St. Gregory Palamas’ Vision of the World (Efthymios Nicolaidis, 2011)

NOTE: The following article is taken from Science and Eastern Orthodoxy: from the Greek fathers to the age of globalizationpp 98-105.

Science & Eastern Orthodoxy

Gregory Palamas, originally trained in the spirit of Byzantine humanism, including Hellenic logic and science, later combated this same humanism with his own tools. He did not object to the deductive syllogism known as the apodictic—on the contrary, he applied it to theology. But whereas with respect to nature he observed that the generalization of our knowledge through experience could lead us to erroneous results, he thought that the apodictic syllogism was infallible with respect to dogma. Dogma cannot admit dialectical thought; it must be clear and stable. How can we reach this certitude? By applying logic and deduction based on the sacred texts that embrace Holy Scriptures and the writings of the church fathers. God presented himself to the world and was materialized, and therefore man can indeed approach God, simultaneously by the mystery employed for spiritual things and by logic employed for material things. It goes without saying that a person who does not have the grace of God (i.e., a humanist) cannot apply apodictic syllogism successfully.1 Palamas was aware that his use of reason and deductive logic required a defense. “Are learning and the science of discourse bad things?” he wondered. “Of course not, since God has given us science and methodology. Therefore it is not they that are wrong, but their wrongful usage by sinners.”’2

Similarly, the created world can be understood and explained only by those who have grace—the Hesychasts. Aristotle, and the other Greek savants, though realizing that nothing is created from nothingness and that nothing will disappear completely, came to the erroneous conclusion that the world was not born and will never die. Therefore, they deduced something incorrect though starting from a correct realization. To arrive at a true image of the world, experience is not sufficient; one needs the illumination that is granted only to those who believe in the mystery of the church and, through it, enter into communion with God.’“3

According to Palamas (and contrary to the letter of scripture). Father, Son, and Holy Spirit created the world together. This world was actually created in six days, and the seventh that followed was longer than the others because it comprised the whole era that began with the last day of Creation and terminated in the crucifixion and death of Christ. The Resurrection marks the start of the eighth day, which we are traversing now and which will endure until the Last Judgment. This judgment will take place on a Sunday, which is the privileged day because the first day of the week is comparable with the first day of Creation. Palamas contributed also to the discussion by Philo, Basil, and others of why Moses should have called the beginning of Creation “day one” and not “first day”—quite simply in order to make a distinction between them.”4

Rejection of Aristotle

An admirer of Basil, Palamas followed the cosmology of the school of Alexandria. Regarding the angels, his ideas were close to those of Philoponus, despite the fact that their conceptions of science were diametrically opposed. Philoponus, as I have already mentioned, was followed enthusiastically by the Byzantine humanists; he considered that the learning of the Hellenic philosophers was valid because they were illuminated by knowledge of the Bible—although similar ideas were truly sacrilegious in the eyes of the Hesychasts. According to Palamas, angels were created before the world, and so they are incorporeal and do not take part in the functioning of nature (as followers of the school of Antioch maintained) but serve for the salvation of humans.”5 Palamas cited Saint Basil’s comment that angels are found amid uncreated light; they can traverse the firmament as light does.

The revelation of uncreated light to the Hesychasts was an opportunity to debate the nature of starlight and especially Saint Basil’s ideas on this subject. We recall that Basil considered that the light that would illuminate the world existed before Creation, and therefore it is uncreated light. The world was isolated from the light by the firmament, and at the command fiat lux it traversed the firmament and lit up the world. This explanation, which was completely revised by Gregory of Nyssa, who gave corporeal characteristics to the light of the world, is truly problematic, because it introduces into nature an uncreated element, and also because it posits that a created element, the firmament, can arrest uncreated light. This is how the leader of the anti-Hesychasts, Akindynos, posed the question: How is it possible that uncreated light is prevented from traversing the firmament, while the angels do traverse it?”6 Although Akindynos was an adversary, Palamas could only concede to the argument that uncreated light is everywhere and no material wall can stop it. However, it cannot be perceived by the senses, except by a few of the happy elect who have made the superhuman effort of prayer and devotion.7 It follows that the light that shines on us is not the uncreated light but rather the light discussed by Gregory of Nyssa.

Theodoros Metochites
Theodoros Metochites

It would be a mistake to see the Hesychast movement (especially its leader Palamas) as hostile to secular learning as such. Palamas was interested in secular knowledge, notably that which described and explained Creation; he proceeded by deductive reasoning based on sense perception. But we have seen that this method was not sufficient for him because it was likely to lead to erroneous conclusions. In order for knowledge based on experience to be valid, it must follow the interpretation of Creation given by the church fathers, especially Basil. But—and this is particular to the Hesychast movement—the world in which we are living is not composed of physical reality alone. According to Palamas, to limit man to perceiving merely the created world would be to condemn him to spiritual misery. A Christian is open to another world that was not created by the imagination of Hellenic philosophers—namely, the uncreated world of spiritual powers. Man may take part in both worlds, created and uncreated, for he is composed of both corporeal matter and an incorporeal soul. God, creator of corporeal and incorporeal worlds, is inaccessible to man in essence but accessible through his actions. This participation in two worlds is the very essence of the Hesychast movement and explains the fact that, despite its followers finding themselves at loggerheads with the humanists, they tolerated secular learning and sometimes even considered someone who possessed it as privileged. The fervent Hesychast Philotheos Kokkinos cited the great humanist scholar Metochites, who was supposed to have said of his pupil Palamas on the occasion of a discussion of Aristotle’s logic in the presence of the emperor: “And I believe that if Aristotle were present, he would have made an elegy as good as mine. I maintain that this is how the nature and soul of those who avoid chatter should be, just as Aristotle thought and wrote at length.”8

What matters most to Palamas is precisely to show that the ancient philosophers, despite the fact that they described the physical reality of the world, were not able to do so completely and exactly, for they could not accede to the true wisdom that is offered only through the methods of Hesychasm. More than being simply ignorant compared to Christians, Plato, Socrates, Plotinus, Proclus, and Porphyrus were under the influence of the devil. Socrates, although judged to excel in wisdom, was possessed his whole life by a demon who had convinced him. For this reason, he taught things contrary to true wisdom, as with his cosmology or, still worse, his ideas on the soul of the world, at least as presented by his pupil Plato in Timaeus.9 As for Plotinus, according to legend a dragon appeared from under his body at the moment of his death, and so Palamas concluded that hidden behind Plotinus’s wise teaching was the Father of Falsehood, the devil.10 The myth that Proclus had a vision of Light gives Palamas the opportunity to argue that it was the work of the demon—the same one that left his head after his death.11 It is notable that nowhere does Palamas imply that Aristotle was possessed by the demon.

