See Jarl Fossum, “Understanding Jesus’ Miracles,” BR 10:02.


See Burke O. Long, “The Shunammite Woman,” BR 07:01.



The names Mary, Martha and Lazarus have all been found on first-century ossuaries, in one case together on a tomb near Bethany. See Jack Finegan, The Archeology of the New Testament (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1992), pp. 360–61 (entry 312). Tradition makes Lazarus out to have been the first Bishop of Marseilles, and martyred under Domition (81–96). His feast day is December 17.


Articles and commentaries that specifically examine the Johannine Lazarus narrative include Brendan Byrne, Lazarus: A Contemporary Reading of John 11:1–46 (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991); Gérard Rochais, Les récits de résurrection des morts dans le Nouveau Testament (Cambridge: University Press, 1981); Sandra M. Schneiders, “Death in the Community of Eternal Life: History, Theology, and Spirituality in John 11, ” Interpretation 41 (January, 1987), pp. 44–56; and W. Wilkens, “Die Erweckung des Lazarus,” Theologische Zeitschrift 15 (1959), pp. 22–39.

For thorough literary analyses of the Lazarus narrative, see R.A. Culpepper, Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel: A Study in Literary Design (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1993); and J. Kremer, Lazarus: Die Geschichte einer Auferstehung: Text: Wirkungsgeschichte und Botschaft (Stuttgart: Katholik Bibelwerk, 1985).


This interpretation of John’s purpose is exemplified by James P. Martin, “History and Eschatology in the Lazarus Narrative,” Scottish Journal of Theology 17 (1964), pp. 332–343; it is also the conclusion of Sandra Schneider’s “Death in the Community,” Interpretation 41.1 (January 1987).


These terms are borrowed from Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John, vol.1 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1996–1970) , p.429.


See the discussion in Howard Clark Kee, Medicine, Miracle and Magic in New Testament Times (Cambridge: University Press, 1986), pp. 86–94 especially.


The authenticity of this letter, discovered by Morton Smith, cannot be absolutely verified, and scholars who accept it nevertheless disagree about the dating of the “Secret Gosple of Mark,” its transmission and its role in the Alexandrian church. See the critical edition of the manuscript published by Morton Smith, Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1973); as well as a version for the general public: The Secret Gospel (New York: Harper and Row, 1973). A summary of scholarly opinion regarding the letter by John Dominic Crossan, Four Other Gospels: Shadows on the Contours of Canon (Seabury Press: Minneapolis, 1985), pp. 89–121: and Saul Levin, “The Early History of Christianity, in Light of the ‘Secret Gospel’ of Mark,” Aufstieg und Niedergang des romischen Welt 2.25.6 (1988), pp. 4272–4275.


Trans. Morton Smith, Clement of Alexandria, p. 447. This version of Lazarus’s raising may also explain a somewhat mysterious tradition of the ancient Egyptian church, which identified the sixth day of the sixth week of Lent as the day on which Jesus had baptized his apostle and Saint Mark had baptized his converts in Alexandria. Thomas Talley and other scholars have theorized that this tradition was based on the Secret Gospel’s statement that Jesus initiated Lazarus six days after he raised him. See Talley, “Liturgical Time in the Ancient Church: The State of Research,” Studia Liturgica 14 (1982), pp. 34–51, cited by John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus, p. 330. A longer discussion may be found in Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year (New York: Pueblo Publishing Co., 1986).


See in particular, Marvin Meyer, “The Youth in the ‘Secret Gospel of Mark’” Semeia 49 (1990), pp. 129–153; and Raymond E. Brown, “The Arrest of Jesus, Part Three: Naked Flight of a Young Man,” The Death of the Messiah, vol. 1 (New York: Doubleday, 1994), pp. 294–297. Morton Smith developed a hypothesis, based on the “Secret Gospel,” that Jesus’ nocturnal baptism of Lazarus was an initiation into an esoteric mystery cult that may have included some kind of “physical” (sexual) union: The Secret Gospel, pp. 89–114. A short discussion with many of these citations is given by C. Clifton Black, Mark: Images of an Apostolic Interpreter (Columbia: Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1994), pp. 139–140 and notes.


Two clarifying articles on this subject include: A.H.C. van Eijk, “Resurrection-Language: Its Various Meanings in Early Christian Literature,” Studia Patristica 12 (1975), 271–276; and J.G. Davies, “Factors Leading to the Emergence of Belief in the Resurrection of the Flesh,” Journal of Theological Studies n.s. 23 (1972), pp. 449–455. For a comprehensive survey of the topic with helpful bibliography, see Joanne E. McWilliam Dewart, Death and Resurrection (Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1986); or Jaroslav Pelikan, The Shape of Death: Life, Death and Immortality in the Early Fathers (New York: Abingdon, 1961). A good general summary of second-century teaching may be found in Pheme Perkins, “Resurrection and Second-Century Christianity,” Resurrection (New York: Doubleday, 1984), pp. 331–390.


Against Heresies 5.13.1. For a more general discussion of the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, see 5.7.1–12. Another early defense of the doctrine (perhaps the first full treatise on the subject) was written by Athenagoras, probably around 177 A.D. (On the Resurrection of the Dead).


De resurrectione 53.3 and De carne Christi 12.7


Augustine, Tractate on John 49.20–25; see also Ambrose, Concerning Repentance 2.7.58.


Graydon Snyder, Ante Pacem: Archaeological Evidence of Church Life Before Constantine (Macon: Mercer Univ. Press, 1985), p. 61. Here Snyder cites Eduard Stommel, Beiträge zur Iconographie der konstantinischen Sarkophagplastik (Bonn: Hanstein, 1957), p. 83; and Alfred Stuiber, Refrigerium Interim (Bonn: Hanstein, 1957), pp. 185–186. Other similar analyses include those of Elizabeth Struthers Malbon, The Iconography of the Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus (Princeton: University Press, 1990), p. 77; and Gertrude Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, vol. 1, pp. 181ff.


The fresco from cubiculum O of the Via Latina Catacomb undoubtedly depicts Jesus raising Lazarus. However, the cubiculum C image, with its empty booth, may not be Lazarus. Noting that images of the Exodus and the entry into the Promised Land appear above the empty booth and on the adjacent wall, art historian William Tronzo suggests that the scene in cubiculum C should be identified as Joshua leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. He identifies the empty booth as either the Ark of the Covenant or as the Temple itself, symbolizing Jerusalem. He notes that although the scene was modeled on the image of the raising of Lazarus in cubiculum O, any early Christian viewer would have immediately recognized the empty booth as a variation from the usual depiction of Lazarus’s tomb and would have concluded that this depicted a different scene. (See Tronzo, The Via Latina Catacomb [University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State Univ. Press, 1986], pp. 53–56, 66–67.) Both cubicula show images of Moses leading the Israelites through the Red Sea. Perhaps some conflation of the Lazarus, Moses and Joshua stories is suggested. Early Christian writers understood the stories of Joshua crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land and Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea as related to Christian baptism (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 10:1–5; Tertullian, On Baptism 3, 5, 8.9; Clement of Alexandria, Eclogues of the Prophets 5–6). The Lazarus story, with its themes of rebirth and forgiveness from sin, also might refer to baptism.


See the important recent discussion in Thomas Mathews, The Clash of Gods (Princeton: University Press, 1993), chapter 3, “The Magician,” pp. 54–91.


Mathews, The Clash of Gods, p. 61.


Origen against Celsus 68.1


John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus (Harper: San Francisco, 1991), chapter 13, “Magic and Meal,” p. 305.


Mathews, The Clash of Gods, p. 61.