Resurrection and the Resurrectionists

Stephen Prothero

in Purified by Fire

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780520208162
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520929746 | DOI:
Resurrection and the Resurrectionists

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Cremationists undermined the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead not so much by refuting it as by threatening to render it obsolete. The real resurrection occurred at the moment of death, not at the end of time. The cremationists made to demythologize the metaphor of death as sleep and the grave as a site of rest and reawakening. Concerns about premature burial likely led to cremation's diffusion. The most popular of all the religiously based arguments against cremation is the bodily resurrection. Cremationists took up three discernible positions on the doctrine of the bodily resurrection. They clearly tried to demythologize traditional Christian responses to death. The cremation movement participated in the development of a new, modern American self, liberated not only from the constraints of the irksome body but also from the constraints of traditions and customs—free to seek new experiences in both life and death.

Keywords: bodily resurrection; resurrectionists; cremationists; death; life; grave; burial; cremation

Chapter.  15289 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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