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General Resurrection

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General Resurrection

This article is about a final resurrection at the end time. For other uses, see Resurrection (disambiguation).

Resurrection of the Dead is a common component of a number of eschatologies, most commonly in Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Zoroastrian eschatology. The phrase refers to a specific event in the future — multiple prophecies in the histories of these religions assert that the dead will be brought back to life at some point in the future.

A minority claim this has already happened in the past[1] or is occurring now without most knowing it.[2] Most Christian eschatologies include belief in a universal resurrection of all of the dead, while a minority, such as the Christadelphians,[3] believe that only a select few will be resurrected. Some Protestants interpret the Book of Revelation to indicate two resurrections of the dead - at either end of a millennium.[4]


Zoroastrian belief 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.[5] As distinct from Judaism this is the resurrection of all the dead to universal purification and renewal of the world.[6]

Frashokereti is the Zoroastrian doctrine of a final renovation of the universe, when evil will be destroyed, and everything else will be then in perfect unity with God (Ahura Mazda). The term probably means "making wonderful, excellent".

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.[7]


Main article: Jewish eschatology

Hebrew Bible

The earliest reference in the 2 Kings 13:21)

National resurrection is found in Ezekiel's Vision in the Valley of Dry Bones reads, "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 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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14] 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

According to the 6:39-59).

The "Sign of Jonah" (Jesus Seminar's Scholars Version (commonly known as "The Five Gospels") translation of Matthew 12:38-42: "...At judgment time, the citizens of Ninevah will come back to life along with this generation ... At judgment time, the queen of the south will be brought back to life along with this generation ..."

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

In Hebrews 6:2.

Nicene Creed and Early Christianity

Most Christian denominations profess the Nicene Creed, and most English versions of the Nicene Creed in current use include the phrase:

We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Both "resurrection of the dead" and "world to come" are phrases found in Christian Bibles.

The centrality of this idea for Christian doctrine is early stated in 1 Corinthians 15 by Paul the Apostle:

51Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. - King James Version

The Christian writers Irenaeus and Justin Martyr, in the 2nd Century, wrote against the idea that only the soul survived. Martyr[15] insists that a man is both soul and body and Christ has promised to raise both, just as his own body was raised. He wrote: "Seeing as ... the Saviour in the whole Gospel shows that there is salvation for the flesh, why do we any longer endure those unbelieving and dangerous arguments, and fail to see that we are retrograding when we listen to such an argument as this: that the soul is immortal, but the body mortal, and incapable of being revived? For this we used to hear from Pythagoras and Plato, even before we learned the truth. If then the Saviour said this, and proclaimed salvation to the soul alone, what new thing, beyond what we heard from Pythagoras and Plato and all their band, did He bring us? But now He has come proclaiming the glad tidings of a new and strange hope to men."

Traditional Acts 24:15 KJV).

Roman Catholicism

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia: ""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"... This opposition had begun long before the days of St. Augustine."[17]

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church the body after resurrection is changed into a spiritual, imperishable body:

999How? Christ is raised with his own body: "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself".553But he did not return to an earthly life. So, in him, "all of them will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear," but Christ "will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body," into a "spiritual body."[18]

According to the Summa Theologica, spiritual beings that have been restored to glorified bodies will have the following basic qualities:

  • Impassibility (immortal / painless) — immunity from death and pain
  • Subtility (permeability) — freedom from restraint by matter
  • Agility — obedience to spirit with relation to movement and space (the ability to move through space and time with the speed of thought)
  • Clarity — resplendent beauty of the soul manifested in the body (as when Jesus was transfigured on Mount Tabor)[19]


Although Martin Luther personally believed and taught resurrection of the dead in combination with soul sleep, this is not a mainstream teaching of Lutheranism and most Lutherans traditionally believe in resurrection of the body in combination with the immortal soul.[20] According to the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), on the last day,[21] all the dead will be resurrected.[22] Their souls will then be reunited with the same bodies they had before dying.[23] The bodies will then be changed, those of the wicked to a state of everlasting shame and torment,[24] those of the righteous to an everlasting state of celestial glory.[25]


There are many theologians, such as Thomas Oden, popular Christian writers such as Randy Alcorn, and Christian scholars such as the Anglican Bishop of Durham N.T. Wright,[26] who have defended the primacy of the resurrection in Christian faith.

