Resurrection discussion

The sexual conquest of a mortal woman by a god usually resulted in the birth of heroes.  Europa gave birth to three [fathered by Zeus]:  Minos, Rhadamanthys, and Sarpedon. .. Sarpedon’s “bloody death” is one of the most climactic scenes in Homer’s Iliad and reveals much about heroes – and gods – in classical mythology…. The emphasis is on the hero’s relationship with his father, Zeus.  Observing the action from the safety of Mount Olympus, Zeus realises that his son is in trouble.   Lamenting the unkindness of Fate, the god acknowledges that it is Sarpedon’s destiny to be killed by Patroclus.  His dilemma is whether or not to intervene and save his son:  “I am in two minds” he says to his wife, Hera.  “Shall I snatch him up and set him down alive… or shall I let him fall”.  Hera is indignant.  She points out that to intervene would be the thin end of the wedge; if he saves his son then all of the gods will expect their sons to be saved.  Zeus concedes, “but he wept tears of blood that streamed to the ground, honouring his beloved son”.  (Helen Morales – Professor California, Cambridge)

Those Jews who did believe that a messiah was coming – and not all did – put the messiah together with the messianic age; it was a package deal.   The messianic age meant that the dead would rise, justice would prevail, and war, famine, disease, and death would stop.  Clearly, that hadn’t happened.  Nor did the Jews believe, for the most part, that they needed Jesus’s death to save them from sin or death.  They believed, rather, in a compassionate God who always forgave the repentant sinner, and they did not believe they needed an intermediary.  They had always prayed to their God directly.  (Amy-Jill Levine – Professor Vanderbilt and Cambridge)

The idea that the blood of the human victim was not spilled, that the sacrifice had been avoided at the last moment, was of course a central idea in Jewish consciousness: this was exactly what had happened to Isaac, whose sacrifice had not been performed. The binding of Isaac, his Aqeda in Genesis 22, was a theme of central importance in first-century Jewish imagination. Much later, when this binding became a sacrifice, it remained a key theme in patristic thought and also in Christian representations, as is shown by the ubiquity of the scene on sarcophagi. Isaac, indeed, quickly becomes in Christian thought a typos, or a figure of Christ…Philo of Alexandria comes back several times to the significance of the name Isaac. At some point, he even adds, using the esoteric language of the mystics and announcing the revelation of a great secret, that Isaac was not, contrary to appearance, the son of Abraham, but rather of
God! The maternity of Sarah is not in doubt, but Philo believes
he knows that God, before giving birth to Isaac, miraculously re
turned Sarah to virginity. Thus we have from a contemporary
of Paul’s the idea that Isaac was the son of God and of a virgin!
The texts are irrefutably there and yet nobody seems to have
discussed them.
How can one explain why such a tradition does
not seem to have been remarked upon and interrogated, except
because it is quite simply too “huge” and overthrows too many
firm convictions? (Guy Stroumsa – Professor Oxford) [italics added]

Despite a long tradition, I do not regard the resurrection as instantly ‘proving Jesus’ divinity’. In such Jewish thought as cherished the notion of resurrection was what would happen to everybody, or at least all the righteous. It would not constitute those raised as divine beings….My own reading of the process [is that] The resurrection and ascension proved, first and foremost, that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. (NT Wright – Professor St Andrews and Oxford)

If for Jesus, and indeed for the whole early church for which we have any real evidence, the God of Israel defeated evil once and for all on the cross, then why does evil still exist in the world? Was Jesus, after all, a failure? The New Testament answers this question with one voice. The cross and resurrection won the victory over evil, but it if the task of the Spirit, and those led by the Spirit, to implement that victory in and for all the world. (NT Wright – Professor St Andrews and Oxford)

