Something I once wrote to a Catholic gentleman:
How do you know that Jesus was employing "phenomenological language" in Jn 11:11-14? The metaphor of "sleep" for death was a common one that the ancient Greeks also utilized. We even find David using this metaphor in Ps 13:3: "Consider and answer me, O Jehovah my God: Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death" (ASV). Dan 12:2 also enunciates the Hebrew understanding of death that is clearly consonant with Ps 146:3-4. This passage [Dan 12:2] foretells that "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." This passage does not indicate that the writer is speaking phenomenologically.
In the NT, Jesus himself "awakened" Jairus' daughter in the presence of a crowd composed of cynical observers who 'knew she was dead,' though Jesus said she slept. The context of Luke 8:49-56 shows that the girl did not simply "appear" to be sleeping; she was sleeping "the sleep of death." Her spirit had gone out of her [as it were] and she was dead. In other words, she was conscious of nothing at all (Job 3:11-19). But the young girl and Lazarus were also resurrected or brought back to life by the Messiah of God. They did not simply appear to be sleeping in death; they were sleeping the "sleep of death."
"For Sheol cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: They that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth" (Isa 38:18).
"O LORD, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you. Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction? Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?" (Ps 88:1-12)
"And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep" (Acts 7:59 ASV).