurrection completed the mystery of our salvation and redemption; by His death Christ freed us from sin, and by His Resurrection He restored to us the most important privileges lost by sin (Romans 4:25).

By His Resurrection we acknowledge Christ as the immortal God, the efficient and exemplary cause of our own resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:21; Philippians 3:20-21), and as the model and the support of our new life of grace (Romans 6:4-6; 9-11).

Publication information Written by A.J. Maas. Transcribed by Donald J. Boon. Dedicated to Bishop Andre Cimichella of Montreal, and to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XII. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York


Jewish Viewpoint Information

-Biblical Data:

Like all ancient peoples, the early Hebrews believed that the dead go down into the underworld and live there a colorless existence (comp. Isa. xiv. 15-19; Ezek. xxxii. 21-30). Only an occasional person, and he an especially fortunate one, like Enoch or Elijah, could escape from Sheol, and these were taken to heaven to the abode of Yhwh, where they became angels (comp. Slavonic Enoch, xxii.). In the Book of Job first the longing for a resurrection is expressed (xiv. 13-15), and then, if the Masoretic text may be trusted, a passing conviction that such a resurrection will occur (xix. 25, 26). The older Hebrew conception of life regarded the nation so entirely as a unit that no individual mortality or immortality was considered. Jeremiah (xxxi. 29) and Ezekiel (xviii.) had contended that the individual was the moral unit, and Job's hopes are based on this idea.

A different view, which made a resurrection unnecessary, was held by the authors of Ps. xlix. and lxxiii., who believed that at death only the wicked went to Sheol and that the souls of the righteous went directly to God. This, too, seem based on views analogous to those of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and probably was not widely held. In the long run the old national point of view asserted itself in the form of Messianic hopes. These gave rise to a belief in a resurrection in order that more might share in the glory of the Messianic kingdom. This hope first finds expression in Isa. xxvi. 19, a passage which Cheyne dates about 334 B.C. The hope was cherished for faithful Israelites. In Dan. xii. 1-4 (about 165 B.C.) a resurrection of "many . . . that sleep in the dust" is looked forward to. This resurrection included both righteous and wicked, for some will awake to everlasting life, others to "shame and everlasting contempt."

-In Extra-Canonical Apocalypses:

In the earliest part of the Ethiopic Book of Enoch (i.-xxxvi.) there is a great advance on the conceptions of Daniel, although the book is of earlier date. Ch. xxii. contains an elaborate description of Sheol, telling how it is divided into four parts, two of which receive two classes of righteous; the others, two classes of wicked. Of these, three classes are to experience a resurrection. One class of the wicked has been judged and has received its punishment. In H Maccabees the belief that all Israelites will be resurrected finds expression (comp. vi. 26, vii. 9-36, and xiv. 46). In the next Enoch apocalypse (Ethiopic Enoch, lxxxiii.-xc.), composed a few years after Daniel, it was thought that only the righteous Israelites would experience a resurrection. That was to be a bodily resurrection, and the body was to be subsequently transformed. This writer realized that the earth was not a fit place for Yhwh's permanent kingdom, and so the conception of a heavenly Jerusalem appears, of which the earthly Jerusalem city is the prototype. Against these views some of the later psalmists uttered a protest, declaring that a resurrection was impossible (comp. Ps. lxxxviii. 10, cxv. 17). In spite of this protest, however, the idea persisted. The next Enoch apocalypse (Ethiopic Enoch, xci.-civ.) looked for a resurrection of the righteous, but as spirits only, without a body (comp. ciii. 3, 4). A later Enoch apocalypse (Ethiopic Enoch, xxxvii.-lxx.) expresses the conviction that both the righteous and the wicked will be raised (comp. li 1, 2; lxii. 15, 16), and that the spirits of the righteous will be clothed in a body of glory and light.

The author of the Slavonic Book of Enoch (Book of the Secrets of Enoch, xxii. 8-10) believed in a resurrection of spirits, without a body. He nevertheless believed in a spiritual body, for he describes the righteous as clothed in the glory of God. The authors of the Book of Jubilees and the Assumptio Mosis believed in a resurrection of the spirit only, without a body (comp. Jubilees, xxiii. 31 et al., and Assumptio Mosis, x. 9).

