Pages 9-10, 16: summer 1992
MORE ABOUT THE RESURRECTED SAINTS
The attention it has received indicates that Ed Babinski's article about the
resurrected saints (TSR, Winter 1992, pp. 14-15) touched a sensitive spot in
the thick skin of Bible inerrancy. A reader in Georgia wrote a "response"
to it as did also Tom Fishbeck in his newsletter The Bible Answers, which he
presents as a bulletin published to express the views of SIG, a special inter-
est group of MENSA, on biblical issues. A reader receiving a free sub-
scription to TSR at the request of a friend called to ask that his name be re-
moved from our mailing list. When asked if he would mind telling us his spe-
cific objections to the paper, he cited the "stupid nonsense" in articles like
"the one about the resurrected saints" as the reason why he preferred not to
have TSR "polluting his mail box."
It is one thing to hurl insults at ideas embarrassing to one's personal
beliefs; it is another to refute the ideas with logical arguments. I read
Fishbeck's "rebuttal" of Ed Babinski's article and found it weak as water. He
suggested four possible explanations he is "willing to believe" about the
problem of these mysterious, unnamed saints who were resurrected from their
tombs at the moment Jesus died on the cross: (1) Matthew was accurate, (2)
Matthew was accurately reporting the occurrence of false testimony of others
without knowing it was false, (3) the original gospel of Matthew asserted at
least one error, or (4) a change was made to one of the earliest copies of the
gospel of Matthew (The Bible Answers, Nov. 1991, p. 4).
The first of these explanations is no explanation at all, because the whole
thrust of Babinski's article was that such an event as this would have been
so extraordinary that news of it would surely have reached contemporary
historians and thus been passed down to us in secular records or, if not
that, the other gospel writers would have considered the event to be such
convincing evidence of the divinity of Jesus that they too would have includ-
ed it in their accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection. To say, then, that
a possible explanation of this problem is that Matthew was accurate explains
absolutely nothing. The mystery of the exclusion of this stupendous miracle
from the other gospels still begs for a sensible explanation.
Fishbeck's second and third explanations are even worse solutions, be-
cause they totally destroy the Bible inerrancy doctrine. How could Matthew
have been inerrantly guided in what he was writing if he reported as truth
"the occurrence of false testimony of others"? That he may have unknowingly
done this is beside the point, because the whole purpose of divine inspiration
would have been to protect the inspired writers from error. So if Matthew
were in fact verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit in what he wrote, he would-
n't have made mistakes unknowingly. Furthermore, this Matthew was presum-
ably one of the apostles who were present in Jerusalem when Jesus was cruci-
fied, so if such an event as this really happened, wouldn't he have had
personal knowledge of it? Unless he was incredibly dense, he couldn't pos-
sibly have been duped by false testimony about a miracle that he would have
known from his own personal experience had not happened. Also, if "the
original gospel of Matthew asserted at least one error," as Fishbeck said he
was "willing to believe," then the gospel of Matthew was not inerrant, and if
the gospel of Matthew was not inerrant, how can we believe that any of the
gospels and other allegedly inspired books were inerrant? Fishbeck, who has
often bent over backwards in his newsletter to defend the Bible against
error, seemed not to be thinking too clearly when he offered the possibility
of an error as a defense of inerrancy.
His fourth and final explanation was almost as damaging, for if "a change
was made to one of the earliest copies of the gospel of Matthew," that would
merely underscore a problem sensible Bible readers have long recognized: the
original autographs of the Bible have been so corrupted by redactions and
copyist errors that no rational-thinking person can have an iota of confidence
in the integrity of the present text. God verbally inspired the original
manuscripts of the Bible, we are told, but then left the transmission of them
to error-prone scribes and translators. That makes about as much sense as
belief in astrology and crystal balls.
In a letter to Fishbeck, Ed Babinski pointed out an interesting bit of
information that was not included in his original article or in a written ex-
change on the same subject that he had earlier made with Gary Habermas of
Jerry Falwell's Liberty University: "Both Mark and Luke contain in sequence
the passages which immediately precede and follow the Matthean 'raising of
the many'" (personal correspondence, April 17, 1992). Perhaps the best way
to emphasize the force of Babinski's point would be to juxtapose Matthew's
account with Mark's:
Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was
darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus
cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"
that is, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said,
"This man is calling for Elijah!" Immediately one of them ran and
took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and
offered it to Him to drink.
