Resurrection Of Lazarus, Jews And Jewish Tradition (john 11:1-44)

resurrection of Jesus1Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.

The story begins with introducing to us Lazarus (in Hebrew Eliezer, which means God will help) who resides in Bethany (in Hebrew Beit Aniah, which means the House of the Poor). These Hebrew names are not coincidental.

Bethany was not far from Jerusalem (there was also a Bethany across the Jordan river). There are many reasons to think it was a very special village. It is likely that this village served as one of the Jewish Essene diaconal centers. These centers were spread throughout the ancient Jewish world. Essenes (a Jewish sect) were known for their commitment to serve the poor and sick. Incidentally, there seems to be a strong connection between sections of the Essene community and the early Jewish believers in Jesus movement, but this is a topic for another time.

It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.

It is interesting and somewhat surprising that John makes this comment so early. The reason is because the incident of Mary anointing Jesus, is not recorded until next chapter. This means either John wrote his Gospel after the other Gospels, expecting people to be familiar with the story, or more likely that the story had already circulated orally and John assumed that the hearers were familiar with it.

So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

There are remarkable parallels here with between the raising of Lazarus and the healing of the man who was blind from birth. In one case light is given and in the other case, life. Interestingly enough both themes are the major themes alluded to in John 1:4: In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Also, the reason for both Lazarus’ death and the man’s blindness was for God’s glory (John 9:2-3 and John 11:4).

(Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.) So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

If we read vss. 5-6 they make little sense (since Jesus loved them, why didn’t he come immediately). If we read the text carefully, we will quickly realize that verse 5 is a parenthetical comment inserted between vss. 4 and 6. This means verse 6 (“So when he heard…”) continues as the end of vs.4 (“it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it”.) So no one would think Jesus did not truly love the family, the parenthetical comment was added – “Now (you must know) Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus”.

The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

If we attempt to understand the Jews here as being the Jewish people, the sentence would  sound completely ridiculous. Clearly, the Jerusalemite authorities who were seeking Jesus’ life are in view here. We must continue to remember John’s statement in the prologue that summed up Jesus life, death and resurrection: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) Jesus is referring to the light that illuminates the world. Remember, in John the world does not always mean humanity at large, sometimes it means Judea and its inhabitants.(John 7:3).

11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” 17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.

Jesus clarifies for his disciples that his close friend Lazarus had died. What is important in vs.17 is John’s statement that when Jesus arrived in Bethany it was already the fourth day. This explains why after hearing the news that Lazarus was very sick “he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” (John 11:6) Jesus knew how long it would take to travel to Bethany. He was determined to arrive, not only after Lazarus’ death, but when, according to popular Jewish belief, resurrection was no longer possible – on the fourth day!

18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.

Lazarus, who may have been an Essene, and his family were given fully to the service of the poor and sick in Bethany. He was highly respected by the hoi Ioudaioi. Many, hoping to bring them much needed comfort, came to mourn together with Martha and Mary. It is in this story that Jesus makes his final strike against the stronghold of unbelief within the Jerusalem priestly elite. He was about to resurrect a respected member of the Jerusalemite religious society in plain view of members of the hoi Ioudaioi. This would necessitate a response of faith in Him. Mary and Martha were being comforted by their own people from among the Jerusalemite ruling establishment.

20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”

Martha told Jesus that if he would have come within the three days when resurrection was possible, he could have resurrected her brother. Her faith went even further and she said “even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you!”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Martha is careful, seeking not to raise her own hopes too high. She probably thought to herself: “Jesus seems to be saying that my brother will be resurrected, but he could be referring to some distant future.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

Jesus’ point was simple. Martha must stop thinking of him as the one who can ask God for resurrection and receive a favorable answer from on high. She must understand instead that Jesus is the Logos of God, the God who gives life. In Jesus’ own words – “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”

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Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” 28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him.

Apparently Jesus remained outside the village for a time since enough time lapsed for meetings and conversations to occur. Vs. 30 is another parenthetical comment in which the author is clarifying the meaning of his story as it unfolds.

31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there.

What is important here is that the author highlights the fact that when Jesus spoke with Mary outside the village, some of the hoi Iouidaioi who had come to comfort the family followed her. This indicated that they witnessed this exchange. The Hoi Ioudaioi who followed Jesus outside of the village both saw what happened and heard most of the interchange between Jesus and Mary.

32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Mary repeats Martha’s regret (John 11:21). We can imagine that this had been discussed in their family circle.  

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.

Here we see Jesus enter the suffering of humanity and his connection with hoi Ioudaioi as never before in this Gospel. Jesus saw Mary and members of the hoi Ioudaioi grieve passionately over the passing of Lazarus. He was deeply troubled.

How burials occur within a particular culture tell us a much about the people’s worldview. Christian culture is always solemn, but festive when it comes to the burial of a righteous man. Grief is always mixed with hope and celebration. In Jewish culture, while the resurrection of the righteous is also affirmed, there is a strong belief that when a righteous man dies the world suffers loss.

The balance of good and evil is tipped, at least at that moment, towards evil. While the righteous man is taken away from the world’s evil, those who remain have lost significantly and in a sense, are left to fend for themselves.

34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”

A brief excursion into Jewish burial practices of the first century will be helpful here. Jews of the first century in the Land of Israel buried people twice. When someone died. the body was first wrapped in a cloth and placed in a cave for a prolonged period of time. After the body decayed and only bones remained, they were collected into a special box called an ossuary. The ossuary was then placed together with other ossuaries of family members, and put into a family tomb. Jesus, realizing that the first burial had already taken place, asked where they had laid the body. They responded “Sir, come and see”. The word Lord, used here in Greek, is not a confession of faith that Jesus is the incarnate God, but simply a respectful term of address.

35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

No other section of the Scriptures shows Jesus so deeply full of emotion. His full divinity and full humanity meet here in the expression of his grief. He did not just cry. He wept. His reaction (even though he knew he was about to resurrect Lazarus) was fully compatible with the Jewish practice of grieving and wailing. The Hoi Ioudaioi who witnessed this exchange concluded that Jesus indeed loved the same person they appreciated so much for his service to the community of the poor and suffering.

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

One can see that the crisis of the hoi Ioudaioi’s opposition to Jesus was deepening. Now it was not only those from Jewish Galilee and a few members of the system that began to take interest in Jesus. Many who came to comfort the Lazarus’ family were moving toward a positive view of Jesus. Their regret was “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” Remember, they were not talking about resurrection. Their reasoning is therefore very logical. If Jesus could give sight to the man born blind who had never seen light, surely he could have given healing to a man who was sick. One action was much greater than the other. However, none of them realized what Jesus was about to do.

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.”

Martha told Jesus to stay away from the entrance of the tomb since the smell of a decaying body would be overwhelming. She once again pointed out that Lazarus had been dead for 4 days. You will recall that Jesus’ arrival was perfectly timed for the resurrection to take place on the 4th day, when it was believed that resurrection was no longer possible.

40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”

Earlier, Jesus had told Martha that arriving on the fourth day would not limit him. Resurrection was not something he would do with his Father’s help. Resurrection and Life are both the essence of what Jesus is. He is indeed the Word/Logos/Memra of Israel’s God, and he was destined to show the world his Father’s Glory.

43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”

Some tombs were extremely deep and they literally included a tunnel to get to the actual place where the bodies were deposited. So it is not surprising that when the stone that functioned as a door would be rolled away, Jesus would call Lazarus in a loud voice. This was not to make this event more dramatic, but was that the resurrected Lazarus could physically hear the voice of his Life-giver from afar.

44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

John (or whoever wrote this Gospel that was later attributed to John) was an eyewitness who was concerned with detail. He mentions something that no other Gospel says. Lazarus, when he came out of the tomb, was not covered with one piece of cloth but with two. His face had a cloth that was separate from the body shroud. Today, when ancient Jewish burials have been discovered, this description is confirmed. Jews indeed buried the way John described. John was a local. He was an insider. He was an eyewitness.