The Wise Plato painted in 1858 by Nikephoros in Vatopaidi Monastery

This false wisdom of the ancients is overcome by the spiritual wisdom of Orthodox believers. It is by no means necessary for someone to rise to saintliness for him to be compared to the Hellenic sages: “Not only is the fact of truly knowing God (to the extent permitted us) incomparably superior to the wisdom of the Hellenes, but also knowledge of the place occupied by mankind near to God surpasses all their wisdom.”12 According to Palamas, God has shown us that profane learning is false. But how can any learning conceived by the human mind, a creature of God, be a sin? Ah well, quite simply because this mind is moving away from its real purpose, which is knowledge of God.13

As a result of his education by Metochites, Palamas was adept at Greek cosmology, thanks to which he adopted arguments from Basil’s Hexaemeron. But in certain cases he departed from Basil, developing his own (often contradictory) ideas. Coming to the question (that had been debated since antiquity) of the place of the world and its possible movement, he explained that there is no reason to believe that a space outside heaven cannot exist. On this point, he came into contradiction with Basil, who thought that space was created simultaneously with time and matter, and therefore it involves Creation alone, outside of which nothing exists. Palamas explained that God fills everything and extends to infinity, and within this infinity the world was created. Because nothing prevented the creation of space within the created world, then nothing prevents the creation of space outside of it. So then, why could this world not move, why is it constrained to turn in place around itself? There, Palamas gave two contradictory explanations in the same paragraph. He explained first that “the body of heaven does not extend higher because this higher [the breadth of heaven] is lighter than it; this is why it [heaven’s breadth] is above the sphere of ether, by its nature,” and then just afterward he asserted that “heaven does not advance upward, not because there is no space above it, but because nobody is lighter than it.” Finally, he ended by asserting that there is nothing above heaven, not because no space exists there, but because heaven includes all bodies and there can be no body outside it.14

But since there is no obstacle, why does heaven not ascend but instead moves cyclically? Well, this heavenly body is much lighter than all the others, hence it is located at the surface of other bodies. At the same time, it is more mobile than the other bodies, and since it has a tendency to move but cannot by its nature separate itself from the bodies above which it is located, it moves constantly around them; and this is not because it has a soul, but because of its material nature. Palamas gives the example of winds that move without rising upward, not because there is no space above them but because what is above is lighter. In all these explanations, we perceive the vague influence of Hellenic culture that incorporates Aristotelian ideas of the natural place of heavy and light bodies but, at the same time, cannot conceive of any notion of symmetry and insists on seeing infinite space as having an “above” and a “below.”

If Palamas had been forced to choose among the Hellenic philosophers the one who was closest to the truth, he would no doubt have chosen Aristotle. Our opponent of Greek philosophers cited his ideas countless times as reflecting the reality of Creation. Against the Platonic idea of the soul of the universe, he cited Aristotle in arguing that the soul is the vital force of an organic body that has power in living. For a body to include organs, it has to be composite, and heaven is a simple element.15 The world according to Palamas (explicitly citing Aristotle) is made up of five elements in equal quantities. But the space occupied by these elements is in inverse proportion to their density. This is why water is more extensive than the earth, the air is more extensive than water, and so on for fire and ether. He asserted that the Hellenes neglected this fact, and consequently they overlooked that nine-tenths of the earth is covered by water. But if the spheres of the elements were concentric, then the whole earth would be covered by water. Therefore, the aqueous sphere is excentric, and Palamas proposed to find its center: manifestly it is not above out heads, for we see that the surface of the water is below us. Consequently, it is below the center of the earth. So it is a matter of determining the size of the spheres of the earth and of water (referring to the element earth, which here is confused with the planet Earth). Knowing that the surface of the sphere of the earth is one-tenth the size of water s, Palamas calculated the size of the radius of each sphere. By these geometric demonstrations, he said, a sphere that has double the diameter of the other has a surface eight times greater, which is valid, in effect, since the surface is proportional to the cube of the radius. From this, Palamas deduced that the sphere of water has a diameter double that of the earth. As in all his demonstrations, the scholar-theologian remained approximate; he was content with this solution—although he had previously asserted that the surface of the earth is more or less a tenth that of water.

Gregory Palamas

By developing this theory of earth-water proportionality, Palamas constructed a very interesting world system, which he even illustrated with a drawing.16 Since the sphere of water is almost adjacent to the earths, the latter is inscribed in the aqueous sphere whose center corresponds to the point opposite the adjacent point. As in his argument for the worlds movement of translation, here, too, there is an above and a below, with the lower point of the earthly sphere corresponding to the center of the world, while, on the upper part, the sphere of water is conjoined to a tenth of the sphere of earth, because the inhabitable part of the earth corresponds to a tenth of its circumference. Moreover, because the great part of the earth is included in the sphere of water, it becomes evident why there are so many subterranean waters. Because only the upper part of the earthly sphere is free of water, it follows that the antipodes cannot be inhabited. According to Palamas, on this point the Hellenes were also mistaken: there is only one oikoumene, and it is ours; consequently, there is only a single race of humankind.

Although Palamas firmly condemned Plato, he oscillated between this philosopher and Aristotle, and he was even on occasion labeled by Barlaam as Platoniz- ing. In general, we may detect the influence of Plato on his theory of knowledge and that of Aristotle on his physics. Approaching Plato, Palamas explained that man perceives the world though the senses. But he said that what is perceived is not the objects themselves but their copies, which exist independently of reality, for we can represent these imaginary objects at any moment.17 Approaching Aristotle, he posited a world of five elements, of which the fundamental bodies (heaven, fire, air, earth, and water) are pure.

Palamas came back several times to the power of observation and logic to understand the world: “It is by the intellect that we collect with our senses and our imagination not only what relates to the Moon, but also to the Sun and its eclipses, and the parallaxes of other planets in heaven and their measurements, as well as the constellations, and in general everything that we know of heaven and all the causes of nature, all the methods and the arts.”18 But where does our knowledge of God come from? And of the world itself? It is by the teaching of the Spirit, from which we have learned things about Creation that are inaccessible to the intellect via experience. By the teaching of Moses, hence by the Spirit, we have learned that in the beginning there were heaven and earth. This earth was mixed with water, and these two elements produced air. Heaven was filled with lights and with fires. Contrary to those who claim that matter preexisted Creation, God created the receptacle that carried the potential for all the beings of this Creation.

This insistence on a point that had been resolved long before, the non-pre- existence of matter, shows how the Hesychasts were manifestly worried that the humanists might (out of their love for the Hellenes) defend materialist positions.

This was not in fact the intention of humanists, for in the history of Byzantine science such a position had never been held. The leitmotif of true knowledge recurs: what matters is not secular learning—which is useful, by the way— but instead union with God. The learned theologian wondered “What Euclid, what Marinus, what Ptolemy could have conceived of that? What Empedocles, Socrates, Aristotle, or Plato could have conceived of that with their logical methods and mathematical demonstrations?”19

According to Palamas, Plato’s motto, “Let no-one ignorant of Geometry enter,” ignored the fact that the true mathematician cannot separate the limit from what is limited and hence cannot gain knowledge of Creation. “The [anti-Hesychasts] cannot understand that God is simultaneously uncomprehended and comprehensible: uncomprehended in essence, but comprehensible by his creatures through His divine actions.”20

The Orthodox Church officially awarded the victory to Palamas and supported the Hesychast movement against Barlaam and the humanists by a decision of the synod in 1341. Barlaam saw his anti-Hesychast ideas condemned by the synod, and he returned to Italy. Nikephoros Gregoras (see chapter 6) succeeded him as head of the anti-Hesychast party and found himself in opposition to the head of the Hesychasts, Gregory Palamas; he would even be imprisoned after the ultimate victory of Palamas. At Gregoras’s death in 1360, his body was exposed to public view as if he were a criminal.

