The First Resurrection?
Matthew 27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints
which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
First I would like to tell you that I'm enjoying reading your book. As you will see above in Matthew that many of the saints which slept were resurrected after the Lord was resurrected; therefore, it's not entirely accurate to say: "The literal reading of this passage is that there has been no resurrection before this (aside from the Lord himself, of course)," (p. 12)
I've been wondering if it could be that these were saints under the law which rose when the Lord was resurrected? What do you think? Could that be an explanation?
Thank you for your support and encouragement! On the issue of this partial "resurrection," this must be seen along the same lines as the "resurrections" of Lazarus and others. Several people were brought back from the dead in scripture and this still happens at times today. But all of these people die again. The Greek term anastasis, "resurrection" in scripture is almost always used in reference to a permanent one where the body is changed and becomes immortal. This is why Jesus can be called the "firstborn from the dead" (Col. 1:18, Rev. 1:5), since he was the first person to partake in this type of transformation.
As far as the reason these people were raised from the dead, we can only speculate. I tend to think that the Jews had expected a resurrection with the coming Messiah and so it happened. They expected Elijah to preceed the coming of Messiah (Mal. 4:5) and this was fulfilled with John the Baptist. They expected the sun to turn dark and this happened while Jesus was on the cross. Call it prefillment, partial fulfillment, multiple fulfillment or whatever you like, but we see this phenomenon take place often. The "Abomination of Desolation" seemed to take place with Antiochus Epiphanes, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD by Roman General Titus and yet it will still take place in the future with the antichrist. I also believe that Antiochus was a forerunner of the antichrist as was Hitler, yet I still look forward to the "ultimate fulfillment" (if we can use that term) in the future.