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The Tidings of the Resurrection

Author: [unknown]

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Whitley Stokes

translated by Whitley Stokes

Electronic edition compiled by Benjamin Hazard

Funded by University College, Cork and
The Higher Education Authority via the LDT Project

2. Second draft.

Extent of text: 5340 words

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CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork
College Road, Cork, Ireland—http://www.ucc.ie/celt

(2004) (2008)

Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.
Text ID Number: T207001

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Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

Sources

    Manuscript Source
  1. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS 1229 (=23 E 25), alias Lebor na hUidre, p. 34a–37b; for details see Kathleen Mulchrone, T. F. O'Rahilly et al. (eds.), Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in the Royal Irish Academy (Dublin 1926–70) 3367–79. For a diplomatic edition see R. I. Best and Osborn Bergin (eds.), Lebor na hUidre: Book of the Dun Cow (Dublin 1929).
    Secondary literature
  1. For literature about the Apocrypha, click on http://celt.ucc.ie/Apocrypha.pdf
  2. St. John D. Seymour, 'The Eschatology of the Early Irish Church, Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie 14 (1923) 179–211.
  3. St. John D. Seymour, 'Notes on Apocrypha in Ireland', Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 26 (1926) Class C: 107–117.
  4. St. John D. Seymour, Irish Visions of the Other-World: A Contribution to the Study of Medieval Visions (London 1930).
  5. Louis Gougaud, Christianity in Celtic lands: a history of the churches of the Celts, their origin, their development, influence and mutual relations by Dom Louis Gougaud, translated from the author's MS. by Maud Joynt (London 1932; reprinted Dublin 1992).
  6. Brian O'Dwyer Grogan, The Eschatological Doctrines of the Early Irish Church, [unpublished doctoral dissertation] (Fordham University 1972).
  7. David N. Dumville, 'Biblical Apocrypha and the Early Irish', Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 73 (1973) C: 299–338.
  8. Martin McNamara, The Apocrypha in the Irish Church (Dublin: DIAS 1975; corrected reprint 1984), esp. 128–139.
  9. Bernard McGinn, Apocalypticism in the middle ages: an historiographical sketch, Medieval Studies 13 (1975), Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, Toronto, 252–286. Reprinted in: Bernard McGinn, Apocalypticism in the Western Tradition (Brookfield, Vermont 1994).
  10. The Irish Adam and Eve story from Saltair na Rann. 2 vols. Vol. I: Text and translation by David Greene and Fergus Kelly; Vol. II: Commentary by Brian O. Murdoch. (Dublin: DIAS 1976).
  11. Bernard McGinn, Visions of the End: Apocalyptic Traditions in the Middle Ages (New York 1979).
  12. Máire Herbert, Martin McNamara (eds.), Irish Biblical Apocrypha. Selected texts in translation, Edinburgh 1989.
  13. Martin McNamara, 'Early medieval Irish eschatology'. In: Próinséas Ní Chatháin and Michael Richter (eds.) Irland und Europa im früheren Mittelalter: Bildung und Literatur (Stuttgart 1996) 42–75.
  14. Thomas O'Loughlin, 'The Celtic homily: creeds and eschatology'. Milltown Studies 41 (1998) 99–115.
  15. Milton McCormick Gatch, Eschatology and Christian nurture: themes in Anglo-Saxon and medieval religious life, (Aldershot 2000).
  16. Benjamin Hudson, 'Time is Short: The Eschatology of the Early Gaelic Church', in: Caroline Walker Bynum and Paul Freedman (eds.), Last Things: Death and the Apocalypse in the Middle Ages (Philadelphia 2000) 101–23.
  17. Martin McNamara, Apocalyptic and eschatological heritage: the Middle East and Celtic realms, Dublin 2003.
    The edition used in the digital edition
  1. Whitley Stokes, The Tidings of the Resurrection in Revue Celtique. Volume 25, Paris, F. Vieweg (1904) page 232–259

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CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

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The present text represents pages 235–255 of the published edition, including textual notes.

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Text has been proof-read twice.

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The electronic text represents the edited text. Words have been segmented in line with CELT practice. Footnotes are marked note type="auth" and numbered.

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Created: Translation by Whitley Stokes. (1903)

Use of language

Language: [EN] Text is in English.
Language: [LA] Some words are in Latin.

