The interns have been trying to decipher this one from Matthew 27: 52-53 for a couple of weeks now: At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.
Geeez, what do we do with this?
- Matthew is the only gospel that has this story. It was penned sometime after 70 CE, well after the early Christians thought the second coming should have happened. Some scholars speculate that these verses may have been added at some point after Matthew initially hit ‘send.’ Our VP of Metaphysical Studies speculates that Matthew (or a later editor) inserted these sentences to assure early Christians that their deceased relatives would come back to life eventually, when the second coming actually occurred.
- This is all we’ve got on the event. There are no other stories (Biblical or otherwise) that talk about dead prophets entering Jerusalem. And nothing further is said in Matthew about what happened to these saints after they entered Jerusalem. The traditional Evangelical position is that this account is historically accurate, and that silence on the unanswered questions should not be used as an argument that it did not happen. https://albertmohler.com/2011/09/14/the-devil-is-in-the-details-biblical-inerrancy-and-the-licona-controversy
- Surely this is a metaphor? You’d think so. Actually, Michael Licona, one of the more well-known Christian writers (who has had civilized debates with Professor Bart Ehrman on these Biblical issues) wrote a book on the resurrection, including a discussion of this verse (The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach). Interestingly, Licona argues in favor of an actual physical resurrection of Jesus, but also argues that this other event is a metaphor for dissolving the veil between life and death. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2013/10/27/matthew-2750-54-zombie-apocalypse-not/ Or maybe, as our VP opined, it represents dissolving the barrier between God and the individual.
We’re just gonna stop here.