It's confusing in many of the NT scriptures to parse out what "death" actually meant. To be a member of the Essenes was to be considered "among the living." All others were depicted as non-living, leprous, etc. through various rhetorical devices, or in case of women, as harlots. For example, in the Gospel of Thomas, Mary Magdalene-and by extrapolation women in general-is described as "unworthy of life." To the modern ear this sounds like outrageous misogeny, at the risk of angering Jesus himself, who very well may have been Mary's husband at the time, and his mild reaction reveals the actual content of the statement. I think the real interpretation is that there was a debate as to whether a women could be a member of the Essene community in her own right- thus worthy of life. Furthermore, the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead may be interpreted as Lazarus being expelled from the community and thus becoming dead. Jesus, possibly exercising a priestly prerogative which he, but no other could, restored his status a member, thus "raising him from the dead."
I'm interested in your opinion Charles.
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.