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CHAPTER TWELVE

 

THE RESURRECTION

 

Plaque depicting saints rising from the dead.

 

Resurrection comes from the Latin word resurrectio and  is the concept of a living being coming back to life after death in their own original form of the body. 

Resurrection of the dead, the belief that the dead will be brought back to life, is a common component of a number of eschatologies, most commonly in Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Zoroastrian eschatology.

The Resurrection of the Dead is a standard eschatological belief in the Abrahamic religions.  In all Abrahamic religions the concept of God is based on the creation of man as given in the book of genesis where Adam (Man of the Earth) was created from the earth where God formed Man and breathed into him the Spirit, whence Man became a living Soul.  In the Abrahamic religions, the Spirit of God is the life giving power behind every form of life.  Matter in itself is dead.  It is the Spirit that gives life.  Birth and Rebirth, creation and recreation are all the work of the Holy Spirit.  Thus within every life form we have three elements. 

        Body formed by Matter

        Spirit given by God in Man

        Soul which is individual ego of man as a result of being a Being.

 

Soul is thus identified as the "Self" in man. It is the soul that experiences and changes with life.  The body grows, the Spirit changes within man giving the directions and the Soul as a will changes as a result of experience with interaction with the external world of life and form. All the three Body, Soul and the Spirit within Man are in constant flux and all the three are conserved.  The total matter in the cosmos is conserved, Spirit that is given to man is finite as long as it is within man.  But if open in connection with God it is capable of being part of the infinite God.  To give a modern analogy, Body is the hardware of the human computer, Spirit is the Operating System and Soul is the Hard disk where all events are recorded.  Being a computer would mean that all these are present to function.  In the same way Man is Man when all three parts are joined together in the right way.

 

Assuming that the computer breaks down, if we have to retrieve all data in the Hard disk we need to put in a new working hardware with the right operating system.  This is resurrection.

 

If we put a different type of operating system in a new hardware the hard disk will still contain the data, but they are irretrievable. The old data has no value now and are useless. You can format the hard disk and put new data.. This is reincarnation without  memory of past lives. If the purpose of the new computer was to read and revise the old data and correct the errors, then that purpose is lost.  It can be done only if the OS is same and the hardware functions as it used to be.

In this analogy we can see why the reassembly of a functioning hardware system is needed along with the OS to read the Hard disk. Even when the hard disk is taken out and kept alone, the data is still inside but if we want to read or change it, the total computer system, with all three parts has to be reassembled.  This is why the spiritual resurrection concept won't work.  If we want to continue to work from where we left off, it is absolutely necessary to have the system read and function as it was.  Should it be the same old computer which broke down repaired?  Of course not.  We can use a new computer with a new OS but of the same type of OS or a compatible OS.  But it is imperative that we use the same old hard disk with its old data.  Thus the unchanging factor is the continuing of the Hard Disk - the Soul. 

The basic assumption of Resurrection is the continuance of the soul.  As we can see it is not necessary assume the immortality of the soul, but it is absolutely essential to assume the continuity of the Soul and the recognition of the data within it.

We have an on going record of resurrection by saints and by Jesus himself - bringing back to life people who were dead.  A typical resurrection tradition is found in the case of  Poompavai of India.

                   Child Saint Sambandar (915580465).jpg

                   Thirugnana Sambandar

                   As late as the 7th century when Saivism was part of Christianity. the Indian saint Sambandar prayed to Shiva and resurrected Poompavai from an urn of bones and ashes in old Kapaleeshwarar Temple (The Temple of the God who conquered death) at the location of the current San Thome Basilica.


Thirunyana Sambandar sings the pathigam to bring Poompavai who died after a snake bite was brought back to life from ashes as depicted in front of Lord Kapaleeswar in Thirumayilapur.

                   Zoroastrianism

                  

Zoroastrian belief is an Aryan Religion which developed after the departure of Indo-Aryans to India.  In has developed a monotheistic religion.  Zoroastrianism  also called Zarathustraism, Mazdaism and Magianism, is an ancient Iranian religion and a religious philosophy, and the first monotheistic religion in the world. In Zoroastrianism, the creator Ahura Mazda - deity of Wisdom -  is all good, and no evil originates from him. Thus, in Zoroastrianism good and evil have distinct sources, with evil (druj) trying to destroy the creation of Mazda (asha), and good trying to sustain it. While Ahura Mazda is not immanent in the world, his creation is represented by the Amesha Spentas and the host of other Yazatas, through whom the works of God are evident to humanity, and through whom worship of Mazda is ultimately directed. The most important texts of the religion are those of the Avesta, of which a significant portion has been lost, and mostly only the liturgies of which have survived. The lost portions are known of only through references and brief quotations in the later works, primarily from the 9th to 11th centuries.