Revision History


Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition: T207001

The Tidings of the Resurrection: Author: [unknown]


p.235

Let everyone take heed that the Judgment will come. 'Tis then that all men will arise through the proclamation of the Son of God. On that day, to wit, on the Day of Doom, heaven and earth will be shaken, and all the elements that are therein. They will be dissolved and melted by the heat of the fire of Doom; but all those, after being smelted and purified by the fire of Doom1 will be cast into a form more beautiful by far than the form in which they existed.

'Tis then that fire of Doomsday will possess vigour and strength like unto the fire into which the three Children were sent by Nebuchadnezzar. That fire did not burn the holy children; but it burnt the impious servants who were about the fiery furnace.2 Thus then the glowing fire of Doom will burn all the sinners and all the impious. But it will do no hurt to the bodies of the righteous, for that fire will be like a soothing rain to the saints, but it will consume the sinners.

On that day, to wit, on Doomsday, the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, will come from heaven, and will appear in the air in vast light and radiance, like a sun; and that light will fill the whole world from the rising of the sun to the setting thereof.

Then all the men who are in graves will hear the voice of the Son of God. It may be a corporeal voice that Jesus would here utter to be heard by the dead, to wit, the voice of the archangel Michael who will come to proclaim the Resurrection generally to the human race, so that he says to them thrice: ‘Arise ye all out of death!’ Or it is an incorporeal voice that Jesus here utters to be heard by the dead, to wit,


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the spiritual command and the unspeakable power of the Lord, which no creature can avoid. By that command all men will arise out of death, to wit, whomsoever earth has swallowed, and beasts have devoured, and water has drowned,3 and fire has burnt; and also those that have been dissolved, according to the nature of the elements of which they were formed. All those will arise out of death in the flashing of a single hour,4 and each of them will take his own soul into union with his proper body, and they will afterwards remain alive for ever.

'Tis then the Lord will send his noble envoys, the holy angels, throughout all the world, and they will gather all the righteous out of the four quarters of the earth and bring them into the air to meet Christ. The devils, however, will gather with them all the sinners and all the impious. There shall all those be all high in the presence of the Lord at the Judgment, to wit, angels and devils and human beings, that is, both sinners and righteous.

Now it is asked, what is the exact place out of which everyone's resurrection will be? Out of their graves assuredly,5 after that example of the Lord's Body, which arose out of its own sepulchre. Those, however, who have been devoured by wild beasts and dispersed in different places, will arise according to the counsel of the Lord, who will gather them and renew them, out of the place that He desires. Yet it is likelier in this case that they will arise there where they have been devoured and dispersed, for that is what is counted as their tomb.

It is asked, now, will there be a resurrection for human abortives and monsters? The answer to that is, that beyond there will certainly be a resurrection into life for all who have had death here after life. If, then, the abortives had death after life, even in their mother's womb, it is certain that they will have a resurrection beyond, and that they will have life (again) after that death. If, then, there is thus no doubt of the resurrection of abortives, much less is there doubt of the resurrection of infants and monsters.


p.239

It is then asked, since all human beings will arise out of death, in what age or form will their resurrection be? And the apostle deals with that question when he says: ‘All men’, quoth the apostle, ‘will arise out of death in the likeness of the age and form of Christ.’ Three years and thirty were completed by Christ, and in the likeness of that age He arose out of death. At the age of Christ, then, the apostle says that all men will arise, but not in His size, that is, not equal in bulk to His body, for it is not certain that all the bodies of the Resurrection will be of equal size. Christ, however, will abide for ever, without addition or diminution, in the form and in the bulk in which He appeared to His apostles after (His) resurrection; and it is therefore that all men will arise at the same age, to wit, at the age of thirty.6 Howbeit, they will have in their bodies varying size and unequal bulk, in accordance with the likeness and the nature of the times and the countries in which they have been born.

Whatsoever, then, is wanting of completeness in their body to abortives and to little infants and to certain puny monsters which have not their lawful size and are defective in certain corporeal members, the Lord will supply beyond in the Resurrection, so that naught shall be lacking to them of the full propriety of their form or of their proper nature. For (that is) a thing which they possess7 in themselves, according to the invisible and hidden law of their nature, though they have not possessed it according to material nor according to bodily size.