All these believed that the soul would sleep in Sheol till the judgment, but several Alexandrian writers about the beginning of the common era held, like Ps. xlix. and lxxiii., that the spirits of the righteous entered on a blessed immortality immediately at death. This was the view of the author of the Wisdom of Solomon (iii. 1-4; iv. 7, 10, et al.), of Philo, and of IV Maccabees. Finally, the scope of the resurrection, which in previous writers had been limited to Israel, was extended in the Apocalypse of Baruch and in II Esdras to include all mankind (comp. Baruch, xlix.-li. 4; II Esd. vii. 32-37).

Bibliography: Charles, A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, in Judaism, and in Christianity, London, 1899.E. C. G. A. B.

Resurrection is asserted in all the Apocryphal writings of Pharisaic origin (comp. II Macc. vii. 9-36,xii. 43-44), where arguments against Sadducean Israel are prescented (Book of Jubilees, xxiii. 30; Test. Patr., Judah, 25; Zebulun, 10; Benjamin, 10; Vita Adæ et Evæ, xiii.; Sibyllines, ii. 85; Enoch, li. 1-2; Apoc. Baruch, xxx. 1-5, l.-li.: II Esd. vii. 32; Psalms of Solomon, iii. 16, xiv. 13), and in the Hellenistic writings (see Wisdom iii. 1-9, iv. 7, v. 16, vi. 20; IV Macc. ix. 8; xiii. 16; xv. 2; xvii. 5, 18; xviii. 23). Immortality of the soul takes the place of bodily resurrection. Rabbinical arguments in favor of resurrection are given in Sanh. 90b-92b, from promises made to the dead (Ex. iv. 4; Deut. xi. 9 [comp. Mark xii. 18]; Num. xviii. 28; Deut. iv. 4, xxxi. 16, xxxii. 39), and from similar expressions in which the future tense is applied to the future life (Ex. xv. 1; Deut. xxxiii. 6; Josh. viii. 30; Ps. lxxxiv. 5 [A. V. 4]; Isa. lii. 8); also in Ḥul. 142a, from promised rewards (Deut. v. 16, xxii. 17), which so frequently are not fulfilled during this life (Ber. 16b; Gen. R. xx. 26). Arguments are drawn from the grain of wheat (Sanh. 90b; comp. I. Cor. xv. 35-38), from historical parallels-the miracles of revival wrought by Elijah, Elisha, and Ezekiel (Lev. R. xxvii. 4)-and from a necessary conception of divine justice, body and soul not being in a position to be held to account for their doings in life unless, like the blind and the lame man in the parable, they are again brought together as they were before (Sifre, Deut. 106; Sanh. 91a; with reference to Ps. l. 4).

The Sadducees denied the resurrection (Josephus, "Ant." xviii. 1, § 4; idem, "B. J." ii. 8, § 14; Acts xxiii. 8; Sanh. 90b; Ab. R. N. v.). All the more emphatically did the Pharisees enunciate in the liturgy (Shemoneh 'Esreh, 2d benediction; Ber. v. 2) their belief in resurrection as one of their fundamental convictions (Sanh. x. 1; comp. Abot iv. 22; Soṭah ix. 15).

Both the Pharisees and the Essenes believed in the resurrection of the body, Josephus' philosophical construction of their belief to suit the taste of his Roman readers notwithstanding (see "B. J." ii. 8, § 11; "Ant." xviii. 1, § 5; compare these with the genuine source of Josephus, in Hippolytus' "Refutatio Hæresium," ed. Duncker Schneidewin, ix. 27, 29, where the original ἀνάστασις [= "resurrection"] casts a strange light upon Josephus' mode of handling texts). According to the Rabbis, Job and Esau denied resurrection (B. B. 16a, b). Whosoever denies resurrection will have no share in it (Sanh. 90b). The resurrection will be achieved by God, who alone holds the key to it (Ta'an. 2a; Sanh. 113a). At the same time the elect ones, among these first of all the Messiah and Elijah, but also the righteous in general, shall aid in raising the dead (Pirḳe R. El. xxxii.; Soṭah ix. 15; Shir ha-Shirim Zuṭa, vii.; Pes. 68a; comp. "Bundahis," xxx. 17).

Universal or National.

