The Three/Third Day Resurrection Problem

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by Miken, Aug 25, 2020.

  1. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    It appears you and @Thomas have the full grasp here, but others are following the discussion with interest. For me the possibility that John may not be the same person as 'the disciple whom Jesus loved' is food for thought.

    Of course the escape valve of 'scribal interventions' is controversial, going back to the Dead Sea Scrolls Isaiah being almost identical to the modern document, as general evidence of Biblical authenticity of transmission? If scribes were editing the Bible at whim as it went along, then any passage can be downgraded as scribal intervention? Not meant in relation to the authorship of John.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2020
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Do you think Christ's divinity is a Johannine invention?

    The thing I like about IO is that informed comment knocks me back into researching my assumptions.

    I found an essay here on the Reception of John in the Church (of the 2nd century). That essay argues convincingly that Irenaeus was probably not alone in his embrace of John — were that not the case, he would have been refuted for his reliance on John by those who saw John as a 'gnostic Gospel'. The silence suggests John sat within contemporary orthodoxy, as well as a favourite of heterodox and heresiarch schools, such as Valentinus.

    Hmmm. That does not explain a characteristic Semitic phraseology that is occluded in the Greek?

    But, to be fair, nor does 'good Greek' argue for a Greek original.

    I don't think so? Saul of Tarsus was a tent-maker?
     
  3. Miken

    Miken Active Member

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    No. Christ as a quasi-divine being was already clear in Paul’s writings. Paul several times refers to God sending his Son with the implication that Jesus was pre-existing. Philippians 2 makes it plain that Jesus came from heaven and in some fashion was equal to God. Colossians 1 has Jesus as the means whereby everything was created. The language and content here are very close to the Son of God entity described by Philo of Alexandria, who also called this entity the Son of God.

    Another name Philo used for this entity was the Logos. John 1 applies this word to a pre-existing quasi-divine Christ. John also has Christ be the means by which everything was created.

    The idea of a divine Jesus has its roots in Philo.

    There was not yet a solid orthodoxy in the time of Irenaeus. Even after Irenaeus, Origen was considered orthodox – until he was not. A century after his death, Origen was labeled a heretic. We can speak reasonably of a proto-orthodoxy in contrast to such obvious early rejects as the various forms of Gnosticism but not of a well-formed orthodoxy.

    When Irenaeus made his famous ‘four gospels’ proclamations, it seems to carry the implication that these four were the traditionally accepted ones as opposed to newer gospels that were coming out of the proverbial woodwork. That is, John had definitely been considered authentic scripture by some substantial portion of the proto-orthodox community prior to this.

    In the linked paper, the earliest reference to the author of the Gospel of John as being named John and a disciple of Jesus is from the Gnostic Ptolemaeus. It does not seem possible to date this reference and it is believed that Ptolemaeus was still alive around 180 AD. Just how long after the writing of John this reference was made is therefore not known. Also, while definitely suggestive, Ptolemaeus does not say ‘John the son of Zebedee’. There is the possibility that this is some other John who was a disciple, not one of the Twelve Apostles.

    One reason why there was hesitation in some quarters about accepting John as authentic scripture is exactly because of Ptolemaeus. He connected the idea of the Logos (Christ) being the agent of creation with the Gnostic demiurge concept inherited from Platonism. This should be no surprise since Philo, from whom the Logos idea derived, sought to reconcile Jewish scriptures with, yep, Platonism.

    Was there a belief in the 2nd century that the document called the Gospel of John was authored by John son of Zebedee? Certainly. Was this actually the case? Another question.

    Do you have examples of the characteristic Semitic phraseology you refer to? To be fair, I will first back up my claim that Matthew uses the Septuagint wording when it serves better than the Hebrew wording. Below are examples of Matthew quoting from scriptures compared to the Greek Septuagint wording and the Hebrew Tanach wording.

    ***
    The virgin motif, part of Matthew’s method for making Jesus the literal Son of God

    Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”

    Esaias 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel.

    Yeshayahu 7:14 Therefore, the Lord, of His own, shall give you a sign; behold, the young woman is with child, and she shall bear a son, and she shall call his name Immanuel.

    ***
    Here a more direct phrasing than the Hebrew is used, which includes phrases not found on the Hebrew

    Matthew 3:3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”

    Esaias 40:3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God.

    Yeshayahu 40:3 A voice calls, "In the desert, clear the way of the Lord, straighten out in the wilderness, a highway for our God."

    ***
    An example of Matthew’s recurring theme of charity versus Pharisaic legalism. The Lord want mercy not goodness. Since the Pharisees are very good at following the letter of the Law, ‘goodness’ could be misinterpreted but the Septuagint ‘mercy’ is clear.

