On Vampires and Revenants Resurrecting from the Dead

Because this is the haunted month of Halloween here's something to spook ya all!

I'm always interested in new angles to argue my case against Christianity. Kris Keys does that in the excellently researched essay below. He argues there is more evidence for the resurrection of Vampires and Revenants than there is for the resurrection of Jesus.

Introductory comments by Kris Keys:

Well this is my first time writing a blog post and little did I know it would be for the website Debunking Christianity!! I find this to be completely hilarious as I am not in of myself militantly opposed to Christianity in of itself; I tend to dislike Evangelicals but that is because I view them as hypocritical and blatantly power hungry but of course this description would not apply to all Christians. As probably the readers of this post have deduced by now I am not a Christian, but I am also not an atheist either. I tend to be rather eclectic in my views. I fancy myself to be broad minded and open to change.

I am a schoolteacher by profession, and I have taught both social studies and science at the high school level. I have dual degrees in both fields. In my not remotely enough spare time I enjoy reading folklore, Medieval history, sociology, anthropology and other subjects. Basically a lot of stuff.  Over the years I have heard the Christian argument for the physical resurrection of Jesus and at one time I found this argument to be convincing, but more and more for many varied reasons I became rather skeptical of it. 

None of this explains though, how this essay came about! Nothing remarkable about it really. I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw John Loftus’s profile. In discussion with him I mentioned that one could use the resurrection argument to demonstrate the existence of vampires and I showed him a response I wrote to a friend of mine on this.  John asked me to do a write up for him.

So here is a write up I never seriously figured I would write up on a blog, one that I never suspected I would write for. So I hope everyone enjoys it. So without further ado, here is my attempt to show that the Christian argument for the resurrection of Jesus would also demonstrate vampires exist. I will leave it up to you dear readers to determine if Jesus rose from the dead and if you need to invest in crucifixes and garlics now; or that perhaps claims of the dead returning bodily just should not be given the benefit of the doubt. You decide.

--On Vampires and Revenants Resurrecting from the Dead, by Kris Keys

Christians argue that Christianity is unique among religions in that it has a verifiable miracle as its foundation; that of Jesus of Nazareth being resurrected from the dead. The arguments for this are as follows:

1.) Jesus’ death via crucifixion. This again is well attested from both Biblical and non-Biblical accounts. Considering the shamefulness of this claim it is highly unlikely to be something Early Christians would make up.

2.) Jesus was buried in a tomb which was later discovered to be empty. This issue is the most controversial premises among scholars, but it will be conceded by the author of this paper as the Synoptics and John do teach this.

3.) Postmortem appearances of Jesus. The accounts from 1st Corinthians, Synoptics and John teach this happened.

4.) Conversion of Paul. This is considered important because Paul was hostile to Early Christianity and converted to the movement based on having some sort of encounter with what he believed was the resurrected Jesus.  

Christians argue that only the actual resurrection of Jesus can explain the origins of Christianity and that various non resurrection based arguments cannot explain all the data.

The problem with this argument is the saying: “That which proves too much proves nothing”. An example of this fallacy is below:

If someone says, “You can’t be an atheist, because it’s impossible to disprove the existence of God”, you can answer “That argument proves too much. If we accept it, we must also accept that you cannot disbelieve in Bigfoot, since it’s impossible to disprove his existence as well.”

The argument above proved too much, therefore in the end it proved nothing. Another example of this might be as follows:

“It is always wrong to take people’s money or property.”

The problem with this statement is that it disproves the commonly accepted premises that governments have the right to tax people and to confiscate dangerous items from people. It would also disprove the right of someone to take a gun from someone attacking them. It would disprove the right of a parent to take away toys from a misbehaving child.

This argument in the end proves too much, therefore it proves nothing. Thus, the argument is worthless.

The Apologist argument for the resurrection is vulnerable to a similar criticism in that if it can be considered a successful argument for the resurrection of Jesus it would demonstrate dead people can also rise as revenants (vampires), as I will demonstrate below. The evidence for the return of the dead as revenants is at least as good as the resurrection of Jesus, or more than likely, superior to the evidences as used by apologetics. Unless a Christian wishes to concede the existence of revenants they will have to concede their arguments for the resurrection have proven too much, therefore they have proven nothing at all.