The excess, however, over nature in the too bulky bodies and also in all the monsters that have immoderate size, that excess will be taken from them beyond in the Resurrection, and they will abide thereafter in the legitimate size and moderate bulk of their proper substance and nature. The monsters also, that have two bodies in one union,8 they will be


p.241

separated beyond in the Resurrection, and each of them will receive his own body separate, as Job affirms when prophesying in his book and saying that all men will arise in their proper bodies.

The Church, however, holds the opinion that the bodies of the holy martyrs will after resurrection bear the traces of the wounds which they endured for Christ's sake,9 without defect or diminution of form or beauty, to manifest their victory and triumph, and also to manifest the great reward to which they are entitled from the Lord for their martyrdom: according to that example of the Body of the Lord, which hath in it after (His) Resurrection the traces of the wounds which he endured from the Jews, to manifest His perfect submission to the heavenly Father, and also to increase pain and punishment to the Jews from whom He endured those wounds.

Then it is asked with regard to the excess of the hairs and to nails, how will they be disposed of in the Resurrection? Augustine the holy man puts that question, and his opinion is that in the Resurrection beyond the excess of the hairs and the nails will not be returned into themselves merely, but into the nature of the body in general. For it is not of the length of the hairs, that is, of their excess, but of their number only that Jesus in the gospel is mindful when he commits this to His apostles, and says ‘the hairs of your head’, says Jesus to His apostles, ‘are in a definite number and in sure knowledge with the Lord, and they will all remain for you with Him there at the Resurrection’.

Or again, if, as is the opinion of some, it is into themselves only that the excess of the hairs and the nails is turned—for it is likely that the excess of every member would be gathered and compressed into itself, so that in this member itself one would receive whatever punishment or reward one deserves through the consent and cooperation of that member—we are to believe that the Lord will, through the unspeakable science of the Divine wisdom, condense and compress in the Resurrection the corrupt bodies of men into the slenderness


p.243

and tenuity of the incorruptible substance and of their spiritual nature, after separating and dividing them from every defilement, according to that example and analogy of the ingots which, through the science of human wisdom, are caused to be condensed and compressed into the slenderness and tenuity of their proper body, after every defilement and every dross has been expelled from them.

Or again, there is an opinion that the Lord there will form the bodies of the Resurrection of the substance that will please Him, whatever be the largeness or the smallness in which that substance may be, that is, of what remained of the human body in the man before death, just as He builds up at present the large bodies from the little seeds, and also as at the primal creation of the elements He has built up the vast bodies from the invisible principle (?) and from the incorporeal principle (?) which the elements, from which those bodies have been created, held latent within them. For it is possible for God to build up without substance or with little substance any material or any structure that He pleases. Wherefore the author would say that Jesus did not think of the excess of the hairs or of the nails, or of any other member. And it is possible for God to renew the completeness of their proper form and nature without gathering again that excess into the body. Howbeit 'tis hard that any member in the body, or any part thereof, should be omitted from the punishment and the condemnation it deserves through its consent to sin, or from the reward it merits through its consent to a good deed.

So then this is probably what we should believe in the case, that the completeness of the whole human body is to be renewed in the Resurrection, so that the soul united to it in that wise may receive whatever it deserves of punishment or reward for their ill deserts or their good deserts.

For precaution then, and for avoidance of presumption, that is, of affirming what is not lawful to affirm, but what should properly remain in doubt, this variety of opinion exists. For though some of the mysteries of the Resurrection are certain


p.245

and manifest — for, according to the teaching of the apostle and the rest of the Scripture, the Resurrection itself is sure to come — yet others are uncertain and obscure. So that it is more prudent and wiser that they should be hoped for and supposed than that they should be boldly affirmed.

Now all men will arise beyond in various shape and form, to wit, the men in the form of men and the women in the form of women, for where the apostle says that all human beings will arise in perfect man he has there given the name of 'man' to humankind in general, both men and women. For their imperfections and their blemishes will be removed from the bodies of human beings, but the peculiarity of their proper shape and form will be preserved in them.

Moreover the bodies of the Resurrection will have in them neither lust nor desire nor any other vice; and therefore they will have no shame though they will be stark-naked, that is, without any covering at all of raiment.10

In condensed bodies and in thickish bodies will be the resurrection of the human beings, and not in thin and very subtile bodies, like air or wind, as was the opinion of the heretic Eutyches, who thought that the bodies of the resurrection would be thinner and more subtile than air or wind. Saint Gregory, however, overruled and contradicted that opinion.