    Matthew 9:13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
    Matthew 12:7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless

    Osee 6:7 For I will have mercy rather than sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than whole-burnt-offerings.

    Hoshea 6:6 For I desire goodness, and not sacrifices, and knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

    ***

    Gentiles is clearer in meaning than the Hebrew euphemism of ‘islands’

    Matthew 12:21 “and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

    Esaias 42:4 and in his name shall the Gentiles trust.

    Yeshayahu 42:4 and for his instruction, islands shall long.

    ***
    The ‘heart grown fat” euphemism is replaced with the more understandable Septuagint ‘heart grown thick’.

    Note that different translations of Matthew and the Septuagint offer various words in place of thick, but both Matthew and the Septuagint use ἐπαχύνθη.

    Matthew 13:15 For this people's heart has grown thick,

    Esaias 6:10 For the heart of this people has become thick

    Yeshayahu 6:10 This people's heart is becoming fat

    ***
    The passage is about Jesus arguing with the Pharisees about a ritual not found in the Torah that they insist on and how in fact they violate the Torah with their traditions. The Septuagint version is far more appropriate to that than the Hebrew.

    Matthew 15:9 “in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

    Esaias 29:13 in vain do they worship me, teaching the commandments and doctrines of men.

    Yeshayahu 29:13 their fear of Me has become a command of people, which has been taught.

    ***
    Mt 21:16 uses the Septuagint ‘praise’ (out of the mouths of babes) instead of the Hebrew ‘strength’.
    Just before this Matthew tells us about ‘the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”’ (Mt 21:15)

    Matthew 21:6 “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”

    Psalm 8:2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou perfected praise,

    Tehillim 8:3 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings You have established strength

    ***

    In the above scriptural quotes, the meaning and applicability of each quote is plainly related to the use of the Greek Septuagint wording. It is clear that Matthew was writing in Greek with a Greek reading audience in mind.

    In the absence of other evidence to the contrary, it does. What is the other evidence?

    According to Acts, Paul came from Tarsus and would therefore have been brought up speaking Greek.

    Tarsus was famous for its University.

    https://www.internationalstandardbible.com/T/tarsus.html

    It is entirely reasonable to think that Paul could have gone to the university, and as part of the general enthusiasm for philosophy, studied the writings of Philo (in Greek).

    As was common with other university students, he likely would then have furthered his education abroad. Acts tells us that Paul studied under Gamaliel in Jerusalem where he would have learned much about the scriptures that he often quoted.

    In his letters, Paul several times refers to working with his hands to support himself, not wishing to be supported by the communities he visited as others did. Acts identifies his trade as tentmaker. The word σκηνοποιοὶ refers to makers of small portable tents of the type used by travelers. This sounds like ready employment in any of the crossroads cities that Paul visited.

    Paul had a trade which facilitated his ability to move around without depending on charity. But more to the point, it is probable that he had a good education and in particular that he would naturally know Greek and be aware of the philosopher Philo from university.

    By contrast, John lived in Galilee with none of the opportunities that Paul had and not even being proficient in Greek to begin with. That would appear to be a major difference between Paul and John the son of Zebedee.
     
  4. Miken

    Miken Active Member

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    The examples of apparent ‘scribal interventions’ are rather few and are noticeable because they stand out in some way and can be seen to serve some purpose.

    In the case of Matthew 27:62, the odd phrasing of the reference to the day of Preparation stands out. The absence of any such mention on the day of the crucifixion (unlike Mark and Luke) and no reason being given for going to the tomb on Sunday (unlike Mark and Luke) could be taken as Matthew being intentionally ambiguous to allow fitting in his three days and nights and some scribe deciding to ‘fix’ that to agree with Mark and Luke. Proof? Of course not. But suspicious.

    Other cases of apparent scribal intervention are Luke 22:43-44 and 1 Corinthians 14 33b-35. In Luke, there is a very atypical for Luke portrayal of an angel and the introduction of the image of suffering and blood when Luke is otherwise just about ‘bloodless’, even in the crucifixion narrative. Plus, these two verses destroy an otherwise very neat chiastic structure. A reason for the interpolation could be to make Jesus more 'flesh and blood' human as Gnostics were sometimes embracing Luke. In 1 Corinthians, the ‘women should keep silent’ part both clearly interrupts the train of thought and contradicts other ideas in the overall narrative. There is speculation that this was originally a margin note and some scribe copied it as text.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
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  5. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Jus' wonderin'. I would say that being divine is like being pregnant, either you is or you ain't! :D

    Quite.

    And now he is again ... soit goes ...

    Yup.