The Akedah, the story of Abraham’s binding of Isaac in Genesis 22 touches a deep nerve in Jewish and Christian sensibilities.  It is a story of strange violence and tenderness, of a father ordered by his God to sacrifice “his only son”.  … … Christian interpretation of the Akedah… is refracted through its own central narrative of the crucifixion of Jesus.  Remarkably, though, despite the obvious similarities between the two stories, there are few actual literary allusions to the Akedah in the Gospel narratives.  When Jesus prays to God in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before his crucifixion, we may hear distant echoes of Isaac’s questioning of his father and the subsequent traditions of his willing acceptance of his father’s purpose.  Of course the plot is different: there is no human father as mediator of God’s purposes; no relenting on the part of the heavenly father; no more testing of the victim’s father.  Rather it is the victim himself who must struggle to accept freely the heavenly Father’s unwavering will (a motif which does indeed occur in some of the version of the Akedah).  (John Riches – Professor Glasgow)

Such a notion of transformed bodily existence was certainly not unknown to Jews of the time, who called it resurrection.  God, it was widely believed, was going to raise all the dead to new life at the end of history, when God abolishes evil and death and renews his whole creation.  The first Christians thought that was what had happened to Jesus – but with the extraordinary qualification that it had happened to Jesus already, ahead of everyone else.  (Richard Bauckham – Professor St Andrews, Cambridge)

The basic question is:  should the Easter event be interpreted with analogies form our world of experience – or as an unparalleled breakthrough of something “wholly other” should it widen that world?  … Easter is a grappling with death.  In the resurrection of Jesus an enigmatic power manifests itself which overcomes death.  Now we have no experience of death, but only of life ot the point of death.  … Just as we cannot penetrate death with analogies from experiences of our world, so we cannot understand the power of the Easter event to overcome death by means of them.  This power either breaks into our life without analogy – or it is not what it seems to be.  (Gerd Theissen and Annette Merz – Professors Heidelberg and Utrecht)

“Ever since St Paul wrote his letters in the fifties AD, the resurrection of Jesus and resurrection in general have stood at the centre of New Testament thought and Christian theology.  Paul is adamant on the subject:  without belief in resurrection, primarily in the resurrection of Christ, his preaching is baseless, the Christians are misled by him and their faith is futile (1 Cor 15:12-17).  In these circumstances one would justifiably expect to find in the teaching of Jesus, as handed down in the Gospels, numerous references to the raising of the dead and to his own resurrection.  Those who labour under such an illusion must brace themselves for a big surprise. Allusions to his rising can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and when scrutinized with critical eyes, they turn out to be inauthentic… … “Jesus’ eschatological imagery in Mark, Matthew and Luke is centred not on resurrection, but on the idea of the “kingdom of God” or the “kingdom of heaven”.  This is revealed by the frequency of the two formulae in the Synoptic Gospels where they appear more than eighty times as against two occurrences in a single passage of the Gospel of John (John 3:3,5).   Resurrection is an uncommon concept in the authentic message of Jesus revealed by the Synoptics, and the source of its central significance in Christian theology must be sought elsewhere (see chapter 13  [The resurrection of Jesus in St Paul])… … The ideological background of Graeco-Roman mythology and the legends relating to the divine origin of eminent figures in the recent past and in the present supplied a fertile ground for the growth of what was to become in theological Christian jargon Christology. In due course, this original idea evolved via Paul, John and the philosophizing Greek Church Fathers, into the deification of Jesus, Son of the God-bearing Virgin”. (Geza Vermes – Professor Oxford)

The greatest miracle of all is the resurrection, and it is no surprise that three of the four gospels make it their climax (Mark’s gospel was quickly amended to ensure that it too ended with stories of the risen Christ).  (Linda Woodhead – Professor Lancaster, Cambridge)