A revenant was the corpse of a wicked person who returned from the dead with his consciousness from before death. It would harass people, especially his former family. On occasions it killed people. It was known to spread disease. The corpse would eventually return to its grave and rise again to do these activities until it was destroyed. 

The word revenant will be used to describe these case as it comes from the French word revenir which means to return. Hence revenants are ones who have returned from the dead and occupy their now dead corpses which they reanimate. Some of these cases in particular, ones from the Calmet accounts, would be considered vampires by modern people. But in the past when these cases were recorded, people did not think of revenants and vampires as clearly distinct categories. 

A corpse coming back into consciousness by a revenir process is in many ways similar to the resurrection, except unlike the resurrection, the body of the revenant continues to decompose except for the efforts of the revenant to prevent this. Both type of cases though involve a body returning to existence through the efforts of super powerful entities, either the deity Yahweh or Satan. Resurrections are clearly done by Yahweh, however revenants can return either by Yahweh as a curse, or by Satan as a way to torment both the revenant and the living.

Cases From the Middle Ages.

William of Newburgh, Walter Map,  the Abbot of Burton and others discussed these cases in the Middle Ages. They do not give a cause for these forms of transformed corpses which retain their consciousness, but they vouch for the authenticity of them. All these authors were sober minded writers from their time period who claimed to base their accounts on eyewitness testimony. They are considered to be excellent historians of their time periods.

The  listing below will present key cases from the Middle Ages to show how in every way, these cases produce the same evidence for corpses returning from the dead as revenants, just as Christian apologists present for the corpse of Jesus returning in a resurrected state.

Sources to be analyzed:

1.  1)    William of Newburgh:  Berwick Revenant  and Levin Revenant

2.  2)    William of Malmesbury: Witch of Berkeley

3.  3)    Geoffrey of Burton : Vampires of Drakelow

4.  4)    Walter Map: Welshman Revenant

5   5)   Neplach of Opatovice: Shepherd called Myslata

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-- Berwick Revenant-1198:

Evidence of Death - “having been buried, after his death”, and  “horrible carcass.

Empty Grave - “saliied forth… out of his grave by night”  and returning to his tomb before daylight”.

Appearances to the living - “pursued by a pack of dogs” and “striking great fear into the neighbors”.

Addendum - After the body was destroyed the commotion ceased.

-- Levin Revenant 1198:

Evidence of Death - A certain woman died in Lewin and was buried.

Empty Grave - “she rose”.

Appearances to the living - “she rose and killed many, and ran after whom she pleased”. “When she was transfixed (impaled) blood flowed as if from a living creature” and “after she was impaled she kept rising”.

Additional Sources- Neplach of Opatovice 1344

Addendum- Cremation could only be done by wood from  the roof of a church.

-- Revenant- Witch of Berkeley from 1140:

Evidence of Death - Her family buried her.

Empty Grave - A devil undid the chains to her coffin.

Appearances to the living - Hooked to a black horse by the devil and her screams could be heard for four miles.

Addendum - Her body was sewn inside a sack and chained up yet she still rose. Priests could not stop her body from being seized.

-- Revenant- Vampires of Drakelow from 1090:

Evidence of Death -  they were both suddenly struck down dead. Next morning they were placed in wooden coffins and buried.

Empty Grave - The whole following night they walked through the paths and fields of the village, now in the shape of men

Appearances to the living - They spoke to the other peasants, banging on the walls of their houses and shouting to those listening inside “Move quickly move! Get going! Come!”

-- Welshman Revenant from 1192:

Evidence of Death - A Welshman of evil life died of late.

Empty Grave- A knight William Laundon fought the revenant in singular combat, drove it back to it’s grave and then destroyed it.

Appearances to the living - after four nights took to coming back every night to the village, and will not desist from summoning singly and by name his fellow-villagers.

Addendum- Bishop instructed the people to “cut the neck through with a spade, and sprinkle the body and the grave well with holy water”. This failed to stop the vampire.