The church also succeeded in getting the emperors to choose the patriarch of Constantinople from among the followers of the Hesychast party. But more significant than official recognition was this movement’s success in strongly marking not only Byzantine society but also Orthodoxy as a whole. It lay at the spiritual origin of the complicated relations between science and Russian society and also constituted the ideological basis of Slavic mysticism. Its consequences, right down to our day, are far from fully studied, but they have been well signaled by Russian intellectuals since the nineteenth century.21

This powerful movement that traversed the whole society did not, however, put a brake on the development of Byzantine humanism. This humanism embraced all the knowledge of the antiquity, especially philosophy, which notably included the philosophy of nature. Byzantium would increasingly discuss science in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Nevertheless, it did curtail the eventual impulses toward subversive developments in the sciences; the Pletho phenomenon, named after a Byzantine scholar who returned to Hellenic religion, would remain an isolated exception (see chapter 9). It would make null and void any attempt at the union of churches, despite the keen efforts of several emperors. Byzantium would thus be condemned to Ottoman occupation, but the Orthodox Church would keep control over the Christian population of this region—right up until today.


  1. Nicolaos Katsiavrias, “Η κοσμοαντίληψη του Αγίου Γρηγορίου του Παλαμά (1296-1359)” [The perception of the world of Saint Gregory Palamas, 1296-1359] (PhD diss.. University of Athens, 2001), p. 42.
  2. Gregory Palamas, Letter to Philosophers John and Theodore, in Complete Works of Gregory Palamas, 8, ed. P. K. Christou (Thessalonica: Patristic editions Gregory Palamas, 1994), par. 29. For Palamas’s views on science, see also Gregory Palamas, “Science Does Not Save,” in The Triads, ed. John Meyendorff, trans. Nicholas Gendle (New York: Paulist Press, 1983).
  3. Katsiavrias, “Η κοσμοαντίληψη του Αγίου Γρηγορίου του Παλαμά (1296-1359),” pp. 57-58.
  4. , p. 66. Robert E. Sinkewicz (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1988), par. 43.
  5. Gregory Palamas, Αντιρρητικός προς Ακίνδυνον [Contra Akindynos], in Complete Works of Gregory Palamas, 6, ed. P. K. Christou, critical text by Leonidas C. Contos (Thessalonica: Patristic editions Gregory Palamas, 1987), theses ΣΤ, 11.
  6. , ΣΤ, 27.
  7. Philotheos Kokkinos, Λόγος, 560.
  8. Gregory Palamas, Αντιρρητικός προς Ακίνδυνον, Z’ 24 (see Katsiavrias, “H KoopoavTiXqu/q,” p. 216).
  9. , Z , 9, 25.
  10. , Z , 26.
  11. Gregory Palamas, One Hundred and Fifty Chapters, 26.
  12. Katsiavrias, “Η κοσμοαντίληψη,” pp. 221-22.
  13. Gregory Palamas, One Hundred and Fifty Chapters, 5 and 6.
  14. , ch. 3.
  15. , 13.
  16. , 16.
  17. , 20.
  18. , 25.
  19. , 81.
  20. See, for example, John Meyendorff, Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Spirituality, trans. Adele Fiske (New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1974), pp. 143ff.

15 Dead People Who Came Back To Life (1650-2014)

From people waking up at their own funeral to others trapped in a morgue freezer after getting pronounced dead, 15 cases of clinically dead people somehow rising back from the grave:

1 Val Thomas (2008)

1. Val Thomas

  • A woman from West Virginia who suffered multiple heart attacks and didn’t even register brain waves for over 17 hours
  • She had no heartbeat, no pulse and yet after all the cables had been pulled she miraculously woke up and started talking
  • She was then taken to a special clinic and checked, but she was perfectly fine

2 Li Xiufeng (2012)

Woman Climbs Out of Coffin After Being 'Dead' for 6 Days, Liulou Village, Beiliu, Guangxi Province, China - 26 Feb 2012

  • A 95 year old woman found lying dead in her home by a neighbour – they placed her in a coffin with the tradition of waiting days before burial
  • This worked in Li’s favour though, since she climbed out of the coffin not too long after and went about her day cooking dinner as if nothing had happened
  • Unluckily though, they also burned pretty much all her possessions – this, she was not so thrilled about

3 Anne Green (1650)

Woodcut from A Wonder of Wonders (1651) depicting the hanging of Anne Greene.
Woodcut from A Wonder of Wonders (1651) depicting the hanging of Anne Greene.
  • Another story from long ago, 1650, about a woman convicted of murdering her bastard child and hiding the body
  • She was sentenced to death by hanging, and was even held down by a group of people to speed up the choking process, but when they cut her down and prepared to perform an autopsy, she’d somehow managed to survive
  • Her would-be murderers were so impressed that they let her live, and she did so even bearing three more children as years went by

4 Fagilyu Mukhametzyanov (2011)

You Only Love Twice

  • A 49 year old woman from Russia who was mistakenly pronounced dead and, while she was at her own funeral surrounded by sobbing relatives, woke up
  • The shock and horror of waking up at her own funeral caused a heart attack, and once she was taken back to hospital she was declared deceased once again
  • Pretty much a bad day all around

5 MaNdlo (2013)

1. MaNdlo

  • This is the story of a prostitute from Zimbabwe who, while engaging in her select field of trade with a client, she suddenly collapsed on him and died
  • He scarpered out the hotel when the cops arrived, and they sealed her up in a steel coffin, but then the prostitute woke up and shouted, “You want to kill me”
  • A bunch of gawkers were so shocked that they sprinted away as fast as they could run

6 Erica Nigrelli (2013)

1. Erica Nigrelli

  • This is a horrifying story that ends quite happily – Erica was an English teacher from Missouri, pregnant with her child when, one day, she passed out
  • Her husband called 911 and soon she was taken to hospital – but her heart stopped and they had to deliver the baby from her corpse before it too, died
  • After the delivery, her heart began beating again and she was put into a medically-induced coma for five days
  • It turns out all she needed was a pacemaker, so now both her and her daughter are alive to this day

7 Carlos Camejo (2007)

1. Carlos Camejo

  • A man from Venezuela who woke up during his own autopsy – declared dead in a highway accident in 2007, he was taken away by medical examiners before his wife could even identify the corpse
  • In the midst of his autopsy, when they were cutting into his face, they noted the absurdly high amount of fresh blood falling out, and then Carlos woke up screaming and hollering, with the surgeons falling over themselves to stitch up the wound
  • Carlos later noted “I woke up because the pain was unbearable”

