AskDefine | Define resurrect

Dictionary Definition



1 cause to become alive again; "raise from the dead"; "Slavery is already dead, and cannot be resurrected"; "Upraising ghosts" [syn: raise, upraise]
2 restore from a depressed, inactive, or unused state; "He revived this style of opera"; "He resurrected the tango in this remote part of Argentina" [syn: revive]
3 return from the dead; "Christ is risen!"; "The dead are to uprise" [syn: rise, uprise]

User Contributed Dictionary



Back-formation from resurrection.



  1. To rise from the dead.
  2. To re-use
  3. To bring to view or attention.


To raise from dead
To re-use
To bring to attention

Extensive Definition

This article concerns itself with Jesus Christ, Christian, Islamic and other religious interpretations of resurrection in general. For the restoration of humanity on Judgment Day, see resurrection of the dead.
Miraculous resurrection of one sort or another has been a recurrent theme or central doctrine of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Religious accounts represent the resurrection of individuals, as well as a general resurrection of humanity on Judgment Day. Christianity also uses the term to refer to God's resurrection of Jesus. Accounts of resurrection also occur in other religious traditions. With the advent of written records, the earliest known recurrent theme of resurrection was in the ancient Egyptian religion and it was especially focused upon an individual in the cults of Neith, Isis, and Osiris.

Mesopotamia and the classical world

In the literal sense of the word, resurrection refers to the event of a dead person completely returning to life. Thus it is not to be confused with things like Hellenistic immortality in which the soul continues to live after death, "free" of the body.
"Centuries before the time of Jesus Christ the nations annually celebrated the death and resurrection of Osiris, Tammuz, Attis, Mithra, and other gods" A cyclic dying-and-rising god motif was prevalent throughout ancient Mesopotamian and classical literature and practice (eg in Syrian and Greek worship of Adonis; Egyptian worship of Osiris; the Babylonian story of Tammuz; rural religious belief in the Corn King).
Specifically, some of language concerning resurrection in the Hebrew Bible appears to have origins in Canaanite belief as demonstrated by the Baal cycle found at Ugarit in Northern Syria. Ba'al-Hadad's battle against Mot seems to be the origin of the some of the resurrection imagery found in Hosea, Isaiah and Daniel. This influence survives into the New Testament and even Rabbinic literature, with agricultural imagery regarding resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:36-37 and in John 12:24 reflecting the agricultural images of the Ba'al myth.


The Hebrew Bible

See: Jewish eschatology: Biblical verses
The Torah addresses the issue of bodily resurrection, but for the most part only in an indirect way.. 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, Daniel 12:2, Proverbs 7:27 and Job 10:21,22, and 17:16, among others.
Passages in the Hebrew Bible traditionally interpreted as referring to resurrection include:
  • Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones being restored as a living army: 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 (Ezekiel 37).
  • Daniel's vision, where a mysterious angelic figure tells Daniel, "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake; some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt." (Daniel 12:2)
  • 1 Samuel 2: 6 - "he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up"
  • Job 19: 26 - "after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God"
  • Isaiah 26: 19 - "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise"
  • Ezekiel 37: 12 - "I will open your graves, and cause you to come up"
Other passages may be more ambiguous: in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), Elijah raises a young boy from death (1 Kings 17:17-24), and Elisha duplicates the feat (2 Kings 4:34-35). There are a multiplicity of views on the scopes of these acts, including the traditional view that they represented genuine miracles and critical views that they represented resuscitations rather than bona fide resurrections. Other common associations are the biblical accounts of the antediluvian Enoch and the prophet Elijah being ushered into the presence of God without experiencing death. These, however, are more in the way of ascensions, bodily disappearances , translations or apotheoses than resurrections.

Views of Pharisees and Sadducees

In the First Century BC, there were debates between the Pharisees who believed in the future Resurrection, and the Sadducees who did not. 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.
The promise of a future resurrection appears in certain Jewish works, such as the Life of Adam and Eve, c 100 BC, and the Pharisaic book 2 Maccabees, c 124 BC.

Orthodox Judaism

A belief in bodily resurrection is one of the Thirteen Principles of Faith of Maimonides central to Orthodox Judaism. 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."
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.
The Rabbis of the Talmud interpreted various verses of the Torah as alluding to a resurrection of the dead. For example, the seemingly-innocuous passage
And the child was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day Isaac was weaned (Genesis 21:8)
is interpreted in Talmud Pesachim 119b as alluding to a Seudat Chiyat HaMatim, a feast for the righteous following the resurrection.

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.

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.


In Christianity, resurrection can refer to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the dead on Judgment Day, or other instances of miraculous resurrection and transfiguration.

Resurrection of Jesus

The resurrection of Jesus is the central doctrine in Christianity. The Apostle Paul said in 1st Corinthians 15:19-20 that 'If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.' 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 time as well as weekly by holding services on Sunday (the day of the week of Jesus' resurrection) or Lord's Day.

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. Most Christian churches continue to uphold this 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.

