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Resurrection of the flesh (1499-1502) Fresco by Luca Signorelli
Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto
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The resurrection of dead humans is a central doctrine of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It may refer to the resurrection of biologically dead corpses by divine power or to a purely spiritual resurrection where the 'dead' (human beings who are blind to their spiritual nature and the possibility of salvation) come to Life (in Christianity referred to as eternal Life) by means of spiritual awakening and subsequent transformation to a life of holiness. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a general resurrection of humanity.

The idea of resurrection is featured prominently in both Jewish and Christian scripture. There are many passages in the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament which at least later have been considered as referring to the resurrection. Since the first century AD, most of the world associates the concept of resurrection with the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus is elaborated upon throughout the books of the New Testament. Easter is a holiday which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.




The Hebrew Bible (Tanakh)

See: Jewish eschatology

Resurrection beliefs are referred to in the Tanakh, but it is unclear whether this relates to the resurrection of the flesh or just the resurrection of the soul or some spiritual body. The first five books of the Tanakh--known as the Torah--make some indications of an afterlife but none of the resurrection. For example, when Jacob dies, he says "I am about to be gathered to my kin. Bury me with my forefathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite" (Genesis 49:29). All the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs (except Rachel) were buried in the family cave, and so were many other biblical personalities, including King Saul and King David.

The Hebrew Bible refers to the term Sheol, which in traditional Judaism is translated simply as "grave" and is perceived as a transitory state. Critical views (see below) interpret it as a referring to a permanent, shadowy underworld. For biblical references to Sheol see Genesis 42:38, Isaiah 14:11, Psalm 141:7, Proverbs 7:27 and Job 10:21-22, and Job 17:16, among others. Perhaps it is from Sheol, then, that the dead return.

There are three explicit examples in the Hebrew Bible of people being resuscitated from death:

  • A dead man's body that was thrown into the dead Elisha's tomb is resurrected when the body touches Elisha's bones (2 Kings 13:21)

Additional passages in the Hebrew Bible traditionally interpreted as referring to resurrection include:

  • Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones brought to restoration as a living army, which is commonly taken to be a metaphorical prophecy that the house of Israel would one day be gathered from the nations, out of exile, to live in the land of Israel once more. Most scholars, however, do not hold this to be referring to a belief in a future resurrection:
"He said to me, 'Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life."' So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life, and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.' "Therefore prophesy, and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel." (Ezekiel 37:9-12)
  • Samuel - "The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up." (1 Samuel 2:6)
  • Job - "Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God" (Job 19:26)
  • Isaiah - "Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits." (Isaiah 26:19)
  • Daniel's vision, where a mysterious angelic figure tells Daniel, "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt." (Daniel 12:2)

Views of Pharisees and Sadducees

Many modern scholars refer to alleged first century BC debates between the Pharisees who, according to some Christian sources, believed in the future Resurrection, and the Sadducees who did not. The Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife at all.[1]. However, according to Josephus, who was a Pharisee himself, the Pharisees actually believed in the immortality of the soul and resurrection. (Josephus BJ 2.8.14, 3.8.5; Josephus Vita 2). The Sadducees, politically powerful religious leaders, took a literal view of the Torah, rejecting the Pharisees' oral law, afterlife, angels, and demons. The Pharisees, whose views became Rabbinic Judaism, eventually won (or at least survived) this debate. Although a minority in Karaite Judaism, some still do not believe in a Future Resurrection or afterlife.[2] The promise of a future resurrection appears in certain Jewish works, such as the Life of Adam and Eve, c 100 BC, and 2 Maccabees, c 124 BC.[3]

Orthodox Judaism

Orthodox Judaism holds belief in resurrection to be 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:

"I believe with complete (perfect) faith, that there will be techiat hameitim - revival of the dead, whenever it will be God's, blessed be He, will (desire) to arise and do so. May (God's) Name be blessed, and may His remembrance arise, forever and ever."[4]

The Talmud makes it one of the few required Jewish beliefs, going so far as to say that "All Israel have a share in the World to Come...but a person who does not believe in...the resurrection of the dead...has no share in the World to Come." (Sanhedrin 50a).

