More About the Resurrected Saints
More About the Resurrected Saints
The attention it has received indicates that Ed Babinski's article
about the resurrected saints ([ref003]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
interest group of MENSA, on biblical issues. A reader receiving a free
subscription to TSR at the request of a friend called to ask that his name
be removed from our mailing list. When asked if he would mind telling us
his specific 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 included 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,
because 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 wouldn't have made mistakes unknowingly.
Furthermore, this Matthew was presumably one of the apostles who were
present in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified, 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 possibly 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
exchange 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
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
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
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
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 ([ref004]Matt.
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
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 ([ref005]Mark
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
This startling fact requires bibliolaters to believe that the Holy
Spirit in his omniscient wisdom guided Mark to record such trivial details
as the casting 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
appeared_to_many_! Only the gullibly naive could possibly believe
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 ([ref006]Ps. 22:18; [ref007]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 prophecies of the crucifixion.
A particularly significant one was from Christianity's old nemesis Thomas
Matthew concludes his book by saying that when Jesus expired 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 foreknowledge of them, and
afterwards fulfilled them.
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
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
arguments 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 response, not flippant dismissal.
(Readers wishing to contact Tom Fishbeck about this subject or his
newsletter may do so at P. O. Box 105, Pasadena, MD 21122. Ed Babinski's
address is 109 Burwood Drive, Simpsonville, SC 29681-8768.)
FREE SUBSCRIPTION: A free one-year subscription to _The_Skeptical_
Review_ can be obtained by emailing [ref008]Jftill@aol.com or by writing to P.O. Box
717, Canton, IL 61520-0717.
File contributed by [ref009]Farrell Till; page
maintained by the [ref010]Internet Infidels.
[ref014]Copyright © 1995 [ref015]Internet Infidels.
HTML Reproduction Rights Reserved.