In Matthew 27:52, how were the bodies “raised” but only later “came out of the tomb”?
There is reason to believe that this little story about the saints rising and wandering the streets of Jerusalem, whatever the timeline, got inserted later for whatever reason, i.e. it was not part of the original narrative. It is out of context in Matthew and appears nowhere else in the Bible. In that case, we need not ask where these people were between Jesus's death and resurrection three days later, or how they were "raised" and only later "came out of the tomb."
BASIS FOR REASON
The basis for my reason to believe this little story was inserted later is that two-fold:
- It appears out of context in Matthew. More on this below.
- It appears nowhere else in the Gospels, New Testament, or entire Bible.
Context in Matthew
The New International Version of the Bible suggests to omit Verses 52 & 53 and read thus:
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top
to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw
the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and
exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
NIV's suggestion consists of a single cross-reference. By clicking on the live link at the end of Verse 51, a dialogue box pops up saying:
Matthew 27:54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding
Jesus saw the earthquake and all that...
Admittedly, my interpretation is debatable. However, if we examine the timeline of the larger narrative, we note that the story of the resurrection of the saints appears between two other events that occur simultaneously: Jesus' dying breath and the guard's exclamation that "Surely he was the Son of God." The next part narrates Jesus' burial.
Clearly, the format of the larger narrative is to follow the natural order of a story of an execution. The story of the resurrection of the saints is, at the very least, a parenthetical narrative--a bubble of time inside the larger narrative; we don't know why the timeline was broken.
Making The Saints' Resurrection Fit
For the story of the saints' resurrection to fit the larger narrative, the passage might read something like this:
The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies
of many holy people who had died were raised to life and afterward
they appeared to many people in the holy city.
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the
earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and
exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!
But that's not what it says. The account in Matthew leaves them lingering in the tombs until after Jesus' resurrection. I am using Matt. 27:50-61 NIV.
OTHER TYPOS IN THE BIBLE
This is not the only typo or anomaly in the Bible for which we modern readers can hardly find an interpretation, especially if we assume that the Bible has been unchanged since its original writing. As already shown I don't assume it is. I realize my argument would be much stronger if I could document all the items I have read, but memory fails. At the same time, it is only fair that I acknowledge the bases for this part of my reasoning, since it contributes significantly to my reasons above regarding Matthew 27:52.
- I have seen other similar examples of anomalies or typos in the Bible but, as stated, I am unable at the moment to document them.
- Scholars argue that in the old days before modern lighting copyists were forced to copy by hand manuscripts of the Bible in situations that easily contributed to mistakes, as in the eye wandering from one line to another, skipping a line. That does not appear to account for Matt. 27:52-53.
- Scholars have also suggested that during copying changes were made to scripture to support political agendas.
Perhaps someone can help me with this items.