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  1. Art Naranjo

    I think Jesus called out Lazarus by name because if He didn’t, everyone would have came out of the tomb.

  2. Alfred Ramiah(Jew) Jai


  3. Lucky Manoka

    Praise God for the insight from the Jewish culture on the delay of Jesus coming to raise Lazarus. This is the 4 days delay. Apart from other significant factors scholars argue to be the reasons for the delay this is an eye opener.

  4. jane z. mazzola

    Thank you for the actual post re: the Lazarus story, info: Bethany, Jewish customs of burial & resurrection beliefs. It made the recent readings more insightful. Some of the blog, while interesting, became a little obtuse! Sorry, my opinion, a yr later!
    Jane M.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Such is life. The story is timeless.

  5. Anderew

    I believe now (Amen)

  6. RamonAntonio

    This conversation has a life of its own. Who knows where, if whenever, it will get. Excellent!
    The discussion about the nature or understanding of angels in the Bible will never end. I do think that some agreements must be stipulated:
    1. There are various figures of language reffering to celestial beings:
    – angels as such, ie. Messengers from God. Usually those who interact with humans some way or the other and convey God’s commands.
    – non human forces that act over human activities, ie. The column of fire and the column of smoke that protected Israel against Pharao’s forces.
    – the living beings that usually accompany the manifestation of the Kavod or the Glory of God as in the vissions of Ezzequiel and Isaiah.
    – the sons of God mentioned in Job as beings that are in the presence of God in his court.
    – the nephilim which do not need further explanation.
    – and if we delve into Jewish writings we have the sar happanim or princes of the presence who are “doubles” of certain humans who are present before the Kavod at the same time than existing in human form. This is a very complex issue right now.
    2. The translations of the Bible interpreted these various creatures or manifestations in diverse ways with a tendency to conflate one for another.
    3. Other religions had various manifestations similar to celestial beings which attributes, form or capabilities closely match the Bible’s depiction of angels. The Acadian Querub is in fact a dragon and most probably they are the true rendition of the ones in the Ark of Covenance.
    So, it is very difficult that anyone make a definitive statement of the needs of such a variegated collection of whatevers they are, which we are talking about or what menu they like. I would recommend caution such as the criptic exposition by Dr. Eli which I find sufficiently elloquent on reflecting the complex issues that speaking of angels entails.
    But please, go on… Wisely as always…

    1. Rafael

      I think I may disagree with a few things you said. But I opt to address only one. I said nothing about what menu they like, only that they ate. The rest, perhaps another time.

  7. alfredo

    Hi Rafael: I’ll address your statements quickly.
    “Of the three visitors of Abraham, all three ate. Two of them were angels, and one of them was God.” I think you might have a preconceived idea about those three men. Carefully reading, the scriptures in Gen 18 state that they were men (using the Hebrew אישׁ) when referring to them, not celestial beings. In Gen 18:13 God speaks, but reading carefully you can’t point out that one of them is who speak. Actually, you can read in Gen 18:22 that the men went to Sodom, but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.
    Later, in Gen 19:1 we read that two angels (not three men) went to Sodom. The scriptures don’t say that those two angels were two of the three men that were with Abraham before. But even if they were, you should know that the Hebrew word translated as angel actually means a “messenger”, not necessarily a celestial being.

    Strong H4397 מלאך
    mal’âk mal-awk’
    From an unused root meaning to despatch as a deputy; a messenger; specifically of God, that is, an angel (also a prophet, priest or teacher): – ambassador, angel, king, messenger.

    About the tree of life, since the Bible is a Jewish book and the New Testament are scriptures written mostly by Jewish men (except Luke and Acts perhaps), I would think that there is a need for us to understand clearly what is the tree of life from a Jewish perspective. I have a very limited idea of the Tree of Life at this moment, so I guess I have to read more about it, following the rule that the Scriptures are Jewish.

    Shavua Tov lekulam !

    1. Rafael

      You obfuscate the issue (which I’ll clear up below).

      Also, you have overlooked verse 1 of Genesis 18. It does not say that יהוה SPOKE to him, but APPEARED to him. Then the entire chapter elaborates on that statement. Verses 13 to 33 make it clear that this was the appearance mentioned in verse 1.

      Verse 9, “they” refers back to the “they” of verse 5. Verse 10, “he” is clearly one of the “they” in verse 9. Verses 12, Sarah laughed as a result of what she heard in verse 10, meaning that there was no delay. Verse 13, the Lord speaks directly to verse 12, again, no delay. Verse 13 makes it clear that the “he” of verse 10 is the Lord. Verse 14, the speaker is clearly the same as in verse 10. And verse 14 makes it clear that this is not just any “lord”.

      The only way that you could possibly be right is if there is some sort of break between verse 9 and verse 10. But there is nothing in the text to support that. In fact, you would have to twist the natural reading of the passage to do so.

      Since the “Lord” was clearly one of the 3 “men”, and He remained behind, then the “men” in verse 22 had to be the other 2.

      I think you are being thrown by the apparent shift in wording at the beginning of chapter 19. It seems like these 2 are not the same 2 as in the previous chapter, aside from it being “2” in both cases. But you overlook one crucial difference. These are eyewitness accounts. And the eyewitnesses of chapter 19 are different from those of 18. That alone will account for this difference.

      And in Genesis 19, verses 21-22 make it clear that these 2 were celestial beings. And these are the same 2 “men” of verse 10, which are in turn the “angels” of verse 1, which sufficiently answers your challenge regarding “angel” vs “celestial being” vs “man”, at least well enough for the issue at hand. These celestial beings and the “Lord” ate food.

      Let me know what you conclude regarding the Jewish concepts of the Tree of Life.

    2. Shara H.

      Alfredo, no man has seen God and lived. Jesus Christ reflects God to mankind and is the mediator between God and Man. He is the second Adam. Paul the Apostle contrasted Adam and Christ as two corporate personalities or representatives (Rom 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:20-3, 45-9) and saw human beings as bearing the image of both Adam and Christ (1 Cor. 15:49). Where Adam’s disobedience meant sin and death for all, Christ’s obedience more than made good the harm due to Adam by bringing righteousness through His perfect sacrifice (Rom 5:12-21).[8] As a “life-giving spirit”, the last Adam is risen from the dead and will transform us through resurrection into a heavenly (7 years) followed by the millennium kingdom, and new heaven and earth (1 Cor. 15:22, 45, 48-9). Thus Paul’s Adam Christology involved both the earthly Jesus’ obedience (Rom. 5) and the risen Christ’s role as giver of the Spirit (1 Cor. 15).[9] lease re-research that scripture.

  8. alfredo

    Dr. Eli. I agree. Both bodies are PHYSICAL. My opinion is that there is a difference in that physical element between a body that does die (like ours at this moment) and one that is eternal (like the one Yeshua had after His resurrection).

    1. Rafael

      I think you are making this more complicated than it needs to be.

      Scripture clearly indicates that the tree of life will be growing like a weed (my words) along the rivers coming from the throne of God in Mt Tzion (the new Jerusalem). It says that those trees will yield 12 different fruits.

      Firstly, what purpose would it serve to have that tree in heaven at all if our glorified bodies don’t need it? Angels don’t need it. So who is it for?

      Secondly, if our glorified bodies are like the glorified body of Yeshua, then does this not suggest that his body needs this fruit as much as ours? But he ‘IS’ life, right? I do not dispute this. But just as God worked 6 days and rested the seventh, as a pattern for us, this may be another example for us to follow.

      Whichever the case may be, after Yeshua ascended, he could eat freely of the tree of life. This is one major difference between his resurrection and the resurrection of anyone else. Unless they ascended into heaven, they did not have that fruit to eat.