By means of the "dew of resurrection" (see Dew) the dead will be aroused from their sleep (Yer. Ber. v. 9b; Ta'an. i. 63d, with reference to Isa. xxvi. 19; Ḥag. 12b. with reference to Ps. lxviii. 10 [A. V. 9]). As to the question, Who will be raised from death? the answers given vary greatly in rabbinical literature. According to R. Simai (Sifre, Deut. 306) and R. Ḥiyya bar Abba (Gen. R. xiii. 4; comp. Lev. R. xiii. 3), resurrection awaits only the Israelites; according to R. Abbahu, only the just (Ta'an. 7a); some mention especially the martyrs (Yalḳ. ii. 431, after Tanḥuma). R. Abbahu and R. Eleazar confine resurrection to those that die in the Holy Land; others extend it to such as die outside of Palestine (Ket. 111a). According to R. Jonathan (Pirḳe R. El. xxxiv.), the resurrection will be universal, but after judgment the wicked will die a second death and forever, whereas the just will be granted life everlasting (comp. Yalḳ. ii. 428, 499). The same difference of view prevails also among the New Testament writers; at times only "the resurrection of the just" is spoken of (Luke xiv. 14, xx. 35); at other times "the resurrection of the dead" in general is mentioned (John v. 29; Acts xxiv. 15; Rev. xx. 45).

Part of the Messianic Hope.

As a matter of fact, resurrection formed part of the Messianic hope (Isa. xxiv. 19; Dan. xii. 2; Enoch, xxv. 5, li. 1, xc. 33; Jubilees, xxiii. 30). Especially were those that died as martyrs in the cause of the Law expected to share in the future glory of Israel (II Macc. vii. 6, 9, 23; Yalḳ. to Isa. xxvi. 19; Midr. Teh. xvii. 14; Sibyllines, ii. 85). The very term used to express the idea of sharing in the future life is "to inherit the land" (Ḳid. i. 10; Matt. v. 5, after Ps. xxxvii. 11; Sanh. xi. 1, with reference to Isa. lx. 21). The resurrection, therefore, was believed to take place solely in the Holy Land (Pesiḳ. R. i., after Ps. cxvi. 9 ["the land of the living," that is, "the land where the dead live again"]; or Gen. R. lxxiv.: Yer. Ket. xii. 35b, with reference to Isa. xlii. 5 ["He giveth breath to the people upon it," that is, upon the Holy Land only]). Jerusalem alone is the city of which the dead shall blossom forth like grass (Ket. 111b, after Ps. lxxii. 16). Those that are buried elsewhere will therefore be compelled to creep through cavities in the earth until they reach the Holy Land (Pesiḳ. R. l.c., with reference to Ezek. xxxvii. 13; Ket. 111a).

Day of Judgment Precedes Messianic Era.

The trumpet blown to gather the tribes of Israel (Isa. xxvii. 13) will also rouse the dead (Ber. 15b; Targ. Yer. to Ex. xx. 15; II Esd. iv. 23; comp. I Cor. xv. 52; I Thess. iv. 16; see Enoch, x. 12 et seq., xxv. 4 et seq., xlv. 2, xc. 25, xci. 11, xcviii. 12; Test. Patr., Simeon, 61; Judah, 25; Zebulun, 10; Benjamin, 10). The nations, together with their guardian angels and stars, shall be cast into Gehenna (Enoch, xc. 24-25). According to R. Eleazar of Modi'im, to the angelic princes of the seventy-two nations who will protest because, though it has sinned like the rest, God favors Israel, God will answer, "Let each nation go through the fire together with its guardian deity "; then all the nations will be consumed in common with their deities, who can not shield them, but Israel will be saved by its God (Cant. R. ii. 1; comp. Tan., Shofeṭim, ed. Buber, end, after Isa. lxvi. 14, Ps. xxiii. 4, and Micah iv. 5). Another view is that the glare of the sun will test the heathen's loyalty to the Law they promised to observe, and they will be cast into the eternal fire ('Ab. Zarah).The conception of God entering Hades to save Israel from Gehenna gave rise to the Christian conception of the Messiah descending into Hades to reclaim his own among those who are imprisoned there (Test. Patr., Benjamin; Sibyllines, i. 377, viii. 310; Yalḳ. ii. 359; Jellinek, "B. H." ii. 50 [comp. I Peter iii. 19]; Ascensio Isaiæ, iv. 21, with reference to Isa. ix. 16, lii.-liii.; see Epstein, "Bereshit Rabbati," 1888, p. 31). The sole end of the judgment of the heathen is, according to R. Eleazar of Modi'im (Mek., Beshallaḥ, 'Amaleḳ), the establishment of the kingdom of God. "When the Messiah appears on the roof of the Temple announcing Israel's redemption, the light emanating from him shall cause the nations to fall prostrate before him; and Satan himself will shudder, for the Messiah will cast him into Gehenna, and death and sorrow shall flee forever" (Pesiḳ. R. 36; Sibyllines, ii. 167, iii. 46-72).