8 Saudi Woman (2009)

1. saudi

  • O It was 2009 when a Caesarean gone wrong happened to a woman in labour, and she died
  • The husband was given the birth-defected baby and a dead certificate for his late wife, and her body was hauled away to the morgue
  • Two hours later though, she awoke in the freezer and started screaming and banging the door until a worker came to rescue her
  • The husband was forced to return her death certificate since, despite his hope, he couldn’t keep it as a souvenir

9 Luz Milagros Veron (2012)

1. Luz Milagros Veron

  • This baby was born three months premature, and quickly sent off to the morgue
  • Luckily though, her parents insisted they be allowed to see her one last time, and it was inside the coffin sealed for 12 hours they heard a faint cry – it was opened and there was baby Luz cold and weak but very much alive
  • Originally the babies name was to be Lucia, but they changed it because her new name means “Miracle Light”  

10 Walter Williams (2014)

1. walter williams

  • A 78 year old man from Mississippi who was accurately described as dead by one of the nurses who looked after him in 2014
  • A coroner was informed, and he too verified that Walter was dead, but just as he was getting shoved in a body bag, it was noticed that Walter seemed to be kicking his legs, so they listened to his chest and noticed a heart beat
  • It was later theorised that his heart had been later jump-started by a defibrillator embedded in his chest

11 A Man from Johannesburg (2011)

1. south africa

  • It was July 2011 when an 80 year old man was hauled into a morgue and placed in one of the freezers
  • Not even 24 hours later, the morgue’s owner, Ayanda Maqolo, heard screaming coming from the fridges – he actually thought it was a ghost come to attack him, so he called police to come and handle it for him
  • The frozen man was thawed and sent to a hospital, making a full recovery – well, as recovered as you can be frozen, left for dead and then rescued by armed police officers

12 Kelvin Santos

1. Kelvin Santos

  • A two year old child that died of pneumonia – but just before his funeral was about to begin, he sat up in the open coffin and asked “Daddy, can I have some water?”
  • Everyone present started screaming and making a fuss, and both parents thought it was a miracle, but then he laid back down and stopped breathing again
  • The family filed for medical malpractice, but they never could revive poor Kelvin

13 Margorie McCall (18th century)

1. Marjorjie McCall

  • An old Irish story that changes details with each retelling, but believed to have been based on 18th century fact
  • It goes that a rich woman called Marjorie died from a fever, and her husband tried to take off her golden wedding ring but her finger was too swollen
  • She was hastily buried in the nearby cemetery, but some grave robbers came to unbury her and take off the ring, which they planned to cut off with her finger
  • Mid-cut, she awoke and screamed, still alive, scaring off the robbers – she then ran back to her husband all creepy, covered in dirt and blood, scaring him so much that he dropped dead on the spot – and he was then buried in her shallow grave

14 Lyudmila Steblitskaya (2012)

download (9)

  • This woman has died several times, and on no less than 2 occasions she was moments from getting cut open for the autopsy before she sprung back to life
  • And one time she even spent 3 days lying in a freezing cold morgue before doctors realised she was still alive
  • In fact she was so cold that her skin had begun to peel off, and her family had organised an expensive funeral which went to waste
  • She’s had a history of heart problems and only 2 years ago she ended up dead again, only to be revived hours later

15 Hamdi Hafez al-Nubi

  • A 28-year-old waiter from Egypt who suffered a heart attack while working, and promptly declared dead
  • As his death certificate was being written, the doctor noticed his body was still warm and, after checking his vital signs, realised he’d been clinging to life
  • He was then revived and his mother, who was in early mourning, fainted upon hearing he was still alive
  • The funeral was quickly turned into a celebration at the miraculous resurrection

Dying and Rising Gods (Lee W. Bailey, 2009)

NOTE: The following article is taken from the Encyclopedia of Psychology & Religion:


An ancient text says, as James Frazer worded it, “Heracles on his journey to Libya had been slain by Typhon and brought to life again by Iolaus, who held a quail under his nose: the dead god snuffed at the bird and revived” (Frazer 1922: section 224). This is a short version of the many accounts of gods and semi-gods who were said to have died and been resurrected, well documented in the eastern Mediterranean region. This one is associated with the migration of quails that descend in hordes on Palestine/Israel in spring to breed.

Heracles and his nephew, Iolaus. 1st century BC mosaic from the Anzio Nymphaeum, Rome
Heracles and his nephew, Iolaus. 1st century BC mosaic from the Anzio Nymphaeum, Rome

James Frazer

The classicist James Frazer (Cambridge University), in his 1890–1915 encyclopedic The Golden Bough, collected a mass of reports of ancient authors and nineteenth-century travelers about archaic rituals, myths, and traditions. It is a classic compendium of fascinating material, highlighting the dying and rising god theme, but he organized it according to lax, speculative nineteenth-century standards.

Frazer’s overall thesis was that archaic magic gave way to religion, which has now given way to science. This theme was soon proven wrong when twentieth-century religion continued to flourish alongside science. He also practiced the risky speculation of armchair scholars, by hypothesizing grand organizing themes without adequate study of the details of each culture (he traveled only to Italy and Greece). This conflict between those exploring large universalist themes and those restricting research to culturally unique specifics has continued and is active in the discussion of the “Dying and Rising Gods,” which was the most controversial schema that Frazer proposed.

Lemminkäinen's Mother, an 1897 painting by Akseli Gallen-Kallela: She is shown having just gathered his broken body from the dark river.
Lemminkäinen’s Mother, an 1897 painting by Akseli Gallen-Kallela: She is shown having just gathered his broken body from the dark river.

Frazer reviewed the ancient texts and recent studies of eastern Mediterranean gods and demigods such as Tammuz, Adonis, Dido, Hercules, Melquarth, Attis, Marsyas, Hyacinth, Osiris, Dionysus, Demeter, and Persephone. He interpreted their deaths and resurrections primarily as primitive magic carried over into religions of deities, having the purpose of assuring the fertility of the earth’s reproductive systems. Not understanding the natural processes of growth, he proposed, these ancients believed that they had to magically help fertility happen by imitating the seasonal process, thereby facilitating it. So the death (or descent into the underworld) of a god or goddess was symbolized in part by a ritual of planting seeds, and the resurrection was an image of plants sprouting and animals being born.

"Odin's last words to Baldr" (1908) by W. G. Collingwood.
“Odin’s last words to Baldr” (1908) by W. G. Collingwood.

Many variations developed, including bloody sacrifices, such as the initiates into the cult of Cybele imitating her beloved Attis by castrating themselves and throwing their blood (life fluid) and testicles onto a statue of the goddess, apparently to assure her impregnation and subsequent fertility in the plant and animal world. Attis was said to be born of the virgin Nana, and initiates were said to be baptized with the blood of a bull (the taurobolium) (Frazer 1922, pp. 403–413). Frazer interpreted this all as promoting fertility among hungry people groping with agricultural practices in a world they saw as filled with spirits. The ancient high death rate may have also been in the background. Women were reported to grieve the death of Adonis, plant gardens of Adonis, and celebrate when the seeds sent up shoots (Frazer 1922, pp. 376–403). He notes an Egyptian inscription that shows the dead Osiris lying prostrate, rising up and standing with Isis (Frazer 1922, p. 436; drawings in Mettinger 2001, pp. 171–174). He also argues that in addition to vegetation magic (naturist), some resurrections were intended to be social, assuring the continuation of the life force of the king (euhemerist), and that some myths (e.g., Osiris) were intended to assure eternal life.

