I basically want to know if anyone has any concrete knowledge of Jesus being in the tomb any time beyond the end of the Sabbath day. I am not looking for any assumptions. Assumptions as in the case of assuming: 1. there were one Sabbath between the burial and resurrection, and making an argument based on that point. 2. One visit by all women at once. 3. That the resurrection took place when the tomb were found empty. 4. The day of crucifixion as day one, etc. And if any contend for a translation for 'OPSE' in Matthew 28:1 as a preposition "after", should give a solid reason. Another is Luke 24:21, this verse eliminates a Friday crucifixion and has it either on Thursday or Wednesday, because 'the third day' is the third day since the crucifixion.
The confusing passage here seems to be Matthew's account, which we will come to in due course. The other accounts, including the apocryphal Gospel of Peter give rather clear indications of timing, so we begin by examining them:
Mark gives us two chronological markers, which I have emphasized above. The first is "when the Sabbath was over", but then he introduces it again with, "Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise." While the timing of the resurrection itself is not noted, the implication from Mark's text seems to be that Jesus rose at dawn.
Luke's account likewise places the arrival of the women at the tomb shortly after dawn on the first day of the week. He, likewise, continues the tradition of noting that it was the first day of the week.
Again, it is the first day of the week, and John's account likewise indicates that it is morning; the phrase "while it was still dark" indicates that if it is not dawn already, dawn is close and darkness is about to pass. This is easily reconciled with Mark and Luke simply by noting the theme of light and dark in John's gospel. Likely he emphasizes the darkness to illustrate Mary of Magdalene's transition from "blindness" to "sight" (so Carson).
We can consider as well the relevant passage in the apocryphal Gospel of Peter, which you have alluded to in your question. I believe it is a later gnostic work of the mid-to-late second century, and hence derivative of rather than formative to the four canonical gospels, but it still might afford some insight into how early Christians conceived of the resurrection for our purposes:
The temporal markers at the beginning are a bit confusing since it introduces a crowd but then seems possibly to back up into the night. Yet, it's clear that several watches have already happened, that people have been sleeping for some time and need to be awoken, and that the resurrection itself is seen as the dawning of a new day. Together what we have seen so far then indicates that the early Christians conceived of the resurrection happening at or near dawn on the first day of the week following Jesus' crucifixion.
So what about Matthew's account? Matthew 28:1 begins:
Most modern translations have something like:
Based on your question, though, it seems you consider the proper English translation to be something like: "Late on the Sabbath..." The grammar is not easy, but there are at least two possible solutions, which would allow Matthew's account to be harmonized with the other accounts. The first is followed by A. H. McNeile: that "Late on the Sabbath" is the correct translation, but that Matthew is using the Roman way of starting/ending days at dawn rather than at sunset. Given the distinctly Jewish character of the rest of Matthew's gospel, though, it is probably better to adopt the view of most modern commentators and BDAG (3), who take ὀψέ as a preposition ("after") rather than an adverb ("late"). The strength of the other traditions placing the resurrection at or near dawn recommends one of these two approaches.
All of this places the bounds on the resurrection as sometime after the Sabbath sundown and before the women arrive early on the first day of the week. While the strong implication of all of these texts is that Jesus rose shortly before the women arrived, further evidence for this can be deduced by the place of "dawn" and its association with resurrection in early Christian thought.
Jesus, "the resurrection and the life", was referred to as the "morning star" (Rev. 22:16). He is said to fulfill Isaiah, who writes that a light has dawned on those dwelling in darkness (Matt. 4:14-16), and he is called the "rising sun" come to us from heaven (Luke 1:78). In other words, Jesus himself was symbolically linked in early Christian thought to the dawning of a new day.
We know as well that the ideas of sleeping and waking were often used by early Christians (and Jesus Christ) of death and resurrection. For instance, in Matthew 9:24, Jesus refers to the dead girl as only sleeping because his plan is to wake her up (i.e. resurrect her). The same is found in John 11, where Jesus tells the disciples "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up" and when pressed on this he says, "Lazarus is dead" and we of course later see him resurrected. So too the analogy is seen clearly in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 where Paul writes, "For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him."
We see in 1 Thessalonians 4 as well the clear link between an eschatological new day and resurrection. So also in Romans 13 we read, "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here." The Romans are therefore to live in light of the resurrection as one living in daylight.
