« PreviousContinue »
revealment of immortal life for all God's offspring, implies their personality, holiness and happiness. There are indeed emphatic statements to this effect in the writings of the Apostles, but no revelation was needed. From the data God is love, He is our Father, we are immortal - only one inference can be logically deduced; we shall be blessed forever.
These six vastly important facts — the existence of a Supreme Being, the perfectness of his nature and attributes, the certainty of just rewards and punishments, a persect and authoritative code of laws, the promise of a Messiah, and his revealment of human immortality — have been divinely revealed to men ; and because revealed, they are now known and believed. This revelation is contained in the Bible in thousands of explicit statements. Indeed the various books of the Bible seem to have been written mainly to teach, explain and enforce these primal facts. !f there are portions of the Bible alien to these great facts, they are not revelation. They may be true, may be of importance as history or philosophy or as moral maxims, but they are not revelation. One example in point, will illustrate my meaning. It is written, Gen. xxii. 23, “ These eight (sons) Milcah did bear to Nahor.” This is undoubtedly true. Milcah was probably a good wife and mother; and one of her sons, Bethuel, became the father of Rebekah, Isaac's wife. To the Jew, proud of his ancestry, it is an interesting fact; to us, it is simply an item of history, and in no sense a revelation. It may have been written by inspiration, and for some good reason, its writing may have been needful and beneficial; but the fact, at the time, was well known, and tradition may or might have kept it in memory until the age of Moses.
A comment somewhat similar may be made on very many passages of Scripture; and they clearly indicate that a careful discrimination is needful ; and to this at last we must all come. We have rejected the theory of plenary, verbal inspiration ; we are aware that the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts contain many thousand various readings; we are not
satisfied with our English version ; still a Divine light radiates from almost every page. When slighted, it is generally by those who are least acquainted with its contents. Read with care and candor, the student of the Bible finds, in its sacred pages, veritable and interesting history, biography, poetry and incident; but better than all else, a genuine glo. rious, satisfactory, Divine Revelation.
1. C. Knowlton.
Has Christian Theology a Biblical Doctrine of the Resurrec
tion of the Dead ?
The object of this article is to ascertain whether or not there exists among the systems of Christian theology a doctrine of the Resurrection of the Dead which can fairly sustain a claim to biblical authority in its support. That such a claim is put forth is a matter of course, and it is only by such a study in biblical theology as is here proposed that it can, in each case, be subjected to a thorough test, and that its grounds and proof.texts can be examined. An inquiry of this kind scarcely needs justification; for, what does the Bible teach respecting the fortune of the dead, is a question neither uninteresting nor unimportant, whatever view one may entertain of the Book; and apart from the question itsell and the answer which it may receive, the investigation cannot but yield important results regarding theories of the Bible, and the general dogmatic value of its teachings.
The Resurrection in Christian theology presents a succession of evolutions out of lower into higher forins. Beginning with the doctrine of the raising of the self-sa me material organism which is deposited in the grave, it has advanced
1 The doctrine of the fathers, Tertullian, Irenæus, etc., wlio, in opposition to the Gnostic spiritualization of death and the resurrection as meie conditions of the soul, vehemently asserted the identity of the original and resurrection bodies. Resuaget
through the stages of a resurrection-body bearing a general resemblance to the original, having a sort of identity without identical substance, and of a spiritual body dereloped out of the material organism by virtue of an indwelling power of transformation, to the extreme view of modern liberalism, which leaves the body out of account and transforms the resurrection into the so-called rising up of the soul at death into the immortal life. In all these systems except the last the resurrection is held as an event yet in the future which is immediately to precede “the end of the world,” or the consummation of mundane affairs, the general judgment and the eternal awards of human destiny.
The biblical doctrine of the resurrection presents an analogous evolution, as it was modificd by the thought of successive ages. From the early Hebrew belief in the shadowy existence of the disembodied spirits, or manes, of the dead in sheol arose the later popular doctrine of a bodily resurrection to a new life, which was still to be subject to physical conditions and passions, according to one sect, though this doctrine igitur caro, et quidem omnis, et quidem ipsa, at quidem integra, says the former. And again, . Nothing of all which the Father has given is lost, neither hair, nor eyes, nor teeth. How could there be 'wailing and guashing of teeth?!" Irenæus appeals to the resurrections effected by Christ, such as the widow's son at Nain and Lazarus in support of the same view. This doctrine survives in Thomas Aquinas.
2 Origen's view, who, to meet the scoff of Celsus, starts from the physiological fact of the perpetually changing and yet identical body. The soul at the resurrection assumes the same, but a better body. The matter is no longer the same as originally composed it. The sidos is the same. He appeals to the transfiguration of Jesus, Moses and Elias, in proof of his doctrine of a spiritual resurrection body.
8 The doctrine of the theologians, who, at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, mediated between the tendencies of supernaturalism and rationalism.