Resurrection Universal.

As in the course of time the national hope with its national resurrection and final day of judgment no longer satisfied the intellect and human sentiment, the resurrection assumed a more universal and cosmic character. It was declared to be solely the act of God, who alone possesses the key that will unlock the tombs (Ber. 15b). "As all men are born and die, so will they rise again," says Eleazar ha-Ḳappar (Abot iv. 22). It was believed that resurrection would occur at the close of the Messianic era (Enoch, xcviii. 10, ciii. 8, civ. 5). This is particularly emphasized in II Esd. vii. 26-36: "Death will befall the Messiah, after his 400 years' reign, and all mankind and the world will lapse into primeval silence for seven days, after which the renewed earth will give forth its dead, and God will judge the world and assign the evil-doers to the fire of hell and the righteous to paradise, which is on the opposite side." Also, according to Syriac Apoc. Baruch (xxx. 1-5; l.-lii.; cxxxv. 15), the resurrection will take place after the Messiah has "returned to heaven" and will include all men, the righteous to meet their reward, and the wicked to meet their eternal doom. This lasting doom is called "second death" (Targ. Deut. xxxiii. 6; Targ. Isa. xiv. 19; xxii. 14; lxv. 6, 15, 19; Jer. li. 39; Rev. xx. 6, 14).

Not the Heathen, but the Wicked Perish.

Nor is the wrath of the last judgment believed any longer to be brought upon the heathen solely as such. All evil-doers who have blasphemed God and His Law, or acted unrighteously, will meet with their punishment (Tos. Sanh. xiii.; Midr. Teh. vi. 1, ix. 15). It became a matter of dispute between the older school, represented by the Shammaite R. Eliezer, and the Hillelites, represented by R. Joshua, whether or not the righteous among the heathen have a share in the future world, the former interpreting the verse, "The wicked shall return to Sheol, even all the Gentiles that forget God" (Ps. ix. 18 [R. V. 17]), as condemning as wicked among the Jews and the Gentiles such as have forgotten God; the latter interpreting the verse as consigning to Sheol only such Gentiles as have actually forgotten God (Tos. Sanh. xiii. 2). The doctrine "All Israelites have a share in the world to come" (Sanh. xi. 1), based upon Isa. lx. 21 (Hebr.), "Thy people all of them righteous shall inherit the land," is therefore identical with the Pharisaic teaching as stated by Josephus ("Ant." xviii. 1, § 3; "B. J." ii. 8, § 14), that the righteous will rise to share in the eternal bliss. It is as deniers of the fundamentals of religion that heathen, Samaritans, and heretics are excluded from future salvation (Tos. Sanh. xiii.; Pirḳe R. El. xxxviii.; Midr. Teh. xi. 5). Regarding the plurality of opinions in favor of the salvation of righteous non-Jews, and the opinions of those who adhere to the national view, see Zunz, "Z. G." pp. 371-389. Related to the older, exclusive view also is the idea that the Abrahamic covenant releases the Israelites from the fire of Gehenna (Gen. R. xlviii.; Midr. Teh. vii. 1; 'Er. 19a). At first, it seems, resurrection was regarded as a miraculous boon granted only to the righteous (see Test. Patr., Simeon, 6; Levi, 18; Judah, 25; Zebulun, 10; Vita Adæ et Evæ, 13; comp. Luke xiv. 14, xx. 36). Afterward it came to be regarded as an act of God connected with the last judgment, and therefore universal resurrection of the dead became a doctrine, as expressed in the second benediction of the Shemoneh 'Esreh (; Sifre, Deut. 329; Sanh. 92b). In Syriac Apoc. Baruch, xlix.-li. a description is given of the manner in which the righteous at the resurrection are transformed into angels shining like the stars, who behold the beauty of the heavenly "ḥayyot" beneath God's throne, whereas the wicked assume the horrible aspect of the pit of torture below. Whether or not the body at the resurrection undergoes the same process of growth as in the womb at the time of birth is a matter of dispute between the Hillelites and the Shammaites (Gen. R. xiv.; Lev. R. xiv.). In regard to the state of the soul separated from the body by death, whether it is supposed to dwell in heaven, or in some sort of dove-cot or a columbarium (= "guf") in Hades (Syriac Apoc. Baruch, xxx. 2; II Esd. iv. 35, 41; vii. 32, 80, 101), see Immortality of the Soul.

