Zombies, Vampires, and Jesus Christ (Oh, My!)
Posted on Sunday, 29 May, 2011 | 16 comments
Columnist: Tammy A. Branom
Since May 21, 2011, came and went without the dead rising and some living folks floating away, which really comes as no surprise, I decided to look into the whole dead rising as depicted in the Christian bible. With the CDC showing their incredible marketing skills with “Zombie Apocalypse,” it was high time to look into how the rumor of the end of the world brought out the zombie in many of us.
Zombies, or at least the zombies we know from the movies, the flesh eaters, have a very old history. The first reference to zombies, or at least the dead eating the living, was in the Epic of Gilgamesh from Sumerian legend. In the story, the goddess Ishtar promises:
“I will knock down the Gates of the Netherworld,
I will smash the door posts, and leave the doors flat down,
and will let the dead go up to eat the living!
And the dead will outnumber the living!”
The Epic of Gilgamesh has several parallels in the Christian bible including Adam and Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden, Noah and the flood, and the book of Daniel. Sumerian writing is possibly the oldest in the world. Traces of it can still be found today throughout the Christian bible, mostly in Genesis. However, there is a definite similarity between Jesus and Sumerian Dumuzi. Also, resurrection of the dead is a recurring theme in Sumerian lore as well.
Biblically, there are many passages referring to the dead coming back to life. Zechariah 14:12 describes a plague that rots people while they are still alive. Isaiah 26:19 tells of the dead rising from the dust. Matthew 27:51 speaks of tombs opening and dead holy people coming out. Mark 12:26 addresses seven men dying and each taking the first one’s one wife and then whose husband does she belong to when they all rise from the dead. Last, but not least, is Revelation 20 that explains the saints are raised first and then in 20:5 is the explanation of the rest of the dead not living until the 1,000 years ended.
There are more passages to reference, but these ones stood out. However, those were enough to get me thinking about how the dead could come back to life. Could they actually rise up from their graves with their rotted or skeletal bodies? I doubt that. Could they be ghosts? That is more probable than zombies, especially if there is a time/space/dimension rift. And, does that mean there is God? Not exactly. Could the dead be resurrected like Jesus Christ? Well, if you believe Jesus died on a cross and came back to life, then I suppose so.
That brings me to Christian believers partaking of the consecrated “body and blood of Christ” during Holy Communion. I have to ask: Who is the zombie here?
Now, I know many people think Jesus was a zombie. That topic runs rampid in internet forums. Personally, I think JC more resembles a vampire. Technically speaking, zombies have been around longer than vampires or even JC himself, but I wanted to explore the vampire idea (since I was delving into the dead rising topic) a bit more.
Although there are ancient tales of demons who are considered the forefathers of the modern vampires, the lore of the vampires began in the 18th century with a flood of superstitious tales from European countries into Western society. However, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the granddaddy of the vampires we are familiar with today--the blood drinkers, the dead rising from a tomb (or coffin), capable of “magically” appearing and disappearing, and drawing in followers (victims in vampire tales) by quietly telling people what they want and need to hear.
Bram Stoker was a protestant of the Church of Ireland. I’ll lay odds that he took Holy Communion at some point. And honestly, most great stories start with one, tiny, everyday (or out of the ordinary) occurrence. Something triggers a small notion that cascades into an entire conception. In Bram Stoker’s world, there were many strange things just waiting to be conspired. Drinking the blood of something people fear and revere is just a tidbit. Vlad Tepes was the catalyst. Communion and “drinking the blood of Christ” was a normal act of Catholicism or its offshoots. Old world legend dances with old-world behavior.
And a vampire was born from the blood of Christ. (Come on--that’s a little humorous).
If you’ve ever wondered where the ideas for vampire and zombie stories and movies come from, well there it is. Jesus Christ. Yup, that’s right. I said it. Jesus Christ. At the very least, religion, both ancient (Sumerian) and more recent (Christianity), is the root of zombie and vampire myths.
So, the next time you take Holy Communion or it’s mentioned in a book you’re reading or a movie you’re watching, I bet you’ll think about it when the priest or preacher says, “The body and blood of Christ” and puts the wafer or bread in the mouth and the wine or red soda is drank.
It’s no wonder that we have become “zombi-fied” or enamored by vampires. Subtly, silently, they have been with us throughout history.
