Happy Zombie Day!

by Luke Muehlhauser on April 4, 2010 in Bible,Funny,Quotes

zombie day

Two questions:

  1. Do Christian apologists seriously argue that this gospel has the marks of “sober history” rather than superstitious legend?
  2. If this zombie horde wandered around Jerusalem and appeared to many, are we seriously to believe that nobody but the author of Matthew ever wrote about it?

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Steven Carr April 4, 2010 at 7:23 am

Extraordinary events demand an extraordinarily old book as evidence for them.

Why were Christian converts scoffing at the idea that their god would choose to raise corpses if something like that happened?

Surely if it had happened, Paul would have had no reason to write to converts telling them that Jesus had become a spirit.

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Ken Pulliam April 4, 2010 at 7:56 am

Its interesting that in the debate between William Craig and Hector Avalos that Hector pushed Craig into admitting that he was “not certain” that Matt. 27:51-53 was literal history because of the “apocalyptic imagery.” The fact is though that Matt. 28:2-3 has some of the same apocalyptic imagery. If Craig is unsure that Matt. 27 is literal history, then out of consistency, he should be unsure of Matt. 28.

Matt. 27 is an embarassment to the Christian apologist because it is evident that if many saints arose from the grave and appeared to many in Jerusalem as the passage says, there would be some other documentation of it somewhere.

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Ajay April 4, 2010 at 8:53 am

Come on, this particular story is just metaphorical. But the rest of the Bible is true. Just this verse is not. Oh, and some others. They are also metaphorical. But most of it is the divine Word of God. Seriously. ;-)

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Bill Maher April 4, 2010 at 10:13 am

I couldn’t even imagine this being taken remotely serious if it was not in a holy book. It sounds more like a Romero flick than a historical event.

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Wade Anes April 4, 2010 at 12:27 pm

That’s funny, I’ve been saying “happy zombie jesus day” to everyone’s “happy easter”. I forgot old jeebus wasn’t the only zombie! Does that mean we have to color extra eggs for them, too?

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BJ Marshall April 4, 2010 at 12:32 pm

That is absolutely true. Matthew was the only literate historian of the time to survive the zombie uprising. Everyone else who might have written about it got their brains munched on.

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jim April 4, 2010 at 12:43 pm
RD Miksa April 4, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I hope that all is well for all posting here this fine Easter.

Good Day Luke,

“Do Christian apologists seriously argue that this gospel has the marks of “sober history” rather than superstitious legend?”

Yes…that was easy.

“If this zombie horde wandered around Jerusalem and appeared to many, are we seriously to believe that nobody but the author of Matthew ever wrote about it?”

Ahhh…so many unfounded, unwarranted and just dumb assumptions, and so little time.

First, you have supposed that they would be zombies, whereas being saints, they could appear as normal people if they wished, thus not raising much suspicious. Or being saints, they could avoid being seen or not. Or perhaps they could simply appear and disappear at will. Second, the term “many” is relative. Three is relatively many to one. So maybe three saints appeared to six people, and there you have many saints appearing too many people when compared to one person. Problem solved. Third, perhaps the people they appeared to could not write (as must did back then). Or perhaps all those people became Christians, and that is why it is recorded in a Gospel. Or perhaps they only appeared for a very brief time, and thus most people were unsure of what they saw. Or perhaps some external document will be found at some point that attests to the incident (and is this not the same idea as promissory naturalism.)

And before anyone objects that these are “just-so-stories,” you will notice: A) I am just doing the same thing that many anti-Christians do in response to the evidence for the resurrection and; B) These explanation and entirely plausible within the Biblical context in which they occur.

Good Day Ken,

“Matt. 27 is an embarrassment to the Christian apologist…”

Not really.

“…because it is evident that if many saints arose from the grave and appeared to many in Jerusalem…”

See Point 2 above.

“…as the passage says, there would be some other documentation of it somewhere.”

See Point 3 above.

And thus, this post and its comments simply serve to demonstrate how those who so quickly describe themselves as sceptics, ca be so un-sceptical of their own pre-suppositions and intellectual bias.

Take care and Happy Easter,

RD Miksa
radosmiksa.blogspot.com
theargumentfromevolution.blogspot.com

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Mark April 4, 2010 at 5:13 pm

And before anyone objects that these are “just-so-stories,” you will notice: A) I am just doing the same thing that many anti-Christians do in response to the evidence for the resurrection

You’ve misunderstood what’s going on here. The point is that the most straightforward reading of the text is so unbelievable in light of our other historical evidence that either 1, Matthew must’ve been terribly credulous, or 2. we shouldn’t take the most straightforward reading of the supernatural events he recounts too seriously. Neither alternative is particularly convenient for apologists.

