General rant on the after-life and the resurrection.
[rant]I have no idea if it is an area of theological study that is well covered but there seems to be four distinct stages in the evolution of the sect of Yahweh.
1 The OT has nobody going to heaven and the nature of existence after death is summed up by Ecclesiastes
:Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any [thing] that is done under the sun.
Then there were Pharisees and Sadducees, who spent a lot of time at daggers drawn.
2 The Sadducees were the hereditary theological ruling class of Judea: Herod The Great would have been a Sadduccee, and it was against the ideas of these people that Jesus spoke. The Sadducees resembled the Independent Southern Baptists with their inerrant Torah that required no additions: “Yahweh said it; I believe it; case closed.” Unlike the ISBs, they were heavily ritualised, so much so that they were weighed down with this formality.
3. The Pharisees were drawn from all levels of society and became what we would recognise as today’s believers in Judaism. In broader terms, they resemble the Catholics: they accepted the Torah but believed that the Torah was not the end of Yahweh’s teaching and that inspired rabbis continued to explain and expand upon His Word.
Thus whereas the Torah does not mention anyone going to heaven, Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead.
Pharisees should not be seen as a group of priests, but more seen as a group with a general outlook on life that coincided with "Pharisee thinking" in the sense of “They were all Republicans/Democrats, some of them were voters, helpers, and others held office.” Obviously there were also those who were “floating voters” or simply not bothered and all shades in between
4 Jesus, the Disciples, and Paul all held to the basis of the Pharisees’ philosophy
: none of them denied the Torah (OT), in fact they supported it, but all thought that the Sadducees had failed to move with the times, relying solely on the word and not the practical meaning and that the Pharisees were simply going the same way and were just not progressing.
However, they were not simply in the Pharisees’ camp: they went beyond even the most liberal Pharisee’s understanding; they were a break-away third party who upset the established order. So, on the basis of the dictum, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”, the Pharisees and Sadducees banded together to oppose the Christians, whom they must have seen as a more direct threat than the other minority groupings.
Although it may seem clear from the first books of the NT that Christ was drawing people away from the Pharisees and Sadducees
, this was not the main objection: the main objection was that Christ was preaching heresy. Mindlessly, the Pharisees and Sadducees, in the manner of the Taliban, opposed this leadership to apostasy as a crime worthy of death.
So we now had three philosophies on the after-life and resurrection:
1. Sadducees: There is no afterlife with God nor is there a resurrection
2. Pharisees: There is an after-life that is spent sleeping and it is overlooked by Abraham; bodily resurrection will take place on Judgement Day.
3. Christian: There is an after-life prior to Christ’s very temporary death sleeping with Abraham
and after Jesus’s very temporary death with God in Heaven.
3a Bodily resurrection will take place on Judgement Day.
3b Christianity then goes a little further: those who died before Christ died have to wait for the resurrection
; those who died after Him get to go to heaven instantly, but all later are resurrected on earth
in their own refurbished bodies.
This should put us into a position to work out what happened when the dead walked the earth
:Matt 27:50-54 “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
Now, there are obviously a few things missing here: "Why did this happen?”
The writer of Matthew must believe that, upon the very temporary death of Christ, Armageddon had arrived and that these “saints
” were the precursors to the general resurrection.“Who are they?”
The only explanation I can think of is that they were Pharisee rabbis whose teachings were sympathetic to those of Christ, but even then, this cannot be any great number, given that Christ's ministry lasted only a few years. Perhaps they included some whose teaching had preceded that of Christ?“Why have we not heard of them before?"
Mainly because they did not exist as such. Religions have a tendency to claim heroes for themselves from people who said something similar to what they are saying but did it well before their sect was formed. A case in point is the JWs who claim [wiki]Charles Taze Russell[/wiki] who was never a JW and never claimed any connection with them, and whose family fought the JWs for long enough to prevent them from “claiming him.”
It seems that the writer is saying, “Yeah, there were plenty of really important people who thought Jesus was right, but they are dead. There are so many that we can’t be expected to say anything about all of them, so just use your imagination because it seems reasonable, doesn’t it?”
Finally, we should look at Jesus’s magic in bringing the dead back to life. This magic only occurs before
His very temporary death because, if it happened after death, He would have been bringing people back from Heaven to Earth, and Earth is a shit place by comparison
So, after all that, we can say that the Saints got up and walked about as the time after the Crucifixion was one of great emotion and confusion reigned as God reformatted the hard drive to install a new Operating System and did a few magic tricks to celebrate Jesus being temporarily dead.
After the saints had been resurrected, they did not die but slowly faded away, just as the writer of Matthew must have wished that the Christian memory of that particular verses would simply fade away and not cause any real trouble about him saying that the end of the world had come, when it hadn’t.
If you have read this far, thank you but you will be wondering why I have not mentioned the reality of the situation. OK, here it is:
If dead saints walked about, why are there no records of this most remarkable of happenings? I note that even Josephus, whose work is often attacked and forged by Christians, never mentions dead saints walking about.
Resurrection? Garbage, isn’t it?[/rant]