By the term resurrection, most people understand several separate concepts:
- the coming back to life of someone who has obviously died, to live a normal life in this world (re-ensoulment or reanimation: chayyut mei-chadash ha-néfesh)
- the bodily ascension of the pious into heaven (`aliyyat ha-ts’diqim)
- the reunification of body and soul at the end of time for final judgment (t’chiyyah)
In Talmidaism, all three belong to the realm of personal faith; belief or non-belief in any type of resurrection is not a requirement of adherence to the Covenant or faithfulness to YHVH.
Reanimation of the Dead
This type of resurrection belongs to the realm of miracles; it is considered a merciful act of God, who might sometimes use a holy man or woman or a prophet to effect the raising back to life of someone who has obviously died. The best example from Hebrew Scriptures is that of Elisha` with the son of the Shunammite woman (2Kgs 4:17-37). The reanimation of the dead is an act of God, and is not a sign of the divinity of the servant of God who carries it out.
This is not to be confused with resuscitation; this is when someone has stopped breathing and is revived by normal means. In the Hebrew tradition, the soul was said to remain with the body for three days before leaving to go to God. If a body had been dead and cold, with no artificial support, for three days or more, and was then brought back to life, that was considered a resurrection.
Ascension of the Pious
In the Hebrew tradition, someone who is particularly beloved of God, and has shown faithfulness to God and His ways in their lives, might be taken body and soul into heaven. In the Hebrew bible, Elijah is the best example of this (2Kgs 2:11). Enoch was also considered to have been someone who ‘walked with God’ (i.e. followed His ways piously and faithfully), and was taken bodily into heaven (Gen 5:24). Again, in the Israelite tradition, ascension into heaven is not a sign of divinity or sinlessness.
It should also be mentioned at this point that most religions believe in the ascension of holy people body and soul into heaven. Mohammed was supposed to have been taken into heaven, as were the gurus of the Sikhs, Tibetan saints, and even godly heroes in the myths of primitive religions.
Some Talmidis accept the resurrection and ascension of the prophet Yeshua`, others do not. Because no meaning is assigned to Yeshua`’s resurrection, other than that he was a holy man of God, there is no requirement in Talmidaism to believe or not to believe that Yeshua` rose from the dead. Those who do believe he rose from the dead, hold that it was purely a sign that he was blessed by God, and that God chose to reward him for his faithfulness by bringing him back to life and taking him bodily into heaven, just like Elijah and Enoch. Those who choose not to believe in it, put forward as a reason, that the story was invented and used as a sign of his divinity by Gentile Christians, in the tradition of pagan gods who died and resurrected themselves to save their followers from their sins.
The Final Resurrection
The main type of resurrection which is normally referred to when talking about the afterlife is when, at the end of days, all the dead are resurrected whole and healthy from their graves, and reunited with their souls. They are then taken up into heaven. For a fuller treatment of this, see the article on the Afterlife. This is viewed theologically as a separate issue to reanimation of the dead and ascension of the pious.
Some ancient Jewish sects, such as the Pharisees and Essenes, believed in the Final Resurrection at the end of days as an article of faith, as do modern Orthodox Jews; others, such as the Sadducees, did not. Modern Liberal Jews do not believe in the Final Resurrection, and some Reform Jews do not either.
Talmidis accept that the prophet Yeshua` himself probably accepted the idea, however, many Talmidis feel that, because the notion of the Final Resurrection is accompanied by the idea of a second judgment, that it is incompatible with the idea of the entry of human souls into heaven after death. Since anything to do with the afterlife belongs to the realm of personal faith, Talmidaism does not require Followers of the Way to agree with Yeshua` on this belief; after all in the Israelite tradition, whether something happens or doesn’t happen is not dependent on whether someone believes in it or not.
Followers of the Way are generally agreed that the idea of resurrection belongs to the realm of personal faith, and because the original Israelite religion concentrated on how we live this life, we do not waste time arguing or debating it; the work and the mission that God has given to each one of us is too important for that.