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Image:Juan de Flandes 001.jpg
Resurrection of Lazarus by Juan de Flandes, around 1500

Lazarus is the name of two separate characters in the New Testament. The more famous one is the subject of the miracle recounted in John 11:41–44, in which Jesus raises him from the dead. The other one appears only in Jesus' parable of Lazarus and Dives recorded in Luke 16:19–31. Due to this story the name is often used to connote restoration, as in the scientific term Lazarus taxon, referring to organisms that reappear in the fossil record after a period of apparent extinction; there are numerous literary uses of the term. The Lazarus phenomenon refers to an event in which a person spontaneously returns to life (the heart starts beating again) after resuscitation has been given up.


[edit] The parable of Lazarus

Main article: Lazarus and Dives

In the Gospel of Luke 16:19–31, Lazarus is the beggar at the rich man's table, who receives his reward in the Hereafter, in Abraham's bosom at the everlasting banquet, while the rich man craves a drop of water from Lazarus' finger. Lazarus is the only person in a New Testament parable given a name; the rich man of the parable has been named Dives by tradition, although the name does not appear in Luke.

For the last century, "Catholic exegetes now commonly accept the story as a parable" (CE 1910, "Lazarus"). "The purpose of the parable is to teach us the evil result of the unwise neglect of one's opportunities. Lazarus was rewarded, not because he was poor, but for his virtuous acceptance of poverty; the rich man was punished, not because he was rich, but for vicious neglect of the opportunities given him by his wealth" (Ibid).

[edit] The miracle of Lazarus

Lazarus is also a man who lived in the town of Bethany ("Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha", John 11:1). The sisters are realli immediately identified: "Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill." So the sisters sent word to Jesus that the one he loved was ill. Jesus tarried where he was, and when he arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days, and Martha reproached him. (However, it should be noted that Jesus had only delayed his travel by two days, implying that even if he had set out immediately, Lazarus would have died.) When Jesus assured her Lazarus would rise, she took his meaning for the resurrection on Judgment Day, to which he replied, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (11:25–26 KJV). In the presence of a crowd of Jewish mourners, Jesus had the stone rolled away from the tomb and bid Lazarus to come out, and so he did, still wrapped in his grave-cloths. The narrator claims many other Jews were convinced of Jesus' divinity after visiting Lazarus, but says no more of the individual. The miracle, the longest coherent narrative in John aside from the Passion, is the climax of John's "signs" and leads directly to the decision of Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin to kill Jesus.

[edit] The developed Lazarus legend

According to Christian tradition recorded in the 13th century Golden Legend, Lazarus was the brother of Martha and Mary Magdalene, a Pharisee, but because of the rumoured plots fled for his life to Cyprus. There he later became the first bishop of Kittim, appointed directly by Paul and Barnabas, and lived another thirty years. Further establishing the apostolic nature of Lazarus' appointment was the story that the bishop's pallium was presented to Lazarus by the Virgin Mary, who had woven it herself. Such apostolic connections were central to the claims to autocephaly made by the bishops of Kittim—subject to the patriarch of Jerusalem—during the period 325–413. The church of Kittim was declared (or confirmed) self-governing in 413. Stories say that he would always include something sweet in every meal, but that he was only known to have laughed once in that time. That was when he observed someone stealing a clay pot, causing him to smile and say with a laugh, "clay stealing clay".

Medieval tradition also sent Mary, Martha, and Lazarus to France after the Crucifixion. Provencal tradition, in particular, held Lazarus as the first bishop of Marseilles, while Martha purportedly went on to tame a terrible beast in nearby Tarascon. Pilgrims visited their tombs at the abbey of Vézelay in Burgundy. In the Abbey of the Trinity at Vendôme, a phylactery was said to contain a tear shed by Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus. The cathedral of Autun, not far away, is dedicated to Lazarus as Saint Lazaire.

In the section In paradisum, which often appears embedded in the Requiem, the deceased is wished to ParadiseIn paradisum deducant te Angeli— with Lazarus, who once was poor (cum Lazaro quondam paupere), reminds us how often the Lazarus of John, who possessed a rock-cut tomb and was resurrected, has been conflated with the beggar Lazarus of Luke.