      But don’t get me wrong. That is not what makes a body into a glorified body. One key difference is that the heart of our mortal body, a heart that is desperate to be wicked, will be wholly replaced by a new heart in the glorified body, a heart that desires to do only what is right.

      1. alfredo

        Hi Rafael. When you write “Firstly, what purpose would it serve to have that tree in heaven at all if our glorified bodies don’t need it?” I haven’t said that glorified bodies don’t need to eat…

        Actually, both Adam and Eve were made to live forever, yet, they still ate… Yeshua after His resurrection, did eat also…

        Now angels are a different kind of creatures… they are not humans… they don’t need to eat…

        1. Rafael

          Alfredo, you make some good points. But you also overlook a few.

          My point was not about eating. It was about the need for the tree of life.

          But you make an error in regard to eating. You cite that Jesus ate after his resurrection as evidence that he needs to eat. But you also state that angels don’t need to eat. Of the three visitors of Abraham, all three ate. Two of them were angels, and one of them was God. Using your own logic, then angels DO need to eat, as does God. So clearly, this line of logic is faulty. The only thing we can truly deduce from this is that angels and God CAN eat, not that they must.

          But using a different line of logic, you said that angels are a different kind of creature, that they don’t need to eat. But that begs the question: how many kinds of creatures aside from Man are there? Many thousands (many millions if you break it down into species). That begs the next question: how many of them need to eat? Well, all the ones I know about. So why would angels be any different? I have no good answer.

          So now, back to what I said. The tree of life, who’s it for? We already know that angels don’t die. But is that because they have access to the tree of life? Well, if that were the case, then wouldn’t the fallen angels be dead by now? So it seems to me that the angels have no need for that tree, whether they need to eat or not. So who is that tree for?

          Scripture clearly states that it’s leaves are for the healing of the nations. This shows that there is still illness during the millennium, outside Mt Tzion. But being sinners, none of them can enter to get the leaves. This, for me, is proof that the inhabitants of the city can come and go, as also evidenced by the fact that the pearly gates are never shut. But I digress. The leaves of the trees of life have a stated purpose, a physical use. So what physical use do the 12 fruits of that tree serve. Logically, the same that it would have for Adam and Eve in the garden.

          For me, the logical conclusion of this tack is that the glorified body doesn’t need to be physically different from the mortal body, at least not in a simple physical sense.

          There is only one part that I know of that needs to be different in the glorified body, namely the heart. Our mortal bodies have hearts that are desperate to be wicked. Our glorified bodies will have hearts that desire only to do good, like the heart Yeshua had in His earthly body, like Adam and Eve had also. But it won’t be possible for the adversary to deceive us, just like Yeshua in his earthly body.

          Having said all that, something else occurred to me that suggests that it may not be as simple as I was thinking it to be. Those who are cast into hell have bodies that are not destroyed by the fire, neither by time. Same thing goes for the worms there.

          Something else that just occurred to me: if we have the power to do miracles, then why would the nations need the healing of the leaves of the tree of life? This suggests that either we won’t have the power to do miracles, or we have the power and don’t use it, or that we don’t go outside. But if we don’t go outside, then how do they get the leaves?

          I got it! We’ll have leaf-blowers! LOL!

          1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

            Rafael, I usually don’t approve comments that long. I will this time, but please keep your longer comments twice as short in the future. Blessings to you and thank you for your participation. Dr. Eli

  9. alfredo

    I like what César de Jesús is mentioning about the differences between Yeshua’s resurrection and Eliezer’s (Lazarus) resuscitation.

    Can you think of a difference between a body that has a physical composition that will allow it to die, that it can be corrupted and decays, and another one that is composed in such a way that it can live forever? This difference would explain a lot (if not all) of biblical passages that you read all over the Bible:

    Genesis 1:29-30 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. [All animals were vegetarians. No need to kill each other to eat food.]

    Genesis 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning the sixth day. [Was death present at this moment? No. All was VERY good.]

    Genesis 2:15-17 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” [Adam had to work. He had to eat. He would live forever unless he eats from the forbidden tree.]

    Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. [Something has changed. Adam and Chavah (Eve) are now naked. Their “covering” is now gone.]

    Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, [The Glory of God does not cover us anymore.]

    Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return. [Now Adam would sweat, he would get tired when working, and food he would have to harvest. Death is upon him from now on.]

    Romans 5:12 12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned [Death entered the world. All the creation experiences violence and death. Today a wolf eats a lamb.]

    Romans 8:18-21 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. [All creation suffers and awaits for the children of God to be covered again with the Glory of God.]

    2 Corinthians 5:1-3 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. [God will cover us again with His Glory. Our bodies will be incorruptible again!]

    Isaiah 11:6-8 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. [In the world to come, animals will live together. All animals will be back to their original state, when they all were vegetarians, including us. The actual “natural” food chain/web will no longer exists…]

    Isaiah 65:25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord. [No more harm, nor destroying anything. Just as the Gan Eden (Garden of Eden).]

    Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” [Yeshua came to recover not only man’s souls, but the whole creation.]

    Psalm 16:10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your holy one see decay.

    Yeshua’s resurrected body was different. Unlike Eliezer (Lazarus), Yeshua had a body that would not decay. No wonder His disciples could not recognize Him after His resurrection:

    John 20:15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

    Luke 24:15-16 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

    John 21:12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      All resurrection including Jesus’ is a PHYSICAL resurrection (not only in spirit). It is a different type of physical resurrection.

  10. Cesar De Jesus

    It is important view the different between resurrection (Like Yeshua named Jesus) who lives for ever or resuscitation (like Lazarus and others) who die again.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      My apologies to approving this comment and replying to it with delay. We can argue of definition of terms and seek to use more theologically precise terms of course. I do not think that in this case what you are suggesting is necessary, though of course possible. We of course agree that the resurrection of those who will die again are qualitatively different from those who will never die again.

  11. Peter Michael Thornber

    This interesting and inspiring comment illustrates an application of one of Jesus’ ”I AM” sayings: ”I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”.

    The Way – as is well said in this post, the name for, the watchword of, Jesus’ first followers.

    The Truth – they witness to the truth of His life, His words, His message which is authenticated and certified by

    The Life – His new Resurrection Life as foreshewn in Lazarus [cf. the dry bones in Ezekiel xxxvij and the ”many bodies of the saints which … arose, and came out of the graves after His Resurrection, and went into the holy city and appeared unto many[Matt. xxvij]]

    1. Shara H.

      and the ”many bodies of the saints which … arose, and came out of the graves after His Resurrection, and went into the holy city and appeared unto many[Matt. xxvij]] this section has been show to be a forgery. I will get the research (there are several sources) for Dr. Eli . It’s not found in older texts.

      1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

        Shara, I will work on this when we get to Matthew. After John we pick up Mark.

  12. RamonAntonio

    In the book “Discovering God” by Rodney Stark, the author makes some interesting analysis of the spread of Christianity and some posible explanations. He uses some very creative demographic data to explain how the concept of witness was critical to the spread of Christianity. And the witness issus is amply developed by the author.

    Witness, as used in that book, are third kind contacts, thus personal contacts, with Jesus Himself or with direct witness of Him. The author develops a case, backed up by his statistical approach, that the fast expansion of Christianity was directly dependent on the ample base of witnesess of the resurrected Jesus that were able to preach the personal relation that Jesus impacted upon them and specially, that He was still alive after his public death.