The second blessing of the Amidah, the central thrice-daily Jewish prayer is called Tehiyyat ha-Metim ("the resurrection of the dead") and closes with the words m'chayei hameitim ("who gives life to the dead") i.e., resurrection. The Amidah is traditionally attributed to the Great Assembly of Ezra; its text was finalized in approximately its present form in about the First Century CE.

Conservative Judaism

Conservative Judaism's liturgy generally includes the traditional Hebrew text affirming belief in bodily resurrection, but its thinkers are divided. Many Conservative prayer books use an ambiguous translation into English that leaves open the possibility, but not the requirement, to believe in resurrection.[5]

Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism

Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism reject Resurrection. Accordingly, they have modified the text to read m'chayei hakol ("who gives life to all"). In the new prayer book released by the Reform Judaism movement, they have returned the traditional prayer for the resurrection of the dead.[6]

Ancient non-Abrahamic religions in the Middle East

The concept of resurrection is found in the writings of some ancient non-Abrahamic religions in the Middle East, but it doesn't pertain to human beings. A few extant Egyptian and Canaanite writings allude to dying and rising gods--such as Osiris and Baal. However, again, this article deals only with the regeneration of human life. Sir James Frazer in his book The Golden Bough relates to these allegedely dying and rising gods,[7] but many of his examples, as been pointed out by various scholars, are really distorting the sources.[8]

Ancient Greek Religion

In ancient Greek religion a number of dead mortal men and women were made physically immortal as they were resurrected from the dead. Asclepius, was killed by Zeus only to be resurrected and transformed into a major deity. Achilles after being killed was snatched from his funeral pyre by his divine mother Thetis and resurrected brought to an immortal existence in either Leuce, Elysian plains or the Islands of the Blessed. Memnon, who was killed by Achlles, seems to have a received a similar fate. Alcmene, Castor, Heracles, and Melicertes, were also among the figures sometimes considered to have been resurrected to physical immortality. According to Herodotus' Histories, the seventh century B.C. sage Aristeas of Proconnesus was first found dead, after which his body disappeared from a locked room. Later he found not only to have been resurrected but to have gained immortality. Many other figures, like a great part of those who fought in the Trojan and Theban wars, Menelaus, and the historical pugilist Cleomedes of Astupalaea, were also believed to have been made physically immortal, but withouth having died in the first place. Indeed, in Greek religion, immortality originally always included an eternal union of body and soul. The philosophical idea of an immortal soul was a later invention, which, although influential, never had a breakthrough in the Greek world. As may be witnessed even into the Christian era, not least by the complaints of various philosophers over popular beliefs, traditional Greek believers maintained the conviction that certain individuals were resurrected from the dead and made physically immortal and that for the rest of us, we could only look forward to an existence as disembodied and dead souls.[9]

This traditional religious belief in physical immortality was generally denied by the Greek philosophers. Writing his Lives of Illustrious Men (Parallel Lives) in the first century CE, the Middle Platonic philosopher Plutarch's chapter on Romulus gave an account of this man's mysterious disappearance and subsequent deification, comparing it to traditional Greek beliefs about such as the resurrection and physical immortalization of Alcmene and Aristeas the Proconnesian, “for they say Aristeas died in a fuller's work-shop, and his friends coming to look for him, found his body vanished; and that some presently after, coming from abroad, said they met him traveling towards Croton.” The Platonic Plutarch openly scorned such beliefs held in traditional ancient Greek religion, writing, “many such improbabilities do your fabulous writers relate, deifying creatures naturally mortal.”

The parallel between these traditional beliefs and the later resurrection of Jesus was not lost on the early Christians, as Justin Martyr argued: “when we say … Jesus Christ, our teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propose nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you consider sons of Zeus.” (1 Apol. 21). There is, however, no belief in a general resurrection in ancient Greek religion, as the Greeks held that not even the gods were able to recreate flesh that had been lost to decay, fire or consumption. The notion of a general resurrection of the dead was therefore apparently quite preposterous to the Greeks. This is made clear in Paul's Areopagus discourse. After having first told about the resurrection of Jesus, which makes the Athenians only interested to hear more, Paul goes on relating how this event relates to a general resurrection of the dead:

Acts 17:30-32 “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, `We shall hear you again concerning this.'”


