Some well-known Bible scholars and many Bible critics believe resurrection was not in the Old Testament (OT) or that it was mentioned very vaguely and wasn’t definitive until the New Testament (NT) because of Jesus. The term resurrection can be applied in two ways. Firstly, it can mean that someone is raised from the dead back to life with the understanding their body will die again, such as when Jesus and his disciples raised people from the dead. Secondly, it can apply to when someone is raised from the dead never to bodily die again, like the Lord Jesus and at the future judgment of the dead saints. This in no way refers to zombies (or mummies), as some have claimed, since zombies are still dead while they walk around without restored bodies, which is scientifically impossible for humans.
When people deny resurrection was OT doctrine, I’m assuming they are referring to the second scenario. However, it seems to me that the first scenario above (which occurred several times in the OT) would automatically mean the second scenario is true. Two Bible scholars have said the following about resurrection in the OT:
“Resurrection is pretty central to the New Testament, in case you haven’t noticed. Yet searching for that kind of resurrection … in the Old Testament makes you come up basically empty-handed.” Peter Enns
“… for most of the Old Testament the idea of resurrection was, at best, dormant.” Jon Paulien
According to Luke 24, when Jesus appeared to two disciples on the way to Emmaus, they spoke of Christ’s death and resurrection with disbelief. Then Jesus said,
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory [i.e. the resurrection]? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:26-27
The doctrine of being raised from the dead was present beginning with Moses and continued through all the prophets. Jesus explained this earlier in Luke 20:37-38 when he stated, “Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living…” Moses spoke in the sense that the Lord was still continually the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as if they were considered living. This testified of his belief in the resurrection.
Hebrews 11:19 testifies that Abraham’s faith in God was so strong, he believed that if Isaac died on the altar where God told him to sacrifice his son, the Lord would raise him from the dead. Resurrection pops up in other places in the OT also, such as:
–1 Kings 17:17-24 where Elijah raises a boy from the dead.
–2 Kings 4:32-37 where Elisha raises a boy from the dead.
–2 Kings 13:20-21 where a dead body touches Elisha’s bones and comes back to life.
–Job 19:25-26, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:”
–Ps. 16:10, “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”
–Ps. 17:15, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.”
–Ps. 49:15, “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.”
–Isaiah 26:19, “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.”
–Dan. 12:2, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
–Hos. 6:1-2, “Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.”
–Hos. 13:14, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.”