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[Synoptic-L] [Synopic-L] 3 days, 3 nights

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  • Dennis Sullivan
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 12, 2003
      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
      nights" sayings.

      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.


      Dennis Sullivan
      JP Forum Moderator

      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
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