In Christianity, resurrection most critically concerns the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but also includes the resurrection of Judgment Day, as well as the resurrection miracles done by Jesus and the prophets of the Old Testament.

Resurrection of Jesus

Many Christians regard the resurrection of Jesus as the central doctrine in Christianity. Others take the Incarnation of Jesus to be more central; however, it is the miracles—and particularly his Resurrection—which provide validation of his incarnation. The Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians:

'If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.' (Corinthians 15:19-20)

According to Paul, the entire Christian faith hinges upon the centrality of the resurrection of Jesus on the third day, and the hope for a life after our own death. Christians annually celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at Easter. Though there is no scriptural basis for this, a large majority of Christians have been led to believe that the day of worship was changed from Saturday to Sunday—or Lord's Day--the day on which Jesus rose to life again.

The vast majority of Christians; Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants and adherents of the Assyrian Church of the East accept the resurrection of Jesus as a real historical event, and condemn any denial of any metaphysical reality of the resurrection as a heresy. Docetism, the heresy that denied the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus by emphasizing that Jesus was only God and not man, was condemned by the early Church in the late 1st to early 2nd century.

According to Juan Garces, a British Library project curator who has studied the Codex Sinaiticus, the resurrection of Jesus was not included in the original Bible manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark, except for the women present at Jesus' grave inferring it from hearsay, which means that inside this Gospel, only the apocryphal verses render the resurrected Jesus.[10][11][12] Garces refers to common scholarly knowledge (textual criticism), saying that the texts of the Bible have changed since they have been written.[13]

Resurrection of the dead

Christianity started as a religious movement within 1st-century Judaism, and it retains the 1st-century Jewish belief in the resurrection of the dead. Whereas this belief was only one of many beliefs held about the end of times in Judaism, this belief became dominant within Christianity and soon included an insistence on the resurrection of the flesh only rarely found within Judaism. Most Christian churches continue to uphold the belief that there will be a general resurrection of the dead at "the end of time", as prophesied by 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). Most also teach that it is only as a result of the atoning work of Christ, by grace through faith, that people are spared eternal punishment as judgment for their sins.

Belief in the resurrection of the dead, and Jesus Christ's role as judge of the dead, is codified in the Apostles' Creed, which is the fundamental creed of Christian baptismal faith. The Book of Revelation also makes many references about the Day of Judgment when the dead will be raised up. However, there are also many Christians who do not believe that individual consciousness continues after death, and a higher number who do not believe in a place or condition of eternal punisment for sins (hell).

Resuscitation miracles

The Resurrection of Lazarus, painting by Leon Bonnat, France, 1857.

The resurrected Jesus Christ commissioned his followers to, among other things, raise the dead.

In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus is said to have raised several persons from death, but none of these became immortal in the process like Jesus himself and what was promised everybody at the end of times. These resuscitations included the daughter of Jairus shortly after death, a young man in the midst of his own funeral procession, and Lazarus, who had been buried for four days. According to the Gospel of Matthew, after Jesus's resurrection, many of the dead saints came out of their tombs and entered Jerusalem, where they appeared to many. Some scholars interpret this passage as a description of a legendary story rather than a real event.[14]

Similar resuscitations are credited to Christian apostles and saints. Peter allegedly raised a woman named Dorcas (called Tabitha), and Paul restored a man named Eutychus who had fallen asleep and fell from a window to his death, according to the book of Acts. Proceeding the apostolic era, many saints were said to resuscitate the dead, as recorded in Orthodox Christian hagiographies. A book by Father Alfred J. Hebert, Raised from the Dead: True Stories of 400 Resurrection Miracles, describes many of these miracles including descriptions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory reported by those who were brought back to life.

