The surprise of this text is that, most often in Old Testament thought, death was the end of everything--even of a relationship with God, since there was no praise of God in Sheol (the place of the dead) (see Psalms 6:5; 30:9; 89:48). God was the God of the living, but death marked the end (Isaiah 38:18-19).
Occasionally, however, God's Old Testament people are given a glimpse of something more: the dead shall live, corpses shall rise, dry bones will be given new life (Ezekiel 37). This hope was not based in the human or in notions of human immortality, unknown to the Bible, but in the ongoing goodness of God, who simply would not let people go. Finally, people came to know that God was present even in Sheol (Psalm 139:8).
In the New Testament era, the Jewish people continued to debate the possibility of resurrection (Matthew 22:23). The New Testament claim of resurrection is finally not a theological principle, but simply a witness to what God demonstrated in Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:12-14).
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
10 February 2011