Also, the zombie imagery was just a joke.

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RD Miksa April 4, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Good Day Mark,

Thank you for replying.

“Also, the zombie imagery was just a joke”

Obviously, and one that I can see as funny, but also one which would, for some, border on the offensive and thus says more about the motivations of the man using it then its intended target.

“You’ve misunderstood what’s going on here.”

Perhaps, but I do not think so.

“The point is that the most straightforward reading of the text is so unbelievable in light of our other historical evidence…”

Three points. First, in just 5 minutes I have provided a plausible defense of this issue, so I do not think that it is that big of a problem. Second, the term “unbelievable” is so highly subject as to be almost meaningless in an objective discussion unless thoroughly defined. Third, in light of what other historical evidence?

“…that either 1, Matthew must’ve been terribly credulous, or 2. we shouldn’t take the most straightforward reading of the supernatural events he recounts too seriously. Neither alternative is particularly convenient for apologists.”

This is a false dilemma. For example, Option 3 could simply be that readers should not put too much of their own pre-conceived notions into the text—meaning the idea that the saints were zombie-like or that the term “many” must mean a vast multitude when it could mean just three or four.

Take care,

RD Miksa
theargumentfromevolution.blogspot.com
radosmiksa.blogspot.com

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lukeprog April 4, 2010 at 6:01 pm

RD Miksa,

Oh, so they were “saints” which means they could appear however they wanted; with flesh grown back on and in full health, perhaps. Right, I forgot about the superpowers of saints to do that. That is “entirely plausible.” How silly of me. People coming out of their graves really is a mark of sober history in an ancient document. How foolish of me.

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Mark April 4, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Three points. First, in just 5 minutes I have provided a plausible defense of this issue, so I do not think that it is that big of a problem.

You provided a non-straightforward way of reading the text. Maybe when Matthew said that “many” saints arose from the dead, he didn’t have in mind all that many. Maybe when he said they appeared around town to many, only a few people actually saw them, and not enough to make their absence from other historical records unlikely. Well, maybe. But that’s not really what the actual text straightforwardly suggests.

Second, the term “unbelievable” is so highly subject as to be almost meaningless in an objective discussion unless thoroughly defined.

Really? Pretty much all history is done by investigating whether what certain sources say is believable in light of other sources. I think you really don’t want to go here.

Third, in light of what other historical evidence?

In light of the silence of other ancient historians of Judaea like Josephus (who was no enemy of supernatural reportage).

This is a false dilemma. For example, Option 3 could simply be that readers should not put too much of their own pre-conceived notions into the text—meaning the idea that the saints were zombie-like or that the term “many” must mean a vast multitude when it could mean just three or four.

In light of the other, highly visible apocalyptic imagery of the passage (the darkness, the earthquake, the destruction of the temple), it doesn’t seem like Matthew had just three or four in mind. And do we suppose that the graves all closed after the event took place, leaving no material evidence behind?

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RD Miksa April 4, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Good Day Luke,

I am not sure if it is because you do not have time to respond in detail or for some other reason (I will assume the former), but your petulant assertions are rather meaningless to me in terms of actual argumentation. Now:

“Oh, so they were “saints” which means they could appear however they wanted; with flesh grown back on and in full health, perhaps. Right, I forgot about the superpowers of saints to do that.”

If the resurrection of Jesus actually occurred, as I argue that it did, and such powers are provided to the risen Jesus, then by extrapolation such powers could be extended to other raised saints. Your assessment of the possibility of this all depends on your initial pre-suppositions and prior worldview commitments.

“That is “entirely plausible.”

Ahh…quote mining and out of context at that. If you actually read what I wrote, it stated that this event was entirely plausible in the context of the biblical worldview in which it happened, meaning miracles, resurrections, etc. Yet again, we arrive at prior worldview commitments determining our assessment of plausibility, which is a subjective issue.

“People coming out of their graves really is a mark of sober history in an ancient document.”

This event either occurred or it did not. If it did, then it is indeed “sober” history regardless of what you think of it. Therefore, please learn to distinguish between what you BELIEVE happened with what ACTUALLY happened, which obviously could be two entirely different things, the former of which depends, once again, on prior worldview commitments. Now, neither of us can know with certainty what happened, and you can raise this incident as a problem to be addressed by the Christian, but as I was able to offer a responsible defense (working within the Christian worldview) in about five minutes, then I do not see this as a big problem.