-- Revenant- Shepherd called Myslata from 1336:

Evidence of Death - a certain shepherd called Myslata died

Empty Grave - he was exhumed for cremation, he swelled up like an ox and roared terribly

Appearances to the living - Every night he rose and went about every farm in the area and spoke to frighten and kill people. When he had been impaled with a stake, he said: "They hurt me much, as they gave me a staff to defend me from the dogs." “He swelled up like an ox and roared terribly".

Addendum- anyone whom he called by name at night, died within eight days.

-----------------------------

Each of the sources used for these medieval accounts are considered to be excellent historians or chroniclers of their time period. There is no reason to think that they fabricated these accounts, nor that they were added later by other anonymous writers. Unlike the Gospel accounts whose authorship is disputed and which there is evidence of these accounts having textual editing, the authorship of these sources about revenants is clearly known,  and there is no reason to think these accounts came from any other source than that of these highly educated men. 

These accounts are independent accounts. These sources are by any measure far superior to the Gospel accounts in every way. Unlike the Gospel accounts they are independent sources as  the authors of Matthew and Luke depend on Mark as a source, while John had an awareness of them. If these Medieval accounts are not considered good enough to accept the existence of revenants, then the Gospels are not good enough to accept the existence of resurrected people.

These authors  are highly educated men of their time period and in fact they display a level of education  that is superior to that of Luke and Paul. They are skeptical men unlike Luke and Paul, as William of Newburgh shows in the case of the Berwick Revenant:

It would not be easy to believe that the corpses of the dead should sally (I know not by what agency) from their graves, and should wander about to the terror or destruction of the living, and again return to the tomb, which of its own accord spontaneously opened to receive them, did not frequent examples, occurring in our own times, suffice to establish this fact, to the truth of which there is abundant testimony. It would be strange if such things should have happened formerly, since we can find no evidence of them in the works of ancient authors, whose vast labor it was to commit to writing every occurrence worthy of memory; for if they never neglected to register even events of moderate interest, how could they have suppressed a fact at once so amazing and horrible, supposing it to have happened in their day? Moreover, were I to write down all the instances of this kind which I have ascertained to have befallen in our times, the undertaking would be beyond measure laborious and troublesome; so I will fain add two more only (and these of recent occurrence) to those I have already narrated, and insert them in our history, as occasion offers, as a warning to posterity.

Clearly William of Newburgh is skeptical but the sheer weight of the evidence convinced him. He indicates he's discussing these examples of revenants to warn people. Can this level of skepticism be found in any accounts of Jesus within the New Testament? No it cannot. Therefore, these men are excellent sources to determine if revenant bodies exist.

William of Malmesbury relates an account from personably talking to an eyewitness, something that the Gospels lack:

At the same time something similar occurred in England, not by divine miracle, but by infernal craft; which when I shall have related, the credit of the narrative will not be shaken, though the minds of the hearers should be incredulous; for I have heard it from a man of such character, who swore he had seen it, that I should blush to disbelieve.

Chart:

Revenant

Reported by Whom and When

Evidence of Death.

Empty Grave

Appearances to the living

Additional Sources

Addendum

Berwick Revenant

William of Newburgh 1198

“ having been buried, after his death”

 

“ horrible carcass”

“ saliied forth… out of his grave by night”

 

“ returning to his tomb before daylight”

“ pursued by a pack of dogs”

 

“ striking great fear into the neighbors”

 

After the body was destroyed the commotion ceased

Levin Revenant

William of Newburgh 1198

 

A certain woman died in Lewin(Levin) and was buried.

“ she rose”

“ she rose and killed many, and ran after whom she pleased.”

“ when she was transfixed (impaled) blood flowed as if from a living creature”

 

“ after she was impaled she kept rising”

 

 

Neplach of Opatovice 1344

Cremation could only be done by wood from  the roof of a church.

Witch of Berkeley

William of Malmesbury

1140

Her family buried her

A devil undid the chains to her coffin

Hooked to a black horse by the devil and her screams could be heard for four miles

 

Her body was sewn inside a sack and chained up yet she still rose.

