Biblical Archaeology Review 36:1, January/February 2010

Strata: The Bible In the News

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

My mother’s father’s father is the only great-grandparent of mine that I know about. He lived 100 years (from 1843 to 1943), and his name was Lazarus Levy. Perhaps, then, it was genetically encoded that I would have some interest in the Biblical Lazarus (whose story is so memorably told in John 11), especially as this figure shows up in the popular press of modern times.

As the following examples amply demonstrate, there is something about the combination of Lazarus and sports that leads to hyperbole (and I’m not, I hasten to add, exaggerating). From the world of rugby (from which I am a complete outsider): “In Biblical terms, the turnaround at Vale has seen one of the Bath Combination’s oldest and most hospitable clubs pull off the greatest comeback since Lazarus” (this from the Bath Chronicle). And: “Not since Lazarus has there been such an unlikely back-from-the-dead tale” (Australia’s Daily Telegraph on the successes of Parramatta’s Eels). Can soccer be far behind? Not if we give credence to this report (from the Scottish edition of the Daily Express): “Davie Weir has been nicknamed ‘Lazarus’ by his stunned Rangers colleagues as he gears up for a shock UEFA Cup return against Fiorentina ... Jokers … reckon Weir’s comeback is of Biblical proportions, with the 37-year-old ‘back from the dead’ for the win-or-bust tie.”

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