    Oh, yes, sorry, I thought I had linked. I'll track it down.

    Good points!
     
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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  7. Miken

    Miken Active Member

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    Except with Philo of Alexandria. Philo was a Jewish philosopher who was influenced by Middle Platonic philosophy. In particular he liked the idea that the Platonic God was the ultimate existence and too pure and remote from gross material reality to be the creator of the world. The Platonists had a demiurge entity, subordinate to the ultimate God, whose job was to handle the task of creating the impure material world,

    The problem is that Philo was Jewish and therefore a strict monotheist. Greek philosophers had no problem with multiple divine entities, but that was anathema to a Jew. Philo’s creative entity was the Word of God that resulted in the process of creation, as per Genesis, and in that sense not really different from God himself. But it was also the Son of God, the chief angel who was begotten from eternity with God. This Angel of the Lord that appears in the scriptures is – and is not – God. It is the Angel of the Lord who is in the burning bush in Exodus 3:2. God himself would not enter in the impure material world. But this Angel speaks in the first person with the authority of God. Is the Angel God or not?

    By smoke and mirrors, Philo gets to have his demiurge equivalent but without overtly straying from monotheism.
     
  8. Miken

    Miken Active Member

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    Here is a list of examples given in the linked article and my comments on them. I am sorry to report that I do not find the arguments to be very good.

    1. Semitisms of Borrowing: Some words, like amen, abba, alleluia, messiah, and sabbath, are directly carried over or transliterated from a Semitic language.

    Amen
    Although it does not show that much in English translations, the Greek word amen, which is derived from Hebrew is used quite often in the Gospels. It represents a truth claim. ‘What I am saying (or what you said) is true.’ The great majority of these occurrences are in Mark, who clearly had Jewish sources, and in Matthew, who was Jewish, and is sometimes quoting Mark. It appears only three times in Luke and always in direct quotes from Mark. John uses the word a number of times but subtly shades the meaning into a superlative by doubling it.

    This does not provide much argument for the Gospel originals having been written in Hebrew or Aramaic

    Abba
    Used only once in Mark, who clearly has Jewish sources.

    Alleluia
    This word appears a few times in Revelation but is not used in the Gospels at all.

    Messiah
    This word is only used in John in quoting Jewish or Samaritan people. John then explains that it means Christ. By contrast the Greek christos is used many times in the Gospels.

    Sabbath
    Since the concept of a weekly holy day did not exist in Greek culture or religion, there would be no Greek equivalent. No surprise that a word derived from Hebrew would be used.

    No real argument provided here

    2. Semitisms of Imitation: Some Hebrew phrases translated into Greek may have entered the gospels through a writer who was very familiar with the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament.

    Many of the scriptural quotes in the Gospels are clearly from the Greek Septuagint. In others there is no difference in wording between the Greek Septuagint and the Hebrew, so the source is unclear. This is actually an argument for the Gospel writers having written in Greek.

    No real argument given here.

    3. Semitisms of Thought: Classical Greek writing often contains many subordinate clauses, while coordinate clauses connected by ``and'' are more typical in both the Hebrew scriptures and the synoptic gospels. The gospels also contain phrases reflecting a fullness of expression typical of Hebrew writing. For example, Matthew 5:2 says that Jesus ``opened his mouth, and taught them'' rather than simply saying that he spoke or that he taught his disciples.

    The Gospels were not written in Classical Greek but in koine Greek, the common language of the people, generally of considerably simpler structure than Classical Greek. And Matthew was Jewish. No surprise that he would write in Jewish style. It does not show what language he originally wrote in.

    No real argument given here.

    4. Semitisms of Vocabulary: Sometimes a single word in one language can have a range of meaning that is covered by several words in another language. For example, we use the word ``son'' to refer strictly to our male offspring, but ``son'' or ``child'' is used much more broadly in Semitic languages and in the synoptic gospels (e.g. Matt. 8:12; 9:15; 23:15; Mark 3:17; Luke 10:6; 16:8; 20:36).

    In Greek, nouns have an inherent gender value regardless of the actual gender or lack thereof of the referent. The Greek yhios is inherently masculine but can refer to any offspring of either gender. This is not at all unique to Semitic languages.No real argument given here.

    5. Semitisms of Syntax: Characteristics of Hebrew syntax sometimes appear in the Greek text of the gospels. For example, in a phrase like ``in the house of the king,'' the first ``the'' is suppressed in Hebrew. Articles are often omitted in this way in the New Testament. In Hebrew, the verb ``to say'' or ``to speak'' is often used with the preposition ``toward,'' a construction that also appears in the gospels.