Interviewed by Time in 2008 senior Anglican bishop and theologian N. T. Wright spoke of “the idea of bodily resurrection that people deny when they talk about their ‘souls going to Heaven,'" adding: “I've often heard people say, ‘I'm going to heaven soon, and I won't need this stupid body there, thank goodness.’ That's a very damaging distortion, all the more so for being unintentional.” Instead, Wright explains: “In the Bible we are told that you die, and enter an intermediate state." This is "conscious," but "compared to being bodily alive, it will be like being asleep." This will be followed by resurrection into new bodies, he says. "Our culture is very interested in life after death, but the New Testament is much more interested in what I've called the life after life after death."

Evangelical belief

Early 20th century American preacher Billy Sunday epitomizes the focus on "going to heaven" in his sermon “Heaven: A Wonderful Place; Where There is No More Death; Blessed Hope of the Christian.” In the message Sunday characteristically explained the feelings of his audience by saying “Everybody wants to go to Heaven. We are all curious. We want to know, where Heaven is, how it looks, who are there, what they wear, and how to get there!” Sunday speaks of many aspects of the afterlife such as the nice weather and eternal health, although there is no mention of a resurrection of the dead. He ends with an illustration about a man who dies and goes to heaven exclaiming “Home, home at last!” as if he had arrived at the end of his eschatological journey.[27]

The emphasis on the immortality of the soul in heaven rather than the resurrection of the dead continues largely in the 21st century through popular charismatic and evangelical preaching. Jesus is often spoken of as “the way to heaven” and personal eschatology is generally seen in terms of whether or not a person gets into heaven when they die, rather than how they will fare at the resurrection of the dead.

Two resurrections of the dead

Some commentators interpret the Book of Revelation as requiring two resurrections of the dead, one is before the Millennium, the other after it.[28]

Conditional immortality

Several churches, such as the Anabaptists and Socinians of the Reformation, then Seventh-day Adventist Church, Christadelphians, Jehovah's Witnesses, and theologians of different traditions reject the idea of the immortality of a non-physical soul as a vestige of Neoplatonism, and other pagan traditions. In this school of thought, the dead remain dead (and do not immediately progress to a Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory) until a physical resurrection of some or all of the dead occurs at the end of time. Some groups, Christadelphians in particular, consider that it is not a universal resurrection, and that at this time of resurrection that the Last Judgment will take place.[29]

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

According to Revelation 20:5 KJV).

Before the resurrection, the spirits of the dead are believed to exist in a place known as the 1 Peter 3:19 KJV).

The resurrection is believed to unite the spirit with the body again, and the LDS Church teaches that the body (flesh and bone) will be made whole and become incorruptible, a state which includes immortality.[30] After His resurrection, Christ stated to his disciples: "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."(Luke 24:39) This is a departure from the Trinity doctrine established by the Nicene Creed; for Christ is now a resurrected personage, different in substance from His Father, to whom Christ went after His resurrection. He said to Mary, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father." (John 20:17). After Christ was resurrected, he ministered for 40 days among the people (Acts 1:3), and was seen by more than 500 (1 Cor 15:6). He continues to have His resurrected body of flesh and bones, for He will return to this earth just as he left it, "this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11). It should be noted that God created mankind in His image and after His likeness (Gen 1:26,27)--it is not God who transforms himself into the image of man. And so our resurrected bodies have an eternal purpose, just like our Father's who is in heaven.

According to LDS doctrine, Jesus Christ was the first to be resurrected into incorruptibility (1 Cor 15:20), followed by many church members who were also dead. (2 Kings 2:11 KJV) are frequently cited as examples of this.