Cybele & Attis
Cybele & Attis

Now all this is fascinating, but Frazer has been accused of excessive speculation, especially in the category of the Dying and Rising Gods as symbols of vegetative growth. Several scholars have rejected his broad universalist category and stressed the particular differences among the accounts of the gods, semi-gods, or humans and textual difficulties, although some scholars support the Dying and Rising Gods theme (Mettinger 2001, p. 215; Fig. 1).


Jonathan Z. Smith

The critical particularist reaction by Jonathan Z. Smith (University of Chicago) in 1987 (2005, 2nd ed.), in Eliade’s Encyclopedia of Religion, swept aside this Dying and Rising Gods typology as “largely a misnomer based on imaginative reconstructions and exceeding late or highly ambiguous texts” (Smith 2005, p. 2535). Smith holds the data to strict standards of empirical historical research and finds it lacking. He argues that some of these gods or semi-gods are said to disappear, not die. His typology is that some deities return but have not died and that other gods died but do not return. His thesis is that “There is no unambiguous instance in the history of religions of a dying and rising deity” (Smith 2005, p. 2535).

In one text about the Syrian/ Babylonian/ Greek god/ hero Adonis, for example, in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Adonis is killed by a boar, but does not rise from death [except as the anemone flower – Book 10: line 737]. Apollodorus’ Library (III. xiv. 4) describes Adonis’ alternation between the upperworld and the underworld, but, Smith interprets, this offers no explicit suggestion of death and rebirth (Smith 2005, pp. 2535–2536). Smith (like some Christians) suggests that late post-Christian myths of Dying and Rising Gods were likely influenced by Jesus’ resurrection. Attis, for example, in a late text, is said to be resurrected, but Smith says he is not here a dying and rising deity, nor is he a deity at all, but a human (Smith 2005, p. 2536). Other myths of resurrection, Smith argues, fail to fit his strict category, such as Baal and Marduk. He says that the text so-called Death and Resurrection of Bel-Marduk is most likely an Assyrian political parody (Smith 2005, p. 2537). Osiris, he argues, cannot be said to be risen, “in the sense required by the dying and rising pattern,” since his resurrection after dismemberment sent him to be the Lord of the underworld land of the dead, imparting a new permanent life to the deceased (Smith 2005, p. 2538). Thus, he defines resurrection as literally returning to mortal earthly life, excluding continuation as plants or in an immortal state, and rejects the motif of going to the underworld and returning as symbolic of death and resurrection.

Marduk, the Sumerian AMAR (“calf”) of UTU (the sun), that is, the great Son of God who overcomes death through resurrection.
Marduk, the Sumerian AMAR (“calf”) of UTU (the sun), that is, the great Son of God who overcomes death through resurrection.

Smith is right in pointing our many discontinuities among the supposedly dying and rising gods. The vegetation gods, such as Adonis, differ from the royal kingship gods and the gods of immortality after life, such as Osiris, who combines all three types. Smith’s particular readings are rooted in his empirical hermeneutic and logically astute analyses, inspired by empiricism’s distaste for speculation. But Smith’s readings are selectively speculative and too literalist for such symbolic literature. This contrasts with a symbolic, more phenomenological hermeneutic, which would read important images differently. For example, the underworld is clearly the ancient abode of the dead, and Adonis is relegated by Zeus to spend half his year there with Persephone (goddess of death) and half above ground with Aphrodite (goddess of love) (Apollodorus III, xiv, 4). This seems clearly to symbolize a dying and rising god able to appear on earth, yet partake in immortal forces that overcome ordinary death (athanatoi), thus being able to be resurrected, although perhaps not in a literal earthly body.

Aphrodite and Adonis, ca. 410 BC, Louvre
Aphrodite and Adonis, ca. 410 BC, Louvre

Smith focuses on the male dying and rising gods and minimizes the importance of the goddesses. For example, an Inanna text that clearly states that she is a dying and rising goddess: “My father. . . He gave me descent into the underworld. He gave me ascent from the underworld” (Wolkstein and Kramer 1983, p. 16). Inanna/Ishtar is clearly the dying and rising goddess (c.f. Persephone) in this Sumerian/Akkadian tradition, and seeking evidence primarily among the male figures distracts from the feminine traditions.While she descended into the underworld, life above stopped (“Since Ishtar has gone down to the Land of no Return, The bull springs not upon the cow, the ass impregnates no the jenny. . .” lines 6–7), and when she returned, it began again with resurrection (“May the dead rise and smell the incense” last line, Pritchard 1958, pp. 80–85).

Ishtar holding her symbol, Louvre Museum
Ishtar holding her symbol, Louvre Museum

Smith seems loathe to accept the idea that return from the underworld is a meaningful symbol of rising from the dead. But in ancient myth, the underworld is commonly the abode of the dead, and rising from it commonly symbolizes return to life on earth or the place of immortality. “Rising” from death need not mean an empirical return to normal bodily life but could easily mean a more poetic, mystical passage of the spirit of the ancestors into the upperworld, which was a common theme in ancient Egyptian and many other religions. Smith focuses on Ishtar’s lover Tammuz and, with a reading claiming a mistranslation, says that “in the Akkadian version, Tammuz is dead and remains so” (Smith 2005, p. 2539). Yet the complete reference at the end of the Sumerian and Akkadian texts gives a different picture. When Ishtar returns to the upperworld from the land of the dead, she says:

As for Tammuz, the lover of her youth, Wash him with pure water, anoint him with sweet oil; Clothe him with a red garment, let him play on a flute of lapis, Let courtesans turn [his] mood. . . On the day when Tammuz comes up to me, When with him the lapis flute (and) the carnelian ring come up to me, When with him the wailing men and the wailing women come up to me, May the dead rise and smell the incense (Pritchard 1958, p. 85).

Tammuz (Sumerian Dumuzi)
Tammuz (Sumerian Dumuzi)

On the surface, Ishtar/Innana’s successful battle with Erishkigal, Queen of the Dead, and return to the upperworld with her deceased lover Tammuz/Dumuzi is the symbolic cause of the conquest of death resulting in resurrection. To focus on the death of Tammuz, saying that here he is only being “treated as a corpse,” and to highlight the ritual wailing about his loss is to ignore this clear reference to his subsequent return to life, as in the reawakening the erotic instinct of reproduction. (“Let courtesans turn his mood.”) Smith simply refuses to read numerous symbols of resurrection as meaningful. To privilege an earlier or later text over another version does not necessarily grant it more authority. Nor does it make sense to claim that Dumuzi/Tammuz cannot return to life, without sending a replacement to the land of the dead, refuting the deity’s rising to life for half the year; it simply denies the importance of the “rising” in the life-half of the cycle of the deity’s tradition (Smith 2005, p. 3190).

