Friday, January 3, 2014

The Late James Montgomery Boice's Conclusions On Matt 27:52-53

The late James Montgomery Boice, one of the signers of the ICBI statement,[1] does take this account to be historical.  Before coming to this conclusion he does ask some interesting questions and points out some unknowns about this passage.  Boice suggests:

We do not know whether these saints had died long ago or only recently. We do not know how long they remained alive. Was this a permanent resurrection? If it was, what happened to them? Were they transported to heaven, like Elijah? Or did they die again? We do not even know whom they went into Jerusalem to see or why they went or what they said to those they saw.[2]

But, he does find the narrative historical by going on to pointing out some reasons in favor of a literal view:

What we do know is that the report must be historical. Otherwise, why would Matthew have recorded such an amazing thing at all? And why so soberly and with no explanation of its meaning? What we can suppose is that the resurrection of these believers was a foretaste and pledge of the final resurrection of all who believe on Jesus.[3]

         Out of all four miracles or phenomena reported by Matthew, Boice’s examination concludes that all four are historical, but he only explicitly and directly labels the rising of the saint’s passage as “historical.”[4] His final point, at least a minor one, on Matt 27:53 is what is to come at the general resurrection. “The resurrection of many of the saints who had died was a pledge of the final resurrection and an encouragement for those who wait for it.” [5]

[1]   He signed it as James M. Boice Accessed 09/10/2013
[2] James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001), 626.
[3] James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001), 626.
[4] Ibid; At least some, if not most, who deeply consider Boice’s remarks will wonder why he emphasizes the historicity of the rising of the saints and not the other 3 phenomenon?  Is it because others have doubted interpreting this part of Matthew’s account as a literal historical event, but rather something else like a apocalyptic event?
[5] Ibid, 628

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