A zombie is a corpse that has been reanimated. Modern fantasy novels and movies use a viral infection, chemical (often dispersed by a government agency), or aliens to explain the cause of the reanimation and the contagiousness of the disease. The term "zombie" comes from Voodoo and means a corpse that has been reanimated and is controlled by a witch doctor. Modern zombies more closely reflect Indo-European mythology which tried to explain phenomenon such as plagues, corpses that didn't rot, and the difficulty of being able to tell if someone was really dead until they tried to dig out of their own grave. The first mention of flesh-eating dead is in The Epic of Gilgamesh. Frankenstein's monster is probably the first zombie-like character in more modern fiction.
Are zombies mentioned in the Bible?
Like many other mythological creatures, the nature of zombies varies with the telling. In general, zombies come in three varieties. The most common, perhaps, are those who are infected with a disease or a virus while living, die of some sort of trauma, and come back as an animated, flesh-eating corpse. Less common are those who don't die but due to some kind of drug (as in Voodoo) take on a catatonic state. The third variety involves corpses that are controlled and/or possessed by evil spirits or witches.
The question of zombies in the Bible is usually posed as an incredulous response to the stories of resurrection, whether it be Elijah and the widow's son (1 Kings 17:17-24), Lazarus (John 11), or Jesus Himself. There is also the strange account in Matthew 27:52-53 that says at Jesus' death, some of God's followers were brought back to life and walked around Jerusalem.
None of these examples resemble zombies as we know them. The widow's son, Lazarus, the boy who fell asleep during Paul's sermon (Acts 20:9-12), and others were all brought back to full life and, presumably, continued in like manner until they died again. Jesus' body was not "reanimated." He was given a new, glorified body which, aside from the scars in His hands, feet, and side, was so much better than the old His closest friends didn't recognize Him (Luke 24:13-16; John 20:15).
That isn't to say that the Bible never mentions zombies. There is one instance that might be interpreted as a person dying and being reanimated by demonic forces. It's that of the Antichrist. Mid-way through the Tribulation the Antichrist will receive a mortal head wound which will be healed (Revelation 13:3, 12, 14). It is also at this time that Satan is permanently expelled from heaven, where he did not live but did occasionally visit (Job 1). There is some speculation that at this time Satan takes possession of the body of the Antichrist. If this is true, it could be argued that for the last half of the Tribulation, the Antichrist is a demonic zombie.
Zombies are an interesting construct. They are humans without humanity. Their combination of no soul, no empathy, and violent intent make them guiltless target practice for human survivors. But the resurrections in the Bible have nothing to do with zombies. When God gives life, He gives it to the full. He brings restoration, not reanimation. Jesus, Lazarus, and the rest were not zombies. Besides, perhaps, the Antichrist, the only walking undead in the Bible are those who never accepted Jesus' offer of life.
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