 

Priests could not stop her body from being seized

Vampires of Drakelow

Geoffrey of Burton 1090

they were both suddenly struck down dead. Next morning they were placed in wooden coffins and buried

The whole following night they walked through the paths and fields of the village, now in the shape of men carrying wooden coffins on their shoulders

They spoke to the other peasants, banging on the walls of their houses and shouting to those listening inside “Move, quickly move! Get going! Come!”

 

 

Welshman Revenant

Walter Map

A Welshman of evil life died of late

A knight William Laundon fought the revenant in singular combat, drove it back to it’s grave and then destroyed it.

after four nights took to coming back every night to the village, and will not desist from summoning singly and by name his fellow-villagers

 

A knight William Laundon fought the revenant in singular combat, drove it back to it’s grave and then destroyed it.

 

Bishop instructed the people to

 

“cut the neck through with a spade, and sprinkle the body and the grave well with holy water

 

This failed to stop the vampire.

 

 

Shepherd called Myslata

Neplach of Opatovice 1336

a certain shepherd called Myslata died

he was exhumed for cremation, he swelled up like an ox and roared terribly

 Every night he rose and went about every farm in the area and spoke to frighten and kill people. When he had been impaled with a stake, he said: They hurt me much, as they gave me a staff to defend me from the dogs

 

he swelled up like an ox and roared terribly

 

anyone whom he called by name at night, died within eight days.

It is clear from these texts that the revenants were clearly dead. They were in states of decomposition that was incompatible with any notion of them being alive. Their description is far more detailed in many ways than the Synoptics and John’s accounts of Jesus resurrected body. 

These revenants engaged in post mortem activities such as terrorizing people, engaging in conversations with people, calling people by their names, engaging in physical combat and even carrying their own coffins. Jesus’s post mortem activities were far more civilized but the point remains, these revenants engaged in activities which showed they had intelligence. 

The graves of revenants were empty. Revenant's left their graves and roamed through the night. William Laundon fought one in combat, by driving it back to its grave then destroying it.  

Unlike the Synoptics and John’s these revenant accounts were written far closer to when the revenir happened, so again these accounts are superior to the gospels.

The Welshman Revenant is fascinating because this case goes against the religious notions of the period in that the actions of the Bishop failed to stop it. This would have been considered particularly shameful and such an outcome is unlikely to be recorded Walter Map, a clergymen, unless this was authentic to him and commonly known. All of these cases should be considered shameful as they either demonstrate the power of Satan or that there was such wicked people within their midst that Yahweh revenu them. Thus, much like the crucifixion this element of shame makes them historically certain. 

So, much like Jesus we see this pattern with the Medieval Revenants. 

They were clearly dead.

Their graves were discovered to be empty.

They engaged in intelligent post mortem activities including conversations with people.

Skeptical sources accepted these cases much like the skeptical Paul accepted the resurrection of Jesus once he had clear evidence it happened.

The skeptical sources wrote about these cases as being recent occurrences. 

William of Newburgh said, they were “occurring in our own times” and “ these of recent occurrence.” 

Unlike the Synoptics and John which were written a generation after the death of Jesus these cases came within years of the events. This would make them of the same evidential values as the resurrection account from 1st Corinthians 15 but unlike this statement they are not vague which makes them far superior to the evidence from within the Corinthian text. Christians argue Paul got his knowledge about the resurrection from eyewitnesses of the event such as Peter.

William of Malmesbury indicates he got his knowledge from an eyewitness. William of Newburgh claims "there is abundant testimony" of revenant activity in his day. To deny William of Malmesbury and William of Newburgh claim of witnesses and accept the claim made about Paul having access to eyewitnesses is simply arbitrary.

Any objective individual should see already that the evidence for the dead being restored to life as revenants is far superior than that of Jesus being resurrected. If not, why not?

Cases from the Enlightenment Period.

Revenants are also well documented in European beliefs from the Renaissance and the Enlightenment Period. As evidence for this, graves have been found by archaeologists in which the body was clearly staked in order to stop it from rising.

A very highly educated monk and Jesuit in the 18th century Antoine Calmet documented many of these cases in his book, Treatise on the Apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires or Revenants of Hungary, Moravia, et al which discusses such cases and considers some to be credible.

