The Day Zombies Walked the Earth

I had either forgotten or missed this bit in Matthew, verses 50-53: “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.”

James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Dead Appear in the Temple (Les morts apparaissent dans le Temple).

This was reportedly witnessed by many people, including the Roman centurion guarding the crucifixion.Why isn’t more made of this, that resurrection from the dead was not a unique event upon Jesus’ death? I recognize that Jesus was himself a necromancer who, among other things, raised Lazarus from the dead (as well as two others, Jairus’ daughter and Nain’s widow’s son). But this story is far more remarkable. Many living dead men walked the city, meeting with the living not yet dead (although one might imagine some were frightened to death by the appearance of walking corpses).

This event occurred three days before Jesus himself arose from his tomb.

* * *

As an aside, how did Jesus select those three individuals he resurrected? Surely there were many who had died who were precious to the living. Presumably, Jesus had the power to raise them, as well.

And why not heal all the sick and crippled and drive out all demons forever? Shouldn’t Jesus stand head and shoulders above such charlatans as Benny Hinn who only heal selectively?

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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