Re: Dead/not dead?

From: Ben Crick (
Date: Thu Jun 26 1997 - 12:03:24 EDT

On Wed 25 Jun 97 (18:57:52 +0000), wrote:
> I can't find who in the text you are describing as "professional
> morticians." But assuming they were there it wouldn't be the only
> time professional morticians made a misdiagnosis and buried someone
> alive would it?

 Well, no; but nowadays no interment can take place without a death certificate from a registered mediacal practitioner; and no cremation can take place
 without death certificates from *two* *independent* registered medical
 practitioners. You can't do an autopsy on ashes!

 Alfred Edersheim, in his /Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah/, London
 New York & Bombay, 1900, vol I pp 616-634, has a lengthy but authoritative
 discussion of the problems raised by the episodes of the raising of
 Jairus' daughter and the healing of the woman who touched the hem of His
 garment. I'll try and pick out the salient points.

 The intervention of the woman caused a significant delay in Jesus' getting to
 Jairus' house: so long that messengers were sent to Jairus to announce the
 death of the patient and to abort the appeal to Jesus. Jesus continued:
 ALLA KAQEUDAI. "WIthin, 'the tumult' and weeping, the wail of the mourners,
 real or hired, and the melancholy sound of the mourning flutes [they were
 specially called 'flutes for the dead' (B. Mez. vi.1): /Chaliyliym lemoth/]
 -- and preparation for, and pageantry of, an Eastern funeral -- broke with
 dismal discord on the majestic calm of assured victory over death, with which
 Jesus had entered the house of mourning. But even so He would tell it them,
 as so often in like circumstances He tells it to us, that the damsel was not
 dead, but only sleeping. The Rabbis also frequently have the expression 'to
 sleep' (/demakh/, when the sleep is overpowering and oppressive), instead of
 'to die'. It may well have been that Jesus made use of this word of double
 meaning in some such manner as this: /Talyetha dimkhath/, 'the maiden
 sleepeth'. And they understood Him well in their own way, yet understood Him
 not at all." (page 630).

 Having halted the obsequies and dismissed the wailers, Jesus led Jairus and
 his wife into the room, followed by Peter James and John as witnesses.
 "Without doubt or hesitation He took her by the hand, and spoke only these two words: /Talyetha Qum[i]/, Maiden, arise! 'and straightway the damsel arose.'"
 (page 631). Peter observed well, because in his raising of Dorcas he used
 the same formula TABITHA ANASTHQI /=qumi/ (Acts 9:40). ANISTHMI is the verb
 used of Christ's resurrection from the dead. There was no possible doubt but
 that Tabitha was dead; likewise no doubt but that Jairus' daughter was dead.
 Jesus statement "She is not dead..." was a rebuke and dismissal to the
 mourners and the wailers "We don't need your services yet!".

> Thanks again Ben! I'll look forward hearing from you. I need to wrestle
> further with the "figure of speech" Idea, but I don't see anything here
> that drives me to that.

 The "figure of speech" is Prolepsis (from PROLAMBANEIN): Anticipation, a
 figure by which objections are anticipated or prevented; or, the anticipatory
 use of a word as attributive instead of as a predicate, as in 'the murdered
 man put up a great struggle'. He could not have put up any struggle if he
 were already murdered! Likewise Jesus was going to raise the daughter from
 death; in which case it would be proleptically true that she had been "only
 asleep". Reminds me of the cartoon of a patient sleeping in a hospital bed,
 beneath a caption in his own handwriting "ONLY ASLEEP - NOT A HEART DONOR!!".

 Or maybe it's an Oxymoron, as in "He being dead yet speaketh" (Hebrews 11:4).
 Or is it a Hyperbole? Exaggeration is a form of untruth; yet it is
 rhetorically true.
 Or maybe it's a deliberate Understatement: she is not dead, but sleeping.

 Revd Ben Crick, BA Bristol, 1963 (hons in Theology)
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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