The Legenda Aurea records the grand lifestyle imagined for Lazarus and his sisters in the 14th century:

Mary Magdalene had her surname of Magdalo, a castle, and was born of right noble lineage and parents, which were descended of the lineage of kings. And her father was named Cyrus, and her mother Eucharis. She with her brother Lazarus, and her sister Martha, possessed the castle of Magdalo, which is two miles from Nazareth, and Bethany, the castle which is nigh to Jerusalem, and also a great part of Jerusalem, which, all these things they departed among them. In such wise that Mary had the castle Magdalo, whereof she had her name Magdalene. And Lazarus had the part of the city of Jerusalem, and Martha had to her part Bethany. And when Mary gave herself to all delights of the body, and Lazarus entended all to knighthood, Martha, which was wise, governed nobly her brother's part and also her sister's, and also her own, and administered to knights, and her servants, and to poor men, such necessities as they needed. Nevertheless, after the ascension of our Lord, they sold all these things. (Legenda Aurea, Book iv, "Of Mary Magdalene")

[edit] Tombs of Lazarus

The first tomb in Bethany is a place of pilgrimage today. Lazarus' tomb in Cyprus is the site of the Byzantine church, the most notable feature of ancient Kittim (now Larnaka). The discovery and transfer of his relics from Cyprus to Constantinople in 898 is remembered each year on October 17, apostrophized by Arethas, bishop of Caesarea; however, on November 2, 1972, human remains in a marble sarcophagus under the altar were discovered during renovation works in the church at Larnaka, and were identified with part of the saint's relics.

The relics from Constantinople were transferred to France in 1204 as part of the booty of the Fourth Crusade.

Main article: Order of Saint Lazarus.

The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem is a religious/military order, purportedly dating back to the First Crusade. The Order is run by two distinct channels of authority, referred to as the Malta Obedience and the Paris Obedience.

[edit] Modern age

Today Lazarus is honored as a saint by Christians who honor saints. In Cuba a major festival is dedicated to San Lázaro (synchronised with Babalu Ayé), but on December 17. In the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as the Byzantine Catholic Church, the Saturday before Palm Sunday is remembered as "Lazarus Saturday", and the scripture readings and hymns focus on Lazarus as a promise of the resurrection of all. In Christian funerals the idea of the deceased being raised by the Lord as Lazarus was raised is expressed in prayer. In the province of Quebec in Canada, in close proximity to the city of Montreal, there is a town named after "Saint-Lazare". In Paris there is a train station named after Lazarus, "Gare Saint-Lazare" and this latter has been the subject of a painting of the same name by Claude Monet.

[edit] In pop culture

As a well-known and established tale, Lazarus has appeared countless times in music and writing. A few more recent citations of the tale:

  • The band moe. has a song called Lazarus.
  • The name Lazarus has been used in the song "Our Friend Lazarus Sleeps" By I Am Ghost off their album Lovers' Requiem.
  • There is also a song by the contemporary progressive rock band, Porcupine Tree, titled Lazarus.
  • Also, Placebo have a B-side called Lazarus
  • There is also a reference to Lazarus in the song "Sleepwalk Capsules" by the band At The Drive-In from their album Relationship of Command
  • In the movie Casper, the Lazarus is the name of the machine that can bring ghosts back to life.
  • John Howard, during his time as deputy opposition leader, likened his chances of becoming leader of the Liberal Party of Australia to "Lazarus with a Triple-bypass".
  • Saul Williams used the name Lazarus to describe himself while preforming "Amethyst Rock Star" in the movie Slam.
  • The Hours repeat the line 'its the greatest come-back since Lazarus' several times in their song 'Ali in the jungle'.
  • Lazurus is also alluded to in Sylvia Plath's poem Lady Lazarus.
  • "Lazurus Man" is the title of a song on the album "Time Peace" by Terry Collier (Verve Records).
  • On his ...Nothing Like The Sun album, musical artist Sting wrote a song entitled "The Lazarus Heart."
  • Lazurus is a key character in Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s apocalyptic novel A Canticle for Leibowitz.

[edit] See also

Lazarus is mentioned in A Separate Peace, comparing him to Phineas.

[edit] External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

de:Lazarus fr:Lazare it:San Lazzaro di Betania he:לזרוס nl:Lazarus ja:ラザロ pl:Łazarz (postać biblijna) pt:Lázaro ru:Лазарь из Вифании sv:Lasaros zh:拉撒路


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