In some form, it served as the national or state religion of a significant portion of the Iranian people for many centuries. The religion first dwindled when the Achaemenid Empire was invaded by Alexander the Great, after which it collapsed and disintegrated in an end times renovation of the earth, frashokereti including some form of revival of the dead can be attested from the 4th Century BCE.

 

 This is the resurrection of all the dead to universal purification and renewal of the world.

The doctrinal premises are:
 (1) good will eventually prevail over evil;
(2) creation was initially perfectly good, but was subsequently corrupted by evil; (3) the world will ultimately be restored to the perfection it had at the time of creation;
(4) the "salvation for the individual depended on the sum of [that person's] thoughts, words and deeds, and there could be no intervention, whether compassionate or capricious, by any divine being to alter this."
Thus, each human bears the responsibility for the fate of his own soul, and simultaneously shares in the responsibility for the fate of the world.

There are three ages before this happen. The first is the creation age, second is the age of mixture of good and evil and the third is the age of separation of good from evil.

In the Bundahishn (GBd 30.1ff), runs as follows:

 "At the end of the "third time" , there will be a great battle between the forces of good (the yazatas) and those of evil (the daevas) in which the good will triumph. On earth, the Saoshyant will bring about a resurrection of the dead in the bodies they had before they died. This is followed by a last judgment through ordeal. The yazatas Airyaman and Atar will melt the metal in the hills and mountains, and the molten metal will then flow across the earth like a river. All mankindóboth the living and the resurrected deadówill be required to wade through that river, but for the righteous (ashavan) it will seem to be a river of warm milk, while the wicked will be burned. The river will then flow down to hell, where it will annihilate Angra Mainyu and the last vestiges of wickedness in the universe."

Judaism

The earliest reference in the Hebrew Bible to raising from Sheol is found in the Song of Hannah (1 Sam. 2:6). However this is usually understood by commentators to be read figuratively not a literal expectation of God bringing down to Sheol and raising up.  

Resurrection passages prior to Daniel are primarily taken as dealing with national resurrection as in Isaiah's (26:19) "Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise." This passage in Isaiah later became a touchpoint for rabbinical discussion on the resurrection. Temporary resurrections of individual dead people are found in the Hebrew Bible:

         Elijah  raising the widow's son at Zarephath:  (1 Kings 17:23);

        Elisha raising the son of  the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:36) and

        contact with Elisha's bones reviving a dead man: "as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet." (2 Kings 13:21)

National resurrection is found in Ezekiel's Vision in the Valley of Dry Bones: "Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live". (Ezekiel 37:5)

                        According to the Jewish Encyclopedia article on resurrection,  the topic may be discussed in Job 14:13-15, 19:25-26, Isa 26:19, Dan 12:1-4.

   Second Temple period. 530 BCE to 70 CE

                        In the Second Temple period the concept of resurrection of the dead is found in 4Q521 among the Dead Sea scrolls, Josephus records it (Antiquities 18.14; Jewish War 2.163), and the New Testament records that the Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife, but the Pharisees believed in a literal resurrection of the body.  Resurrection of the dead appears in detail in the extra-canonical books of Enoch, Jubilees, Apocalypse of Baruch, 2 Esdras and the Maccabees.

   Rabbinical period

                   The Resurrection is a core belief of the Mishnah.  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."

 New Testament teachings

Eschatology of Christianity is essentially built on the foundations of resurrection of the dead followed by judgment and eventual redemption of all mankind in a way close to the proposition of Zorastrianism.

           Jesus argued with the Sadducees over the doctrine of the resurrection. (Mark 12:18-27, Matthew 22:23-33, Luke 20:27Ė40.  Mark 12.)

           The Gospel of John also contains teachings about the resurrection of the dead (5:25-29, 6:39-59).

           The "Sign of Jonah" (Matthew 12:38-42, 16:1-4, Luke 11:29-32, cf. Mark 8:11-13) may be about the resurrection of the dead.

           The "resurrection of the righteous" is mentioned at Luke 14:14. The "resurrection at the last day" is mentioned at John 11:24-25.

                           In Acts of the Apostles, the Apostles and Paul of Tarsus argued in support of the doctrine: 4:2, 17:32, 23:6-8, 24:15, 24:21.

                            In 1 Corinthians 15:13 Paul argues: "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised." 2 Timothy 2:18 warns of some "who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some." Additional verses are Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:12-13; 2 Corinthians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 5:1-2; Philippians 3:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16; 2 Timothy 2:11; Hebrews 6:2.