It is asked then, since it is in dense and thickish bodies that men will arise, why does the apostle call them 'spiritual'? Maybe this is why he used (so) to call them, because of the harmony and the similarity in themselves according to the law of correspondence of every member to the other, and also because of their beauty and comeliness, their brightness and their splendour. For the saints will shine there like a sun in the heavenly kingdom.11

Or this is why the apostle calls them 'spiritual', because of their harmony and oneness there with the spirit of the soul, just as at present the spirit of the soul is united with


p.247

them. For beyond there will be a union greatly between the body and the soul, and what they resolve on will be the same. For there will be no opposition or contention yonder by one of them towards the other, that is, by the body to the soul, or by the soul to the body.

Or again they were called 'spiritual' since they will abide beyond for ever in the spiritual stations among God's angels in heaven.

Or again, they were called 'spiritual' by the apostle in this wise: since they will be changed beyond out of the misery and corruption and the ugliness in which they are into the glory and the splendour, into the brightness and the beauty, of the incorruptible existence and of the immortal life in which they will abide for ever. And yet not the same will be the beauty of all the bodies of the saints beyond, since even the reward will not be the same. But even as the splendour of the sun and moon and the splendour of the stars are different, and also (the splendour) of each star from another, even so the reward of the righteous will be different after the Resurrection; and therefore they will possess different stations in heaven according to their different deserts.

And yet none of them will envy the other, for there is as much solicitude and love with one as with another, according to that example of the single body which possesses in it different members, and members (some of which) are nobler than others; and yet none of them envies the other. And another thing also, since none of them grumbles at his own reward, for it is God alone that will be the likeness of every good thing beyond for all the saints and righteous.

Though, then, the rewards of the righteous are different, yet there is one reward which they have in another way, namely, the complete blessedness and joy which they possess in God, and also because to one who has a lower reward it is the same as if he had a higher reward when that reward is given to one who is as dear to him as himself.

Now everyone yonder will recognise the other after the Resurrection. Howbeit none of them yonder will feel solicitude for another according to the law of gossipred or relationship;


p.249

but all will agree to the righteous judgment of the Lord who will render to everyone as he may deserve.

Everyone also yonder will understand what shall be in another's mind without its being manifested by words or by other signs, and they will understand, by the spiritual insight of their minds, the things that are absent and are far away from them, after that example of the holy prophet Elisha, who understood, through the spirit of prophecy, what his disciple Gehazi had done in his absence, and he far away from him, taking a reward from Naaman the Syrian for healing him of leprosy.12 For what is there unknown to those that understand the Lord unto whom nothing is unknown?

The righteous, however, perform no other work beyond, save what the prophet David foretold when he said: ‘Happy are those that dwell in thy house, O Lord: they will praise thee and admire thee continually through the everlasting ages’. It is not, however, by words, or by corporeal voices externally, that the saints will make this praise of God, but by spiritual insight and by internal meditation of their law (?) and their intelligence.

All the impious also will arise in integrity and in completeness of their bodies, without diminution and without defect of any member upon them. Howbeit, thus will those bodies be, with overburthening and molestation, with unshapeliness and excessive oppression accompanying them. Again, in the souls of the impious, the law of intelligence or of understanding, of illumination, of wisdom, or of knowledge, will not shine; but they will abide in sorrow and sadness, with the dark obscurity of their ignorance and their unwisdom within. They will all, moreover, be black of body13 outside.

‘Woe, then’, says the wise man, ‘to those who are awaiting that resurrection, for not less may that resurrection


p.251

be named a return out of death into death to abide in death than the resurrection of the righteous a return out of death into life to abide in life.’

This, then, is the death of the soul, its perishing and departure, through sins and vices, from the all-golden life, that is, from God. For as the soul is the life of the body so God is the life of the soul. And as the death of the body is its departure from the soul, so the death of the soul is its departure from God because of its sins and its vices. Then, however, there is a resurrection for the soul, when it returns, through virtues and good works, to the Lord, and that is possible no other way except through the voice of the Son of God, that is, through fulfilment of the teaching of the Lord.

