Review: The Human Body in Death and Resurrection (Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature: Yearbook 2009)

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As it has done for the past several years, the German publishing house, Walter De Gruyter, has published the papers given at the annual conferences of the International Society for the Study of Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature in a yearbook. The aim of the society is ‘academic research into the deuterocanonical and cognate literature on an international, interconfessional and interreligious basis, through the preparation of scholarly materials‘. Each yearbook is of exceptional physical and scholarly quality which will last for years beyond the publication. Several of the articles are translations into English, but with no difficult for the reader. Further, the book is bilingual, with a good split between German and English essays.

The Yearbook takes a broad swath of history into account and presents a coherent picture in the belief in bodily resurrection as it developed among the various communities, from those before Moses up until Matthean community, even investigating the Gnostics which thrived some time after the last Gospels were written. Each author, a specialist in his or her field, takes a subject and in easy to understand language, shows the various aspects of the belief which arose in Palestine before the time of Christ concerning the bodily resurrection of the Righteous.

Not resigning itself to any particular viewpoint, the yearbook allows the reader to engage at a scholarly level various books, works, and religious systems in examining the wide-ranging views. It is interesting, as several authors point out, that the bodily resurrection was seen as vital to the Judaism which survived the destruction of the Temple. Further, while most scholarship is inclined to not see resurrection in the Hebrew bible, several of these essays call attention to the fact that indeed, that belief can be found among the ancient sacred writings to Jews and Christians alike. It is highly recommend that those interested in both fields of research – Deuterocanon and various theological beliefs pre-CE – examine this book for rich, new insights into the idea that somehow and in somewhat, the existence of a good person does not end, but goes on, generally in a form much like what is seen in the ‘real’ world. Socially, culturally, and anthropologically this is an important book, and is highly recommended.

The essays are:

  1. Resurrection of the Body in Early Judaism and Christian – Claudia Setzer
  2. The Impurity of the Corpse (nasa) and the Future of the Body (tan i pasen): Death and the Afterlife in Zoroasterianism – Manfred Hutter
  3. Resurrection and the Body in Graeco-Roman Egypt – Mark Smith
  4. Die Unreinheit der Leiche nach der Tora – Thomas Hieke
  5. The Revivification of the Dry Bones: Ezekiel 37.1-14 – Karin Schopflin
  6. Death and Buriel in the Tobit Narration in the Context of the Old Testament Tradition – Beate Ego
  7. Auferstehung und Epiphanie: Jenseits- und Korperkonzepte im Zweiten Makkabaerbuch – Barbara Schmitz
  8. Tod und Erkenntnis in der antik=judischen Weisheit – Stefan Beyerle
  9. Die Vorstellung vom Tod und den Toten nach Ben Sira – Friedrich Reiterer
  10. Afterlife in Jubilees: Through a Covenantal Prism – Richard J. Bautch
  11. Bones, Bodies and Resurrection in the Dead Sea Scrolls – Mladen Popovic
  12. Resurrection of the Body in Early Rabbinic Judaism – Alan J. Avery-Peck
  13. Human Body and Life beyond Death in Matthew’s Gospel – Wim J.C. Weren
  14. Leiblichkeit und Auferstehung im Johannesevangelium – Jorg Frey
  15. ,,Die Seelen der Geschlachteten” (Offb 6,9)? Zum Propblem leiblicher Auferstehung in der Offenbarung des Johannes – Tobias Nicklas
  16. Dialogues with the Archons: The Post-mortem Encounters of the Ascending Soul in Gnostic Texts – Einar Thomassen
  17. Die Auferstehung des Fleisches in den fruhchristlichen Grabinschriften – Jutta Dresken-Weiland
  18. Why Body matters in the Afterlife. Mine Reading and Body Imagery in Synoptic Tradition and the Apocalypse of Peter – Istvan Czachesz
  19. Lebendige Tote? Zum Personenkult um gestobene Gottsmenschen in der Gegenwart – Hubertus Lutterbach

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