3. The resurrection of Jesus: A unique signifier of his divinity?


And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

(Matthew 27:50-53)


The affirmation of Jesus’s divinity is his resurrection. Yet, according to Matthew, when Jesus died many dead came back to life. His reanimation is no unique signifier of his divinity. Jesus is not even the first to be reborn on this day.

How would the writer of Matthew know that the dead were raised to life at the moment Jesus “gave up the ghost”? Of course he wouldn’t. There is no way that the death of Jesus could be confirmed as causing the other resurrections. Why do none of the other canonical gospels mention the marvellous sight of many dead coming out of their graves and visiting the city? Because it never happened. The alternative to admitting the canonical gospels contain such inventions is to deny any uniqueness to the resurrection of Jesus on that day.



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