This book and the author should not be seen as being credulous as it debunks many so called paranormal claims and offers its readership contrasting accounts for many events it describes.  

The cases described below are by Antoine Calmet. I will note the author(s) Calmet is citing, and what chapter of book linked above this account can be found from the book above on pages 243-289.

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--Revenant- “ a woman being just dead”:

Reported by Whom and When - Charles Ferdinand de Schertz, 1706 in the book Magia Posthuma. 

Chapter VIII

Evidence of Death -  The text indicates she was dead and was buried in the cemetery.

Appearances to the living - The living were attacked and so were animals.

Addendum - these events lasted several months.

--Revenant- Shepherd of the Village of Blow:

Reported by Whom and When -  Charles Ferdinand de Schertz, 1706 in the book Magia Posthuma. 

Chapter VIII

Evidence of Death - The people of the town stakes the body of the Shepherd.

Appearances to the living - The shepherd called to the living who always died within eight days. The shepherd derided the living for making him suffer and attacked some dogs with a stick The shepherd strangled various people.

Addendum - The corpse was burned which ended the problem.

--Revenant- Dead Father of the Master of the House of a Haidamagne peasant:

Reported by Whom and When - Monsieur the Count de Cabreras, 1730.  

Chapter VIII 

Evidence of Death -  "the corpse of the spectre was exhumed".

Appearances to the living - Seen by the soldier of the regiment who reported the case. Investigators took depositions from the household who indicated they saw the revenant. All the inhabitants of the village

Addendum - The corpse of the father was like that of a man who just expired and blood like that of a living man. A nail was run through the temple of the corpse’s head. The investigative committee reported this case to the Court of the Emperor which demanded further investigations. The court never once declared this case mistaken or a fraud.

--Revenant - Old man of Kivsiloa:

Reported by Whom and When - Lettres Juives 137, 1738 

Chapter IX

Evidence of Death.- The letter clearly indicates the “ Old Man” was dead and buried.

Appearances to the living - He asked his son for food to eat on multiple occasions.

Additional Sources - Baliff of Kivsiloa, Imperial Officer.

Addendum - Son was found dead. Multiple people in the village died. The corpse of the old man was dug up and determined to be in  a fresh state of preservation.  The corpse was staked and burned into ashes.

--Revenant - Arnold Paul (Paole)

Reported by Whom and When - Battuer, Lieutenant of the Regiment of Alexander of Wurtemburg. Clickstenger, surgeon in chief of the regiment of Frustemburch. Guoichitz, Captain at Stallach, 1729-1730.

Chapter X

Evidence of Death - Paole was crushed to death by a wagon.

Appearances to the living - Paole killed four people and cattle.

During the staking by the bailiff the body of Paole screamed as if alive.

Additional Sources - Bailiff of the Village of Oppida Heidanum.

Addendum - Thirty days after the death of Paole four people suddenly died. During his life people remembered Paole being bothered by a Turkish Vampire. Paolo body was identified as a revenant. It was therefore staked. Seventeen additional cases of vampirism ( revenant) were discovered in the village.

--Revenant- “ Famous Vampire” “Uncle of five persons”:

Reported by Whom and When - Letter to Calmet  by L. de Beloz, ci-devant Captain in the Regiment of his Serene Highness the late Prince Alexander of Wirtemberg, 1733.

Chapter XIV

Evidence of Death - The famous vampire was described as several years deceased.

Appearances to the living - The vampire dispatched three nieces and nephews and his brother. Sucked the daughter of his niece. People who had their blood sucked found themselves in pitiable state of  lanquor, weakness and lassitude.

Addendum - The author of the letter swears to the truth of these accounts. These cases were investigated by Duke Charles Alexander of Wirtemberg. The truthfulness of this case was attested by Duke Charles Alexander of Wirtemberg. Twenty four grenadiers of the regiment supported this case. The corpse within the grave was life like and heart was beating. The corpse was staked and beheaded and then it was covered in quicklime. 1,300 people, all worthy of belief, can attest to this case.

