Friday, July 6, 2012

The Bible and Zombies

Well...sort least according to this Huffington Post article by Michael Gilmour.  Zombie imagery and resurrection imagery often do have quite an uncanny resemblance.  Here are three of my favorites from Gilmour's list:
2. The Book of Revelation: "the sea gave up the dead that were in it" (Revelation 20:13). John the Seer's creepy statement reminds me of a scene in George A. Romero's "Land of the Dead" (2005) that features slow-moving corpses walking out of the surf, and Max Brooks' "World War Z" with its account of the boy returning from a swim with a bite mark on his foot. He also describes the zombie hoards roaming the world's oceans: "They say there are still somewhere between twenty and thirty million of them, still washing up on beaches, or getting snagged in fisherman's nets."


5. The Gospel of Matthew: "The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After [Jesus'] resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many" (Matthew 27:52-53). Unwanted persistent life is a recurring image in biblical literature and so too is language referring to the impermanence of bodily death. The dead do not stay dead. The psalmist is confident he will not "see decay" (Psalm 16:10 New International Version; cf. Acts 2:27; 13:35). We read of the physical resurrections of specific individuals (e.g., 1 Kings 17:17-24; Luke 8:49-56; maybe Acts 20:7-12) and expected mass revivals (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Some of these accounts of un-dying involve reference to un-burying. Mary and Martha's brother Lazarus walks out of his tomb when "they took away the stone" (John 11:41). On Easter morning, mourners find "the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back" (Mark 16:4). A second century writer describes further the events preceding Jesus' emergence from the tomb: "That stone which had been laid against the entrance to the sepulchre started of itself to roll and gave way to the side, and the sepulchre was opened" (Gospel of Peter 9.35).


7. Zechariah: "their flesh shall rot while they are still on their feet; their eyes shall rot in their sockets, and their tongues shall rot in their mouths" (Zechariah 14:12). They seem to resemble extras in a George A. Romero film.
Is there anything to the resemblance?  Such as that modern zombie films perhaps present an inversion or subversion of the old resurrection ideas--much like modern vampire films and stories invert Christian myths?  Maybe, maybe not.  The super ancient (and pre-biblical) Mesopotamian Descent of Ishtar and the better-known Epic of Gilgamesh are credited with the most ancient zombie recounting.  Zombies are as old as civilization itself.  Perhaps the Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37), etc., and later resurrection imagery (especially people coming out of their graves, from below the ground, returning form the netherworld) has origins in the much more ancient zombie lore!

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