    In Biblical Greek, if the referent is definite, a definite article is used. If the referent is indefinite, no article is supplied. I am unaware of any cases where a definite article is called for but not provided.

    Concerning the example “in the house of the king” given above, there is a very similar phrase in Matthew 11:8.

    ἐν τοῖς οἴκοις τῶν βασιλέων
    in the houses of-the kings

    As can be seen both definite articles are present as required.

    The construction ‘to speak toward’ is used in Hebrew when the audience is specified. It is the same in Greek except that instead of a preposition, the Greek uses a definite article declined to match the object. I see nothing unusual in Greek having a means of specifying who the audience is. I imagine this would be typical of most languages.

    No real argument given here.

    6. Semitisms of Style: Semitic prose is designed to be read aloud. It often includes repetition of words for emphasis and as an aid to memorization. Such repetition is also common in the gospels, where we see phrases like, ``A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed...'' (Luke 8:5); ``With desire I have desired...'' (Luke 22:15); ``they rejoiced with exceeding great joy'' (Matt. 2:10). Repetition is also important in Hebrew poetry, where the most important feature is parallelism. The poetry in the gospels also exhibits parallelism.

    Repetition is a common literary technique. It is by no means unique to Semitic literature. Here you will see that most of the forms of repetition in literature have Greek names. This doctoral dissertation is an interesting approach to forms of repetition on Greek literature.

    No real argument given here.

    7. Semitisms of Composition: In some gospel passages, meanings that would exist in a Hebrew version are lost or obscured in Greek. One striking example occurs in the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79), the words Zacharias was inspired to speak after his son John the Baptist was born. In verses 72-73, Zacharias praises God for his promise ``To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham.''

    In Hebrew, the word for ``perform the mercy'' is hanan, the root of the name Yochanan (John); the word for ``remember'' is zakar, the root of the name Zacharias; and the word for ``sware'' is shaba, the root of the name Elishaba (Elizabeth). Here an allusion to Zacharias and his wife and son is present in Hebrew but lost in translation to Greek or English.

    As far as I know, the Hebrew word hanan means ‘gracious’, not ‘perform the mercy’. Which BTW is a flowery KJV translation of ‘To do mercy’ which is what the Greek actually says. I see no connection between ‘to do mercy’ and the root word for John. Without that, the other supposed connections do not work. In any case, would it not make more sense for such wordplay to be situated near where the characters are introduced and not scores of verses later?

    No real argument given here.

    7. Semitisms of Composition: (continued)
    There are also a number of places in the gospels where wordplay or assonance would be present in a Hebrew version. Carmignac compiled a list of over twenty examples from the synoptics. One is from Mark 3:14-15, where Jesus chooses twelve disciples

    ``that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.''

    In a Hebrew version of this passage, the word for ``send'' would be shalah, the word for ``have power'' would be shalat, and the word for ``cast out'' would be shalak. The fact that these Hebrew verbs are so similar may be a coincidence. It is also possible that in an early Hebrew version of Mark, the verbs were chosen for their assonance.


    The Greek does not say ‘send’ but ‘commission’ using the verb form of the word ‘apostle’. Mark 3 says nothing about sending. In fact, the Apostles are not sent anywhere for another three chapters. The KJV is generally pretty good at being literal but not always.

    No real argument given here.

    8. Semitisms of Transmission: In some parallel passages, the synoptics use different Greek words whose Hebrew counterparts are very similar. In cases where one of the Greek words seems more likely than the other, it is tempting to speculate that the discrepancy may have resulted from a slight transcription error in an original Hebrew source. For example, Matt 3:11 has John Baptist saying that he is not worthy to carry the shoes of the one who will come after him, while in Mark 1:7 and Luke 3:16 he states that he is not worthy to unfasten them. It turns out that the Hebrew words for ``carry'' and ``unfasten'' are very similar.

    It is not just the use of a different word, Matthew changes the form of the sentence.

    Mark 1:7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.

    Matthew 3:11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.

    First, the idea behind the image of John the Baptist is that sandals were considered dirty, not just literally but symbolically as well, and only lowly servants would handle the master’s sandals. To be even lower than that is saying something.

    Matthew makes no mention of stooping down and untying. It is not just a matter of word substitution by some later copyist. Why would Matthew want to rearrange the image? Why would Jewish Matthew want to avoid talking about untying sandals?

    The Levirate Law requires that if a married man dies without fathering children, a surviving unmarried brother is obligated to take his brother’s widow as his bride so that his dead brother’s name could live on. It is for refusing to do this that God killed Onan.