“How foolish of me. “

Indeed it was, but that is fine, as we all make mistakes.

Take care,

RD Miksa
theargumentfromevolution.blogspot.com

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Bill Maher April 4, 2010 at 6:30 pm

^^ lol at this guy. you call it worldview, i call it special pleading & mental illness.

also, 3 isn’t many. its a few.

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Hermes April 4, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Yep. Self-evisceration is shocking. Doubly so when it’s so eagerly insisted upon.

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Hermes April 4, 2010 at 7:35 pm

RE: “worldview”.

Why not just use perspective? I only see “worldview” in 2 situations; in an academic paper (and used appropriately) or by people who are Christian presuppositional apologists.

I take the later instance as an attempt to don the guise of an academic and to assert (without support) superiority while deflecting any commentary. Note that is not the case with the academic use of worldview where there is an attempt to explain not to pass judgment or to choose a winner.

To gain this, the presuppositionalist has to admit they are a presupposationalist and thus — like someone insisting on solipsism, they write themselves out of the conversation. Being absent, their arguments and presence can be ignored.

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johemoth April 4, 2010 at 7:48 pm

On top of the zombie-saint passage, there are many other “embarrassments” found in Matthew…

Matthew 2:15 immediately comes to mind. Read Hosea 11 and tell me that the “out of Egypt I called my son” verse was really the messianic prophecy that Matthew proclaims.

Also, the lineage of Jesus in Matthew 1 shows signs of manipulation (when compared with the overlapping record in 1 Chronicles).

Just to name a couple.

I think it’s a big mistake to consider Matthew an “unbiased historian.”

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Justfinethanks April 4, 2010 at 8:00 pm

To recap, this passage is not batshit insane if you assume:

1) People in this time would shrug off the appearance of long dead saints. Seeing a mass of people resurrected from the dead in the first century in this area was like Los Angeles residents riding out a 3.0 earthquake: totally not even worth recording (except for one dude, apparently.)
2) Saints, by their saintly nature, have the powers of Wolverine from the X-Men.
3) Matthew had a deeply confused idea of what the word “many” means.
4) Matthew considered this event notable enough to report, but no other historian from the era, even the other Gospel authors, did.
5) There’s a historical document out there that describes the historical reality of the zombie uprising, and if you want to know where this document is, then maybe you should stop relying on your obvious naturalisticpresuppositions, douchebag.
6) Christianity is true.

I think Occam’s razor was invented for situations like this.

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RD Miksa April 4, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Hello Again Mark,

“You provided a non-straightforward way of reading the text.”

I obviously disagree, but my point was more to show that because this particular portion of the text was so general and vague, my defense of it serves to be as much of a straightforward reading as yours, and thus the passage is not a great concern. And that is my point, that specific details cannot be pulled out from the text and that if the anti-Christian wishes to draw some out in order to challenge Christian claims, then the Christian is just a capable of drawing some out to defend the claim. Either way, the text permits a “straightforward” reading to go either way, depending precisely on which way one wishes to go.

“Really? Pretty much all history is done by investigating whether what certain sources say is believable in light of other sources. I think you really don’t want to go here.”

I will “go” wherever you like, and furthermore, your very statement weakens itself, for if history is done in such a manner as you describe, then I should easily accept the raising of the saints as other sources from that period described miracles happening all the time, so this particular miracle is not that much of a stretch. Thus a comparison of similar sources to establish “believability” actually supports my position, not yours.

“In light of the silence of other ancient historians of Judaea like Josephus (who was no enemy of supernatural reportage).”

The argument from silence is naturally weak, unless shown strong reasons why silence should not have occurred. I have already provided a number of alternatives—like all the people that saw the saints became Christians—that would provide an explanation of the silence. This pre-supposes, furthermore, that this silence is certain and might not be over-turned with new historical discoveries, which is a plausible possibility.

“… it doesn’t seem like Matthew had just three or four in mind.”

What it seems like to you and what it seemed like to the writer of Matthew are likely widely different things. Do not let your own ideas of what many means to oppose on the text, which gives no idea of what Matthew really means.

“ And do we suppose that the graves all closed after the event took place, leaving no material evidence behind.”
Good point, but again, grave-robbery, the lack of significant numbers of raised and others explanations all make the fact that this was not recorded elsewhere not that difficult of a problem.

Take care,

RD Miksa

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Evolution SWAT April 4, 2010 at 8:16 pm

You know lukeprog, I had completely forgotten about this. This is an excellent point. If this really happened there would be many, many more records that it happened. I’d always just move on after reading this. It’s amazing what I used to just read over when I was a Christian.

