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This article is about the religious meaning of the word "Resurrection". For other meanings see Resurrection (disambiguation).
Resurrection of the Flesh (1499-1502) Fresco by Luca SignorelliChapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto
Resurrection of the Flesh (1499-1502) Fresco by Luca Signorelli
Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto
It has been suggested that Resurrection of the dead be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)

The term resurrection is most commonly associated with the concept of reuniting the spirit and the body of an individual, or the raising of a person from death back to life. Some religions, such as Buddhism, believe that deities are reborn: see Life-death-rebirth deity.



According to some ideologies, resurrection occurs on different planes. Some resurrections are of the physical body, brought back to life, indistinguishable to the life it had prior to its death. Other resurrections are symbolic, not of a physical body, but of a ghost body arising after the death of a person's body of flesh. Additionally, some reserve the resurrection as denoting a final and permanent unification which cannot be undone, much like the Resurrection of Jesus.

Religious examples

While the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the foundational beliefs of Christianity, accounts of other resurrections also figure in religion, myth, and fable. "[C]enturies before the time of Christ the nations annually celebrated the death and resurrection of Osiris, Tammuz, Attis, Mithra, and other gods" [1].


Examples of a resurrected deity are Syrian and Greek worship of Adonis; Egyptian worship of Osiris; the Babylonian story of Tammuz; and rural religious belief in the Corn King.

Accounts of Resurrections in India

Other accounts of resurrections are as follows:

  • 1Lahiri Mahasaya raised Rama a friend of Sri Yukteswar to life.
  • 2 Lahiri Mahasaya himself resurrected.
  • 3 A guru by the name of Swami Sri Yukteswar.
  • 4 While attending a conference, Walter Cowan was pronounced dead on the morning of December 25, 1971 of a heart attack. Later in the day, he was found sitting up in a hospital bed alive raised to life by Sai Baba. Walter recounts witnessing Sai Baba convincing a council to let him live again to perform a purpose.


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 three days. At the moment of Jesus' death, tombs open, and many who are dead waken. After Jesus' resurrection, many of the dead saints come out of their tombs and enter Jerusalem, where they appear to many, according to the Gospel of Matthew.

Resurrections 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.

The Virgin Mary is also believed by some Christians to have been taken bodily into heaven, after her death (this belief, the Assumption of Mary, was made dogma in 1950 by the Roman Catholic Church). In one tradition, Mary's assumption takes place at Ephesus.(See Note 3.) Here, she lived out her later years, under the care of the apostle John. There have been many claims through the centuries of people seeing Mary.

In the Tanakh (also called by Christians the Old Testament), Elisha is said to have raised a young boy from death. However, all of these persons who had been raised from the dead, are traditionally held to have eventually died. Also of interest, are the Biblical accounts that Enoch and the prophet Elijah were removed into the presence of God without experiencing death, and the traditional belief that the grave of Moses cannot be found, because the prophet was raised from the dead. Both Moses and Elijah are said to be seen with Jesus during the Transfiguration. There is also Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones being restored as a living army, followed by a prophecy that the house of Israel would one day be brought out of their graves to live in the land of Israel.

Since Christianity is largely derived from Judaic sources, it is worthwhile to point out that Judaism insists that belief in the Revival of the Dead is one of the cardinal principles of the Jewish faith. A famous Jewish halakhic - legal authority, Maimonides, set down 13 (thirteen) main principles of the Jewish faith according to Orthodox Judaism, and Resurrection is one of them, which is printed in all Rabbinic prayer books to the present time. It is the thirteenth principle and states:

  • "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"

At the time of Jesus, there were debates between the Pharisees, who believed in the future Resurrection, and the Sadducees, who didn't, over whether or not there was immortality - and thus over whether or not there was an afterlife, or could be a general resurrection. In these matters, Jesus was closer to the opinion of the Pharisees. Most Christian churches teach that there will be a general resurrection of the dead at "the end of time".

Bodily disappearances

Christian knowledge of the belief in bodily disappearance of Divine Heroes, or Saviors, in other religions around the world (see below) is relatively new and sometimes unwelcome. For these similarities, contemporary evangelical Christians have coined the phrase "Satanic Counterfeits". In addition, some Christians argue that since resurrection stories in these "mystery religions" almost always center around agricultural cycles (i.e. seeding and harvest) and involve their god dying and being resurrected every year any resemblance to the resurrection of Jesus is strictly superficial. [2] In ancient times, known pagan similarities were many times explained by early Christian writers (curiously, except Justin Martyr) as the work of demons.

As the knowledge of different religions has grown, the bodily disappearance of Divine Heroes has been found to be common. Gesar, the Savior of Tibet, at the end, chants on a mountain top and his clothes fall empty to the ground. The bodies of the Divine Gurus of Sikhism vanish after their deaths. There is a traditional spot in Jerusalem whence, while mounted, Muhammad and his horse both ascend into the sky. This shows a variety in traditions, for Muhummad's famous tomb is also visited each year in Mecca.

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 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).

See also

Recommended reading

External links


  1. William Foxwell Albright, From Stone Age to Christianity: Monotheism and Historical Process
  2. B. Traven, The Creation of the Sun and Moon, 1968
  3. Alexandra David-Neel, The Superhuman Life of Gesar of Ling ( While still in oral tradition, the Divine Hero of Tibet and Asia is discovered and recorded for the first time, by an early European traveler.)
  4. New Testament, Acts 19:23-40, St. Paul confronts the craftsmen of Artemis in Ephesus.
  5. Edwin Hatch, Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages Upon the Christian Church (1888 Hibbert Lectures)
  6. Ronald F. Hock, The Favored One: How Mary Became the Mother of God, Bible Review, p. 12-25, June 2001

also in this issue see: Vasiliki Limberis, The Battle Over Mary, top of p. 22-23


1 Cited from Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, page 336.

2 Ibid, p.396.

3 Ibid, p.475.

4 from My Baba and I by Dr. John S. Hislop, pages 28-31.

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