Bodily resurrection versus Platonic philosophy

In Platonic philosophy and other Greek philosophical thought, at death the soul was said to leave the inferior body behind. The idea that Jesus was resurrected spiritually rather than physically even gained popularity among some Christian teachers, whom the author of 1 John declared to be antichrists. Similar beliefs appeared in the early church as Gnosticism. However, in Luke 24:39, the resurrected Jesus expressly states "behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Handle me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." For Greeks holding on to more traditional ancient Greek religion, this insistence on the physical nature of the resurrection held a distinct appeal as they usually considered immortality to be dependent on an eternal union of body and soul.

Contemporary Biblical criticism

According to Herbert C. Brichtothe, writing in Reform Judaism's Hebrew Union College Annual, the family tomb is the central concept in understanding biblical views of the afterlife. Brichtothe states that it is "not mere sentimental respect for the physical remains that is...the motivation for the practice, but rather an assumed connection between proper sepulture and the condition of happiness of the deceased in the afterlife" According to Brichtothe, the early Israelites apparently believed that the graves of family, or tribe, united into one, and that this unified collectivity is to what the Biblical Hebrew term Sheol refers. Although not well defined in the Tanakh, Sheol in this view was a subterranean underworld where the souls of the dead went after the body died. The Babylonians had a similar underworld called Aralu, and the Greeks had one known as Hades. For biblical references to Sheol see Genesis 42:38, Isaiah 14:11, Psalm 141:7, Daniel 12:2, Proverbs 7:27 and Job 10:21,22, and 17:16, among others. According to Brichtothe, other Biblical names for Sheol were: Abaddon (ruin), found in Psalm 88:11, Job 28:22 and Proverbs 15:11; Bor (the pit), found in Isaiah 14:15, 24:22, Ezekiel 26:20; and Shakhat (corruption), found in Isaiah 38:17, Ezekiel 28:8.[15]


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called Mormons) teaches that upon death, righteous souls go to Paradise, while the souls of the unrepentant go to a spirit prison, where the former are sent from Paradise to preach the Gospel to the latter, and the living perform work in LDS Temples providing ordinances that can only be received in the flesh, which the repentant imprisoned ones can accept. The Book of Mormon describes both of these as temporary states, preceding resurrection and final judgement.[16] When the time of the literal resurrection arrives, the spirits of everyone who has ever lived are reunited with their physical bodies. The degree of righteousness or unrighteousness in which a person had lived his or her life determines what level of glory they will attain after the final judgement.[17] The teaching (see I Corinthians 15, Doctrine & Covenenants 76) further is that there are different resurrection states, the righteous resurrecting first with a higher, and the wicked at the end of the Millennium with a lesser state.



According to Islam, the Day of Resurrection is the Day of Judgement. This is the Day that no friend helps his friend nor they are helped. The day when the sky bring visible smoke, and the Earth turns to unearth; the Moon and the Sun will be gathered the same way. The trumpet will be blown, and all who are living will die—then all creatures will be brought to life; all the people of old and present. And on that day they will be judged and the judgement is by God.


According to Islam, all mankind will be judged by what they did; even a tiny portion of good and a tiny portion of bad will be counted and surely no one will be oppressed. On that day those who blasphemed to their Lord and those who were polytheist will be cast down to hellfire, and those who willfully denied the revelations and prophets of God will receive their due recompense. That day will be the day of separation; separation between true believers and hypocrites. Between them there will be a wall placed - inside, mercy and outside, torment. Paradise is the place of the righteous and hell is the place of the sinner.

Qur'anic References

"Some faces on that day will be shining, looking towards their Lord, but other faces will be dark realizing that something terrible is about to happen to them" (Qur'an:Resurrection:22-25)

"The day that men will be as moths scattered and the mountains will be as carded wool. So for one whose scales are heavy, he is therefore in the desired bliss, and for one whose scales prove light, for him is the abyss, and what can make you understand how that (abyss) is; fire is its abutment" (Qur'an:Calamity:4-11)

Zen Buddhism

There are stories in Buddhism where the power of resurrection was demonstrated on at least two famous occasions in Chan or Zen Buddhist tradition. One is the famous resurrection story of Bodhidharma, the Indian master who brought the Ekayana school of India to China that subsequently became Chan Buddhism.

