Chapter VI


Belief in the Resurrection of the body is implicit in all Bible history. It lay at the very root of the Patriarchal and Jewish theology. The promises of God, which had no fulfilment in the life time of those who believed them, could only be received and enjoyed after a resurrection from the dead; without it they were null and void.

This belief runs all through the Old Testament like a golden thread. Abraham believed in the resurrection of Isaac, the Patriarchs died in this hope; Elijah and Elisha saw the dead raised to life before their eyes; Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Job all spoke of it with confidence. It was the only hope of Martha in the hour of Lazarus' death. (Heb. 11:9-21, I Kings 17:22, II Kings 4:34, Job 19:25-27, Is. 26:19, Ez. 37:1-14, Dan. 12:2, John 11:24.)

Belief in the resurrection of the body was also the centre of our Lord's life. He spoke repeatedly and confidently of His own death and resurrection, and of what He would do afterwards. It was lack of this faith in His disciples which so bitterly disappointed Him, and was responsible for their own collapse.

Their own teaching after the Ascension of the Lord centred round His Death and Resurrection and physical return. The whole Christian position depended entirely upon its truth. For, as St. Paul said, if in this life only we have hope in Christ then we are miserable indeed. Faith to raise the dead persisted in the Apostolic Church, and the last book in the Bible ends with the plain vision of a Universal Resurrection of all the dead of all the ages. It is the only doctrine which can give meaning to a Creation which relentlessly slides into the darkness of frustration and death. (Lk. 9:22-45, 24:25-27, 36-47, Mk. 16:14, Acts 2:22-36, 4:33, 17:32, 26:18-23, 9:36-42, 20:9-12, Rom. 8:19-25 (compare Ecclesiastes), I Cor. 15, Rev. 20:13.)

There was, however, in the Bible a clear development of revelation concerning the resurrection of the dead.

1. The original design of God, foiled by the Fall, was that man should live for ever upon a perfect earth, their bodies