Is the Bible full of fantastic creatures? Part 7: Zombies

Of all the items in the list below, this one is not only foolishly laughable, but also very offensive to me as a Christian. Zombies are, of course the antithesis of what the Bible teaches about the fullness and beauty of the life to come that’s offered to all in Christ. Before we get into it, let me remind you of the list of fantastic creatures we’ve been reviewing:

“He follows a holy book with a jealous & genocidal god, ghosts, zombies, seers, devils, demons, witches, satyrs, unicorns, talking animals, a man who lived in a fish and a 7 headed dragon.”[1]
(Not listed but also covered already: The Cockatrice)

Are there zombies in the Bible?

A good practice when dealing with questions such as these is to define your terms.  That is certainly necessary in this case. So what kind of “zombie” are we talking about?  My expectation is that the zombie referenced in the above tweet is the typical movie zombie.  And immediately we run into a bit of a difficulty, because there are a number of types of zombies seen in the movies. There are:

– the “undead” zombies
– voodoo magic created zombies
– virus infected zombies
– zombies from different cultures (The Chinese have the Jiang Shi, in Arabia it was the Ghoul, in Scandinavia it’s the fearsome undead Viking known as a Draugr)

These zombies are created by different means, but they have certain things in common[2]:

  • They are not considered human:
    “Every kind of human attribute is gone. They look human, but they’re not who they were.”[3]
    Steven Schlozman, MD
    Author, “The Zombie Autopsies”
  • They have a one track mind: attack (and eat) humans
    “They’re just driven to try to eat human flesh. And they’re never satiated”[4]
    Daniel W. Drezner,
    Author, “Theories of International Politics and Zombies”
  • They are uniquely focused on the destruction of humans – the entire race.
    “All other monsters try to destroy individual humans. Zombies come after the entire human Race.”[5]
    Max Brooks,
    Author, World War Z
  • They generally attack as a mob.
    “It’s really like a plague. Very much like being in swarm of insects. You’re surrounded on all sides, and there is no escape.”[6]
    Jonathan Maberry,
    Author, Rot and Ruin
  • For all these reasons, they’re overall terrifying.
    Since they’re either coming to eat you, or infect you:
    “Zombies are the most frightening monster in history”[7]
    Jonathan Maberry,
    Author, Rot and Ruin

    “The notion that they are coming for you simply because you have a beating heart, is absolutely terrifying.”[8]
    Max Brooks,
    Author, World War Z

So that’s what we’re talking about. I won’t go into their rotting, decaying appearance, I assume we’ve all seen pictures – even if only via Michael Jackson’s Thriller.  Even a casual reading of the Bible reveals there’s nothing like zombies mentioned in any of the books of the Bible. So where does the charge that they’re in the Bible come from? Most likely from a description of one particular set of events surrounding the atoning death of Jesus described in the book of Matthew:

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.

 

52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.
53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.


54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
Matthew 27:50-54

The Power of the Atoning Death of Jesus

What do we mean by the “atoning death of Jesus”?  From the biblical perspective, all people are sinful (Rom 3.23) and therefore cannot enter the presence of a holy God – (Lev 16.2, Hab 1.13) without something to provide a covering – something to take away that person’s sin (Is 6.5-7).  Jesus’ death provides that covering, and makes that atonement (at-one-ment with God as preachers often say) taking away the sins of all who believe in him, and thus allowing people to enter into the presence of God (1 Pe 3.18)

This truth is powerfully depicted at the death of Jesus, when the curtain of the temple which separated the holy place from the most holy place (the most holy place being where God dwelt) which no one could enter except the high priest once a year with an atoning sacrifice (Heb 9.7). That curtain was torn in two at Jesus’ death (Matt 27.51). This signified that the penalty for sin had been paid, and the way to God was now open – for all who placed their faith on the atoning death of Jesus.

Another sign of the power of the atonement and its ability to give life to those who believe, was at the same time Jesus died and made atonement, many dead people were brought back to life (Matt 27.52). A graphic demonstration of the power of the atonement.

What did the raised people look like?

So the people who came back to life at the death of Jesus – what did they look like? At some point we know believers in Jesus will have a glorified body like Jesus (1 John 3.2), similar to what Jesus displayed at the transfiguration (Matt 17.1-3). But I suspect that was not the case for those who were raised at the death of Jesus. I suspect they appeared like others who were raised by Jesus like Lazarus (John 11.43-44) or like Jesus himself in the 40 days after his resurrection. During that time he looked so human, at times people did not recognize him as Jesus until he revealed himself. (Luke 24.13-35, John 21.4)

So that is to say these who were raised to life at the death of Jesus walked, talked, acted and appeared to be regular humans. Not the rotting, half dead, mindless, bloodthirsty, human devouring zombies that we’re all familiar with from movie depictions. You know the saying: if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck, it’s probably a duck. These people, in every way possible, look like regular, living humans. There is no evidence that those raised at the time of Jesus’ death were anything but regular humans – able to coherently and peacefully interact with others. (Matt 27.53). Nor is there evidence they had anything in common with zombies.  Even the zombie experts acknowledge this:

“He [Jesus] is coming back from the dead to bring life. The whole point of Christianity is yes to raise the dead, but also to give eternal life, whereas a zombie is there to chomp on one’s friends, family and neighbors.”[9]
Jonathan Maberry,
Author, Rot and Ruin

How true. Jesus says:

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10.10 

Also note:

“A zombie is a perfect paradigm of what life in hell would be like. Now the point is Christ offers you a way out of hell, he would offer you life as a non-zombie.”[10]

Indeed. Jesus says:

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
John 11.25-26

Then to prove it, he raised Lazarus from the dead. 

Conclusion

Clearly, the people raised at the time of Jesus’ death were raised to regular human life, and had nothing to do with, nor had anything in common with zombies. Such were graphic depictions of the saving and renewing power of the gospel of life through Christ.  Those who say otherwise have “an unhealthy interest in controversies” (1 Tim 6.4) and are either intentionally, or unintentionally assisting the adversary (Satan 1 Pe 5.8 KJV) and his minion in their slander of the faith (Rev 13.6). In so doing, they join Satan  in his wicked accusations. (Rev 12.10)

Duane Caldwell | March 17, 2020 | Printer Friendly Version

Related articles
Is the Bible full of fantastic creatures? Part 1: Jealous God and Unicorns?
Is the Bible full of fantastic creatures? Part 2: Satyrs, devils and demons
Is the Bible full of fantastic creatures? Part 3: Cockatrice

Is the Bible full of fantastic creatures? Part 4: Witches and Ghosts
Is the Bible full of fantastic creatures? Part 5: Seers
Is the Bible full of fantastic creatures? Part 6: Talking animals and Jonah
Is the Bible full of fantastic creatures? Part 7: Zombies


Notes

1. You can view that tweet here
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2. Zombies from the various cultures may not share all of the listed traits, but they certainly share the last trait: they’re overall terrifying
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3. Steven Schlozman, ref. from “Zombies, a Living History”, History Documentary, 2011
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4. Daniel W. Drezner, ref. from “Zombies, a Living History”
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5. Max Brooks,  ref. from “Zombies, a Living History”
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6. Jonathan Maberry, ref from “Zombies, a Living History”
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7. Jonathan Maberry, ref from “Zombies, a Living History”
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8. Max Brooks,  ref. from “Zombies, a Living History”
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9. Jonathan Maberry, ref from “Zombies, a Living History”
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10. ref from “Zombies, a Living History”
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Images

Featured: Zombies at the movie theater Composite by Duane Caldwell
featuring audience watching cinema © Danil Roudenko | Dreamstime.com used by permission

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