The other is the passing of Chinese Chan master Puhua (J., Fuke) and is recounted in the Record of Linji (J., Rinzai). Puhua was known for his unusual or crazy-like behavior and teaching style so it is no wonder that he is associated with an event that breaks the usual prohibition on displaying such powers. Here is the account from Irmgard Schloegl's "The Zen Teaching of Rinzai".

65. One day at the street market Fuke was begging all and sundry to give him a robe. Everybody offered him one, but he did not want any of them. The master [Linji] made the superior buy a coffin, and when Fuke returned, said to him: "There, I had this robe made for you." Fuke shouldered the coffin, and went back to the street market, calling loudly: "Rinzai had this robe made for me! I am off to the East Gate to enter transformation" (to die)." The people of the market crowded after him, eager to look. Fuke said: "No, not today. Tomorrow, I shall go to the South Gate to enter transformation." And so for three days. Nobody believed it any longer. On the fourth day, and now without any spectators, Fuke went alone outside the city walls, and laid himself into the coffin. He asked a traveler who chanced by to nail down the lid. The news spread at once, and the people of the market rushed there. On opening the coffin, they found that the body had vanished, but from high up in the sky they heard the ring of his hand bell.[18]

Disappearances (as distinct from Resurrection)

As knowledge of different religions has grown, so have claims of bodily disappearance of some religious and mythological figures. In ancient Greek religion, this was a way the gods made some physically immortal, including such figures as Cleitus, Ganymede, Menelaus, and Tithonus.[19] In his chapter on Romulus from Parallel Lives, Plutarch criticises the continuous belief in such disappearances, referring e.g. to the allegedly miraculous disappearance of the historical figures of Romulus, Cleomedes of Astypalaea, and Croesus. In ancient times pagan similarities were explained by the early Christian writers, such as Justin Martyr, as the work of demons and Satan, with the intention of leading Christians astray.[20]

In somewhat recent years we have learned Gesar, the Savior of Tibet, at the end, chants on a mountain top and his clothes fall empty to the ground.[21] The body of the first Guru of Sikhs Guru Nanak Dev is said to have disappeared and flowers were left in place of his dead body. There is a traditional spot in Jerusalem whence, while mounted, Muhammad and his horse both ascend into the sky.

Lord Raglan's Hero Pattern lists many religious figures whose bodies disappear, or have more than one sepulchre.[22] B. Traven, author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, wrote that the Inca Virococha, walked away on the top of the sea and vanished.[23] It has been thought that teachings regarding the purity and incorruptibility of the hero's human body are linked to this phenomenon. Perhaps, this is also to deter the practice of disturbing and collecting the hero's remains. They are safely protected if they have disappeared.[24]

In Deuteronomy (34:6) Moses is secretly buried. Elijah vanishes in a whirlwind 2 Kings (2:11). After hundreds of years these two earlier Biblical heroes suddenly reappear, and are seen walking with Jesus. Then again they vanish. Mark (9:2-8), Matthew (17:1-8) and Luke (9:28-33). The last time he is seen, Luke (24:51) alone tells of Jesus leaving his disciples, by ascending into the sky. But again, these are disappearances, and are thus distinctly different from resurrection.