Smith’s readings of the Dying and Rising Gods texts is a useful re-examination, but finally a one-sided, narrowly speculative, overly rationalistic hermeneutic, curiously suppressing the symbolic and poetic sensibility basic to religions. “Rising” may be read as a poetic expression of some form of overcoming death, not just the literal return to a human body. The return of a god from the land of the dead to a spiritual realm associated with the resurrection of the human dead need not be discarded as irrelevant in contrast to a demand that the definition of a rising god includes returning to an empirical human body on earth. Smith does this with Osiris, who returns from death to become not a human, but the Lord of immortal souls, with the repeated ritual formula clearly indicating resurrection: “Rise up, you have not died” (Smith 2005, p. 2538).

Serapis, a syncretistic god created by the (Greek) Pharaoh Ptolemy to unite Hellenistic and Egyptian religions.
Serapis, a syncretistic god created by the (Greek) Pharaoh Ptolemy to unite Hellenistic and Egyptian religions.

Tryggve Mettinger

A recent study by the Swedish Hebrew Bible scholar Tryggve Mettinger (University of Lund), The Riddle of Resurrection: Dying and Rising Gods in the Middle East (2001), does not accept Smith’s conclusions. In a careful textual and linguistic analysis, he accepts more images showing the validity of a variety of dying and rising gods. He does not want to hypostatize a specific type of deity but stresses the different types of gods with similar patterns (Mettinger, p. 218). He concludes, for example, as pictured in the Egyptian Dendara Temple of Osiris inscriptions, that Osiris “both died and rose . . . he rose to continued life in the Netherworld. . .” (Mettinger 2001, p. 175). In response to the idea that some ancient texts may have been read through a Christian lens as implying resurrection, he reminds us that several gods are said to die and return long before the Christian era: Dumuzi, Baal, Melquarth, Adonis, and Osiris.


The major question whether early Christians borrowed the theme of the dying and rising god in interpreting their experiences of Jesus is obviously the critical issue. Frazer puts the question in his boldly speculative way:

When we reflect how often the Church has skillfully contrived to plant the seeds of the new faith on the old stock of paganism, we may surmise that the Easter celebration of the dead and risen Christ was grafted upon a similar celebration of the dead and risen Adonis. . . (Frazer 1922: section 217).

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Now it is true that Christianity, like many other religions, did borrow many themes from other religions, such as baptism and virgin birth. But many religions commonly borrow themes from earlier faiths. The Hebrew term for “my Lord,” Adonai, is very similar to the name of the ancient Phonecian/ Syrian/ Greek divinity, Adonis, having the same linguistic root. Mettinger says that dying and rising deities were well known in Israel in New Testament times. Adonis was known in the Hebrew Bible to be “beloved by women” (Bible, Daniel 11:37). The earlier resurrection of Melquarth-Heracles was celebrated in Tyre (where Jesus visited – Bible, Mark 7:24–30).

Votive statues from the Temple of Melqart in Cadiz
Votive statues from the Temple of Melqart in Cadiz

But looking at particulars, there are some differences with Jesus. The earlier figures were legendary ancient divinities, whereas Jesus was a living human. For the disciples and Paul, Jesus’ resurrection was a one-time historical event, not an annual, mythic ritual tied to fertility or kingship. And Jesus was more an ethical prophet than the ancient vegetation or royalty deities. There is no evidence of the ancient dying and rising gods suffering to forgive sins, as was said of Jesus. There also is no specific evidence that Jesus’ resurrection account drew on ancient traditions (Mettinger, p. 221). Do such particulars negate the overlapping cross-cultural themes?

Vision of Apostle Paul
Vision of Apostle Paul

Symbolism and Depth Psychology

Psychologically, resurrection is highly symbolic. It incorporates themes needed by many to deal with the terrors of death, as Carl Jung says, describing the [divine] hero who conquers death and brings back the promise of eternal life. Like Osiris, he/she psychologically becomes the “greater personality in every individual (like the Johannine Christ), viz. His teleios anthropos, the complete (or perfect) man, the self” (Jung, CW 18: para. 1567). In Jesus’ time, the ancient gods had lost their power to the superficial, concretized state religion of Rome that divinized the Caesar for political reasons. A similar situation exists today, Jung says. The authority of traditional religions has been weakened by empirical science and power politics, and there is a need for a spiritual counterbalance to awaken the divine self in each person, a force that takes the soul beyond the vicissitudes of the life-death struggles of time and space. The Dying and Rising Gods theme must be read with depth psychology’s poetic eye.

To deny the significance of this theme is to mistakenly restrict religious interpretation to the secular, rationalistic, calculating, logic-chopping hermeneutic. To affirm its poetic, symbolic, psychological significance is to recall the ancient assumption that dynamic infinity transcends worldly existence and can overcome earthly limits. We could also expand the dying and rising theme to embrace the “one deep river, many new springs” image of old religions as containers of transcendence that contain valuable archetypal themes and successful new “spiritualities” that rise with renewing archetypal themes, now blended globally with new relevance for a new era. We are seeing this with the expanding Western embrace of meditative Buddhism, the feminist and goddess movements, and the newly emerging ecological spirituality.


  • (1921). The library (2Vols.) (trans: Frazer, J.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Frazer, J. (1922). The golden bough (Abridged Ed., Vol. 1). New York: Macmillan.
  • Gaster, T. (1959). The new golden bough. New York: Criterion/Mentor.
  • Jung, C. G. (1979). On resurrection. In W. McGuire, et al. (Eds.), The collected works of C.G. Jung (Vol. 18, paragraphs 1560–1574). Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Mettinger, T. (2001). The riddle of resurrection: “Dying and Rising Gods” in the ancient Near East. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.
  • (1955). The Metamorphoses (trans: Humphries, R.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Pritchard, J. (Ed.). (1958). The ancient Near East (Vol. 1). Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Smith, J. Z. (2005). Dying and rising Gods. In L. Jones (Ed.), Encyclopedia of religion (2nd ed., Vol. 5, pp. 2535–2540). New York: Macmillan.
  • The Bible. Revised Standard Version. (1952). New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons.
  • Wolkstein, D., & Kramer, S. (1983). Inanna: Queen of heaven and earth: Her stories and hymns from Sumer. New York: Harper & Row.

Tomb of Lazarus, Bethany

Bethany (Arabic: al-Azariyya) is a Muslim and Christian Arab village (pop. 3,600) on the southeast slopes of the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem. Bethany was the home of the Lazarus, Mary and Martha and the setting for a number of New Testament events.

The Tomb of Lazarus in Bethany has long been venerated by Christians and Muslims alike, and a modern church dedicated to the resurrected saint stands on the site of much older ones. Several Christian churches have existed at the site over the centuries. 

