He is not God of dead people, but of living. You are greatly mistaken.”
it is only the dead
who ask questions
as the living
have better questions
that which comes after life
can never be known
until it is life again
it is a serious mistake
to mistake a dead question
for a lived application
This verse is mistranslated and misinterpreted about as much as any other verse in the New Testament, since a literal rendering is frequently understood to mean that God has no relationship to the dead. Such literal translations need to be abandoned in many instances, with a resultant complete recasting of the sentence, e.g. ‘These dead persons, for whom God is their God, are really living’; ‘he is the God of living people, including those who are regarded as dead but they are living’; or ‘If God is the God of certain people that means that they must have life, even though they have died’. These alternatives are admittedly extreme “paraphrases”, in the general sense of this term, but the only alternative in many languages is to state categorically that God has nothing to do with people after they are dead and that his only concern is for the living—an obvious untruth, but one which has been emphatically stated in numerous literal translations. ~ Bratcher380
This quote provides a much needed corrective to literalism even as it reveals a built in bias for a particular interpretation regarding a creedal understanding of G*D’s relationship with those who have died. This arena of speculation can be as fraught as that of what becoming undead might portend.
In some sense this is exactly what Jesus has been living. His returning of people to health and community is very much focused on the living. Readers will have to wrestle with how much stock to put in Jesus harking back to an older Hebrew understanding of dead is dead.
The Scholars Bible translates: “This is not the God of the dead, only of the living—you’re constantly missing the point!” The related Five Gospels104 and Jesus Seminar comments: “Most of the Fellows were inclined to think that this exchange betrays the situation of the Christian community after theological debate had been well developed long after Jesus’ death.”
For now rejoice and be glad to be alive.