Thursday, January 29, 2009

Will the Dead Be Raised Nude?

As some of you may know, one of my talks at this weekend's biblical conference on St. Paul was entitled: "St. Paul and the Resurrection of the Body." 
In it I spent a great deal of time focusing on the Jewish tradition which identified the resurrected body with the "garments of glory" that Adam and Eve had lost in the fall but would be restored to the righteous in in the messianic age (e.g., 1 Enoch 62). In it, I explored this Jewish background as illuminating for Paul's words:
Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling, so that by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (2 Corinthians 5:2-4)
I ended the talk with a joke about hoping to see everyone there in the Resurrection "fully clothed," not knowing that I would stumble across this Rabbinic text just two days later:
Queen Cleopatra asked Rabbi Meier: "I know that the dead will revive, for it is written, 'And they shall blossom forth out of the city like the grass of the earth' (Psalm 72:16). But when they rise, shall they arise nude or in their garments?' --He replied, 'You may deduce by an a fortiori argument [the answer] from a wheat grain: if a grain of wheat, which is buried naked, sprouts forth in many robes, how much more so the righteous, who are buried in their rainment?" (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 90b)
Someone may want to call Michelangelo and Mel Gibson and let them both know! (This makes me feel a little better about the ending of the film the Passion of the Christ, with which I always rather uncomfortable. I realize now it was just my Jewish sensibilities.)


Moonshadow said...

I realize now it was just my Jewish sensibilities.


Sister Mary Agnes said...

This is definitely an eye-catching title for a blog post! It reminds me of a conversation I had with one of my Novices a few weeks ago. She wanted to know if, as Sisters from a religious community, we will still have our habits in heaven. I hope so . . . as long as the glorified version does not require washing, mending or ironing . . .

On another note, I guess I have pretty much been expecting white robes at the resurrection like the ones John saw in Revelation 7:9. White robes are pretty close to our habits. If it’s just white robes, though, I hope God lets our Sisters keep the veil!

The conference was a profound experience for me. All of the talks were excellent and I learned a lot, but the one that blew me away the most was your talk on the angels. Thank you for the work you do to help people understand the scriptures and the mysteries of our faith.

Brant Pitre said...

Great to hear from you, Sister Mary Agnes!

I'd never considered the question of habits in the resurrection. Whatever the case, I'm sure it will be veils included! :)

Anyway, I too had a great time at the St. Paul conference. Thanks for your kind words on the angels talk; I've worked quite a bit on the subject and think it is more neglected than it should be. Once you see the role of the angels in Paul's theology, you find them everywhere in his letters.

Thanks also for your kind words under the last post. Scott, Michael, and I have more fun than anyone else at these things, trust me.

Anyway, it was great to finally meet you. Please keep us in your prayers, and keep reading the blog, and I'll promise no more scandalous posts!

Anonymous said...

St. Thomas believed that the resurrected dead are clothed...(in light i.e. Glory)


David Cox said...

Dr. Pitre
I have to agree with Sister Mary Agnes...the talk on the angels was fantastic. I was wondering how you were going to pull that one off, but you did.

It brought up a few questions:

1) If the angels govern things in the natural order, were these responsibilities given pre or post rebellion?

2) Is this why creation "groans." (cf. Rom 8)

3)If the law is a sort of custodian looking over a child, is this what St. Paul refers to in 1Cor 13 when he says "when I became a man I put away childish things?" The childish thing being the law replaced by love.

God Bless.