    My comment to Alfredo is then as follows:
    The hosts of ressurrected after Jesus death included Himself, Lazarus, probably the second in importance after Jesus Himself, the others resurrected by Jesus Himself, the many ressurrected when Jesus died and the ones resurrected by the apostles. The total of resurrected was probably in the hundreds and they were direct witness of Jesus godly power. The effect of these witness created the direct foundation of witness that sustained the apostles preaching of the Gospels, the original kerygma of the Church. Thus, and this is the important thing, THE WITNESS BECEM IMPORTANT AS WITNESS OF JESUS AND NOT OF THEMSELVES. Their importance and impact in the nascent Church was that of being witness to Jesus and this became the mantra of Christianity, whose original name as religious movement was “the followers of the road” or simply “the road”. And that would be the answer to Alfredo’s important question, the ressurrected became the founding stones of the Church as witness of Jesus. They were the one’s who not only provided testimony but direct evidence of Jesus divinity. The fact that they were as dead as Jesus was and were now alive provided the arms lenght evidence that the kerygma was real and certain and that Jesus was also alive. Those were the ones who were mentioned by the Apostles and the Fathers in their homilies. Their witness testimony about Jesus became their story and their names became lost in time for the story that mattered, as told by themselves, was the testimony of a real and living Jesus that would become real for anyone who heard and believed their testimony. Christianity is the story of those witness and ressurrected because for Christianity, the only important matter is Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

    1. Rafael

      What you wrote reminds me of something I read in a Jewish children’s prayer book (ArtScroll Children’s Siddur).

      A Closer Look
      Two letters in the first sentence of Shema are larger than the others: the ע and the ד. When you put these letters together, they spell עד, which means witness. This means that when we say the שמע (Sh’ma) we are witnesses telling the whole world that Hashem is the only true God.

  13. guillermo cortez

    Very good teaching Lazarus really is excellent as it is his real name and that jesus hope four days, you will really appreciate it and for taking the time to teach through this medium. The ETERNAL GOD OF ISRAEL fill it with more wisdom to continue in this great mission. A virtual hug

    Muy buena la enseñanza de Lázaro , realmente es excelente , ya se su nombre real y porque jesus espero 4 días, deberás se lo agradezco mucho por darse el tiempo y poder enseñar a través de este medio . Que el ETERNO DIOS DE ISRAEL lo llene de mas sabiduría para que continué en esta gran misión. Un abrazo virtual

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Guillermo, thanks for your comment and welcome to our forum. Dr. Eli

  14. Alfredo

    Dr. Eli:

    Regarding to this event, I have some questions that arise:

    1. What ever happened to Lazarus? He briefly appears later in the Scriptures. Having come back from the dead, why his life after death experience was not recorded, or was it in another ancient texts? Did he died again later on?
    2. What is the difference between Lazarus resurrection and Jesus resurrection? 1 Co 15:20 says that “Christ is the firstfruits of them that slept”. But according to this passage, Lazarus resurrected before Christ.
    3. What ever happened to those saints whose bodies arose from their graves after Jesus resurrection? (Mat 27:51-53) They are not mentioned at all afterwards. Did they died again later on? According to Revelations, there is only one resurrection (thus only one death) for the saints. (Rev 20:5-6)

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I would leave it to group’s feedback. Friends can you speak to Alfredo’s questions.

    2. Shara H.

      Jesus was raised in the new body. (the only one so far until the Rapture)
      Lazarus kept his old body and it was restored to health.
      Remember, Jesus raised others from the dead, as well. He restored them to their old bodies. They died natural or unnatural deaths during their lifetime and are now dust (awaiting the new body like the Lords).

  15. RamonAntonio

    This conversation is indeed wonderful! I would like to share some reflections on the mysterious issue of Father, Son and Holy Spirit without getting into specific beliefs or disbeliefs between religions, ie., dogmas.
    The issue that we can summarize as the trinity is indeed absolutely biblical. It starts in Genesis… “… and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters…”. After that cameo from the spirit the Torah goes directly to God as Creator untill El, one of the gods of Ur, appears in the story speaking to Abram. El makes the covenant with Abraham (interestingly in the form of three visitors, not one) and identifies himself as the God of Israel after the famous struggle and renaming of Jacob as Israel, the one who struggled with God. This name form under the guise of the Lord or the angel of the Lord then becomes the God that reveals himself to Moses and names himself something along the lines of Yahwe written as the tetragrammaton being so sacred that no one should dare to pronounce it. Significantly here, Yahwe makes three interesting claims for himself: That he is a god of the living not of the dead, that he is a perpetual god and that he is the one who made a covenant with his people and will forever honor that pact. What he is saying is that he transcends our timelines. Then after liberating his people, the prophets start to say that a Messiah from god will come to free his people again.

    Then came Jesus. And Jesus comes born of a woman, then at the age of twelve states that he has to attend the things of his father and at around 30 the spirit comes again in the form of a dove and posses himself again over the waters, this time of the Jordan, over Jesus. In his first encounter with a Pharisaic leader he starts talking about the spirit. This imperfect summary just reflects that all the elements of the trinity are present along the Bible and it can’t be more biblical than that. In fact, if we erase all references to Father, Spirit and Son the resulting story is discontinuous.

    I would also want to contribute another look to the issue, this time taking into account Information Theory, entropy, relativism and the interaction of time and space and genetics.

    If an eternal God inserts himself in his own created reality which happens to ocurr in time space He would have a lot of explanations to make in order that time space creatures get a grasp of an eternal God. An eternal God, by definition doesn’t exists because HE is outside time space. We creatures do exist because we do begin and we do end. Then, the expression Father, Son and Holy Spirit become another thing, an approximation of a situation and actions from an eternal God in relation to a finite creature. When we start to look at Jesus from somewhere near this state of affairs, eternity vs time space existence, His doings, His signs, His ministry and his Gospel acquire a new dimension, in fact, a dimension of eternity.

    Maybe that is the central message of Jesus by accepting His own death as the Will of the Father for through this death HE will be able to express that He is God and death can’t define His existence as it can define ours. And maybe, just maybe, this is his central message… That in order to be totally adherent to Him, we have to completely abandon our creature nature time space point of views and adopt an eternal look at things which require ultimately that we disregard our time space protagonism as conscious beings and become something totally absurd, an eternal life procurer that commenced and certainly will end, that follows Jesus at any cost even if that cost, as present circumstances reflect in many places at this time, can mean certain death just for saying that we are followers of Jesus.

    And that , my friends… IS NOT EASY…! But maybe, just maybe, that is precisely what he meant when He said that by adhering to His name we will face prosecutions, danger and sometimes… even death. His guarantee is that death will not prevail upon us because in the end, HE is the Master of Life and Death, in fact HE is Life and Death…

  16. Shara H.

    Dr, Eli, this was a wonderful study as I have heard much research on this subject recently. I am also thankful that you have the courage to debate subjects such as the trinity and the One God understanding of the scriptures without fear of the more traditional beliefs that are not biblical, nor originate from a biblical source. Jesus referred to God as My God and your God. Truly Jesus is the promised seed and the Son of God, the risen Christ! God Bless you in your work! In His Love, Shara

  17. ND Motsoane

    I am, however, little confused as to how one can be both equal and subordinate to another at the same time. Does “equal” and “subordinate” mean the same thing in this case? Does Yehshua, the Son have authority to send the Yahweh, Father around?

