Monday, February 21, 2011

Zombies for Christ

So, Janice made an interesting discovery recently during her read-through-the-Bible, which has now reached the Gospels.* There's nothing like reading slowly and carefully to notice things the eye or mind tends to skip over when reading the same book piecemeal, out-of-sequence, and out-of-context -- which is how most of us know the Bible.

The passage in question comes near the end of the Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 27, verses 52-53. The context is the events that take place in Jerusalem immediately after Jesus's death:
  • [50] . . . yielded up the ghost.
  • [51] And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.
  • [52] And the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose.
  • [53] And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
What's so surprising about this is that I don't think I've ever heard a sermon preached about it. In my own mind, I'd remembered it as ghosts of the hallowed dead appearing and testifying, but Matthew is v. specific that graves open and physical bodies come out of them and walk the city streets. He's silent about what happens to them afterwards, which I admit to wondering about now; the other three gospels don't mention the risen dead at all. The gap between Jesus's death and the dead rising is also an interesting detail, and another thing I'd overlooked.

So, next time there's a zombie parade in town -- which, frighteningly enough, is an annual occurrence in these parts** -- I wanna see 'ZOMBIES FOR CHRIST' t-shirts out there in the crowd. It's only fair.

--John R.

*I'm about a third of the way through THE BOOK OF MORMON, myself -- but then, I'm doing them as audiobooks

**better known as the Fremont Zombie Walk.


Brer said...

There is actually a "lost book of the Bible" describing the witness of a few of these risen dead to Christ's Harrowing of Hell. Can't recall the name at the moment.

Brer said...

Got it. "The Gospel of Nicodemus"; the two the Sanhedrin were supposed to have talked to were Charinus and Lenthius, sons of Simeon.

John D. Rateliff said...

Hi Brer.

Thanks for the reference. THE GOSPEL OF NICODEMUS isn't in Bart Erhman's LOST CHRISTIANITES, but a quick search turned it up online (I love the Internet!) in a translation by M. R. James (I read his edition of Old Testament apocrypha back in high school; didn't know he'd done New Testament as well). Haven't had time to read it all yet, but it fully confirms yr description. Great stuff. Thanks again!