The summation of this points to a deep link in Christian thought between resurrection and the dawn of a new day, which in turn should lead us to believe that the authors of the gospels all intend their readers to grasp that Jesus' resurrection came at the dawn of a new day and a new week (both historically and symbolically).
An alternative view of the resurrection of Christ holds that Jesus rose from the dead late on, or at the close of, the Sabbath day. Although Matthew 28:1 is generally used as support for this minority opinion a comparison of related accounts should dispel any such notion.
Looking at Mt 28:1 (KJV):
The Greek word translated "In the end" is ὀψέ (opse Strongs 3796), which according to Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words has the following meaning:
As related, the word in Mt 28:1 generally means "late" but can connote "after" as the context demands. Admittedly it's English translation in the only other two occurrences in the NT (Mk 11:19; 13:35) that I'm aware of further supports the general meaning "evening." And Liddell-Scott-Jones notes likewise, although they concur with Vine regarding Mt 28:1. Even in the Greek Septuagint the word is used four times and is translated "late" (Gn 24:11; Ex 30:8; Is 5:11; Jer 2:23). In the Apostolic Bible Polyglot I'm referencing it's sole disparity is its translation of Jer 2:23 as "evening" otherwise in the other passages it's translated "late" as well.
This particular word, therefore, denotes "to grow light, to dawn." It's only other occurrence in the NT is Lk 23:54 wherein it's translated "drew on." And Liddell-Scott-Jones concurs. For comparison, however, an online Greek Interlinear translates it thus:
While Young's Literal Translation has it: "And the day was a preparation, and sabbath was approaching." Even with Mt 28:1 the Greek Interlinear translates it:
While YLT translates it: "And on the eve of the sabbaths, at the dawn, toward the first of the sabbaths, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre." Again I confess it can appear confusing somewhat especially for a Biblical novice like me. But, I know I don't know it all and won't this side of heaven (1 Cor 8:2).
I don't, however, see any contradiction in the various resurrection accounts. Looking at Mt 28:1 and comparing it with the other gospel writers it seems evident that all are referring to the same event i.e. the women's arrival at Christ's tomb at the same time i.e. around sunrise Sunday morning:
If Mt 28:1-10 is suggesting that Mary Magdalene visited Christ's grave at the close of the Sabbath and witnessed Christ's resurrection take place at that very moment, then it contradicts the testimony of the other gospel writers who state:
And in response we must ask,
It makes no sense and is totally contradictory to the testimony of the other gospel writers (2 Cor 13:1).
That's why I'm personally in favor of the following suggested solution since there is no punctuation or chapter and verse divisions in the original Greek MSS, and it attempts to reconcile the difficult wording of Mt 28:1 by simply reorganizing Mt 27:66 and Mt 28:1 and thus compliments, rather than contradicts, the other gospel writers account of Christ's resurrection on the day of the wavesheaf (Lv 23:9-14). Notice the context starts with Mt 27:62 wherein the Jewish religious leaders meet with Pilate on the Sabbath day and request of him a "watch" or Roman guard to secure Christ's tomb:
Thus, according to this explanation Mt. 27:66 and 28:1 should be divided as follows:
The implication is that the Roman guards hired to secure Christ's tomb began their watch at the end of the Sabbath since the Jewish religious leaders anticipated Christ's body being stolen by His disciples sometime on the third day or Sunday.
Therefore, it's likely to me that Christ's resurrection took place in between Saturday sunset (after the watch was set on Saturday night) and Sunday sunrise (when the women visited Christ's tomb). It's possible that He simply walked invisibly away (cf. Lk. 24:31; 36; Jn. 20:19, 26). This further explains why the Roman guards were bribed by the Jewish religious leaders into saying, "His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept" (28:13) since throughout the night that they were stationed at Christ's tomb they witnessed nothing out of the ordinary until daybreak when the earthquake occured and the angel rolled away the stone revealing to them that Christ's body had supernaturally disappeared (Mt. 28:2-6).
Οψε is an adverb meaning – “Late”, it has an implied verb. Therefore the line should read: “Yet, it was late on the Sabbath, at the lighting on unto…”
Referring to a rendering inspired by tradition (as in the case of Vine’s “long after”) that developed long after this writing is certainly not plausible. Is there any reason to render “Οψε” as a preposition, as in a position (“after”) relative to the Sabbath day, and not part of the Sabbath day, as is the normal use of this adverb? The contemporary Mark obviously uses it as “it was late”, why should Matthew be different?