    To me, Yehshua always presented Himself and acted as subordinate to His Father, Yahweh. In other words, He acted within the mandate (commandments) given by the Father and would do nothing outside the scope. In John 15, He stated the fact that He obeyed the Father and thus abided in His love (favour), and commanded the disciples to, in turn, obey His commandments in order to abide His love.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear ND, I am committed NOT to seek to convince anyone including you. You asked me how I understand this. I answered honestly. The fact that Jesus can not send the Father, but the Father can send Jesus is just that – subordination. I believe in it wholeheartedly. But I also believe that there are some statements of Jesus especially in this Gospel that you have not wrestled with sufficiently (If you serious enough, read this through

      So you only have subordination, but no equality of power and glory. OK. Once again in this forum we DO NOT ENGAGE in the most divisive debates that regularly and commonly take place elsewhere. For example our group does not have a creed. We are people of all kinds of theological views. Really… all kinds. We do accept people who do not share our opinions (like you :-)) without problems. We in fact prefer clarity, to agreement. I trust that you will find our group therefore a stimulating and somewhat uncommon environment not to convince, but to explore. Once again welcome and let us continue thinking together. Dr. Eli

      1. ND Motsoane

        I am surprised, and disappointed at the same time, in the way you seem to react to my questions. I did not realise that asking questions or sharing views amounted to being divisive. I am really beginning to sense impatience/intolerance for difference of opinion.
        It seems to me that you only entertain those that simply agree with your particular point of view. I was under the impression that your intention was to assist people like me that have not wrestled sufficiently with scriptural matters like your group seems to have.

        I considered my questions innocent and straight forward, and the intetion was purely to engage the issues at hand and to obtain help from others that might know better than myself.

        I have no agenda to discredit (and indeed, I have no authority to do so) any group or creed but if that is what your groups feels, then I rest my case and would like to offer my unconditional apologies.

        Kind regards

        1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

          Perhaps, we misunderstood each other. I am willing to say that it was my fault. I was saying that this is not a forum where people debate issues like Trinity for example or in this case Jesus’ full divinity (its rejection or acceptance). (Incidentally I did not perceive your comments as having the agenda to discredit.) If I came across this way I also apologize to you. Blessings and much peace, Dr. Eli

        2. Rafael

          To ND:
          If a group of people come together to buy a business, but cannot decide on a leader, they will accomplish little more than constant disagreement. But if they decide on a leader, even though they are all equals, they will accomplish much. This is only a crude analogy. But it gives you the idea. If I’m chosen as leader, then I tell others what to do. If another is chosen to be leader, then he tells me what to do. And if I respect him, I follow his orders. In the realm of hierarchy, the one in charge is greater. But I’m still his equal, because each of us is an equal owner. It’s a crude analogy for sure. But it pretty well fits. In fact, the business will run smoothest when the role of each person is well defined ahead of time, and each one sticks to his defined role.

          1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

            All analogies that seek to explain this very complex relationship are imperfect, but this one seems very helpful.

  18. ND Motsoane

    In your article about the Resurrection of Lazarus, Jews and Jewish Tradition”” (John 11:1-44), you mentioned that, it was not as if Yehshua, the Messiah could not raise Lazaraus without the help/permission of the Father. Will you kindly expatiate on this one?

    My understanding is that, even Yehshua Himself said, without the Father, He could do nothing and in some parts of the Bible, He indicated that there are certain things He had no prior knowledge off (eg the day/hour of the day of judgement but) but only the Father knew. To me, this means, both the ability/power and authority to do things comes from a source higher than Himself. Before raising Lazarus, He lifted His eyes to the Father to give ackowledgement/show gratitude for the fact that the Father heard His request. There are a number of other instances where Yehshua prayed to the Father to give thanks or ask for things.
    Even with His resurruction after 3 days and 3 nights, Yahweh, the Father raised Him from the dead. Yehshua, in fact declared that all authority in heaven and on earth was given by the Father to Him. So, the person granting authority/permission could not be of lower or equal rank to the one being delegated.

    I view both as beings that co-exist separately [each with a distinct personal name(s)], carrying the same title (“God”) and the Son (being subordinate to the Father) through whom the Father does things. Yehshua is the “gate way” for all humanity to the Father, Yahweh, hence we must believe in Him (ie that He is the Son of Yahweh; died and was raised by the Father from the dead; and that He is the way, the truth, and life, and than none come to the Father except by Him).
    In the end, Yehshua will hand over the reigns to the Father, so that all (including Yehshua) can be under authority, viz. that of the Father (1Cor 15:28).

    Please kindly enlighten me if I am missing something in this respect.

    Kind regards

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear ND, thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts. I do not have any difficulty with what you wrote. While in the Gospel of John in particular Jesus is set forth as God’s Logos co-equal to God the Father in Power and Glory, he is also set forth as subordinate to the Father. The relationship therefore of both equality (in power and glory) and subordination (authority) all at the same time. I hope this helps to clarify my position. This topic is way to big to try to explain why I think so.

    2. Rafael

      Before Yeshua died and rose again, indeed he said he did not know the time of his return. But it has been observed that he never said that after his resurrection.

      Also, do not overlook that Yeshua said “I” will raise this temple in three days. He also said that he had the authority to lay down his life and to pick it up again. He also said that the Father would do it.

      Yeshua always chose to be obedient to the Father. Part of that involved the need for prayer and petition. He even requested that he not have to endure the cross. But he made the request in a peculiar way. He said “if it be possible”. So what about it wasn’t possible. It was certainly possible to avoid it. But the result would have been dire for humanity. So, because the Father did not let the cup pass, it shows that there was no other way to save us. And this is what proves that there is only one way to God.

  19. James Ericksen

    Thank you Sir;

    In chapter 11 of the writings of John.

    John 11:4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

    What is your interpretation of “This illness does not lead to death”.

    I am a little perplexed at this statement.

    Thank you, James.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I think it is simpler that we realize. Jesus basically said that this incident will not lead to Lazarus death (given resurrection that was expected), but I think you are right the language is less then clear! :-). Dr. Eli

      1. Rafael

        Even though death did occur, the main element of death did not occur, that of “finality”. That was not the end for Lazarus in this life. And it was this that Jesus referenced when he said that it was not unto death. As Dr Eli pointed out, Jesus knew that Lazarus would live again, and that Lazarus would continue to live until later when he would actually die, unto death.

        Do not overlook the fact that Jesus waited only two days? If Jesus had departed immediately, Lazarus would still have been dead two days already before arriving. So why did Jesus wait two days? Did Jesus not know? Of course he knew. Did he know that by delaying two days he would arrive on the fourth day of Lazarus’ death? Of choose he knew. So why did Jesus delay two days? It was precisely to show that nothing is too hard for the Father, and that Jesus was sent by him. Lazarus was four-days dead, impossibly dead according to tradition. But prophecy predicted that Messiah would raise the dead. How much deader does he need to prove? When Jesus died, many who had already died walked again, not just a few.

        1. Anderew

          Amen( which i recently discovered means I believe)

  20. RamonAntonio

    First, the line of reasoning derives from the comment by Mr Thornber tying the use of the Gospels as part of preaching the Gospels which is the exact order Jesus commanded to the apostles and disciples when ascending to heaven in front of them: Go preach the good news of the Kingdom of God… That is what is called as the “Sending…” by Jesus to all Christians. In Latin the word was Missio which evolved to Mass. That is precisely why I reflected that what Catholics call Mass is in fact the Celebration of the Eucharist and the Mass properly would be the final “sending’ to preach the Gospel, i.e. the Missio. The final call in Mass presently says “This Mass has finished. Go in peace…” but it was originally “This Celebration has finished. Go Now and Preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God…, in fact “Go to your Missio as ordered by Jesus…” which would correspond to the Missio. So actually I think we Catholics are reversing the order in our actual Liturgy, the Mass was commanded by Jesus to be realized “outside the Temple” to all people in the world. In the Temple we really celebrate the Eucharist Celebration, not the Mass.

    Second, I do not say that there was a body of liturgy as such in apostolic times. What I propose is that the practice of preaching by the apostles (following the order by Jesus Himself) using the same parts of the Gospel stories that prevailed in the oral and written record as key elements of their preaching, a practice which was sustained by the Fathers and their successors in their use of written homilies with ample references to most of the same Gospel stories, evolved into what eventually we received as the written Gospels and what became then the Liturgy of the Christian Faith which in time became the Catholic Liturgy.

