I like a good zombie flick as much as the next guy, though I'm not as up on my zombie lore as many of my friends. So when I see a topic on zombies in the Bible and comments like "Jesus was the first zombie" my ears prick up.
There are several things that people may bring up in this discussion. The obvious choices are Jesus and Lazarus. Both of them died and were laid in their tomb but later "got better" and came back to life. But there are other events like this spread throughout the Bible
Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”
“Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!”
The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!”
1 Kings 17:17-23
When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch. He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the Lord. Then he got on the bed and lay on the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out on him, the boy’s body grew warm. Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out on him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.
2 Kings 4:32-35
But the most "classic" example has to be after Jesus died.
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
Sounds like zombies, right?
The problem comes in the definition. Historically zombies came from voodoo and were enslaved automatons. What we currently view in popular culture as a zombie (such as in Zombieland and The Walking Dead) really originated in George Romero's classic 1968 Night of the Living Dead. In our current parlance we see zombies as rotting undead creatures who seek out brains and human flesh upon which to feast. That doesn't exactly sound like what we read in the Bible, does it? Everywhere in the Bible that we see someone brought to life after dying they are perfectly fine. They aren't decomposing and they don't develop a craving for cerebrum. They are also resurrected by the power of God and His prophets, not by some curse or virus. I don't think that if Lazarus had bitten one of his sisters after he came out of the grave that Mary or Martha would become undead themselves. If we call these resurrected people "zombies", then anyone who has been clinically dead but revived by CPR is also a zombie.
However, it would be very cool to see a movie about the crucifixion of Christ actually show that scene out of Matthew!