Oct 17, 2018



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The Guards of the Tomb : Matthew's Apologetic Legend Revisited : Matt 27:62-66 and 28:11-15
░Abo Akademi University Press
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Summary: The story about the guards at the tomb of Jesus (Matt 27:62-66 and 28:11-15) has often been labelled as an apologetical legend, and is rather too often all but ignored in both Matthean scholarship and in the studies on the resurrection stories. The aim of this book is to explore the origin of the guard story and analyze it in the context of continuous conflict between some Jewish leaders and Christ-believers. The author suggests that the story is derived from a pre-Matthean tradition which was a reply to the Jewish accusation that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus. It is also proposed that the guards were first introduced to the story by the Jewish leaders in order to give credence to the accusation of theft. The Christian accusation of bribery by the priests on the one hand, and the theft of the body by the disciples of Jesus on the other, concerned the very honor of the leaders for the respective religious groups. The author suggests the argument might have been more as to who is to be believed than what had actually happened, thus explaining the scantiness of source-material to defend any one side. The historicity of the guard narrative is secondary to its function in the narrative which is to reveal the continuing polemic relevance that surrounded the events of Christ's resurrection. The author presents a two-fold conclusion: (1) that the presence of the guards at the tomb as an invention by the priests does not benefit the Christian narrative; (2) the plausible later Christian apologetical counter-response yields no further historical evidence either for or against the Christian resurrection narrative which is solidly based on early accounts of witnesses to the empty tomb.
Table of contents: Introduction -- Arguments for the non-historicity for the Matthew's guard story -- A source and redaction critical analysis of the Matthean guard story -- The conflict between the Jews and Christ believers -- The origin of the empty tomb tradition -- The guard story -- Concluding thoughts.

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