The most important holiday in Christianity concerns the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb; this holiday is now known as Easter. Tales of this miraculous event set Christianity on a path of total religious domination in the Western world.
Christianity is still the largest religion in the whole wide world, even though the fecund followers of Islam are quickly catching up.
Ancient literature is filled with gods and humans who rose from the dead, those humans often becoming immortal. Any study of mythology will find ancient texts littered with the walking dead. Jesus, of course, is worshipped by many Christians and thus his rise from the dead fits both of those ancient patterns—Jesus is both a god and an immortal man.
Christian apologists—experts at defending their beliefs—call the ancient pagan resurrection myths a foreshadowing of Jesus. Those myths are not true but Jesus’s resurrection is true.
Certainly Christmas as practiced by us in the West is considered the celebration of the birth of Christ; yet Easter is the pivotal event in Christianity. If Christians did not believe that Christ rose from the dead there would be no Christians at all.
Christianity was (and is) an adaptable religion and, yes, many of its holidays have been drafted from other sources. There is a good chance that the life of the Roman god Mithras played a singular role in determining the birth date given to Jesus.
Easter Sunday – although pictured as a fun time of rutting bunny rabbits and eggs of various types – deals with a serious issue, a man/god coming back from the dead. One can speculate that bunnies and eggs represent renewed life in the spring and that Christianity adopted and adapted these images for its celebration of the continued life of their resurrected Lord.
The belief of many Christians is that the words and stories in the New Testament are factual, historical events, meaning such tales are absolutely true.
Jesus did in fact resurrect individuals in the Gospel stories, including Jairus’s daughter and Lazarus.
But now I am also looking for an answer from religious folks to this quandary in which I find myself. When Jesus died, hundreds, if not thousands, of people rose from their graves as well. This is clearly stated in the New Testament. (Check out the end of the Gospel of Matthew.) The Roman Empire may have been literally littered with those who had formerly been dead.
So where did all these dead, but now mobile people go? Were they alive as those of you reading this are alive, or were they just the undead? Were there legions of rotted corpses that had dug their respective ways out of the ground and the tombs staggering through ancient Roman cities? In fact, were the dead conscious or just reanimated bodies? Did they re-die in the future? If so, when? If not, where are they now?
I enjoy the ancient myths of the risen gods and humans but the New Testament is giving us some awesome events that modern religious folks believe are true and such folks should therefore have some reasonable answers for what troubles me.
Are these tales true? Did all those dead people come back? If so, what happened to them?
[Enjoy Frank’s book Confessions of a Wayward Catholic! Available from Amazon.com, on Kindle and other electronic media, at Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.]