The others said, "Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come
to save Him."
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up
Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top
to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and
the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had
fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of their graves after
His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to
So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding
Jesus, saw the earthquake, and the things that had happened,
they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering
to Him, were there looking on from afar, among whom were Mary
Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother
of Zebedee's sons (Matt. 27:45-56, NKJV).
If one would just omit the underlined part, for all intents and purposes, he
would have Mark's version of the same events, but to make this point as
emphatic as possible, I will show the entire parallel passage from Mark:
Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over
the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour
Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama
sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why have
you forsaken me?"
Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said,
"Look, He is calling for Elijah!" Then someone ran and filled a
sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to him
to drink, saying, "Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to
take Him down."
And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.
Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to
bottom. So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw
that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, "Truly
this man was the Son of God."
There were also women looking on from afar, among whom
were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of
Joses, and Salome, who also followed Him and ministered to Him
when he was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with
Him to Jerusalem (Mark 15: 33-41, NKJV).
I could have started the quotations several verses earlier and extended
them several more, and the results would have been the same. The two
accounts are alike detail for detail, except for Matthew's statement about the
earthquake that opened the graves of the resurrected saints.
This startling fact requires bibliolaters to believe that the Holy Spirit in
his omniscient wisdom guided Mark to record such trivial details as the cast-
ing of lots for Jesus's garments (mentioned earlier in both accounts) and the
offering of sour wine (vinegar) to Jesus, just as Matthew reported, but for
some reason chose not to have Mark tell about the resurrection of many saints
who later went into the holy city and appeared to many! Only the gullibly
naive could possibly believe that.
Some inerrantists will no doubt argue that the details just mentioned were
far from trivial in that they fulfilled OT prophecies. However, that these
alleged prophecy fulfillments were more imaginative than factual can easily be
seen by examining the whole contexts of the OT scriptures that they referred
to (Ps. 22:18; 69:21). On this issue, Babinski scored another important
point in his letter to Fishbeck through several quotations that underscored
the absurdity of believing that a miracle of this magnitude would have been
omitted not just from the other gospel accounts but also from alleged prophe-
cies of the crucifixion. A particularly significant one was from Christianity's
old nemesis Thomas Paine:
Matthew concludes his book by saying that when Jesus ex-
pired on the cross, the rocks rent the graves open, and the
bodies of many of the saints arose; and Mark says, there was
darkness over the land from the sixth hour until the ninth.
They produce no prophecy for this; but had these things been
facts, they would have been a proper subject for prophecy,
because none but an almighty power could have inspired a fore-
knowledge of them, and afterwards fulfilled them (see SAINTS, p.
Since then there is no such prophecy, but a pretended
prophecy of an old coat ["They parted my garments among
them..."], the proper deduction is, there were no such things...
(An Examination of the Passages in the New Testament... Called
Prophecies concerning Jesus Christ, pam., 1807).
Bible believers boast that Thomas Paine's best known work, The Age of
Reason, has been repeatedly and soundly refuted, but in reality his ar-
guments against belief in divine inspiration of the Bible have never been
satisfactorily rebutted. In 1776, he wrote a political tract that he entitled
Common Sense. Bibliolaters would do well to apply that title to the matters
referred to in Paine's pamphlet just quoted. The omniscient Yahweh had his
prophets predict such piddling crucifixion events as casting lots for the
Messiah's garments and giving him vinegar on a sponge but didn't have the
prophets predict an earthquake that would resurrect many dead saints! Who
can believe it?
Inerrantists may cry argument from silence as loudly as they wish, but in
all that he has said about these resurrected saints, Babinski has addressed
some very serious problems in the inerrancy doctrine. They deserve a re-
sponse, not flippant dismissal.
(Readers wishing to contact Tom Fishbeck about this subject or his news-
letter may do so at P. O. Box 105, Pasadena, MD 21122. Ed Babinski's
address is 109 Burwood Drive, Simpsonville, SC 29681-8768.)
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