    What I propose, based in Mr Thornber argument, is that the practice of preaching and using Gospel stories as part of a nascent Liturgy evolved in two lines: one the written Gospels that we received and two, the Liturgy of the Catholic Church. This in fact, may also help explain why the Catholic Church relies in Three distinct lines of authority: The Gospels and the Bible envisioned as a continuum of the Revelation of God within the Pact of Abraham, The Tradition of the Church which is the establishment and preservation of the faith according to the Apostles including Paul and the following Fathers and The Magisterium, which is the “management” of the Faith by the Church itself as authorized by Jesus to Peter which is contained in the Councils and the Pope’s authority as descendant of the seat “Cathedra” of Peter based on the “tend my sheep” order by Jesus to Peter.

    Third and finally, oral tradition evolution, which I have studied a little for I think is critical, if was practised freely of a liturgical tradition, most probably would have resulted in a more diverse written tradition for, contrary to popular belief, oral traditions in religions are by definition more rich and inclusive than written traditions. Canonicity is a phenomenon that only exists in written records. For example, when in the midst of the first part of the 20th century, the 3,000 years old oral traditions from India were written by Englishmen from the memory of certain independent sages, they were exact copies by different persons and wildly ample in the tradition. No written record existed prior to that translation from oral to written until later written records were discovered in excavations of temples and these written codes were in fact parts of the memory record of the sages. The oral traditions were more complete than the Temple codes but they were almost the same in the parts corresponding. So the hyphotesis of a simple oral tradition would or should have rendered a more diverse Gospels. In fact, if we take a look to the apocryphal Gospels, they would suffice to sustain my argument for they are more ample and even some of them are inside the Catholic Liturgy but not in the accepted Gospels, specially the Infant narratives.

    The small parts of the life of Jesus that were kept in the Gospels, as noted by John’s remark, were preserved for and with a purpose in mind. For me, the best shot at this intention is the comment by Mr Thornber that they were part of preaching and I add that were in fact part of a nascent liturgy that took centuries and Councils to be established.

    NOTE: (I expose these thoughts, which reflect my personal Catholic understanding, with utmost respect to all participants and occasional viewers in this forum who represent diverse views from which I constantly learn and receive valued wisdom and please do not feel any intention from me to proselytize in any argument I expose). Thanks for the interest and remember this is solely a hypothesis).

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Cool. Anyone else would like to join in this fascinating conversation?

  21. James Ericksen

    In the death of lazarus, does the Hebrew scriptures in Ecclesiastes 12: 5 – 7, apply to your interpretation of death?

    Just curios.

    Thanks, James,

    I really enjoy your studies.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thanks, James. I think Eccl.12:5-7 describes the general human experience at the time of death. So of course it applies. I am feeling that perhaps there is more to your question :-). Is there? Yours, Dr. Eli

  22. RamonAntonio

    I wrote my comment from the point of view of a practizing Catholic which is to say I may have presumed that readers directly understand the diferent role liturgy plays from Scripture. I don’t know if its the same in other religions.

    In Catholic practice, liturgy is an aggregation of prayers, nost of them from Scripture but also from Tradition and the Apostolic Fathers writings intermixed with practices of decotion and sacramental actions derived from the Apostolic teaching. (This is an incomplete summary, check erudite sources). So, for example, Catholic Mass includes ceremonials, the entrance remembering the Ehmaus trip, prayers of salutation, worshipping, reading of Scripture, preaching through homily (the reason why lay people are prevented from preaching in Mass) (something I think must change), the consecration of species, prayers, communion and final blessing and sending to preach the Gospel (which has been distorted as an ending when in fact it is the real beginning of the Mass).

    My comment then is as follows, I think Mr Thornber suggests that this tradition of liturgy commenced in the apostolic era via the use of the Gospels as liturgy, THUS A SELECTION OF SIGNIFICANT EVENTS AND NOT A FULL RENDERING OF WHAT WAS WRITTEN, and this selection became the standard of the writing of the Gospels thus becoming the present rendition of the Gospels we now have. This is a radical new interpretation of Gospel development in terms of Catholic practice and this why I am so intrigued. IT ACTUALLY MAKES A LOT OF SENSE TO ME.

    If this hyphotesis is correct, then fuller texts must have existed but were abandoned by the strong core of apostolic descendants who defined wat was to be used as part of Liturgy in the nascent Church of Jesus. This then was probably mirrored by the Jewish tradition which then responded by building its own core of beliefs in the Mishna and the Talmud, them a defining core of Jewish practice. This model suits the parallel surging of Church Liturgy and diferentiation from Jewish origins.

    Food for study.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I can see how hypothetically that would be possible of course. Nothing that you mentioned seems to through up a red flag. BUT… what is the reasoning behind this hypothesis? What leads to us to even have to say that there was such body of liturgy before there were Gospels? (the is first question) and Why do we need this hypathsis if another one much simpler one can be put forth that the Gospels were simply told as stories and therefore were part of oral tradition. Dr. Eli

    2. Rafael

      To Ramon:

      If I’m not mistaken, the Talmud began long before christianity. It was a work that was several hundred years in the making, and was finished not long after the start of christianity.

      Also, if I’m not mistaken, the catholics derived their liturgical practice from the preceding messianic Jews, who themselves derived theirs from Jewish liturgy. The Hebrew scriptures themselves were given by God with a tune built into them. God told Moses to teach the “song” of the Torah to the nation of Israel. When Paul (and others) were in prison singing hymns and praises, much of what they sang were the very scriptures themselves. This is speculation, but not blindly so. What other hymns and praises could they have been singing that we know about?

      Catholics who go to a Jewish service are often surprised at the similarities. But do not make the mistake of thinking that the Jews are the ones who copied others. It was the other way around.

  23. RamonAntonio

    I totally agree With your comments Dr. eli. This is precisely why I like Mr. Thornber insightful comment on why we read the Gospels now as they have been written. Because they were primarily part of a “liturgical” type preaching, the actual historical facts were receded in favor of sustantive summaries that preserved the “important” aspects from the point of view of the leaders of the early Church. If this is what Mr Thornber suggests, then it is one of the most striking propositions I have heard in decades of study and something that invites profound study.

    From this point of view, the abscence of data we expect in the Gospels actually makes sense. They were not preserved as data references but as liturgical steering readings to further the acceptance of Jesus as God. Tha’s where the crucial comment in John’s closing states that much else happened that would not fit in all the books of the world and ONLY THESE HAVE BEEN RECORDED IN ORDER FOR US TO PRAISE JESUS THE LORD…

    In that time, John may have been refering to a library such as the essenne library and then we could see that all the books in the world could be construed as the magnificient three volume biography of Churchill by William Manchester more than 3,000 pages of actual English long. Thus, a longer version of the life of Jesus may have been written with sufficient detail. Libraries of versions of documenta existed. But Jesus life was not written such as those. why? Mr Thornber remarkably suggests that it was the result of PURPOSE… And the purpose was to focus Jesus life on its meaning, the meaning that has withstood milennia, the meaning of Salvation from God by God Himself in Jesus Christ.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Ok, for the uninitiated among us :-). Does not the liturgy imply that it would be written down? If so where, do we really have anything liturgical going back before the Gospels? If so what precisely?

  24. James Ericksen


    Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg in your studies have you came across these words from the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 12: 6before the silver cord is snapped,i
    and the gold bowl is broken,j
    and the jar is shattered at the spring,
    and the wheel is broken into the well;
    7and the dust returns to the earth as it once was,
    and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

    I interpreted this as death as the scriptures say.

    If this is so, how would you discern the death of Lazareth?