Resurrection miracles

The resurrected Jesus Christ commissioned his followers to, among other things, raise the dead. Throughout Christian history up to the present day there have been various accounts of Christians raising people from the dead.
In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus is said to have raised several persons from death, including 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.
Similar resuscitations are credited to Christian apostles and saints. Peter 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 known to resurrect 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.
Faith healer William M. Branham claimed to have raised a boy from the dead in 1950.
American evangelical missionary David L Hogan claims to have witnessed 28 resurrections from the dead, and his ministers have totalled approximately 400 "dead-raisings".

Bodily resurrection versus Platonic philosophy

In Hellenistic 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.

Resurrection by demonic power

Russian Orthodox Christianswho didn't acknowledge Jesus or have ever known his powers other than miracles have described Satan as being able to give his human servants the power to raise the dead .

Contemporary Biblical criticism

According to Herbert C. Brichto, 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: Abbadon (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.


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, and thus receive a better resurrection. The Book of Mormon describes both of these as temporary states, preceding resurrection and final judgement. 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. 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.


Those who believe in Allah (God) and did good deeds in their lives will go to heaven and live there for eternity. Those who did not believe in God and did bad deeds in their lives will burn in hell for ever. Humans and other creatures of God are then made to account for all their deeds, and their final abode — Jannah or Jahannam — is determined by God's Grace and justice during the Day of Judgement.
One of the reasons Mohammad was sent was to explain the Doctrine of 'resurrection' and the terms 'heaven' and 'hell' from within the context of Revelations received from Allah.

Resurrection or Bodily Disappearance in Other Traditions

As the knowledge of different religions has grown, the bodily disappearance of Divine Heroes has been found to be common. 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. Gesar, the Savior of Tibet, at the end, chants on a mountain top and his clothes fall empty to the ground. The body of the first Guru of Sikhs 'Guru Nanak Dev Ji' 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 Divine Heroes whose bodies disappear, or have more than one sepulchre. B. Traven, author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, wrote that the Inca Divine Hero, Virococha, walked away on the top of the sea and vanished. It has been thought that teachings regarding the purity and incorruptibility of the Divine 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. 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. Joseph Smith, first prophet of the LDS ("Mormon") Church, claimed to have been ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood by the resurrected John the Baptist (see the LDS Doctrine & Covenenants 13); to the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood by resurrected Peter, James, and (translated) John (D&C 27:12); and also to have been visited by the resurrected Jesus Christ, and received priesthood authority ("keys") from the resurrected Moses, Elias, and Elijah also (D&C 110:2 [as well as at his First Vision — see Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith History 1:17], and 11-14).

Zen Buddhism

There are stories in Buddhism where the power of resurrection has been 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.

Additional reading

  • William F. Albright, From Stone Age to Christianity: Monotheism and Historical Process
  • 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)
  • Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov. Philosophy of Physical Resurrection 1906.
  • Edwin Hatch, Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages Upon the Christian Church (1888 Hibbert Lectures).
  • Ronald F. Hock, The Favored One: How Mary Became the Mother of God, Bible Review, p. 12-25, June 2001.
  • Richard Longenecker, Editor. Life in the Face of Death: The Resurrection Message of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.
  • George Nickelsburg, Resurrection, Immortality, and Eternal Life in Intertestmental Judaism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972.
  • Zoe Oldenburg. Massacre at Montsegur. A History of the Albigensian Crusade. Translated from the French by Peter Green (1959).
  • James Robinson, Editor. The Nag Hammadi Library in English. New York: Harper Collins, 1977.
  • Jean-Marc Rouvière, Le silence de Lazare, Desclée De Brouwer: Paris, 1996.
  • 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

External links


resurrect in Bulgarian: Възкресение
resurrect in Czech: Vzkříšení
resurrect in Danish: Opstandelse
resurrect in German: Auferstehung
resurrect in Spanish: Resurrección
resurrect in Esperanto: Reviviĝo
resurrect in French: Résurrection (christianisme)
resurrect in Korean: 부활
resurrect in Croatian: Uskrsnuće
resurrect in Italian: Resurrezione
resurrect in Hebrew: תחיית המתים
resurrect in Lithuanian: Rezurekcija
resurrect in Hungarian: Feltámadás
resurrect in Dutch: Opstanding
resurrect in Japanese: 復活
resurrect in Norwegian: Oppstandelse
resurrect in Polish: Zmartwychwstanie
resurrect in Portuguese: Ressurreição
resurrect in Russian: Воскресение
resurrect in Albanian: Ringjallja
resurrect in Simple English: Resurrection
resurrect in Serbian: Васкрсење
resurrect in Finnish: Ylösnousemus
resurrect in Ukrainian: Воскресіння мертвих
resurrect in Chinese: 復活

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

bring back, bring to, call back, copy, do over, duplicate, make over, raise, re-create, re-form, reactivate, reanimate, rebuild, recall to life, recharge, reconstitute, reconstruct, recruit, redesign, redo, reestablish, refashion, refound, refresh, regenerate, reheat the ashes, reincarnate, reinspire, reinstitute, reissue, rejuvenate, rekindle, relight, remake, renew, renovate, reorganize, repeat, reprint, reproduce, reshape, restore, restructure, resuscitate, retrieve, return, revise, revitalize, revive, revivify, rewarm, stir the embers, warm over, warm up
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