4 The tendency of philosophy, and consequently of theology, to subjectivity could not but result in exalting the spiritual at the expense of the material part of man. The collision with the crude popular doctrine of the bodily resurrection, was inevitable, and comes to view in most explicit form in Kant, who thinks that under the presumption of spiritualism, the reason can neither find an interest in dragging into eternity a body which, however refined it may be, yet it the personality rests on its identity, mast ever consist of the same material which constitutes the basis of its organization, nor can make intelligible to itself what this calcareous earth, of which the body consists, can have to do in Heaven, where presumably other forms of matter constitute the conditions of existence and the support of living beings (Religious innerh d. Grenz. d. Vern., p. 182). The establishment of this view among liberal thinkers and as a tenet of the liberal churches, is one of the results of the rationalistic movement inaugurated by the pre-Kantian and Kantian theologians.
NEW SERIES. VOL. XXI.
was vehemently disputed in its whole extent by another. Christ, without denying the doctrine which he found existing and held by the Pharisees, appears to have modified it somewhat, depriving it of some of its cruder and more materialistic features, while without doubt in the liands of Paul it was completely transformed, so that in the resurrection, according to his view, the soul is “clothed upon with a “heavenly,” “spiritual,” and “incorruptible” body.
The origin and development of this doctrine among the Hebrews are involved in no little obscurity. Especially is the time of its first appearance doubtful on account of the uncertainty which attaches to the date of some of the Old Testament Writings. There is, however, little doubt that no well-defined belief in the resurrection of the dead appears in any of the Jewish writings prior to the exile. It is well known and generally conceded by scholars that the hopes and expectations of the early Israelites were confined to this life. Of future rewards and penalties their carly literature shows no trace. The shadowy existe:ice of the manes of the dead in sheol was regarded as only a mock-life, a dreary, hopeless state of being in a “land of darkness and the shadow of death," whence there was no return. It was but natural, however, that the notion of spirits in the underworld as living even though in the vaguo and gloomy state of the manes, should at length develop into a belief in their possible return to be united with their bodies. The traditions of resurrections performed by Elislia and Elijah preserved in the first and second books of Kings are evidences of such a belief at
5 " Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death” (Job. x. 21). Some traces of a popular idea of a possible spirits from the under-world, appear in the phenomena of necromancy. The Canaanitish and Egyptian practice of evoking, or pretending to evoke, the spirits of the dead, seems to have been carried on extensively among the Hebrews, notwithstanding the strictest prohibitions of the Mosaic law. See Deut. xviii. 9-12; Leviticus xx. 27. Thus in the popular superstition the departed were not wholly cut off from communication with the living. At the time of the Exile, and perhaps earlier, the belief seems to have existed that these manes take an interest in the fortune of the living. The Egyptian prince is hailed as he descends by the “mighty out of the midst of Hades " (Ezek. xxxiii. 21); and the spirits indite a satirical song as a greeting to a king of Israel coming to join them (Isaiah xiv. 9).
about the time of the Exile. Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones, while in itself no evidence of the existence of a well-defined doctrine of the resurrection at the time of the Exile, indicates that such a doctrine was already beginning to shape itself in the popular thought; for we can hardly assume that the prophet would employ, for the expression of his hope in the restoration of Israel, imagery unintelligible to his contemporaries. That the idea of sheol and its sad and ghostly manes contained the germ of the later Hebrew doctrine of the bodily resurrection, and was the point of departure of its evolution, is a hypothesis which appears to be established by the successive historical phases of the dogma, as well as by the absence of other points of attachment and influences adequate to the result.
In studying the passages commonly adduced in support of the theory that the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead among the Hebrews antedates the Exile, a careful discrimination is necessary between a doctrine as such and ideas which are in process of crystalization into dogma, and which, far from being fixed as a completed and defined belief, are but foregleams thereof. For example, in Isaiah xxvi. 19, the prophet puts into the mouth of the people a song expressive of their liope of Israel's recovery froin its misfortunes; and the intensity of the poet's desire impels him to call upon the dead, to come forth and the dwellers in the dust to awake and sing. Again, there is doubtless no allusion to the res. urrection in Psalm xvi. 9, 10. The connection plainly shows that the author had in mind only temporal perils and a temporal deliverance, and in his confidence in the divine protection he exclaims, “Thou wilt not abandon my soul to sheol (give me over to death in this peril) nor suffer thy pious ones? to see the pit.”:8
6 The translation in the Common Version is misleading: Thy dead men shall live, together with my body shall they rise." It should read: May thy (Jehovah's) dead live! May my dead bodies (i.e., the dead bodies of my people,) arise!” The people are speaking. may
is collective singular, according to Gesenius ( Commentar über den Jesaias, p. 806), my dead body," for the dead bodies of the people. 7 The more ancient reading,
7'7777" thy pious ones,” is to be preferredin the absence of good reasons for the later singular.
8" The pit,” or grave, is the proper rendering, instead of the Septungint diaqnoga, “ corruption." An allegorizing exegesis can, of course, as it has done, find whatever i will in this passage. We confine ourselves to a legitimate treatment of the text,