    Thank you, James.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear James, I did not understand your question. I am afraid. Please, rephrase. Dr. Eli

  25. RamonAntonio

    This is a fascinating discusion, indeed most of its fascination deriving by the careful exposition that Dr. Eli has made in his analysis. For me there are two critical details in his account: 1) the careful “staging” of the resurrection by Jesus himself and, 2) the centrality of the fourth day in the belief of the Jews. I have to confess that I had never heard of this belief and have been most impressed by Dr. Eli documentation of it. This leads me to my personal appreciation of the centrality of this miracle which maybe only second to Jesus own Ressurrection, both being unheard of events in antiquity because precisely of the timing of Lazarus in the fourth day and the absolute impossibility of anyone believing in someone resurrecting himself after being publicly destroyed and hanged by a Roman procurator.

    By stagging I propose that Jesus ministry was heavily influenced by Greek theater staging and narrative mastery which I presume were derived from Jesus exposition to Sephoris where some presume Joseph and jesus worked in the early years. It must be noted that Jesus was not a carpenter but a tekton, ie. a builder as the various references of construction He makes in His preaching attest. Also, preaching discourse was nascent in judaism as Hillel and Shammai were in the Temple around the time Jesus was born. (I have always supposed that it was with them that he was talking when he was found in the Temple although I have no way pf sustaining this other thatn a careful analisys of the timeline). His use of greek language and terms is also noted, calling hypokrites to the Pharisees which is a direct reference to the theater actor who uses masks and says something but means other thing, so a deceiver. If I am correct, Jesus timing is as precise as Dr. Eli suggests and a crucial part of his purported ressurrection of Lazarus. It was meant to be undoubtable and a key element of his ministry. And timing is a master use of time to which I now go…

    After reading and investigating on the subject of miracles I am of the opinion that most of what we presently call signs or miracles are events that alter not necessarily the laws of nature but the laws of time-space. That is, what we experience and by testimony of someone or ourselves call miracle, is something that could occur naturally in a given time or a reversion of something that already occurred. If we make a list of miracles we can verify that most, if not all, are occurrences that may happen. The exceptions to this appreciation are important such as turning water into wine or giving sight to someone who has no eyes but these radical signs are to be studied in detail.

    In the case of the resurrection of Lazarus, the fourth day was a critical element for the resurrection to be undisputable and what Jesus did was to demonstrate that He had power over time and matter in the form of giving life to a decaying corpse and turning that corpse in the person that was before dying. Only God can do this sort of thing. Jesus miracle REVERSED the natural, proven and attested effect of time to a point in the past which in effect restored the previous life of Lazarus to the present and in fact restored life to something unliving. Jesus was indeed demonstrating that He had authority over life and death and that only God could have. So he was not healing Lazarus as everyone expected He could but restored life to a dead being and returned that dead human being to life as he was before dying. This was not a golem. This was Lazarus and this is why Jesus called Lazarus to come out of the cave.

    After this event only one thing remained, returning Himself from the dead and proving that it was Him. And for this to be indisputable, Thomas doubts were central to the testimony, that is, someone from the inner circle that attested that what the others were saying was imposible and false was convinced and accepted publicly that he was in front of the Risen Jesus.

    I like a lot Mr Thornber comments which reflect that these events were so crucial that they were preserved in an orderly fashion as part of a nascent “liturgy” which was the base of our present narratives we so enjoy studying under Dr. Eli’s guidance.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Ramon, thank you for your kind words about my studies. About Jesus staging this moves: I think this is rather clear when it comes to sending his disciple to get a young donkey to full fulfill the prophecy as well as the event we considering now “waiting until the 4th day” to resurrect Lazarus (there a many other places). The close proximity of village of Nazareth to the Roman city of Sepphoris (wiki article on it here – where there was a significant theatrical culture present (as such images like hypocrites – the mask changer in the theater plays probably do come from that connection). Jesus spent much time there no doubt as a child. (I can especially relate to this because in my childhood there was a theater near by where I was always drawn to! 🙂 My favorite melody up until now remains of the areas of Carmen!) Now we must always be humble enough to admit that all those things are to some degree speculative because most of historic data is missing and therefore it is not possible to fully reconstruct the accurate picture of happened. We must be satisfied with what we can know for certain and what probably happened given the data we do have.

  26. rajinder nijjhar

    Hi Brethren,

    Is Bethany situated to the West of Jerusalem? We have a similar story in India. Bhagat Kabir Ji left Kanshi to stay with the poor that the Brahmins hated. They were in a colony west of Kanshi so that even their shadows do not be between Brahmin and East.

    I have made a Youtube Video on Lazarus explaining Resurrection.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      No, it is East of Jerusalem, but it does not matter. I think the practice is general and would not be confined to just one people group. It is natural for people to take their sick out of the main population area.

  27. Sindazi

    Thanks, eye opening exposition of scriptures!..has left me feeling there is surely a lot more to the scriptures when we read them in their true time and cultural context…admire your fascinating knowledge of the context here!

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Let us continue our studies together! Dr. Eli



    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Michael, welcome our group I hope you will find the studies and discussions of help. Dr. Eli

  29. elijahworkz

    Eli, can you tell us a bit more about the jewish belief in possible resurrection within 3 days? I think the question was asked already and I was wondering as well.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Let me just say that this belief seems to go all the way back and survive up until today. When Menachem Shneerson (a leader of Habad Lubavitch hassids, whom many believed to be the Messiah) died after being paralyzed for several years (this happened around 20 years ago or so). His disciples interpreted Is.53 as the prophecy about him. They camped out for 3 days near his cemetery in Crown Hights, NY. This is public knowledge. The fourth day they packed their things and left. There are number of references to the three days being the cut off point. I do not have them off hand, but I have seen them before.

      1. Rafael

        Perhaps: ~God will not suffer his holy one to see corruption~?

      2. Sheila

        I’m curious as to whether there is a midrash on these verses perhaps being where the Rabbis got it from:

        Hos 6:1 “Come, let us return to the LORD;
        for he has torn us, but he will heal us;
        he has struck us down, but he will bind us up.
        2 After two days he will revive us;
        on the third day he will raise us up,
        that we may live before him.

        It’s also interesting that a verse in the Revelation goes like this:

        Rev 11:11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

        They were dead for an extra half a day which puts their resurrection as occurring on the fourth day.

  30. Keziah Gyang

    Thank you sir

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      You are welcome Keziah. Glad you are part of our study group! Blessings, Dr. Eli

  31. Peter Michael Thornber

    Thank you, Dr. Eli, it just seems obvious to me, solves, maybe, all the niggles re periscopes, form-crit, source-crit or maybe make us lift our gaze and widen our view from such narrow focus. I’m thinking of the Church as, sorrowing, it has to separate, pro tem, from the Synagogue and let the Holy Ghost unfold its heritage, its habits and way of life.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      well put. Dr. Eli

  32. LaVaeda G. Coulter

    This was so fascinating! Thank you so much for such spiritual and intellectual insight. One question I have is that I do not have understanding of a term that you use and ask that you explain it. I’ve tried to look it up in the dictionary and the website but to no avail even though I know that I have seen this term before. Could you please explain the meaning of “hoi loudaioi”? Thank you so very much.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Sure :-). Here it is It was my fault! Dr. Eli

    2. Rafael

      I’ve had the same question. I held back asking because I thought that either Dr Eli would eventually link to it, or that someone would eventually ask.

      1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg


  33. Peter Michael Thornber

    ”It is interesting and somewhat surprising that John makes this comment so early. The reason is because the incident of Mary anointing Jesus, is not recorded until next chapter. This means either John wrote his Gospel after the other Gospels, expecting people to be familiar with the story, or more likely that the story had already circulated orally and John assumed that the hearers were familiar with it.”

    More and more I am coming to think that the Gospels as we have them in written form are the record of liturgical lections readings which would be proclaimed and form the core of the preaching.

    This would follow the model of Synagogue reading of the Torah and the Prophets.