Jewish Creed or Not?

The belief in resurrection is expressed on all occasions in the Jewish liturgy; e.g., in the morning prayer Elohai Neshamah, in the Shemoneh 'Esreh, and in the funeral services. Maimonides made it the last of his thirteen articles of belief: "I firmly believe that there will take place a revival of the dead at a time which will please the Creator, blessed be His name." Saadia also, in his "Emunot we-De'ot" (following Sanh. x. 1), declared the belief in resurrection to be fundamental. Ḥasdai Crescas, on the other hand, declared it to be a specific doctrine of Judaism, but not one of the fundamental teachings, which view is taken also by Joseph Albo in his "'Iḳḳarim" (i., iv. 35-41, xxiii.). The chief difficulty, as pointed out by the latter author, is to find out what the resurrection belief actually implied or comprised, since the ancient rabbis themselves differed as to whether resurrection was to be universal, or the privilege of the Jewish people only, or of the righteous only. This again depends on the question whether it was to form part of theMessianic redemption of Israel, or whether it was to usher in the last judgment. Saadia sees in the belief in resurrection a national hope, and endeavors to reconcile it with reason by comparing it with other miraculous events in nature and history recorded in the Bible. Maimonides and Albo in their commentary on Sanh. x. 1, Ḳimḥi in his commentary on Ps. i. 5, Isaac Aboab in his "Menorat ha-Ma'or" (iii. 4, 1), and Baḥya ben Asher in his commentary on Gen. xxiii. extend resurrection to the righteous only. On the other hand, Isaac Abravanel in his "Ma'yene Yeshu'ah" (ii. 9) concedes it to all Israel; Manasseh ben Israel, in his "Nishmat Ḥayyim" (i. 2, 8), and others, to all men. Maimonides, however (see his commentary, l.c., and "Yad," Teshubah, viii.), took the resurrection figuratively, and substituted for it immortality of the soul, as he stated at length in his "Ma'amar Teḥiyyat ha-Metim"; Judah ha-Levi also, in his "Cuzari," took resurrection figuratively (i. 115, iii. 20-21).

The belief in resurrection is beautifully expressed in the old Morning Benediction, taken from Ber. 60b: "O God, the soul which Thou hast set within me is pure. Thou hast fashioned it; Thou hast breathed it into me, and Thou dost keep it within me and wilt take it from me and restore it to me in time to come. As long as it is within me I will give homage to Thee, O divine Master, Lord of all spirits, who givest back the soul to dead bodies." This benediction, for which the simpler form is given in Yer. Ber. iv. 7d, Pesiḳ. R. 40, and Midr. Teh. xvii.: "Blessed be Thou who revivest the dead"-recited after awakening from the night's sleep-throws light upon the whole conception of resurrection. Just as the soul was believed to leave the body in sleep and return at the reawakening, so was the soul, after having left the body in death, to return to "those that sleep in the dust" at the time of the great reawakening. In modern times the belief in resurrection has been greatly shaken by natural philosophy, and the question has been raised by the Reform rabbis and in rabbinical conferences (see Geiger, "Jüd. Zeit." vii. 246) whether the old liturgical formulas expressing the belief in resurrection should not be so changed as to give clear expression to the hope of immortality of the soul instead. This was done in all the American Reform prayer-books. At the rabbinical conference held at Philadelphia it was expressly declared that the belief in resurrection of the body has no foundation in Judaism, and that the belief in the immortality of the soul should take its place in the liturgy. See Conferences, Rabbinical; Prayer-Books; Reform Judaism.

Executive Committee of the Editorial Board, George A. Barton, Kaufmann Kohler
Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.

Hamburger, R. B. T. s.v. Auferstehung und Wiederbelebung der Todten; ib. s.v. Belebung der Todten; Schürer, Gesch. ii. 3, 547-551; Volz, Jüdische Eschatologie; Weber, Jüdische Theologie, Index.E. C. K.

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