Matt. 27:51b (NA28) ... καὶ ἡ γῆ ἐσείσθη καὶ αἱ πέτραι ἐσχίσθησαν, 52 καὶ τὰ μνημεῖα ἀνεῴχθησαν καὶ πολλὰ σώματα τῶν κεκοιμημένων ἁγίων ἠγέρθησαν, 53 καὶ ἐξελθόντες ἐκ τῶν μνημείων μετὰ τὴν ἔγερσιν αὐτοῦ εἰσῆλθον εἰς τὴν ἁγίαν πόλιν καὶ ἐνεφανίσθησαν πολλοῖς.
Matt. 27:51b (NRSV) … The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.
This question is focused very narrowly on apocalyptic symbolism in reference to the resurrection and appearance to many of the saints in Matt. 27:52-53. From what we know of Apocalypticism in Second Temple Judaism and from what we can infer about authorial intent in Matthew 27:51b-53, from an analysis of the text itself, is there any basis for considering “tombs also were opened …” as an example of apocalyptic symbolism? J. J. Collins [Collins 1997:110-112] considers resurrection a major component within the apocalyptic world view. But this is different from a claim that resurrection functions as a symbolic element within the apocalyptic genre.
The question is about the meaning of the text Matt. 27:52-53 as we have it with special attention on detecting and interpreting symbolism within Eschatological and/or Apocalyptic registers.
What this question is not about:
- it is not about the historicity of the event, not the question: Did it happen?
- it is not about modern historiography applied to the Gospels.
- it is not about Biblical inerrancy.
- it is not about the lack of synoptic parallels.
- it is not about the synoptic problem.
- it is not about source criticism (what was Matthew’s source …).
 John J. Collins. 1997. Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls (The Literature of the Dead Sea Scrolls; Routledge).