Nevertheless, I have to admit, vampires and zombies are very similar. The difference between vampires and zombies? One drinks blood, the other eats flesh. Neither are actually alive, but not quite dead. Both were “resurrected” from the dead as another form of themselves. Their victims (or followers of the group after the fact) become a part of them or a component of a group--a bigger whole--or they die. And JC? As I recall, he was resurrected and therefore no longer dead, but not actually alive. Depending upon the religion, Jesus’ followers simulate consuming his blood and flesh to become a part of him and an element of something much bigger. If you don’t follow JC, then you get to die and go to hell. No greater whole for you.
Now I ask this: Just how far-fetched is the idea of Christ as a zombie when a person consumes “the body of Christ” who was resurrected from the dead and became the “walking undead?” And how fantastic is the idea that Christ is vampire-like when his followers “drink the blood of Christ” who was “reborn” and “magically” appeared to many and disappeared like a ghost?
And again, who is the zombie or vampire here? Is it Christ or the undead rising up from graves? Or is it simply the followers who are eager to act out a monstrous act of cannibalism so they can live with the hope of eternal life?
And what of that eternal life? If you buy into the bible and the book of Revelation, then at the very end of the book (and humans and time) then you read how all the dead left over from the “Rapture” will be judged before God at the end of the 1,000 years. The old earth is destroyed and is replaced by a new earth. I have to wonder if this is just fanciful dreaming of a madman (John of Patmos), or if you choose to believe he truly did envision the end of the world and wrote it all down, was the end only another beginning. Earth or even the entire universe reborn. Perhaps in 1,000 years, the earth has recuperated from the devastation God (or more likely, humans) hit it with, or maybe there’s a celestial event that triggers a rip in the time/space continuum allowing for all layers of time to be visible all at once. It could be that we prompt an incident ourselves, but nonetheless, an occurrence of that magnitude would indeed leave earth changed and different, along with any life, human or otherwise, that happened to survive.
Revelation 21:1-4. “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
A new heaven and a new earth lead me to think that if there is any speck of reality to John’s story, this may be some sort of cosmic transformation. If it were simply earth, then that could be easily explained away by John’s exile and anguish but, since “heaven” is involved, this could mean a disruption in space (and time).
Events are the elements of space-time. Events in space-time are unique positions at unique times. These events weave together to create timelines. According to Einstein (and others), space-time can be disrupted by gravity of a planet, energy from the sun, or anything of substantial matter to alter the geometry of space-time. So, what is this “Holy City?” Is this a large craft of some sort? Is it one large enough to alter space-time or does it use electromagnetic fields which causes disruptions? Or, is it a dimensional rip that causes appearances of other peoples and times living on earth of which it casts an illusion of a ship or city? As our technology advances into quantum states, I can see humans creating a tear in space-time around our planet from our own electromagnetic forces. There is even the possibility that natural catastrophes as described in Revelation could vary the geometry of space-time. Large earthquakes today throw the earth’s revolution and axis tilt off by small degrees at a time. One huge plate shift or even a pole shift could, in reality, change space-time around us. In fact, many believe that is what is now happening because of the rise in ghost sightings. I think there are more watching for them nowadays due to the media, but I can see where a shift of some sort is responsible.
1 Corinthians 15:51 tells us that in the end of days a trumpet will sound and the dead will rise and be undying. The rest of us will be changed. But, to what? Will those left behind be undead? Or, will the mortals become spirits as well? Or, will all those alive and those from the past just blur together in a vast dimensional rip existing in perpetual limbo?
Revelation 22:5. “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”
There’s that limbo again. No night, but no need for light…perhaps a shadowy indeterminate state. Zombies and vampires don’t need light. Ghosts or spirits seem to exist in such a status. All of them can “live” forever.
In summation, the rumor of the end of the world brought out the zombie in many of us because scores of people turn to the bible for hope and salvation. Passages and perceptions are used to serve the purpose of whoever is dishing them out. The dead rising and the living magically disappearing are all part of the perceptions since they are integral to the scriptures. However, most Christians believe they will be resurrected, not literally from the dead like a zombie, but rather with an incorruptible, immortal, spiritual body.
I tend to believe that humans craft their own path--and their own misery. In the pursuit of our own needs and desires, we can’t help but create some form of destruction. Even if Revelation is nothing more than John’s fanciful story of revenge on a cruel leader of that time, his tale does reflect human nature and our question: Is this all that there is? Most everyone wants to believe there is more beyond death, be it a spirit life or the possibility of becoming undead somehow. Death is just too final for many. For others, it is a goal.
A passage (Revelation 9:6) says that in the end of days, men will want for death, but it will not come.
Vampire or zombie?
Amen.Article Copyright© Tammy A. Branom - reproduced with permission.