  1. ^ Pecorino, Philip (2001). "Section 3. The Resurrection of the Body". Philosophy of Religion. Dr. Philip A. Pecorino. Retrieved 2007-09-13. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
  4. ^ Mermelstein, Marc. "Principle #13,". Maimonides’ 13 Foundations of Judaism. Retrieved 2009-04-29. 
  5. ^ The Afterlife: Modern Liturgical Reforms Amending prayers that mention resurrection to accord with modern sensibilities.
  6. ^ Reform set to introduce new siddur
  7. ^ Sir James Frazer (1922). The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion Ware: Wordsworth 1993.
  8. ^ Jonathan Z. Smith “Dying and Rising Gods” in Mircea Eliade (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Religion: Vol. 3. New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan 1995: 521-27.
  9. ^ Erwin Rohde Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality among the Greeks. New York: Harper & Row 1925 [1921]; Dag Øistein Endsjø. Greek Resurrection Beliefs and the Success of Christianity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2009.
  10. ^ Oldest known Bible goes online, by Richard Allen Greene, CNN.
  11. ^ Mark 16 (New International Version) Quote:"((The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.))"
  12. ^ Mark 16 (Codex Sinaiticus)
  13. ^ Loc. cit., cf. Heyns Lecture Series: Misquoting Jesus: Scribes Who Altered Scripture and Readers Who May Never Know, by Bart D. Ehrman, MDiv, PhD.
  14. ^ The Resurrection of Matthew 27:52-53
  15. ^ Herbert Chanon Brichto "Kin, Cult, Land and Afterlife - A Biblical Complex", Hebrew Union College Annual 44, p.8 (1973)
  16. ^ "Alma 40:11-14". Book of Mormon. "Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection-Behold it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea who are evil...shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil...thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection." 
  17. ^ "Alma 11:42-44". Book of Mormon. "Now, there is a death which is a called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death. The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt. Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to it s perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body..." 
  18. ^ Schloegl, Irmgard; tr. "The Zen Teaching of Rinzai". Shambhala Publications, Inc., Berkeley, 1976. Page 76. ISBN 0-87773-087-3.
  19. ^ Erwin Rohde Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality among the Greeks. New York: Harper & Row 1966.[1921]; Dag Øistein Endsjø. Greek Resurrection Beliefs and the Success of Christianity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2009.
  20. ^ Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho (ca 147-161 A.D.) Catholic University Press, 2003
  21. ^ Alexandra David-Neel,and Lama Yongden, The Superhuman Life of Gesar of Ling, Rider, 1933, While still in oral tradition, it is recorded for the first time by an early European traveler.
  22. ^ Otto Rank, Lord Raglan, and Alan Dundes, In Quest of the Hero, Princeton University Press, 1990
  23. ^ B. Traven, The Creation of the Sun and Moon, Lawerence Hill Books, 1977
  24. ^ See: Michael Paterniti, Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain, The Dial Press, 2000

Further reading

  • Oscar Cullmann. “Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection of the Dead?” in Immortality and Resurrection Ed. Krister Stendahl. New York: 1965. pp. 9–35. (available online)
  • Dag Øistein Endsjø. Greek Resurrection Beliefs and the Success of Christianity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
  • Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov. Philosophy of Physical Resurrection 1906.
  • Edwin Hatch. Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages Upon the Christian Church (1888 Hibbert Lectures).
  • Richard Longenecker, editor. Life in the Face of Death: The Resurrection Message of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.
  • Frank Morison. Who Moved the Stone?. London: Faber and Faber, 1930. (available online)
  • Markus Mühling. Grundinformation Eschatologie. Systematische Theologie aus der Perspektive der Hoffnung. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2007, ISBN 978-3-8252-2918-4, 242–262.
  • George Nickelsburg. Resurrection, Immortality, and Eternal Life in Intertestmental Judaism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972.
  • Pheme Perkins. "Resurrection: New Testament Witness and Contemporary Reflection." Garden City: Doubleday & Company, 1984.
  • James McConkey Robinson, editor. The Nag Hammadi Library in English. New York: Harper Collins, 1977.
  • Erwin Rohde Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality among the Greeks. New York: Harper & Row, 1925 [1921].
  • Charles H. Talbert. The Concept of Immortals in Mediterranian Antiquity, Journal of Biblical Literature, Volume 94, 1973, pp 419–436
  • Charles H. Talbert. The Myth of a Descending-Ascending Redeemer in Mediterranian Antiquity, New Testament Studies, 22, 1975/76, pp 418–440
  • N.T. Wright. The Resurrection of the Son of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.
  • Father Alfred J Hebert. Raised from the Dead: True Stories of 400 Resurrection Miracles
  • Herbert Vollmann. The Empty Tomb.

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—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 14:15ff; Ezek 32:21). 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 (Job 14:13ff), and then, if the Masoretic text may be trusted, a passing conviction that such a resurrection will occur (Job 19:25f). The older Hebrew conception of life regarded the nation so entirely as a unit that no individual mortality or immortality was considered. Jeremiah (Jer 31:29) and Ezekiel (C18) 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 Psalm 99 and Psalm 73, 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 26:19, a passage which Cheyne dates about 334 B.C. The hope was cherished for faithful Israelites. In Dan 12:1ff (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 2 Maccabees the belief that all Israelites will be resurrected finds expression (comp. 2 Macc 6:26, 2 Macc 7:9ff, and 2 Macc 14:46). 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 8810, Ps 11517). 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 228-10) 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).

