Can you use the verb "to resurrect" intransitively?

I’m quite sure it can be used transitively: “The writers of Dallas resurrected Bobby Ewing in episode xyz.”

But is it also possible to use it intransitively? As in “Bobby Ewing resurrected in episode xyz of Dallas.”

It’s transitive only. In your second example you would use passive voice and say, “Bobby Ewing was resurrected in episode xyz of Dallas.”

To use perhaps the most famous example:
Jesus was resurrected on the third day. (transitive) Or,
Jesus rose again on the third day. (intransitive)

I believe the question is whether it can be used intransitively with the patient becoming the subject*. There is a class of verbs that function in this way, such as open:*They opened the door.
The door opened.*At this time, I don’t think anyone is using resurrect in this way, but sometimes new usages emerge (usually in slang or informal speech) to convey new meanings or connotations.

Most verbs which are considered transitive can be used intransitively to express general ideas, and the subject remains the agent, but I don’t think that’s what the OP means.
*the grammatical patient

So apparently with ‘resurrect’ the person would be grammatically the patient but medically the former patient? :wink:

I will add that if you used your original sentence, you would be understood from the context, but intransitive usage would not be standard. That usage could certainly evolve.

This is nonsense. Intransitive uses of the verb, in the sense of “to rise again from the dead”, are well-attested. The Oxford English Dictionary has quite a number of examples, dating as far back as 1823 and as recently as 1969.

Here’s what British philosopher Jeremy Bentham had to say on this famous example (bolding mine):

The syntax and context make it clear that “resurrect” is being used intransitively, to refer to the act of Jesus (and by extension, all men) returning to life after death.

(The quote is from his book Not Paul, But Jesus.)

Thanks for the replies. In case it interests you, I wondered about this not in a religious context but when I was discussing a court case with colleagues. It involves a challenge against a legal act which repealed a previous act, and I wanted to express the idea that this could, if successful, bring back the first act.

Well, that’s not particularly relevant. All non-religious uses of the word are simply figurative uses of the original religious sense. All but one of the intransitive examples of “resurrect” quoted by the OED are figurative uses.

Well, you can’t argue with the OED. However, I do not have access to it and there are other dictionaries that do not include the intransitive use.

BTW what evidence of usage meets the bar for crossing from “this author is making an error” to “this is now considered standard usage”?

Most dictionaries don’t include all the senses that the gargantuan, 20-volume OED does. :slight_smile: However, a lot of prominent ones do include the intransitive sense of “resurrect”, including the American Heritage Dictionary, the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, the Collins English Dictionary, WordNet, and the crowdsourced Wiktionary.

Every dictionary sets its own criteria, but uses by a variety of educated and respected writers (such as the aforementioned Jeremy Bentham) usually figure into the decision.