Three Days and Three Nights in Matthew 12:40

Discussion in 'Sacred Scripture' started by rstrats, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. rstrats

    rstrats Member

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    Whenever the three days and three nights of Matthew 12:40 is brought up in a "discussion" with 6th day crucifixion proponents, they frequently argue that it is a common Jewish idiom for counting any part of a day as a whole day. I wonder if anyone knows of any writing from the first century or before that shows a phrase stating a specific number of days and/or a specific number of nights when it absolutely couldn't have included at least a part of each one of the specific number of days and at least a part of each one of the specific number of nights?
     
  2. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Active Member

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    I don't think anyone will come up with an example for you. Lets face it Matthew (or all the others) is just plain wrong.
    I have studied this problem a bit and have never come up with a convincing answer, There seems to be an idea around that the phrase "Day and night" as opposed to "day" can refere to part of a day. If this is true the story still involves tortured logic as to what the various terms day and night mean. Matthew and others of course never say he rose again on the third "day and night"
     
  3. rstrats

    rstrats Member

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    I probably should have addressed the OP to those who think that the crucifixion took place on the 6th day of the week.
     
  4. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member Typist Anglican

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    Please be reminded that comments derogatory to Scripture are not allowed. Questions about veracity are, but affirmations against veracity aren't.
    http://forums.anglican.net/pages/terms/
     
  5. Cable

    Cable New Member

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    By 6th day, I assume you mean Friday? Here's how I understand that particular statement of Christ:
    1. I rely on the Biblical language authorities. A number of them say that this is an idiom for three "days" (not necessarily 24 hour periods), and I defer to their expertise.
    2. I trust the witness of the Church. Anglicans, like other churches that come from Apostolic origins, don't take a "me and my Bible only" approach to things. Tradition shapes our interpretations. So, in addition to the clear Scriptural witness, we also have the witness of the Early Church and the customs of the Church (Holy Week, fasting on Friday, gathering for worship on Sunday). These things all point to a Friday crucifixion and a Sunday resurrection. The Church and its theologians are not out to deceive us. They have all reached this conclusion. I don't have to reinvent the wheel. I can accept their conclusions - which clearly match the Scriptural record.
    3. Christ cannot have erred. He is divine, and thus incapable of saying something that is incorrect. Since every witness tells us that the crucifixion was on Friday & the resurrection on Sunday, and since we know that Christ spoke no wrong or pointless words, it is entirely safe to conclude that this was an idiom. Jesus said exactly what he wished to say and communicated exactly what he intended. Any error is mine, not his.
    In fairness, I don't know of any documents that would answer the question that you asked. And maybe what I said wasn't exactly answering the question either. :D Just thought I'd share where I'm at right now. It's an interesting topic, after all.
     
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  6. rstrats

    rstrats Member

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    Cable,

    re: "By 6th day, I assume you mean Friday? "

    I mean the 6th day of the week. US calendars label it Friday but much of Europe labels it Saturday.


    re: "I rely on the Biblical language authorities. A number of them say that this is an idiom for three 'days' (not necessarily 24 hour periods)..."

    I'm not concerned with 24 hours periods. I'm only interested in what is asked for in the OP.


    re: "Since every witness tells us that the crucifixion was on Friday..."

    I'm not aware of any scripture that absolutely, positively places the crucifixion on the 6th day of the week.


    re: "...and since we know that Christ spoke no wrong or pointless words, it is entirely safe to conclude that this was an idiom."

    Then I would think that there would be at least one example from that period that would support the idiom theory. And if the Messiah knew He was only going to be in the heart of earth for 2 nights, why do you suppose He said that it would be for 3 nights? Why not take Him at His word - when He said three nights, why try to make it 2 nights?
     
  7. Cable

    Cable New Member

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    Well, regardless of how one counts the days, Christ was crucified on the day before the Sabbath and resurrected on the day after the Sabbath. That is the Scriptural record. I believe that all four Gospels refer to the resurrection day - the day after the Sabbath - as the first day of the week. And Matthew's account tells us that the tomb was secured on the day after the crucifixion (Saturday, the Sabbath & second of the three days), because there was concern about the disciples stealing his body away for/on the third day (Sunday). That third of the three days - the first day of the week - was when they anticipated such an event. That means that the priests and Pharisees interpreted Jesus' words to mean that he would rise on the third day from his death, not after three complete night-day cycles.

    For me, that is evidence enough of the idiomatic nature of the statement. I really can't say whether or not extra-biblical evidence exists in support of the idiom. A lack of such evidence does not negate the possibility of the idiom. So it isn't that we refuse to take him at his word; it's that the account says Day Before Sabbath (death), Sabbath Day (rest), Day After Sabbath (life). And we interpret Scripture by Scripture. Since the account is true, and his words are true, we can safely interpret the difficult statement in light of the clearer ones. He cannot lie or err, therefore he used an expression that his hearers interpreted idiomatically (which is why his enemies wanted guards at the tomb through the third day). Please note that I'm not trying to argue, especially since I don't know you, your church background, or your theology! Just sharing what I/we believe as best I can.

