May 11, 2024

Ezekiel 37

by Interfaith

And so the conversation continues from another thread . . .

I don’t see why not? Ezekiel describes all kinds of strange visions that could hardly have been familiar to his readers?

Of course he used language that was familiar to his listeners. Most people back then were illiterate, and so they wouldn’t have read it. If you were an astrophysicist, would you explain astrophysics with your own language and concepts to a people steeped in mythological thinking? I don’t think so.

I suppose RJM is referring to the following from Ezekiel as strange:

And when I looked, there were four wheels by the cherubim, one wheel by one cherub and another wheel by each other cherub; the wheels appeared to have the colour of a beryl stone. As for their appearance, all four looked alike—as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went toward any of their four directions; they did not turn aside when they went … And their whole body, with their back, their hands, their wings, and the wheels that the four had, were full of eyes all around. As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing, “Wheel.”

Are you sure it would have been strange to his listeners, however? What do you, as a person that doesn’t live in the age of mythological thinking, find strange about it? Or, better yet, what do you think Ezekiel’s contemporaries would have found strange about it? To me, it makes sense that his audience was already familiar with the resurrection concept after Zoroastrian influence.

I think the encyclopedia’s probably wrong, because the dates don’t match for a widespread belief in literal resurrection in Ezekiel’s day – the article is well over 100 years old, there’s been a lot of scholarship since then …

Yes, there has been a lot of scholarship since then, but a lot of scholars are saying the same thing. See Jon D. Levenson, a professor of Jewish studies at Harvard and one of the most influential scholars in the field, who wrote in Resurrection and Restoration (which was published in 2006): “If resurrection were thought ludicrous, or impossible even for God, then it would be a singularly inappropriate metaphor for the national renewal and restoration that Ezekiel predicts, and the vision in Ezek 37:1-10 could never have succeeded in its goal of overcoming the hopelessness of the audience.”

By “others,” are you talking about all the Church Fathers? I am struggling to find one that disagrees with Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian. Is the tradition they were handed wrong? Also, are you also talking about New Testament authors like Matthew, who probably understood Ezekiel 37 literally too? “The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (Matthew 27.52; Ezekiel 37.12).


Ahanu Apr 28, 2024

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