    I should very much welcome discussion of my doubtlessly poorly expressed idea – which could be developped, honed and elaborated

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Peter, hi. Perhaps, you can start us off on this. Do you care to unpack this a bit? What is the thesis here? Why do you think so? Dr. Eli

  34. Richard Peters

    Beautiful! Thank you Dr. Eli.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thank you, Richard! I think it is too. I was overcome by this myself when I wrestled with the Holy text. Dr. Eli

  35. Dyfed

    Fascinating article. Have you expanded anywhere about both th Essene diaconal centres and the popular belief in potential resurrection within four days? Thanks.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Check Capper’s thesis about Essene poorhouses (I think it was in Jesus and archeology (Charlesworth (ed)). This is from WIKI:


      The root meaning and origin of the name Bethany has been the subject of much scholarship and debate. William Hepworth Dixon devotes a multi-page footnote to it in his The Holy Land (1866), largely devoted to debunking the meaning “house of dates,” which is attributed to Joseph Barber Lightfoot by way of a series of careless interpretative mistakes. Dixon quotes at length a refutation of Lightfoot’s thesis in the form of a letter by Emanuel Deutsch of the British Museum, who notes that neither the name Bethany, nor any of the roots suggested by Lightfoot, appear anywhere in the Talmud. Deutsch suggests a non-Hebrew root, a word transcribed in Syriac script whose meaning he gives as “House of Misery” or “Poor-house.”[7]

      This theory as to Bethany’s etymology, which was eventually also adopted by Gustav Dalman in 1905, is not without challengers. For example, E. Nestle’s Philologica Sacra (1896) suggests that Bethany is derived from the personal name Anaiah, while others have suggested it is a shortened version of Ananiah, a village of Bethel mentioned in the Book of Nehemiah (11:32). Since Greek can neither reproduce an ‘h’ sound nor the Hebrew harsh ‘ch’ sound (cheth) in the middle of a word, a derivation from the personal name Chananya (“Yah has been gracious”) is also possible. Another suggestion, arising from the presence of nearby Bethphage (“house of unripe figs”), is that its name comes from beit hini, meaning “house of figs”.

      Deutsch’s thesis, however, seems to also be attested to by Jerome. In his version of Eusebius’ Onomasticon, the meaning of Bethany is defined as domus adflictionis or “house of affliction.” Brian J. Capper writes that this is a Latin derivation from the Hebrew beth ‘ani or more likely the Aramaic beth ‘anya, both of which mean “house of the poor” or “house of affliction/poverty,” also semantically speaking “poor-house.” Capper concludes, from historical sources as well as this linguistic evidence, that Bethany may have been the site of an almshouse.[8]

      According to Capper and Deutsch before him, there are also linguistic difficulties that arise when the Anaiah/Ananiah, “house of figs” or “house of dates” theses are compared against the bethania form used in Greek versions of the New Testament. Additionally, the Aramaic beit ‘anya is the form used for Bethany in Christian Palestinian and Syriac versions of the New Testament. Given this, and Jerome’s familiarity with Semitic philology and the immediate region, Capper concludes that the “house of affliction” / “poor-house” meaning as documented by Jerome and in the Syriac New Testament usage is correct, and that this meaning relates to the use of the village as a centre for caring for the sick and aiding the destitute and pilgrims to Jerusalem.[8]

      It may be possible to combine the Ananiah (as a personal name) and “house of the poor” derivations, since the shortening of Ananiah (“Yah has intervened”) to Anya is conceivable though unattested (cf. the common shortening of Yochanan [and perhaps also Chananyah?] to Choni), whence a typical semitic wordplay might arise between Anya as a shortening of the personal name within the name of the village and as Aramaic for “poor”. Such a wordplay may have served the choice of the village as the location for an almshouse.[9]
      Bethany and care of the poor and sick

      Capper and others have concluded that ancient Bethany was the site of an almshouse for the poor and a place of care for the sick. There is a hint of association between Bethany and care for the unwell in the Gospels: Mark tells of Simon the Leper’s house there (Mark 14:3-10); Jesus receives urgent word of Lazarus’ illness from Bethany (John 11:1-12:11).

      According to the Temple Scroll from Qumran, three places for the care of the sick, including one for lepers, are to be located to the east of Jerusalem. The passage also defines a (minimum) radius of three thousand cubits (circa 1,800 yards) around the city within which nothing unclean shall be seen (XLVI:13-18). Since Bethany was, according to John, fifteen stadia (about 1.72 miles) from the holy city,[10] care for the sick there corresponded with the requirements of the Temple Scroll (the stadion being ideally 600 feet (180 m) or 400 cubits[11]). Whereas Bethphage is probably to be identified with At-Tur, located on the peak of the Mount of Olives with a magnificent view of Jerusalem, Bethany lay below to the southeast, out of view of the Temple Mount, which may have made its location suitable as a place for care of the sick, “out of view” of the Temple.

      From this it is possible to deduce that the mention of Simon the Leper at Bethany in Mark’s Gospel suggests that the Essenes, or pious patrons from Jerusalem who held to a closely similar view of ideal arrangements, settled lepers at Bethany. Such influence on the planning of Jerusalem and its environs (and even its Temple) may have been possible especially during the reign of Herod the Great (36-4 B.C.), whose favour towards the Essenes was noted by Josephus (Antiquities 15.10.5 [373-8]).[12]

      Reta Halteman Finger approves Capper’s judgment that only in the context of an almshouse at Bethany, where the poor were received and assisted, could Jesus remark that “The poor you will always have with you” (Mark 14:7; Matthew 26:11) without sounding callous.[13] Ling follows Capper’s thesis concerning the connection between then place-name Bethany and the location there of an almshouse. Capper and Ling note that it is only in Bethany we find mention of the poor on the lips of the disciples, who object that the expensive perfumed oil poured over Jesus there might have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor (Mark 14:5; Matthew 26:8-9; John 12:4-6 [where the objection is made by Judas]); this objection may have been made in embarrassment and may also suggest a special connection between Bethany and care for the poor[14]

      It has also been suggested, based on the names found carved on thousands of ossuaries at the site, that Bethany in the time of Jesus was settled by people from Galilee who had come to live by Jerusalem. This would explain why Jesus and the disciples, as Galileans, would find it convenient to stay here when visiting Jerusalem.[15] As Capper writes,

      Galilean pilgrims avoided potential conflict with Samaritans by travelling south on the eastern side of the Jordan. Bethany was the last station on their route to Jerusalem after crossing the river and taking the road through Jericho up into the highlands. A respectful distance from the city and Temple, and on the pilgrim route, Bethany was a most suitable location for a charitable institution. It is not surprising that an Essene hospice had been established at Bethany to intercept and care for pilgrims at the end of the long and potentially arduous journey from Galilee. The house combined this work with care for the sick and destitute of the Jerusalem area. Thus Bethany received its name because it was the Essene poorhouse par excellence, the poorhouse which alleviated poverty closest to the holy city.[16]

      1. Victoria Clark

        Excellent article!!!

        1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

          Thank you, Victoria. Let us keep on thinking together. Blessings, Dr. Eli

          1. ND Motsoane

            Dear Dr Eli,
            On another topic, are Christians commanded to keep the 7 feasts of the Old Testament? Will you kindly provide me with reading material that explains the prophetic significance of each of these feasts and their fulfillment in the New Testament, if at all?

            Thank you.

          2. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

            I don’t know of a really good reading material on this. There are a lot of things out there from which many good things can be gleaned from. Commanded? Yes, but let me clarify… yes, but only through the lance Christ’s coming, teaching, person and work.

          3. alfredo

            @ND Motsoane: First Fruits of Zion has such material. They publish 6 huge volumes called Torah Club ( The topic you are looking for should be on volume 1 or volume 2. You could ask them for advice.