The murder of Jesus… develops the story of the sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham (Genesis 22).  In the original story, Abraham the father was prepared to sacrifice even his beloved young son out of devotion to God, but in the end God stepped back from demanding human sacrifice and replaced Isaac with a ram.  Over the course of time, ancient Jewish commentators significantly altered and elaborated the Isaac story.  These elaborated versions were trenchantly similar to the Jesus death stories.  Early Christian writers themselves also drew direct parallels between Isaac and Jesus at his death.  Some modern Christians are understandably reluctant to accept that Jesus’ unique and centrally symbolic death story was adapted from Jewish scriptures.  But the objection is based on imagining a radical split or even opposition between Jews and Christians in the mid-first century, which is anachronistic. The gospel (and pre-gospel) stories about the death of the Messiah inevitably came from a Jewish milieu.  The earliest Christian stories were inevitably Jewish stories.  The similarities between the elaborated Isaac stories and the death of Jesus are remarkable.  Isaac is Abraham’s only and beloved son.  At Satan’s suggestion, as a final test of Abraham’s devotion, God instructs Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham obeys.  But in these elaborated versions, Isaac himself is not a helpless bound boy, but a mature adult, who voluntarily goes to his own death, and like Jesus, at Passover.  Both Isaac and Jesus are Paschal lambs.  (Keith Hopkins – Professor Cambridge)

Mark and the other synoptic evangelists represent Jesus’ words to the disciples, predicting his own death and resurrection.  Several times, according to Mark, he warns them in explicit detail of what will happen.  But when the time comes, they are taken utterly by surprise.  The explanation offered by most New Testament scholars is that the predictions ascribed to Jesus are vaticinia post eventum (the expression used by Strauss and Bultmann), that is to say, these are not really predictions made by Jesus before the events happened, but the interpretations placed on these events by the evangelists several decades after they had happened.  (John Macquarrie – Professor Oxford)

Because Christians associate “the Resurrection” (with a capital R) with the reports in the gospels of Jesus’ rising from his grave, they are often surprised to find that Jews had believed in the resurrection long before Christianity emerged… The Hebrew Bible occasionally attests to God’s power over death and even tells a few stories of how he raised dead individuals.  But, more centrally, it speaks with great frequency of God’s everlasting promise to Israel, the Jewish people, a promise that they would recover form even the most deadly adversity.  (Kevin J. Madigan and Jon Douglas Levenson)

Clearly, the idea of a living and dying God who is going to be resurrected in the here and now is a non-Judaic idea. Moreover, the idea of an almost God-like Messiah again has no connection with Palestine at all, nor an actual immediate ‘resurrection’ and not at the End of Time (and this for all ‘the Righteous’ not just ‘the Messiah’!), which is nowhere envisioned. All these are non-Jewish and Hellenistic if one prefers or even Egyptian. Of course, you can hark back, as documents like the Gospels try to do, to Daniel’s apocalyptic presentation of ‘one like a son of man coming on the clouds’; but this is meant to evoke the coming of the Heavenly Host in apocalyptic vengeance and Glory as the War Scroll from Qumran, much as the Letter of James, in key passages definitively evokes and describes.  ‘Son of man’ in Hebrew even to this day is the way one expresses ‘being a man’ and this is particularly the case in the Israel of today, where people often say ‘be a Ben-Adam‘ – meaning ‘be a son of Adam,’ ‘Adam’ and ‘Man’ being the same word, that is, ‘be a man.’ …But in the Bible also, Prophets use the term to refer to themselves, the most notable of whom being Ezekiel who is constantly using the phrase ‘son of man’ to refer to himself – probably to distinguish himself from an Angel, e.g., ‘son of man prophesy against the nations,’ ‘prophesy against the peoples’. Here, he is undoubtedly addressing himself. So the whole idea of ‘the Son of Man’ wherever it occurs is a complete misnomer and would show the reader that we are in a total non-Jewish alien environment. (Robert Eisenman – Professor California State, Oxford)

