Lectionary Reflection for the Day of Pentecost

From Ezekiel (BTCB) by Robert W. Jenson, commenting on Ezekiel 37:1-14:

If then there is to be an eschatological resurrection of Israel, how are we to conceive it? Clearly, our passage intends a resurrection of the people as a single reality.

It speaks, however, of graves and their occupants in the plural, and there is a reason for this: at such an end as, for example, →7:1–9 describes, the only Israel available to be raised will be the ensemble of dead Israelites. At the absolute end, the distinction between national resurrection and individual resurrections must be moot.

Therefore we may conclude that this passage indeed envisions something like what later Judaism and Christianity conceive as a “resurrection of the dead.”

Thus a full version of the question the Lord put to Ezekiel would be: When the Lord comes to the end of his ways with his people—to an eschatological assembly at Zion and a universal gift of his own life-giving Spirit—will he raise the diachronic whole of his people into this new life?

It is this question that effectively concludes the dooms and promises given through Ezekiel. Christian faith and theology begin with the conviction that Jesus’s resurrection is God’s own answer (Jenson 1997–99: 1.4–5). The Lord spoke by Ezekiel, and in Christ’s resurrection he has acted on what he said (37:14).

There remains only a subordinate question: Who will be included in the Israel that will rise at the end? Gentile Christians, baptized into the body of Christ, cling to Paul’s image: by incorporation into Christ we have been grafted into Israel herself (Rom. 11:17).

Will there be a resurrection also of those who are neither of the original tree nor grafted-in branches? And if so, a resurrection to what?

Ezekiel’s vision does not reach so far.



©2009 by Robert Jenson. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.