The Prophets series culminates with this piece, as resurrection from the dead is the hope of the Christian faith. Unlike the other paintings, the subject matter here does not directly reference a Biblical passage, but envisions in oil paint the theme of resurrection. The theme of resurrection takes place throughout the Bible, the most notable of which being the resurrection of Jesus. In this painting, Jesus, who carries a male figure representing all of His people, a metaphor for the way that His resurrection enables the resurrection of the saints.
As in the Isaiah triptych, the materiality of the paint (and therefore the object being painted) is emphasized by making the paint material easily discernable with ridges, bumps, and thick strokes. When depicting the surrounding heavens, which are often viewed as ethereal or purely spiritual, the thick texture demonstrates the link between the reality of the second earth (heaven) and therefore the idea that material, earthly experience has everything to do with spiritual reality. The painting argues that the resurrection is not only spiritual, but very much bodily; Christ raises the saints into a new heaven and a new earth—an affirmation of the material around us, not a departure from it.
Isaiah prophesies, “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.” (26:19)
Written by Caleb and Brie Stoltzfus