    The custom – which even survives today in some Orthodox communities – is that if a brother refuses to marry the widow, the widow is to take off his shoe and then spit in his face and recite a certain insulting formula. This sounds like a better explanation for why Matthew not only uses a different word but changes the sentence to avoid connection to that undesirable image.

    No real argument given here.

    9. Semitisms of Translation: Sometimes two permissible Greek translations of the same Hebrew word appear in parallel passages in the synoptics. For example, Mark 5:29 speaks of a ``source'' of blood, while Luke 8:44 mentions a ``flow'' of blood. It turns out that the Greek words used in these two verses are also both used in the Septuagint to translate two appearances of the same Hebrew word in Lev. 20:18.

    Which points to the authors being more familiar with the Greek Septuagint than with the Hebrew scriptures.

    No real argument given here.

    9. Semitisms of Translation: (continued)
    Another example involves Mark 4:19, which mentions ``lusts of other things,'' and Luke 8:14, which speaks of ``pleasures of this life.'' Carmignac points out that the Hebrew words for ``other things'' and ``the flesh'' have identical consonants, so that different vocalizations could lead to either ``lusts of other things'' or the more likely ``lusts of the flesh.''
    Once again, it is relying on English translation that leads to an incorrect assumption. The actual Greek does not say “lusts of other things”. That is KJV colorfulness.

    καὶ αἱ περὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ἐπιθυμίαι εἰσπορευόμεναι
    and the about the rest desires going-in
    (Note that the first ‘the’ applies to ‘desires’)

    ‘other things’ only appears in the (colorful) English translation. It is not reasonable to retrofit that non-literal translation back into Hebrew.

    No real argument given here.
     
  9. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, except Platonism, but as Platonist as I am, I do not accept quasi-divine as anything more than an attempt to explain the inexplicable.

    The Fathers, with perhaps the exception of Irenaeus, were Platonists, I mean, if you did philosophy, you did Plato.

    But once you're into demiurge territory, you're bound to run into an Arian problem ... as ever, in the interpretation of Scripture, is one interpreting Scripture via Plato, or Plato via Scripture? That's the question that later got Origen black-listed, whereas I rather accept the idea that he was orthodox, but not infallible.

    I also think that once you start to categorise what God is, or what God can and cannot do, you're probably heading into error-territory. God is full of surprises!

    My old course tutor once said something akin to: "Christianity is the explanation of the Hebrew Revelation in light of the Greek Philosophical Tradition" which has always stuck with me, and I think 'light' is an interesting term.
     
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Miken —

    Can I first off say thank ls for all the effort you've put into this!

    OK. I take what you say. I'm not a linguist, so well out of my depth here, and you make some telling points.

    I highlighted it mainly because I thought it was an interesting look at the perennial 'Synoptic Problem', but little more than that.
     
  11. Miken

    Miken Active Member

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    Here is a good write up of what Arianism was all about in detail and where it came from. Of special interest to me was the discussion of vocabulary.
     
  12. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Staff Member

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    I'm just glad Thomas found an intellectual playmate he can spar with on his own level. :D
     
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  13. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Yes. It's an amazingly erudite discussion
     
  14. Miken

    Miken Active Member

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    To get back on the main topic, here is an idea about how the third day idea may have started.

    In Mark the burial takes place on Friday afternoon and the discovery of the empty tomb Sunday morning. (Since Mark has the crucifixion take place on the first day of Passover, the only way for the next day to be a Sabbath is for it to be the weekly Sabbath.) Several of Mark’s pericopes have the strong feel of actual events in the nominal timeframe of Jesus, that is, genuine early traditions. Is the Friday-Sunday narrative one those early traditions?

    Paul states that the resurrection took place on the third day, saying that this was according to the scriptures. (Probably Hosea 6) We know that Paul had contact with several Apostles. If Mark’s Friday afternoon to Sunday morning story is a genuine early tradition, it may be that Paul heard about it and tied it so a scriptural reference as he often did.

    The ‘on the third day’ Paul gives us, and is repeated by Matthew and Luke, may reflect the actual historic event of Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. If that is the case, all the other variations could be purposeful invention by the several authors.

    Mark’s “after three days” could be to avoid association with the notion of a spirit trying to re-enter the dead body for three days.

    Matthew’s “three days and nights” as an opportunity to provide a scriptural reference, something he did very often, and refer to a sign, when Mark in that same scene said there would be no sign. If Matthew 27:62 is in fact a later scribal insertion, Matthew may have been intentionally ambiguous to allow the necessary timeframe without overtly contradicting Mark.

    John definitely appears ambiguous about the timeframe – how many Sabbaths? - and makes only ambiguous reference to it beforehand – “in three days”. Is that on the third day or after three days?

    Like I said, an idea.
     
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