19th century photograph of the tomb said to have belonged to Lazarus
19th century photograph of the tomb said to have belonged to Lazarus


Bethany was the home of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead (John 11:38-44), and his sisters Mary and Martha. Jesus often stayed in their home.

Jesus was anointed at the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany (Mark 14:3) and returned to Bethany after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11:11). According to Luke 24:50, Jesus ascended into heaven near Bethany (commemorated at the Chapel of the Ascension).

The Tomb of Lazarus today (Bethany)
The Tomb of Lazarus today (Bethany)


A village has been here since at least Roman times, and nearby was an Iron Age settlement that is believed to be the biblical Ananiah in the territory of Benjamin (Neh. 11:32) that is called Bethany in the New Testament (Beth Ananiah = Bethany).

There is no record of a church in Bethany in the 4th century, although both Eusebius the historian and the Bordeaux pilgrim (333) mention the tomb of Lazarus in a vault or crypt. Around 490 AD, St. Jerome recorded visiting the Tomb of Lazarus as the guest room of Mary and Martha, which is the Lazarium mentioned by the pilgrim Egeria in her account of the liturgy on Saturday in the seventh week of Lent:

This structure known as the Lazarium was destroyed in an earthquake and was replaced by a larger Church of St. Lazarus in the 6th century. The church was mentioned by Theodosius before 518 and by Arculf around 680, and survived intact until Crusader times.

Inside the Tomb of Lazarus
Inside the Tomb of Lazarus

During the Crusades, King Fulk and Queen Melisande purchased the village of Bethany from the Patriarch of the Holy Sepulchre in 1143 in exchange for land near Hebron. Melisande built a large Benedictine convent dedicated to Mary and Martha, extensively repaired the old church of Lazarus and rededicated it to Mary and Martha. She also built a new west church to St. Lazarus over his tomb; fortified the monastic complex with a tower; and endowed it with the estates of the village of Jericho.

The convent of Sts. Mary and Martha became one of the richest convents in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Melisande’s sister Joveta was elected abbess at the age of 24. Afer the fall of the Crusader kingdom in 1187, the nuns went into exile. The new west church was probably destroyed at this time, with only the tomb and barrel vaulting surviving; the 6th-century church and tower were heavily damaged but remained standing.

The village seems to have been abandoned thereafter, but a visitor in 1347 mentioned Greek monks attending the tomb chapel. By 1384, a mosque had been built on the site. In the 16th century, the Mosque of al-Uzair (Ezra) was built in the Crusader vault, which initially made Christian access to the tomb more difficult. However, the Franciscans were permitted to cut a new entrance on the north side of the tomb and at some point the original entrance from the mosque was blocked (photo, right).

In 1952-55 a modern Franciscan church dedicated to St. Lazarus was built over the Byzantine church of St. Lazarus and Crusader east church of Sts. Mary and Martha. In 1965, a Greek church was built just west of the Tomb of Lazarus.

Lazarus1 Lazarus2



The forecourt of the Franciscan Church of St. Lazarus stands over the west end of the older churches, from which parts of the original mosaic floor are preserved. The west wall of the forecourt contains the west facade of the 6th-century basilica, with three doorways.

The cruciform-plan church stands over the east end of the older churches. Trapdoors in the floor just inside reveal parts of the apse of the 4th-century church (the Lazarium), which was shorter than the 6th-century church. The modern church bears a mosaic on its facade depicting Mary, Martha and Lazarus. The interior is decorated with polished stone and mosaics.

Just up the hill on the left is the 16th-century Mosque of al-Uzair. The courtyard is in the Byzantine church atrium and the mosque is built in the vault that formerly supported the west end of the 12th-century church.

A further 25m up the hill on the left is the modern entrance to theTomb of Lazarus, which is accessed by 24 very uneven stone steps. This probably was a rock-cut tomb, but very little of its original form remains. The rock probably collapsed under the weight of the large Crusader church built above it.

The original blocked entrance can be seen in the east wall of the antechamber; this alignment suggests the tomb predates the Byzantine churches and may well be from the time of Lazarus.


Even further up the hill is a modern Greek Orthodox church that incorporates a wall of the Crusader church built over the tomb. Nearby are substantial ruins that belong to the Orthodox Patriarchate and are traditionally identified as the House of Simon the Leper(where Jesus was anointed) or the House of Lazarus. The remains of a tower belong to the Crusader monastery (c.1144).



The Saturday before Palm Sunday is “Saturday of Lazarus” and on this day it is tradition to make “Lazarakia” (literally meaning “Little Lazaruses”). These are traditional small, sweet and mildly spiced bread, made only once a year. They represent the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Each region of Greece has a variation of how they make them, however most have a similar sweet tasting flavour. They are of course Nistisima (Lenten) meaning they do not contain any dairy or egg products.


Lazarus Syndrome

Lazarus syndrome or autoresuscitation after failed cardiopulmonary resuscitation[1] is the spontaneous return of circulation after failed attempts at resuscitation.[2] Its occurrence has been noted in medical literature at least 38 times since 1982.[3][4] Also called Lazarus phenomenon, it takes its name from Lazarus who, according to the New Testament, was raised from the dead by Jesus.[5]

Occurrences of the syndrome are extremely rare and the causes are not well understood. One theory for the phenomenon is that a chief factor (though not the only one) is the buildup of pressure in the chest as a result of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The relaxation of pressure after resuscitation efforts have ended is thought to allow the heart to expand, triggering the heart’s electrical impulses and restarting the heartbeat.[2] Other possible factors are hyperkalemia or high doses of epinephrine.[5]