The language of resurrection, or something like it, was used in Egypt in connection with the very full and developed view of the world beyond death. But this new life was something that had, it was believed, already begun, and it did not involve actual bodily return to the present world… Some within the ancient pagan world believed in the apotheosis of heroes and kings. The mythological Hercules began as a mortal and was exalted to quasi-divinity. Kings and emperors, from Alexander to the Julio-Claudians and beyond, were regularly deified, using various legitimating devices, mostly to do with witnessing the departed person’s soul ascending to heaven, perhaps in the form of a comet, as with Julius Caesar, or an eagle, as depicted on Titus’s Arch. Ordinary mortals did not expect this treatment, of course. And Seneca’s merry parody of the apotheosis of Claudius, though itself of course written to highlight Rome’s good fortune in having Nero as his successor, makes us question how many Romans believed that emperors, or at least good ones, were now alive and well alongside Jupiter, Apollo and the rest… The Jewish hope burst the bounds of ancient paganism altogether by speaking of resurrection. The supposed Zoroastrian origin of this belief is still argued by some but strenuously denied by others, who see the metaphors of Isaiah 26 and Ezekiel 37, and the earlier hints in Hosea 6, as opening the way for a new view, generated by Israel’s own basic beliefs and contingent circumstances, which comes to full expression in Daniel chapter 12… Post-biblical Judaism offers a range of beliefs about life after death. Resurrection is by no means the only option; and, when it is specified, it is not a general word for life after death, but a term for one particular belief. In fact, resurrection is not simply a form of ‘life after death’; resurrection hasn’t happened yet. People do not pass directly from death to resurrection, but go through an interim period, after which the death of the body will be reversed in resurrection. Resurrection does not, then, mean ‘survival’; it is not a way of describing the kind of life one might have immediately following physical death. It is not a redescription of death and/or the state which results from death. In both paganism and Judaism it refers to the reversal, the undoing, the conquest of death and its effects. That is its whole point. That is what Homer, Plato, Aeschylus and the others denied; and it is what some Jews, and all early Christians, affirmed.  (NT Wright – Professor St Andrews and Oxford)

Israel’s God was not the only one who “lives”.  Indeed, oath formulas from ancient Egypt used the phrase “as Amun lives”, as did oaths in Israel (see, e.g.  1 Sam14-45; 2 Sam 2:27; Job 27:2; a misuse of the formula is criticised in Jer 5:1-2).  Even the famous line in Job 25:19 “I know that my Redeemer lives” has a parallel in a Ugaritic text about Baal “And  in know that Aleyan Balal lives” (though this may allude to his annual reanimation).  (Leander E. Keck – Professor Yale)

The resurrection is in part about the sheer toughness and persistence of God’s love. When we have done our worst, God remains God — and remains committed to being our God. God was God even while God in human flesh was dying in anguish on the cross; God is God now in the new life of Jesus raised from death. But what is interesting about the stories of resurrection as we read them in the Bible is that they are not a series of general statements as to how the love of God is more powerful than evil or sin. They say that just as people met God’s absolute love in the face and presence, the physical presence, of Jesus of Nazareth, so they still do. They hear the call of God and encounter the mercy of God in the same face and form of Jesus — who, in the resurrection stories, does what he always did, calling the disciples to him, breaking bread with them, teaching them what the Scriptures say. The resurrection displays God’s triumphant love as still and for ever having the shape of Jesus. And this is why it won’t do to reduce the resurrection to something that was going on inside the heads of the disciples. If we go down that road, we lose sight of the conviction that seems so basic in the Bible, that the disciples meet a risen Jesus who is still doing what he always did, making God present in his actual presence, his voice and touch. I don’t see how we can say all that without taking seriously what the New Testament says about the tomb being empty on Easter Day.  (Rowan Williams – Professor Oxford and Cambridge)

The resurrection is the altered perception form which the defeat of Jesus is understood as victory.  The resurrection is the vindication of peace, of the perspective from which Jesus’ refusal to enter into violent reciprocity is recognised as triumphant.  It is the refusal of an eye for an eye or a tooth for tooth that leads Jesus to the cross.  (Giles Fraser – Church of England priest, Oxford)

Isis-worshippers believed that she had restored her dead husband, Osiris, to life.  (Natalie Haynes)

“Historical” and “mythical” are by no means opposed or exclusive designations.  Socrates, Alexander the Great and Spartacus were all “historical” figures who were also mythologised.  They really existed, but also became figures of fantasy to such an extent that it is impossible to tell facts about them from fiction.  (Helen Morales – Professor California, Cambridge)