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lukeprog April 4, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Justfinethanks wins again.

Say, what did you think of my reply to your question in the latest podcast?

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Justfinethanks April 4, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Say, what did you think of my reply to your question in the latest podcast?

Fantastic, thorough answer. I wasn’t aware that “Friendly Atheist” had a specific meaning in the philosophical literature. I thought it just meant acting more like Michael Ruse and less like PZ Myers. I’ll try to look up that article you mentioned.

And I suppose I should have been more clear on what I meant by “atheistic arguments,” (i.e. the definition of God one would try to argue against) but you covered all the bases.

As always, can’t wait until the next CFTPBD episode.

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Mark April 4, 2010 at 9:25 pm

What it seems like to you and what it seemed like to the writer of Matthew are likely widely different things. Do not let your own ideas of what many means to oppose on the text, which gives no idea of what Matthew really means.

You seem to be objecting to the practice of exegesis in general, since this same stock response can be issued to nearly any interpretive attempt. Which is fine by me, but it’s going to leave the case for Jesus’ resurrection quite unsalvageable. Anyway, it’s not just that “many” could mean “three or four,” although that’s of course unlikely. It’s that it’s phrased in such a way to suggest high visibility (“appearing to many”) and is placed in the text right next to other high-visibility, nearly hyperbolic wonders. Maybe if Matthew were an extraterrestrial who followed an alien set of literary conventions, you’d have a case. But as it is, I have to read your dismissal as handwaving. And surely if the New York Times immediately after 9/11 reported that many of those killed in the World Trade Center arose from the rubble and appeared to many, you would be skeptical if no one else picked up on it and nothing else was said on the matter. This is so even though in such a circumstance one could go through the same casuistry as you are now.

Another thing to mention is this. If there’s even a 50% chance that Matthew had in mind a truly notable number of saints, and if it’s not too unlikely that someone else (say, other Gospel writers) would’ve reported the saints even if there were only a few of them, then an elementary application of Bayes’ theorem tells us that the silence is good evidence against Matthew’s account.

The argument from silence is naturally weak, unless shown strong reasons why silence should not have occurred. I have already provided a number of alternatives—like all the people that saw the saints became Christians—that would provide an explanation of the silence.

Huh? How would that explain the silence? No other NT document mentions the resurrection of the saints, and I’m not sure why Josephus or the like wouldn’t have trusted any Christian sources.

I will “go” wherever you like, and furthermore, your very statement weakens itself, for if history is done in such a manner as you describe, then I should easily accept the raising of the saints as other sources from that period described miracles happening all the time, so this particular miracle is not that much of a stretch. Thus a comparison of similar sources to establish “believability” actually supports my position, not yours.

I’m not really sure what you mean.

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Mark April 4, 2010 at 9:36 pm

As always, can’t wait until the next CFTPBD episode.

Hmm, I feel Luke needs a better acronym.

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Justfinethanks April 4, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Hmm, I feel Luke needs a better acronym.

Well, he writes it out as CPBD. I just felt like being ungrammatically thorough because I’m still a little buzzed on Easter day champagne.

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Steven Carr April 5, 2010 at 12:00 am

I’m sure the news of all those resurrected people appearing to ‘many’ in the city would have made headlines on a quiet news day.

But Jerusalem was buzzing with the news that someody had killed himself, and the populous was too busy wondering what to call the place this had happened to bother themselves with walking zombies.

‘Dog bites man’ is not news. Neither is ‘Zombies walk from grave’. ‘Man kills himself’ is a big story…..

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Bill Maher April 5, 2010 at 7:06 am

The idea of woldview in the way Christians use it is very postmodern. It reminds me of Heidegger’s (en)framing.

This isn’t really good for them because they have completely forsook the idea of finding truth. Instead, they are essentially just choosing to believe what they want to.

I could presuppose that all Christians were actually atheists at heart, but what the hell would that prove? You can not just choose for something to be an axiom. Axioms have to be warranted.

