[Synoptic-L] [Synopic-L] 3 days, 3 nights
- Dear Scholars,
Whoever of the two wrote first, it seems that both Mark and Matthew have
misunderstood several elements of Jesus' "sign of Jonah" and "3 days, 3
IMO, Luke, in writing "the third day" preserves the earlier and more Hebraic
saying. Of course, "the third day" and "three days" are not the same, since
"the third day" signifies only the second day following an event.
In the May, 1988 issue of Jerusalem Perspective, David Bivin wrote the
following in an article titled "How Long Was Jesus in the Tomb?"
(Quoting)...Significantly, the Lukan version of Jesus' words does not
mention the whale's belly: "This is a wicked generation. It asks for a
miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as
Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this
generation" (Lk. 11:29-30; NIV).
The continuation of Jesus' words -- in Luke and Matthew -- helps confirm
that the "sign of Jonah" was Jesus' preaching, and not "three days and three
nights in the belly of the earth." In twenty-four identical Greek words
Jesus explained: "The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this
generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and
now one greater than Jonah is here" (Mt. 12:41; Lk. 11:32; NIV). In other
words, as Luke 11:30 says, just as Jonah, by his preaching, had been a sign
to his generation, so Jesus, by his preaching, would be a sign to his
When the author of Matthew repeats the "sign of Jonah" saying (Mt. 16:4), he
does not add the explanation, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights
in the belly of the whale...." Though not conclusive, this omission is an
indication that Matthew 12:40 is explanatory.
Commentators suggest that Matthew 12:40, with its reference to Jesus' death
and burial, and implied reference to his resurrection, is an editorial
replacement, and that Luke's Gospel preserves the earliest form of Jesus'
saying. For example, Albright and Mann comment on Matthew 12:40 as follows:
"It is best to describe this verse as editorial, whether from the hands of
the evangelist, or from someone puzzled by vs. 39. What is being discussed
is the sign of proclamation."
If commentators are correct that, historically, Jesus did not mention the
belly of the whale, then Matthew 12:40 is not a contradiction to my
contention that Jesus was raised from the dead early Saturday night. It is
possible that Jesus was in the tomb less than thirty hours -- from sometime
after 3:00 p.m. on Friday until early Saturday night when the women returned
to the tomb intending to anoint Jesus' body (around 9:00 p.m.?). Since they
found the tomb empty, Jesus must have come out of the tomb earlier, having
remained in it perhaps only about twenty-seven hours! (Close quotes)
The full article is reproduced in "Pipeline 22" in the Articles section of
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For those who might be interested: The JP Forum has a discussion topic on
the same subject.
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