Many of the feasts of the Christian calendar began as pagan festivals, and were adopted and adapted by the church as a means of winning converts.  Easter, for example, has its origins in a pagan celebration of nature’s resurrection.  According to St Bede, the word is derived from Scandinavian Ostra or Teutonic Ostern or Eastre, in either case the name of a goddess of northern mythology responsible for fertility and birth – along scholars now disagree with him (and among themselves) about these etymologies.  The symbols of Easter, rabbits and eggs, are as ancient as the festival: rabbits signify reproductive ebullience, eggs symbolise new life.  Like the phallus-worshipping May-day observance which closely follows it (and which contemporary self-styled “Pagans” regards as a more important feast…), Easter is therefore about sex.  The contrast with the purely spiritual and other-worldly significance now attached to it is striking proof that propaganda and brutality (e.g.  burnings at the stake) can make entire populations believe the very opposite of what their ancestors believed.  Christianity’s appropriation of this age-old fertility festival is of a piece with its frequent adaption of other once-pagan things.  The quarter-days, including Christmas, are associated with moments of astronomical importance, namely the solstices of winter and summer and the equinoxes of spring and autumn, all of them major pagan feasts.  Many of the saints of the Christian calendar are pagan deities whose cult was so strong that the new religion could make headway only by incorporating them; two of many examples are St Vitus and St Hippolytus.  Fraser in the Golden Bough famously begins by showing how worship of the Virgin Mary was grafted onto worship of the virgin goddess Diana, whose cult in Italy during the first centuries AD was very powerful.  The Christians’ technique was effective; the old faiths were simply incorporated wholesale into the new; Diana’s worshippers were told that they could at last know her real name, which was Mary.  (A. C. Grayling – Professor Birkbeck, Oxford)

the last words of Jesus that appear in the Gospels… “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” (from Matthew and Mark), but also “It is accomplished” (from John)… (.. from Luke): “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”  (Stephen Prothero – Professor Boston, previously Harvard)

The most certain fact behind all the accounts is that a profound change took place in the lives of large numbers of the followers of Jesus.  From being utterly dejected and dispirited after the crucifixion, they became full of joy and happiness, with a sense of having been witnesses of a triumph of good over evil, and of now being entrusted with the task of sharing this with others.  (William Montgomery Watt – Professor Edinburgh)

For me the question isn’t whether or not the resurrection happened. It’s obvious to me that many of his followers continued to experience him after his death. But, to confuse that with the revitalization of a flesh and blood body is to misunderstand what Easter is
about in the New Testament.  Easter is really about two things: Jesus continues to be known and God has vindicated Jesus. By which I mean, God has said ‘Yes!’ to Jesus and ‘No!’ to the powers that killed him. Those are the central truths of Easter, as I see it. To turn the question of Easter into a conflict about whether the tomb was really empty is an enormous distraction.  (Marcus J. Borg – Professor Oregon State)

The so-called Gabriel’s Revelation, a stone inscription found in southern Jordan in
which the Archangel Gabriel acclaims a “prince of princes” called Simon who will
be killed but will rise again “in three days” when “you will know that evil
will be defeated by justice.  In three days you will live, I, Gabriel, command you”.
The details – resurrection and judgement three days after a prophet’s
death – predate Jesus’ crucifixion by over thirty years.  (Simon Sebag Montefiore – Professor University of Buckingham)

Asch conformity experiments - A series of laboratory experiments that demonstrated the degree to which an individual’s own opinions are influenced by those of a majority group [the specific issue being the extent to which people were willing to agree that lines of different lengths were in fact the same length in the light of other peoples’

The New Testament authors believed that they lived at the end

of days (as did the Apocalyptists in general). Jesus’ Resurrection was

understood as the beginning, or first event, signalling that the general

resurrection was in progress. Paul thought the end would come in the

lifetime of the members of his churches.  There was a tremendous

apocalyptic tension in the New Testament consciousness anticipating

the time of redemption. The Christian church has obviously had to

modify the apocalyptic timetable. If Jesus’ Resurrection was the first

resurrection of one of the faithful, a long time has intervened before

the remainder of the faithful are raised bodily to life. (Frank Moore Cross – Professor Harvard)