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Bronxboy47 April 5, 2010 at 10:13 am

I hope that all is well for all posting here this fine Easter.Good Day Luke,“Do Christian apologists seriously argue that this gospel has the marks of “sober history” rather than superstitious legend?”Yes…that was easy.“If this zombie horde wandered around Jerusalem and appeared to many, are we seriously to believe that nobody but the author of Matthew ever wrote about it?”Ahhh…so many unfounded, unwarranted and just dumb assumptions, and so little time.First, you have supposed that they would be zombies, whereas being saints, they could appear as normal people if they wished, thus not raising much suspicious.Or being saints, they could avoid being seen or not.Or perhaps they could simply appear and disappear at will.Second, the term “many” is relative.Three is relatively many to one.So maybe three saints appeared to six people, and there you have many saints appearing too many people when compared to one person.Problem solved.Third, perhaps the people they appeared to could not write (as must did back then).Or perhaps all those people became Christians, and that is why it is recorded in a Gospel.Or perhaps they only appeared for a very brief time, and thus most people were unsure of what they saw.Or perhaps some external document will be found at some point that attests to the incident (and is this not the same idea as promissory naturalism.)And before anyone objects that these are “just-so-stories,” you will notice:A) I am just doing the same thing that many anti-Christians do in response to the evidence for the resurrection and; B) These explanation and entirely plausible within the Biblical context in which they occur.
Good Day Ken,“Matt. 27 is an embarrassment to the Christian apologist…”Not really.
“…because it is evident that if many saints arose from the grave and appeared to many in Jerusalem…”See Point 2 above. “…as the passage says, there would be some other documentation of it somewhere.”See Point 3 above.And thus, this post and its comments simply serve to demonstrate how those who so quickly describe themselves as sceptics, ca be so un-sceptical of their own pre-suppositions and intellectual bias.Take care and Happy Easter,RD Miksa
radosmiksa.blogspot.com
theargumentfromevolution.blogspot.com  

Please tell me this is a parody…please!

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Hermes April 5, 2010 at 4:27 pm

This isn’t really good for them because they have completely forsook the idea of finding truth. Instead, they are essentially just choosing to believe what they want to.I could presuppose that all Christians were actually atheists at heart, but what the hell would that prove? You can not just choose for something to be an axiom. Axioms have to be warranted.

Well said, I agree almost completely. I especially like your Heidegger comment, and agree that they are as bad as any relativistic postmodernist as well (I’ll add) any ardent solipsist.

The one point that I’d add about a Christian presuppositional apologist is that they are not choosing to believe.

They know that they have the one unique way of looking at reality that will result in truth and correct errors in perception. (Often said as ‘non-Christians have no basis for knowing that their perception of reality is reliable’.)

*and*

Everyone and anything that does not fit their presuppositions is by definition in error.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive”

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Hermes April 5, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Please tell me this is a parody…please!

It could be a Poe, but I doubt it.

I think that he’s entirely serious, and doesn’t realize where he’s making any mistakes.

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jim April 5, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Hermes:

I wondered the same thing. It’s getting so hard to tell.

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radub April 6, 2010 at 7:21 am

@RD Miksa:

>>If the resurrection of Jesus actually occurred, as I argue that it did, and such powers are provided to the risen Jesus, then by extrapolation such powers could be extended to other raised saints.

You’re doing it the wrong way. In order to prove the historical reliability of the New Testament you have to prove that the events portrayed there are reliable. If you assume it happened in the first place, what’s there left to prove? If the Coran is the true word of God, then yeah, Mohammed rode a donkey to heaven…

“then by extrapolation such powers could be extended to other raised saints.” How can you possibly know that? You’re just making stuff up, so it seems… It’s ok to hypothesize a scenario, but as long as you do not bring any evidence for it, it’s rather useless.

“If you actually read what I wrote, it stated that this event was entirely plausible in the context of the biblical worldview in which it happened, meaning miracles, resurrections, etc.”

True..but I have a question: Does this worldview include the belief that evil spirits are to be blamed for mankind’s illnesses?

“Yet again, we arrive at prior worldview commitments determining our assessment of plausibility, which is a subjective issue.”

I don’t think that’s a problem here. The problem is: there is no evidence for the event Matthew describes. You have to have your historical standards really low to consider this historical.

“Now, neither of us can know with certainty what happened, and you can raise this incident as a problem to be addressed by the Christian, but as I was able to offer a responsible defense (working within the Christian worldview) in about five minutes, then I do not see this as a big problem.” That’s what you call a responsible defense? You’ve got some low standards indeed. Just because we don’t know with certainty something, that doesn’t mean it’s sort of a 50/50 situation. The event you’re defending is extremely unlikely to have happened: only one source on the event in a time when people believed almost anything (not just the people of Israel, every nation on the planet) found in a book filled with contradictions and absurd claims…not what one should have in mind when thinking about a historically realiable source.

“What it seems like to you and what it seemed like to the writer of Matthew are likely widely different things. Do not let your own ideas of what many means to oppose on the text, which gives no idea of what Matthew really means.”

If you don’t know what Matthew really means that why suggest he was talking about a few raised saints? Why not just say you don’t know from the very beginning?

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