    That's all I've got. I'm sure that others have studied in more detail. :D
     
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  8. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    John Wesley's Commentary had this to say regarding Matthew 12:40:" Three days and three nights — It was customary with the eastern nations to reckon any part of a natural day of twenty-four hours, for the whole day. Accordingly they used to say a thing was done after three or seven days, if it was done on the third or seventh day, from that which was last mentioned. Instances of this may be seen, 1 Kings 20:29; and in many other places. And as the Hebrews had no word to express a natural day, they used night and day, or day and night for it. So that to say a thing happened after three days and three nights, was with them the very same, as to say, it happened after three days, or on the third day. See Esther 4:16; 5:1; Genesis 7:4,12; Exodus 24:18; 34:28. Jonah 2:1."...this shows that this argument has been used for at least 300 years and was accepted in the 18th century so universally, that john Wesley apparently felt no need to prove up his statements with historical or scholarly evidence outside of a few bible passages.

    I have no ancient info either though.
     
  9. Stephanos

    Stephanos New Member

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    I wonder if some of this argument has to do with the jewish idea of the day, which traditionally started after the settin of the sun.
     
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  10. rstrats

    rstrats Member

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    Since it's been awhile, someone new looking in may know of some writing.
     
  11. SirPalomides

    SirPalomides Active Member

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    I will consult St Theophylact's commentary when I have time.
     
  12. rstrats

    rstrats Member

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    SirPalomides,

    re: "I will consult St Theophylact's commentary when I have time."


    Thanks, but there is no need for you to do that. I've checked and I don't see where he has shown any writing from the first century or before which uses a phrase stating a specific number of days and/or a specific number of nights when it absolutely couldn't have included at least a part of each one of the specific number of days and at least a part of each one of the specific number of nights.
     
  13. seagull

    seagull Active Member

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    I'm not pointing the finger at anyone and I regard Anglican agnostic as a good poster. But I suport Admin's comments. Almost every discussion forum I've visited, not least religious ones, are flooded with "new Atheists", wo/men with a mission. Thank goodness we're spared these tedious people here. We have enough differences amongst ourselves as it is.
     
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  14. Rev2104

    Rev2104 Active Member

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    Died friday before 6 so that Thursday to jews still. Rose ealy sunday morning so saturday be jewish reckoning. So we got three days.
    Athiest love this one.
     
  15. rstrats

    rstrats Member

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    Since it has again been awhile, perhaps someone new looking in who thinks the crucifixion took place on the 6th day of the week and who tries to get around Matthew 12:40 by saying it is using common Jewish idiomatic language will know of some writing.
     
  16. rstrats

    rstrats Member

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    Perhaps someone new looking in will know of examples.
     
  17. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    If you look at the account of creation in Genesis 1, you find 'and there was evening and there was morning, a first day' or some such similar depending on translation. In our mindset we breat days at midnight, however I suspect in the mind of the ancients, the sabbath began at sunset on the Friday, hence the urgent need to get the bodies down and away, as recounted in the Gospels.

    We are much more rigorous (obsessed) in our measurement of time - and the time differences around a circular world rotating on its axis. The advancement of science and the breadth of awareness it has brought to us all has not doubt changed our sensitivity to time. Many people are now paid by the minute or the hour, and not by the day.

    In that sense I am comfortable with the idea that speaking of three days in the time of the scripture is not the same as we would, where we would probably imply 72 hours, or there abouts.

    Jesus died and was laid in the tomb on the Friday - in preparation for his burial.

    He lay in that tomb of Nicodemus that night, through the daylight of Saturday, and through the next night.

    On the Sunday Morning (the first day of the week) when the women returned to the tomb they found the stone rolled away and Mary Magdalene encountered the unexpected Risen Christ.

    I am comfortable with the ancients speaking of 'on the third day'. Mathew is perhaps the most 'Jewish' of the Gospels, and therefore perhaps the most likely to reflect established Jewish patterns of thinking and idiom. In a real sense it is about reading the text in the context in which it was written that enables a better understanding.
     
  18. rstrats

    rstrats Member

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    Philip Barrington,

    I see that you are a 6th day of the week crucifixion advocate, but I don't see where you think that it was common to forecast that a daytime or a night time would be involved with an event when no part of the daytime or no part of the night time could have occurred. I'm hoping to hear from someone who does and can provide examples to support that thinking.

    BTW, and not that it matters, but it was the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea and not of Nicodemus (Matthew 27:57-60).
     
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  19. rstrats

    rstrats Member

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    Someone new looking in may know of examples.
     
  20. alphaomega

    alphaomega Active Member

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    I have heard of a Messianic explanation that went something like this: Jesus was crucified on a "day of Preperation", the next day being a "special Sabbath"(Jn 19:31)This being the Feast of Unleavened Bread(Lv 23 4-8)No work was to done on this day, it was a "special Sabbath"not a weekly Sabbath. So it is quite possible that He was crucified on a Thursday instead of a Friday. This would make the traditional Good Friday more of a day of observation instead of the literal day of His crucifixion. This explanation seems to make a lot of sense to me.
     

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