Sunday Extra: The Quick and the Undead

With the release of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (yes – really) it set me wondering whether there was anything in the notion of The Bible and Zombies. I know it sounds daft, but then daft ideas start to appeal to me, given enough time. The phrase ‘the quick and the dead’ appears in the book of Acts and in Peter’s first 1st century email and it was absorbed into what we call The Apostles Creed – referring to the living (the quick) and those who have left this world (the dead). God has the authority to judge both, we are told, bearing in mind that we are talking of a God who is slow to anger and rich in love (Psalms 145 & 103), and who gave up his son to rescue both the quick and the dead.

But what about ‘the undead’? In movies there’s quite a lot of ‘quick’ people around them, trying to escape their clutches. Rewind in the Bible to Ezekiel’s epic and we find the prophet milling around in a valley of the long-dead. Bones carpeting the dusty floor. He’d rather not be there but God has another plan, and before he can say, Jane Austen, there’s a rattling sound and a ghostly shuddering and those dead bones start moving back together, hooking hips and locking joints. Muscles and sinew start growing back, spreading like ivy on speed, and in a chilling, macabre scene, the undead clamber to their feet and stand there staring at Ezekiel. There’s an army of them, but no mention of them threatening to attack. Or threatening to do a river dance or a line dance or anything at all really. They’re standing stock still, like a Madam Tussaud’s wax tribute. Ezekiel’s not so keen on hanging around seeing the sights, but before he can make like a tree and lea… a voice whispers to him to call for the breath of God to thunder through the valley. Which it then does. And the undead suddenly become the ex-dead. A living, breathing, sweating body of people. Not unlike a crowd at a 6 nations rugby match.

Another bizarre reference to the no-longer-dead occurs in Matthew’s writings, chapter 27. As Jesus dies and surrenders his life for the cosmos, the earth shakes and the ground cracks and splinters in various places, the surge of divine power is so great. And some of the nearby graves split open. Hands shove through the earth, and mud-encrusted fingers haul mud-encrusted bodies from the grip of death and back out into the land of the living. Yikes! These once-dead folks scramble to their feet, maybe have a chat for a while and then, after Jesus has bust out of his own tomb, they wander back to town to frighten a few relatives. Must have been fairly shocking, and I’m not sure if any of the living turned into ‘the quick’ when they answered the door… ‘Ah! Mum, great great great uncle Tom’s back!’ ‘No dear, you mean – great great great great uncle Tom and he can’t possibly be back he’s been gone 167 ye… oh! Hello… Aggghhhh!’

I shall continue to ponder the idea, and in the meantime, in case Lizzie Bennett v The Undead appeals, here’s the trailer.

 

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