[empty tomb,
appearances, birth - parallels]  That the
absence of the hero’s physical remains points properly to an ascent to
heaven is known because of (a) predictions/oracles during the hero’s life that
he would be taken up;14 (b) a heavenly announcement at the end of his earthly
career stating or implying that he had been taken up; and (c) appearances of
the hero to friends or disciples
confirming his new status.  In addition, another feature frequently
present in the description of the immortals is a reference to the man’s
being begotten by a god of a human mother (the usual procedure)
, or his
being the child of a goddess and a human father.  Almost always, both the unusual circumstances
concerning his birth and those relating to his passing are present. Occasionally,
for whatever reason, if the reference to a supernatural begetting is missing,
the ascent into heaven is constant. When
one spoke of an immortal in the Greco-Roman world, therefore, he meant a mortal
who had become a god, and this was usually expressed in terms of an extraordinary
(one of his parents was a deity) and an ascension into heaven
(witnessed to by such circumstances there being no remains of his body to be
). Originally, the concept belonged to accounts of legendary or
mythical figures of the distant past. Egyptian, Greek, and Roman examples are
readily available
. (Charles
H. Talbert – Professor Baylor) [italics added]

It was about Romulus that the Roman traditions
clustered in a special way. They claimed he was the son of Mars and a virgin,
either Ilia or Rhea Silvia. His great achievements led to the belief that, when
he disappeared during a sudden darkening of the sun amidst a descending cloud,
he had been added to the number of the gods. This was witnessed to by
the fact that no portion of his body or fragment of his clothing remained to
be seen
. The belief was rein-forced by the claim of one of his friends,
Julius Proculus, that Romulus appeared to him on the road and announced
that he was to be worshipped as the god Quirinus
. (Charles
H. Talbert – Professor Baylor) [italics added]

Certain early
Christians regarded the immortals as demonic imitations of Christ. Justin
Martyr [an early Christian] offers evidence for this position. He was not only
aware of the traditions about the immortals but also of the remarkable
similarities between such figures and Jesus Christ. Indeed, he uses these
resemblances for his apologetic ends. The Christians’ assertions about Jesus
Christ, he argues, propose nothing new or different from that which pagans say
about the immortals
, e.g., Asclepios, Heracles, Dionysos, and the Dioscuri
( 1 Apol., 21). If Christians assert that Christ was born of a virgin, that he
was crucified, died, arose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, this is
nothing new or different from what pagans say about the so-called sons of
Jupiter and certain emperors. Granting these similarities between the
Christians’ savior and the pagans’ immortals, why should Christian belief seem
incredible to pagans? (Charles
H. Talbert – Professor Baylor) [italics added]

More significant is
the influence that the mythology of the immortals had on certain of the gospels
taken as wholes. This influence is seen at its fullest in Luke-Acts. Here we
find a supernatural conception (Luke 1:35), followed by a virtuous life.
According to Acts 2:36 (cf. also 13:33), it is by virtue of his exaltation that
Jesus becomes Lord/Christ/Son of God. Luke gives a synthetic portrayal of his
becoming Lord. On the one hand, his passing from mortal to immortal is attested
by the absence of Jesus’ physical remains (Luke 24:1-11 [12]), reinforced both
by appearances to friends and disciples in which further instruction is given
(Luke 24:13-49; Acts 1:1-5) and by predictions made during his life (Luke 9:22;
18:32-33-to which specific reference is made in 24:6-8). On the other hand,
Jesus’ ascent amidst a cloud is witnessed by the Galileans (Acts 1:9-11). There
is no way a Mediterranean person could have missed this as a portrayal of Jesus
in the mythology of the immortals. (Charles
H. Talbert – Professor Baylor)

