JETS Article: “The Genesis of Resurrection Hope”

I contributed an article to the latest edition of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, JETS 57.3 (2014): 467-480. The article is called “The Genesis of Resurrection Hope: Exploring its Early Presence and Deep Roots.” Originally it was a paper presentation at the November 2013 meeting of the Institute for Biblical Research (IBR), and I’m grateful JETS accepted a revised version for publication. Here’s the outline of the article:

I. Introduction

II. New Testament Validation of Resurrection Hope in the Torah
1. The Words of Paul in Acts 24
2. The Words of Jesus in Matthew 22

III. Seeds of Resurrection Hope in Genesis
1. The Life-Giving God who Makes the World (Gen 1:9-13; 2:7)
2. The Tree of Life and Immortal Physicality (Gen 2:9; 3:22)
3. The Defeat of the Serpent (Gen 3:15)
4. The Death of Abel and the Birth of Seth (Gen 4:1, 8, 25)
5. The Unusual Departure of Enoch (Gen 5:24)
6. Lamech’s Hope for His Son Noah (Gen 5:29)
7. The Death and Resurrection of the World (Gen 7-8)
8. Life Granted to a Dead Womb (Gen 21:1-2)
9. Abraham’s Trust in God to Preserve the Seed (Gen 22:5)
10. The Burial of Bones in Canaan (Gen 25:9)

From the second paragraph of the Introduction: “By looking at certain passages in Genesis, we will be putting our ear to the ground to hear the faint but discernible rumblings of what will arrive later and louder in the words of the prophets. Even though some scholars insist that ‘there can be no suggestion that belief in resurrection was implicit in the Old Testament before Daniel,’ I will contend otherwise. The roots of resurrection hope go deep, and the seeds were sown early.”

3 thoughts on “JETS Article: “The Genesis of Resurrection Hope”

  1. Pingback: Morning Mashup 10/10 | Grace Satisfies

  2. Mitch,

    I really enjoyed your article in JETS, along with Nick Lunn’s good article on resurrection on the 3rd day. Good Job.

    Your article led me to think of a few other “Seeds of Resurrection Hope in Genesis” that I hope you don’t mind me sharing:

    1) Gen 3:20 – Adam immediately named his wife the “mother of all living” right after he is told he would die and return to the ground/dust from which he was taken. So Adam had hope for the future in regards to life and death. It seems Adam also functions in the role of prophet in this verse. He believes the words of God about the future (no one had been born yet) and proclaims them forward. Plus renaming someone is something that typically happens in regard to prophecy. So in Gen 1, Adam = King, in Gen 2, Adam = Priest, and in Gen 3, Adam = Prophet.

    2) Gen 12:3 – In Abram, all the families/clans (from Gen 10) of the Ground (adamah) would be blessed. Are they all the families that come “from” the ground, or all those who “return” to the ground? Since the ground is cursed, there is a sense in which it is synonymous with death. And what is blessing? What is ultimate blessing? A few more donkeys and sheep and peaceful living with one’s neighbors? Surely that is a blessing, but it seems God is interested in much more here. Ultimate blessing can only mean true life or eternal life and rescue from the ground. That is the ultimate blessing. So through Abram somehow, it seems eternal life is available to all those who return to the ground upon dying.

    3) Gen 15:15-16 – God promises Abram that he will give him the land to possess it. How will he possess it if he is dead? He must rise again. Many understand this possession as through his descendants, but that is not what God says. He says that Abram himself will possess it. In these verses, most (all?) commentators take verse 16 to refer to his descendants who go to Egypt. But a natural reading of verses 15 and 16 together should lead one to believe that it is his fathers/ancestors who will return. In verses 13 & 14, God is certainly speaking of Abram’s seed/offspring. But then in v15, God turns his attention to Abram, “as for you.” Abram will go to his fathers in peace. This almost surely should not be taken as a euphemism. In other words, he is truly going some place where his fathers are and are conscious, and he will be at peace there. He will be experiencing a peaceful existence, not sleep/unconsciousness. There is no indication, that the “they” of verse 16 is now referring back to seed/offspring. What I am suggesting, which I understand goes against the majority view, is that the “they” of verse 16 is modifying fathers/ancestors, and not offspring/descendants. That obviously raises other issues. What does 4th generation mean? But that is problematic either way. Plus, comparing verses 13,14 to 15,16 one will see some literary parallelism, which I feel further supports that 15,16 are about ancestors and 13,14 are about descendants.

    Just some thoughts fwiw. Again, I really enjoyed your article and I like many of the other blog posts on this sight. It is refreshing to see someone wrestle with and expound on the “text.”

    God Bless,

    Craig Robinson

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