  • Daphne Banks overdosed on drugs in Huntingdon, U.K. on 31 December 1996. She was declared dead at Hinchingbrooke Hospital early the next day. She was found snoring at a mortuary 34 hours later.[6]
  • A 27-year-old man in the UK collapsed after overdosing on heroin and cocaine. Paramedics gave him an injection, and he recovered enough to walk to the ambulance. He went into cardiac arrest in transit. After 25 minutes of resuscitation efforts, the patient was verbally declared dead. About a minute after resuscitation ended, a nurse noticed a rhythm on the heart monitor and resuscitation was resumed. The patient recovered fully.[5]
  • A 66-year-old man suffering from a suspected abdominal aneurysm who, during treatment for this condition, suffered cardiac arrest and received chest compressions and defibrillation shocks for 17 minutes. Vital signs did not return; the patient was declared dead and resuscitation efforts ended. Ten minutes later, the surgeon felt a pulse. The aneurysm was successfully treated and the patient fully recovered with no lasting physical or neurological problems.[2]
  • According to a 2002 article in the journal Forensic Science International, a 65-year old prelingually deaf Japanese male was found unconscious in the foster home he lived in. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was attempted on the scene by home staff, emergency medical personnel and also in the emergency department of the hospital and included appropriate medications and defibrillation. He was declared dead after attempted resuscitation. However, a policeman found the person moving in the mortuary after 20 minutes. The patient survived for 4 more days.[7]
  • Judith Johnson, 61, went into cardiac arrest at Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, Delaware, United States, in May 2007. She was given “multiple medicines and synchronized shocks”, but never regained a pulse. She was declared dead at 8:34 p.m. but was discovered in the morgue to be alive and breathing. She sued the medical center where it happened for damages due to physical and neurological problems stemming from the event.[4]
  • Michael Wilkinson, 23, was found collapsed in Preston, U.K. on 1 February 2009. He was sent to Royal Preston Hospital in Lancashire where medical staff gave him drugs and worked on him for 15 minutes before declaring him dead. Half an hour later, a pulse was found. He survived for two days, and a post-mortem examination found an undiagnosed heart condition.[8]
  • A 45-year-old woman in Colombia was pronounced dead, as there were no vital signs showing she was alive. Later, a funeral worker noticed the woman moving and alerted his co-worker that the woman should go back to the hospital.[9][10]
  • A 65-year-old man in Malaysia came back to life two-and-a-half hours after doctors at Seberang Jaya Hospital, Penang, pronounced him dead. He died three weeks later.[11]
  • Lorna Baillie, 49, collapsed in East Lothian, U.K. at 4:30 p.m. on 10 February 2012. Medics at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary spent three hours trying to revive her before declaring her technically dead at 8:45 p.m. She was in a coma and had been kept artificially alive with adrenaline and would not be pronounced medically dead until she stopped breathing. 45 minutes later, her family found signs of improvement. A pulse was found, and she was revived.[12]
  • Anthony Yahle, 37, in Bellbrook, Ohio, USA, was breathing abnormally at 4 a.m. on 5 Aug 2013, and could not be woken. He was given CPR, and first responders shocked him several times and found a heartbeat. That afternoon, he coded for 45 minutes at Kettering Medical Center and was pronounced dead. When his son arrived at the hospital, he noticed a heartbeat on the monitor that was still attached. Resuscitation efforts resumed, and the patient was revived.[13]
  • Walter Williams, 78, from Lexington, Mississippi, United States, was at home when his hospice nurse called a coroner who arrived and declared him dead at 9 p.m. on 26 February 2014. Once at a funeral home, he was found to be moving, possibly resuscitated by a defibrillator implanted in his chest.[14] The next day he was well enough to be talking with family, but died fifteen days later.[15]



The Lazarus Syndrome raises ethical issues for physicians, who must determine when medical death has occurred, resuscitation efforts should end, and post-mortem procedures such as autopsies and organ harvesting may take place.[2] One doctor wrote, “Perhaps it is a supreme hubris on our part to presume that we can reliably distinguish the reversible from the irreversible, or the salvageable from the nonsalvageable.”[2]

Medical literature has recommended observation of a patient’s vital signs for five to ten minutes after cessation of resuscitation before certifying death.[5]


1. Hornby K, Hornby L, Shemie SD (May 2010). “A systematic review of autoresuscitation after cardiac arrest”. Crit. Care Med. 38 (5): 1246–53.doi:10.1097/CCM.0b013e3181d8caaaPMID 20228683

2. Ben-David M.D., Bruce et al. (2001). “Survival After Failed Intraoperative Resuscitation: A Case of “Lazarus Syndrome””Anesthesia & Analgesia 92 (3): 690–692.doi:10.1213/00000539-200103000-00027PMID 11226103. Retrieved 2014-07-28.

3.Adhiyaman, Vedamurthy; Adhiyaman, Sonja; Sundaram, Radha. “The Lazarus phenomenon”National Center for Biotechnology Information. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Retrieved 4 January 2014.

4. “Woman Declared Dead, Still Breathing in Morgue”. Fox News. 2008-10-07. Retrieved 2014-07-28.

5. Walker, A.; H. McClelland; J. Brenchley (2001). “The Lazarus phenomenon following recreational drug use”Emerg Med J 18 (1): 74–75. doi:10.1136/emj.18.1.74.PMC 1725503PMID 11310473. Retrieved 2014-07-28.

6. Derbyshire, David (16 October 2012). “Lazarus Syndrome: Or how – as one British woman’s just proved – waking from the dead is more common than you think”MailOnline(London). Archived from the original on 2013-05-20.

7. Maeda, H; Fujita, M. Q.; Zhu, B. L.; Yukioka, H; Shindo, M; Quan, L; Ishida, K (2002). “Death following spontaneous recovery from cardiopulmonary arrest in a hospital mortuary: ‘Lazarus phenomenon’ in a case of alleged medical negligence”. Forensic Science International 127 (1–2): 82–7. doi:10.1016/s0379-0738(02)00107-x.PMID 12098530edit

8. “Lazarus syndrome man pronounced dead comes back to life for two days”MailOnline(London). 11 June 2009. Retrieved 1 March 2014.

9. “Embalmer finds ‘dead’ woman really alive”. Bogota: NBC news. 2010-02-17. Retrieved2014-07-28.

10. Salazar, Hernando. “¿Colombiana experimentó Síndrome de Lázaro?”BBC Online (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 December 2010.

11. Vinesh, Derrick (26 April 2011). “Resurrection man dies”The Star Online. Retrieved2014-07-28.

12. McKim, Claire (25 February 2012). “Dead’ grandmother comes back to life after 45 minutes when grieving husband tells heart attack victim ‘I love you”Daily Mail (London).

13. Lupkin, Sydney (22 August 2013). “Ohio Man Declared Dead Comes Back to Life”. Retrieved 4 January 2014.

14. McLaughlin, Eliott (28 February 2014). “Dead Mississippi man begins breathing in embalming room, coroner says”CNN. Retrieved 28 February 2014.

15. Ford, Dana (13 March 2014). “Mississippi man who awoke in body bag dies two weeks later”CNN. Retrieved 13 March 2014.


Do Animals Go to Heaven? Medieval Philosophers Contemplate Heavenly Human Exceptionalism (Joyce E. Salisbury, 2014)

NOTE: In comparing the soul of man with that of animals, St. Gregory Palamas says that animals possess a soul not as essence, but as an energy. “The soul of each of the irrational animals is the life for the body it animates, and so animals possess life not essentially but as an energy, since this life is dependent on something else and is not self-subsistent.” Therefore since the soul of animals has only energy, it dies with the body. By contrast, the soul of man has not only energy but also essence [cf. 150 Chapters, ch 38].

Animals fight each other in a struggle for survival (Byzantine Imperial Mosaic)
Animals fight each other in a struggle for survival (Byzantine Imperial Mosaic)

The following article is taken from Athens Journal of Humanities & Arts, january 2014:

Animals fight each other in a struggle for survival (Byzantine Imperial Mosaic)
Animals fight each other in a struggle for survival (Byzantine Imperial Mosaic)
Hunters fighting wild animals (Byzantine Imperial Mosaic)
Hunters fighting wild animals (Byzantine Imperial Mosaic)
Animals fight each other in a struggle for survival (Byzantine Imperial Mosaic)
Animals fight each other in a struggle for survival (Byzantine Imperial Mosaic)

Animals fight each other in a struggle for survival (Byzantine Imperial Mosaic)
Animals fight each other in a struggle for survival (Byzantine Imperial Mosaic)