In Philostratus’ Life
of Apollonius of Tyana [written 3rd century CE] the mythology of the
immortals is found complete. The birth-traditions relate that Apollonius’
mother had a vision just before she gave birth to the child, in which a god
of Egypt told her she would give birth to himself
(1.4). Later the
people call Apollonius a “son of Zeus”
(1.6). The versions of his
passing are diverse, but one clearly comes from such a mentality. The story
goes that Apollonius entered the temple of Athene, whereupon a chorus of
maidens was heard singing from within: “Hasten thou from earth, hasten
thou to heaven, hasten;” in other words: “Do thou go upwards from
earth” (8.30). Afterwards his remains could not be found. Then he
is said to have appeared to a fervent disciple and through him taught
men further, even though he had already passed from this earth (8.31). (Charles H. Talbert – Professor Baylor) [italics

In the Hebrew Bible there are three
figures whose departures from the earthly scene are strikingly unusual.
Enoch apparently does not die but is taken away by God (Gen 5:24). Moses retires
alone to the land of Moab, dies, and is secretly buried
by God himself in an unknown valley (Deut 34:5-6). Elijah is taken up to heaven in a whirlwind, riding in a chariot of fire (2 Kgs 2:11). … … Various Mediterranean and ancient Near Eastern cultures had similar tales of ancient figures who had escaped the normal fate of death and had been “translated” to some region “beyond”.  (James
Tabor – University of North Carolina, Notre Dame)

We encounter in this period two overlapping ideas regarding apotheosis [i.e. men becoming gods]: first, that a hero, ruler, or extraordinary  individual
can obtain immortal heavenly existence; second,
the more general dualistic notion that the souls of all humankind,  although  bound by mortal conditions, can obtain an immortal heavenly life. The second should
not be viewed merely as a chronological democratization of the first. The two exist side by side throughout the period. Both are related to a fundamental shift in the perception
of the human “place,” reflected in a host of texts from the fourth century
BCE  on, in which heaven rather than earth is seen as humankind’s true “home,”
and immortality (or escape from mortal conditions) humankind’s essential goal
(James Tabor – University of North Carolina, Notre Dame) [italics added]

Drawing on popular legend, folklore, literature, and civic propaganda, one can compile a long list of figures who were said to have once
been human but to have become immortal
gods-whether from the legendary past  (Enoch,  Elijah,  Moses,
Osiris, Dionysus,Heracles, Aristaeus, Asclepius, Aeneas, Romulus,
Empedocles) or closer to Josephus’s own time (Alexander, various
Roman emperors, Jesus, Apollonius). Often tales of such figures include the idea that they are taken up to heaven at the end of their careers.
(James Tabor – University of North Carolina, Notre Dame)

28 1 At this pass, then, it is said that one of the patricians,
a man of noblest birth, and of the most reputable character, a trusted and
intimate friend also of Romulus himself, and one of the colonists from Alba,
Julius Proculus by name, went into the forum and solemnly swore by the most
sacred emblems before all the people that, as
he was travelling on the road, he had seen Romulus coming to meet him, fair and
stately to the eye as never before, and arrayed in bright and shining armour
2 He himself, then, affrighted at the sight, had said:
“O King, what possessed thee, or what purpose hadst thou, that thou
hast left us patricians a prey to unjust and wicked accusations, and the whole
city sorrowing without end at the loss of its father?” Whereupon Romulus had
replied: “It was the pleasure of
the gods, O Proculus, from whom I came
, that I should
be with mankind only a short time, and that after founding a city destined to
be the greatest on earth for empire and glory, I should dwell again in heaven. So farewell, and tell the Romans that if they practise self-restraint, and add to it valour, they will reach the utmost heights of human power. And I will be your propitious
deity, Quirinus.” 3 These things seemed to the
Romans worthy of belief, from the character of the man who related them, and
from the oath which he had taken; moreover, some influence from heaven also,
akin to inspiration, laid hold upon their emotions, for no man contradicted
Proculus, but all put aside suspicion and calumny and prayed to Quirinus, and honoured him as a god.  (Plutarch Life of Romulus)

… … [their] grief was quieted by the assurance of his immortality. (Plutarch Life of Romulus)

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