Resurrection is asserted in all the Apocryphal writings of Pharisaic origin (comp. 2 Macc 7:9-36,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 511-2; 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 4:4; Deut 11:9 [comp. Mk 12:18]; Num 18:28; Deut 4:4, xxxi. 16, xxxii. 39), and from similar expressions in which the future tense is applied to the future life (Ex 15:1; Deut 33:6; Josh 8:30; Ps 845 [A. V. 4]; Isa 52:8); also in Ḥul. 142a, from promised rewards (Deut 5:16, 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 504).

The Sadducees denied the resurrection (Josephus, "Ant." xviii. 1, § 4; idem, "B. J." ii. 8, § 14; Acts 23:8; 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 26:19; Ḥag. 12b. with reference to Ps 689]). 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 (Lk 14:14, Lk 20:35); at other times "the resurrection of the dead" in general is mentioned (Jn 5:29; Acts 24:15; Rev 20:5).

Part of the Messianic Hope.

As a matter of fact, resurrection formed part of the Messianic hope (Isa 24:19; Dan 12:2; Enoch 255, 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 (2 Macc 7:6, 2 Macc 7:9, 2 Macc 7:23; Yalḳ. to Isa 26:19; 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; Mt 5:5, after Ps 3711; Sanh. xi. 1, with reference to Isa 60:21). The resurrection, therefore, was believed to take place solely in the Holy Land (Pesiḳ. R. i., after Ps 1169 ["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 42:5 ["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 7216). 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 37:13; Ket. 111a).

Day of Judgment Precedes Messianic Era.

The trumpet blown to gather the tribes of Israel (Isa 27:13) will also rouse the dead (Ber. 15b; Targ. Yer. to Ex 20:15; II Esd. iv. 23; comp. 1Cor 15:52; 1 Thes 4:16; see Enoch 1012 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 9024-25). 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 66:14, Ps 234, and Mic 4:5). 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. 1 Pet 3:19]; Ascensio Isaiæ, iv. 21, with reference to Isa 9:16, 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 9810, 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 33:6; Targ. Isa 14:19; Isa 22:14; Isa 65:6, Isa 65:15, Isa 65:19; Jer 51:39; Rev 20:6, Rev 20:14).

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 918 [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 60:21 (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; Lev 1:18; Judah, 25; Zebulun, 10; Vita Adæ et Evæ, 13; comp. Lk 14:14, 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 ( (missing hebrew text) ; 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 15, 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.

Bibliography: 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.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.

Simple English

.]] Resurrection means bringing back to life.

Christians believe that Jesus Christ was resurrected. They also believe in resurrection for all people after death (see Saint Paul's first letter to the Corinthians).

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is documented by various authors in the New Testament. The resurrection is a key part of Christian faith because it signifies that God was fully satisfied with the work of Jesus in dying on the cross to save mankind. It is also important because it prefigures the resurrection of all Christian believers. But most importantly the fact that Jesus Christ was resurrected to an imperishable state (see below) means that he lives for ever. As such, there is a 'man in heaven' at the current time. He is the advocate for us before the throne of God. He is also with us by his Spirit in this world.

In both the case of Jesus Christ and everyone else's resurrection the bible makes it clear that the resurrected body is changed from the original. This is because the human body in its current form is understood to be weak and frail. However, the resurrected person lives for ever.

In illustration Saint Paul refers to a seed and its tree. This life's body is like a seed, and the resurrection body is like the tree which comes from it. From this analogy Paul illustrates two important principles:

  1. That the seed must fall into the ground to 'die' in order for the next life to be possible - "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." - Corinthians 1 15:50
  2. That the new body bears little resembles to what we have now. Resurrected Christians are not zombies but completely new people. - "The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." - Corinthians 1 15:42-44.


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