Modern de-emphasis

Early church fathers defended the resurrection of the dead against the pagan belief that the immortal soul went to the underworld immediately after death.[31] Currently, however, it is a popular Christian belief that the souls of the righteous do go straight to heaven.[32][33]

At the close of the medieval period, the modern era brought a shift in Christian thinking from an emphasis on the resurrection of the body back to the immortality of the soul.[34] This shift was a result of a change in the zeitgeist, as a reaction to the Renaissance and later to the Enlightenment. Dartigues has observed that especially “from the 17th to the 19th century, the language of popular piety no longer evoked the resurrection of the soul but everlasting life. Although theological textbooks still mentioned resurrection, they dealt with it as a speculative question more than as an existential problem.”[34]

This shift was supported not by any scripture, but largely by the popular religion of the Enlightenment, deism. Deism allowed for a supreme being, such as the philosophical first cause, but denied any significant personal or relational interaction with this figure. Deism, which was largely led by rationality and reason, could allow a belief in the immortality of the soul, but not necessarily in the resurrection of the dead. American deist Ethan Allen demonstrates this thinking in his work, Reason the Only Oracle of Man (1784) where he argues in the preface that nearly every philosophical problem is beyond humanity’s understanding, including the miracles of Christianity, although he does allow for the immortality of an immaterial soul.[35]

Influence on secular law and custom

Formerly, it was widely believed that to rise on judgement day the body had to be whole and preferably buried with the feet to the east so that the person would rise facing God.[36][37][38] A Parliamentary Act from the reign of King Henry VIII stipulated that only the corpses of executed murderers could be used for dissection.[39] Restricting the supply to the cadavers of murderers was seen as an extra punishment for the crime. If one believes dismemberment stopped the possibility of resurrection of an intact body on judgement day, then a posthumous execution is an effective way of punishing a criminal.[40][41][42][43] Attitudes towards this issue changed very slowly in the United Kingdom and were not manifested in law until the passing of the Anatomy Act in 1832. For much of the British population it was not until the 20th century that the link between the body and resurrection was finally broken as cremation was only made legal in 1902.[44]


In Islam, Yawm al-Qiyāmah (Arabic: يوم القيامة‎ "the Day of Resurrection") or Yawm ad-Din (Arabic: يوم الدين‎ "the Day of Judgment") is believed to be God's final assessment of humanity. The sequence of events (according to the most commonly held belief) is the annihilation of all creatures, resurrection of the body, and the judgment of all sentient creatures.

The exact time when these events will occur is unknown, however there are said to be major[45] and minor signs[46] which are to occur near the time of Qiyamah (End time). Many Qur'anic verses, especially the earlier ones, are dominated by the idea of the nearing of the day of resurrection.[47][48]

The Day of Resurrection

Nearing the end of time, the trumpet will be blown and creation will cease to exist.  God, Almighty, says:

“And the Trumpet will be blown, and all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth will swoon away, except him whom God wills.” (Quran 39:68)

It will be blown a second blowing, and all creation from the beginning of time till the end of time will be resurrected.  God, the Exalted, tells us:

“And the Trumpet will be blown (i.e.  the second blowing) and behold!  From the graves they will come out quickly to their Lord.” (Quran 36:51)

People will be standing naked, barefooted and uncircumcised.  The Prophet described to us what will happen, he said:

“You will be gathered, barefooted, naked, and uncircumcised (as God says):

“As We began the first creation, We shall repeat it.” (Quran 21:104)

Transhumanism and technology

In his 1994 book The Physics of Immortality, physicist Frank J. Tipler, an expert on the general theory of relativity, presented his Omega Point Theory which outlines how a resurrection of the dead could take place at the end of the cosmos. He posits that humans will evolve into robots which will turn the entire cosmos into a supercomputer which will, shortly before the big crunch, perform the resurrection within its cyberspace, reconstructing formerly dead humans (from information captured from by the supercomputer from the past light cone of the cosmos) as avatars within its metaverse.[49]

See also


External links

  • Catholic Encyclopedia: General Resurrection
  • Jewish Encyclopedia: Resurrection
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