--Numerous Cases of Revenants:

Reported by Whom and When - Monsieur de Vassimont, counselor of the Chamber of Counts of Bar. 1745 

Chapter VII

Evidence of Death - Vassimont indicated the men were dead.

Appearances to the living - The revenants would present themselves in a party and sit with acquaintances.

Additional Sources - Several people confirmed this to Calmet.

Addendum - People who met the revenants died.

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Unlike in the medieval cases none of the ones above have a clearly described empty grave. But that does not mean their tombs were not empty. The physical activities engaged in by these revenants indicate they had to be out of their graves when the events happened, in the same way the Synoptics and John indicate Jesus tomb was empty.

These revenants, unlike the Medieval ones, had their corpses in a far better state of preservation but this can be attributed to those revenants drinking the blood of the living. 

The quality of witness to attest to these revenants is far superior to the Medieval cases, which in of themselves were superior to the Synoptics and John in regard to reanimated corpses. So if one accepts the evidence of the Synoptics and John as evidence of the corpse of Jesus being resurrected, then one cannot deny from the Medieval accounts and the Enlightenment Accounts that corpses can be revived in a revenant state.

These Enlightenment accounts parallel the resurrection accounts of Jesus. The revenants were clearly dead, the graves were empty, numerous individuals had postmortem encounters with these revenants, and these encounters convinced skeptical people who then vouched for their authenticity.

This article by Dr Habermas discussed various alternatives to the resurrection and explains why each of them fail. 

I will take a similar approach to show why alternatives fail to explain the revenant cases. 

Question 1.  Could someone have possibly stolen the bodies of these alleged revenants and staged people’s encounter with them?

No, we have far too many cases, people clearly recognized the revenants and later the bodies were found within their graves.

Question 2.  Could the revenants have not been dead and were simply in a state of swoon?

No, the accounts clearly indicated they died and the Medieval cases have clear evidence of advanced decay.

Question 3. Could these have been a hallucination?

No people clearly interacted with the revenants, fought them , and these cases are reported in numerous periods by different authors throughout history. One case had 1,300 witnesses.

Question 4. Could this be a legend?

No they were written within years of the events happened. They are as close to the events as the account of 1st Corinthians 15.

These revenant cases have much in common with the resurrection of Jesus. Skeptical witnesses were brought to belief, there is nothing in Christian theology about some dead becoming revenants, the witnesses were both Christians and Jews who did not have this sort of belief and people vouched for the truthfulness of these claims despite public ridicule.

They have revenu indeed.

Once we consider the failure of naturalistic explanations for the revenants we should consider the supernatural possibility for that at least six hundred years Yahweh or Satan allowed at least some people to return to the living as revenants. This explanation has great explanatory power.

1.) It explains six hundred years worth of data.

2.) It explains the physical nature of these encounters.

3.) It explains the excellent preservation of the bodies in the cases discussed by Calmet.

4.) It explains the shamefulness of these accounts.

5.) It explains the sincerity of thousands of witnesses.

6.) It explains why archaeologist find graves where people are clearly staked. They were revenants. (On a side note has anyone ever found a corpse that was potentially resurrected?) 

7.) It explains the consistency of these accounts over 600 years and in different parts of the world.

Even moderns have such encounters with the revenants such this case and this case.

That which proves too much proves nothing at all. Apologist in seeking to “prove” that Jesus rose from the dead have created a case which demonstrates the existence of revenants.

Apologists need to do one or more of the following:

1) Show in someway that the evidence for the resurrection is superior to the evidence for revenants.

2) Concede they do not have enough evidence for the resurrection.

3) Acknowledge the existence of revenants. 

4) Go to amazon.com and add the following immediately to their shopping carts: crucifixes , garlic, mallet , wooden stakes and every season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for educational purposes alone. (Do not  check out Buffy as that is a sin!!) I strongly recommend amazon prime.

For those seeking to learn more about this issue they should read the books below, alongside the book of Calmet, and the accounts above: 

Strange Histories by Darren Oldridge

Dealing with the dead: mortality and community in medieval and early modern Europe

Get the chapter "Dealing with the Undead in the Later Middle Ages."
The Vampire in Romania by Agnes Murgoci


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