Was there a Resurrection of the Dead when Jesus Died?

Answer: Matthew–and only Matthew–tells us that a profound event occurred after Jesus gave up the ghost and rose to heaven. “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama zabachthani? That is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto
many.”(Matthew 27:45-53)

The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, writing during the second half of the first century AD, produced two major works: History of the Jewish War and Antiquities of the Jews, and he had not one word to say about this most extraordinary occurrence. Fifty days after the alleged event, Peter was giving a speech recorded in Acts 2, but said nothing about the saints rising. Paul, who spoke at great length (1 Corinthians 15) to convince his listeners that Jesus’ resurrection had occurred, had nothing to say about it either; surely his listeners would have quite readily accepted the resurrection of Jesus if the resurrection of saints “appearing to many” were a fact.

The appearance of these bodies “unto many” must have been the sensation of a lifetime for the residents of Jerusalem. If this remarkable event actually happened, why did only Matthew report it? About twenty percent of the gospels is repetition so it is not as if New Testament writers did not like to repeat what others have written; repetition of the most mundane events occurs everywhere, so why didn’t Mark, Luke, John, Peter, or Paul write about the dead bodies of the saints marching through Jerusalem, appearing unto many?

Also, how come Matthew doesn’t think we should know the names of the saints that rose from their graves? Why doesn’t he tell us with whom the bodies of the saints met, and what they said–assuming they said anything, and where they went after their appearance unto the many? Did the bodies of the saints
dutifully return to their graves after a polite visit, or did they remain for years among the residents of Jerusalem?

Is there proof of veracity for this event that has so many unanswerable questions? We have an answer that might surprise you: It never happened!.

Content Copyright Gerald Sigal, 1999-2003

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