The Greek word “επιΦωσκω” – “on-lighting” that are used for dawn in Greek, which is fitting since the day to them started when the sun is lighting up. But the word carries the meaning of a ‘commencement’ or ‘revealing’ of something new. As in the case of Luke, He uses it as the Sabbath “lighting up” from that evening, when the Preparation day was over. It can be used as “dawn of a new era”. Even the so-called “Gospel of Peter” used the word for beginning of Night and the beginning of Day. It has the meaning of ‘revealing’.
I asked the question whether there is any accounting for the night after the Sabbath, without the presupposition that the resurrection did take place on the first day of the week. Matthew explains something very different in his account, while the other three only presents the empty tomb the next day. The ‘major earthquake’ and the guards is hard to reconcile with the other three accounts, and I see the attempt to ‘harmonize’ Matthew with the others by changing the meaning of ‘Οψε’ and ‘επιΦωσκω’. Matthew could have used the word ‘μετα’ to mean ‘after’, in the accusative form, but instead uses the adverb that means ‘late’. The real meaning of the word ‘Οψε’ harmonizes with the Hebrew day that ‘lights up’ from evening.
As for the rendering ‘… and setting a watch in the end of the Sabbath. As it began to dawn…’ has a problem because of the break in time (and/or thought) by the use of the conjunction ‘δε’, as in apart from what happened earlier.
“Yet, it was late on the Sabbath (at the lighting-on unto one of the Sabbaths), Maria the Magdalene and the other Maria came to behold the tomb. And behold! A great quaking erupted for the messenger of the LORD descending from heaven, came closer, rolled away the stone from the opening, and resided above it. His aspect was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: From fear of him the keepers did shake, and became, as if dead.”
Matthew is also the only one to mention the resurrection of others. He seems to have a good reason for this. He connects the resurrection(s) with the earthquake(s) for the sake of his Hebrew readers. For this cause his account is different than the other three. The other three only record the empty tomb, and that the resurrection has already occurred, but doesn’t say when it occurred. But according to Hebrew custom the first fruits of the harvest are reaped the evening of the weekly Sabbath during the days of Unleavened Bread. By conjunction the events of Matthew 28:1-4 happened around the same time. That would mean they were harvesting the first fruits at this time, when a major earthquake erupted. The Anointed One was the ‘first fruits’ according to Paul.
Are there therefore any valid source that say the adverb ‘Οψε’ should take on a virtually unprecedented prepositional form for one special case in Matthew 28:1, or I should say, for the sake of tradition?
On the first day of the week:
18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Are you only a stranger in Jerusalem, and has not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19 And he said unto them: What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Yahusha of Nazareth, which was a spokesman mighty in deed and word before the Mighty One and all the people: 20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have impaled him. 21 But we expected that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel; but surely with all these, it is leading [from] the third day from which these things occurred.
“…Τριτην ταυτην ημεραν αγει αφ ου ταυτα εγενετο”
This is an interesting combination of words. The “Τριτην ταυτην ημεραν” (this third day) is a separation from the events on the day of crucifixion. This is demonstrated by the use of “αφ ου” (from which [the events occurred]). Therefore the day after the day of crucifixion began the count up till the third day. This eliminates a Friday crucifixion, which seems to be the argument here. The issue otherwise, is on what day are “this third day”. It is either referring to the present day (putting the resurrection on Thursday), or the day just past (putting the resurrection on Wednesday), but either way, Friday is eliminated. For this reason, can we honestly assume one Sabbath?
Cleopas refers to events that took place “these days” referring to past events. And goes on “with all these, it is leading…”. The verb αγει is in present tense active mood, third person. ‘It’ is the present time they are moving in. And this verb is acting in relation to “this third day”, and this in the thought of the speaker appears to separate the present moment from “this third day”. Aramaic translators has also noticed the same when they translated:
“Moreover, three days have already passed since all those events occurred” – MLB/NBV
“…and, lo, three days (have passed) since all these things were done.” – J.W. Ethridge
“And lo, three days [have passed], since all these things occurred.” – James Murdoch
And others would say, “three days ago”, etc. There seems to be in the Greek text a ‘missing’ but implied preposition that connects the verb αγει with the objective “this third day”, which one can pick up when reading this verse. There is a relation between the subject of the verb (in time: the present ongoing moment) and the objective of the verb (this third day). This strongly implies that the Sabbath being day three. Whichever day is day three here, Friday as the crucifixion day should fall away, since there is a separation from the three days and the day of crucifixion.