The resurrection of the dead in biblical tradition: A sketch
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionMishkan : a Forum on the Gospel and the Jewish People. 2018, 79, 20-25.
The belief in the bodily resurrection of the dead is a firm and undisputed element in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed,1 drawn from the unanimous testimony of the New Testament scriptures. The death and resurrection of Christ are the two most fundamental soteriological events (cf. 1 Cor 15:3–4; Rom 4:25) in Christian salvation history. Although Christ’s resurrection is seen as a unique and unparalleled event in the history of humankind, nevertheless, the New Testament connects it with the notion of a (more) general resurrection. One example is Paul’s statement in his speech to Agrippa in Acts 26:23: “… the Messiah must suffer, and … by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”2 Other examples are the designation of Christ in the Colossian hymn as “the firstborn from the dead” (Col 1:18), and the detailed exposition of this matter in 1 Corinthians 15:20–23: 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 21 For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22 for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. As a matter of fact, in his controversy with those in Corinth who reject the resurrection of the dead, Paul goes to the extreme of claiming that “if there is no resurrection of the dead, then [even] Christ has not been raised” (1 Cor 15:13).3 Hence, according to Paul, the so-far unprecedented event of Christ’s resurrection from the dead is futile and merely an unfounded imagination if there is no general resurrection of the dead.