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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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LAZARUS (a contracted form of the Heb. name Eleazar, "God has helped," Gr. A4apos), a name which occurs in the New Testament in two connexions.

1. Lazarus Of Bethany, brother of Martha and Mary. The story that he died and after four days was raised from the dead is told by John (xi., xii.) only, and is not mentioned by the Synoptists. By many this is regarded as the greatest of Christ's miracles. It produced a great effect upon many Jews; the Acta Pilati says that Pilate trembled when he heard of it, and, according to Bayle's Dictionary, Spinoza declared that if he were persuaded of its truth he would become a Christian. The story has been attacked more vigorously than any other portion of the Fourth Gospel, mainly on two grounds, (i.) the fact that, in spite of its striking character, it is omitted by the Synoptists, and (ii.) its unique significance. The personality of Lazarus in John's account, his relation to Martha and Mary, and the possibility that John reconstructed the story by the aid of inferences from the story of the supper in Luke x. 40, and that of the anointing of Christ in Bethany given by Mark and Matthew, are among the chief problems. The controversy has given rise to a great mass of literature, discussions of which will be found in the lives of Christ, the biblical encyclopaedias and the commentaries on St John.

2. Lazarus is also the name given by Luke (xvi. 20) to the beggar in the parable known as that of "Lazarus and Dives," illustrating the misuse of wealth. There is little doubt that the name is introduced simply as part of the parable, and not with any idea of identifying the beggar with Lazarus of Bethany. It is curious, not only that Luke's story does not appear in the other gospels, but also that in no other of Christ's parables is a name given to the central character. Hence it was in early times thought that the story was historical, not allegorical (see Lazar).

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Lazarus'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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