It is proper to know that there are two resurrections, namely, a first resurrection and a second resurrection. This is the first resurrection, the resurrection of the soul from sins in virtues through making repentance; and that resurrection is for the righteous only. The second resurrection, however, is the Resurrection which, on Doomsday, will be for all men out of death. And though that death is one and the same according to general nature, yet it bears various shapes and forms because of the multitude of happenings and accidents through which it leaves each one therein.

Now the general Resurrection which shall be beyond on the Day of Judgment is not the same as the resurrection which in the authority is called Praestrigia, that is, an apparitional resurrection, like the pythonism. Nor is it the same as the resurrection called Revolutio, that is, the transmigration of the soul into various bodies, after the example of the transmigrated persons. Nor the resurrection called Metaformatio, that is, transfiguration, after the example of werwolves. Nor is it the same as the resurrection called Subductio, that is subduction, as in the case of the prematurely dead. Nor the resurrection called Suscitatio, that is, the a wakening of the dead by a miracle, after the example of Lazarus.

This then is what will happen there. In the general


p.253

Resurrection all men will arise at the age of thirty in their proper shape and form, with completeness of their bodies and all their senses, with completeness also of their hairs and their nails and every other member. And everyone will, through the strength and might of the Lord, take his own soul into union with his proper body, and will abide continually in eternal life, without age, without decay. For that assuredly is the true resurrection which is called in Scripture a second resurrection, in comparison with the first resurrection, that is, the resurrection which takes place through repentance.

But whosoever does not believe perfectly and completely in the resurrcction of the human race in this wise shall be left out of the everlasting salvation which is promised to the saints and to the righteous for their faith.

‘But, O man’, saith the sage, ‘if thou deem it difficult to believe in this miracle of the Resurrection, consider the other works of the Lord; and though these are more numerous, not the less are they miracles. Behold the breadth of the sky and its amplitude, the size of the earth, the abyss of the sea which surrounds that earth on every quarter, and all the creatures that are therein. Behold, again, the angels of heaven, yea, behold those creatures and the other creatures that have been made of nothing through the strength and might of the Lord. For it is much less of a miracle to make of matter at present any structure through the Word of God than to make there at the beginning all creatures of nothing through that Word. For the Voice of God which is now declared here (as being that) whereby the Resurrection will be for all the dead is the same as the Word whereby He made at first all creatures out of nothing.’

‘O man, then’, saith the sage, ‘let the huge trees assure for thee this miracle of the Resurrection: the bodies of men and of the other animals which are born and brought forth from the petty seeds: the risings, also, of the stars after setting: the renewal of the grasses and the herbs and of every other thing in which there is increase and quickening.’14


p.255

The hour will come when all the dead will arise through the proclamation of the Son of God 15 and then those that have done good will arise to the resurrection of life, but those that have done evil to the resurrection of punishment and Doom. There will appear the Divine Judge in the shape in which He was sentenced by a human judge. There will He pass judgment righteously on men in the shape in which he was judged unrighteously by men. Then, too, will appear the righteous Judge of the human race, the Lord Jesus Christ, in a shape wherein it is possible for all—both righteous and sinners—to behold Him, that is, in the shape of His Manhood.

Then also He will bestow rewards on the righteous and inflict punishments on the undevout. For those that have no participation now in the first resurrection, that is, in the resurrection of the soul, those will all arise in the general Resurrection, and yet they will receive neither peace nor union, prosperity nor joy at the hands of the Lord; but they will be hurled from Him into the awful prison of hell, and there, for their various ill-deserts, they will endure unequal pains and punishments. And though great and vast be the heed that one may give to that pain, it is nothing in comparison to beholding the pain itself as it is.

Those, however, that will now arise through Christ in the first resurrection, that is, the resurrection which takes place through repentance, will also arise there through Christ in the Resurrection of life everlasting, and He will take them with Him into the everlasting kingdom in the presence of the Heavenly Father for evermore. Then for their virtues and for their good works, the righteous will receive a vast reward, to wit, the Lord Himself, from whom they got those virtues and good works; for the Lord will be there the fullness of every happiness and delight for the Church. 'Tis He then that will be seen for ever by the Church, without limit, without end, that will be loved without tedium, that will be praised without wearinwss; for this is, of a truth, the everlasting life which is promised to the saints and to the righteous after resurrection, the presence of the noble, holy Trinity, Father and Son and Holy Ghost.