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  1. #1
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    Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Matthew 12:40 quotes the Messiah saying that He would be in the "heart of the earth" for 3 days and 3 nights. A majority of folks believe that the crucifixion took place on the 6th day of the week, with the resurrection taking place on the 1st day of the week. This period of time, however, would only allow for 2 night times. To account for this discrepancy, it is sometimes "argued" that the verse is using common Jewish idiomatic language of the time.


    I wonder if anyone (who thinks that the crucifixion took place on the 6th day of the week and who thinks that the "heart of the earth" is referring to the tomb) knows of any examples which show a phrase from the first century or before which forecasts a specific number of days and/or a specific number of nights when the actual period of time couldn't have included at least parts of each one of the specific number of days and/or at least parts of each one of the specific number of nights?

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    Re: Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    You can find a hefty apologetic on the topic here: http://www.centuryone.com/crucifixion.html
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    Re: Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Sigfried,

    Thanks for the link, but I'm afraid that it doesn't show examples where a daytime or a night time was forecast to be involved with an event when no part of the daytime or no part of the night time could have occurred.

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    Re: Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Quote Originally Posted by rstrats View Post
    Sigfried,

    Thanks for the link, but I'm afraid that it doesn't show examples where a daytime or a night time was forecast to be involved with an event when no part of the daytime or no part of the night time could have occurred.
    Can you explain in more detail? Also, I think there may be an old thread on this topic. I recall doing some research on it once, but I don't recall. I'll see if I can find it in a search.

    HEre it is...
    http://www.onlinedebate.net/forums/s...ve-null-n-void

    The really detailed stuff is on the second page. I try to break down the timelines based on my research. I end up agreeing with the Catholic timeline which would leave us either with a very loose interpretation of what 3 days means, or that it is an idiom, or something else creative like he is in two places at once. The appologetics tend to play fast and loose with the way sabaths work, but my research pointed to that being wrong. Last supper is the passover sader and the sabath of the crusifiction is the normal end of the week one. That leaves him entombed for 1 day and 2 nights.
    Last edited by Sigfried; April 30th, 2016 at 12:11 AM.
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    Re: Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Sigfried,
    re: "Can you explain in more detail?"


    There are some 6th day of the week crucifixion/1st day of the week resurrection advocates who try to explain the missing night of Matthew 12:40 by saying that the verse is using common idiomatic language. I am simply asking them to support their assertion that it was common by providing examples from the period or before.

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    Re: Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Quote Originally Posted by rstrats View Post
    There are some 6th day of the week crucifixion/1st day of the week resurrection advocates who try to explain the missing night of Matthew 12:40 by saying that the verse is using common idiomatic language. I am simply asking them to support their assertion that it was common by providing examples from the period or before.
    Ah. In my the other thread I mentioned that the bible is full of "magic numbers" 7s and 3s and the like which hold mysticlal significance in days of yore, and still do in some cultures like China where lucky numbers are taken fairly seriously. So if youre going to spend time in the depths of the earth, then 3 is perhaps the correct number of days. Here is an article discussing some of the common numbers: http://listverse.com/2012/09/20/top-...al-numerology/

    If you think about it, there is an idiomatic quality to the language if nothing else. "heart of the earth" is antrhopamorphic rather than literally descriptive. "in a tomb" would be descriptive. Heart of the Earth could mean a lot of things, and folks have interpreted it as meaing diffirent things from being in the tomb, to literally the center of the earth, to hell. That said its a translation so again lots of readings are possible.

    The bottom line for me is typically that folks bend into pretzels to try and make the bible agree in all possible ways, when it's clear to me its a human document that relects various authors attempts to contribute to their faith and as a result it has natural inconsistencies and contradictions. I still find the discussion interesting. As a humanist my reading would be... "whoops, I guess he was wrong or someone messed up the recording of the story, one of the two"
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    Re: Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Couldn't the saying simply mean that Jonah was dead and rose again, and so will Jesus. .. I would go with idiom, rather than literal.
    Kinda like when they talk about priest in the order of Melchizedek, who had no father and mother and never died.
    Hebrews 7:1-10

    It isn't literal, or I don't know anyone christian that holds it as a literal thing that the high priest Melchizedek literally had no father or mother. It is just how they make comparisons, and given there doesn't appear to be a big controversy over it in the early church, it was apparently clear at the time of its' writing as to it's meaning. Now of course our culture is all "well was it a full 24 hours? because that is a really, really, really real day".

    Or maybe everyone was just excited about the fact that Jesus was raised back to life at all, and so they were all distracted and no one raised their hand and say "dude.. you totally weren't dead long enough".
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    Re: Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Perhaps someone new looking in will know of examples.

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    Re: Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Quote Originally Posted by rstrats View Post
    Perhaps someone new looking in will know of examples.
    I think you would need to find a real scholar on the subject or do some scholarly reading. You would likely be looking for idioms in greek since that was the language the new testiment was composed in.

    I think the fact that they are referencing an old testiment story, not in greek, and telling a new story in greek, would tend to argue agaisnt he idea it is purely idiomatic. That would have to be an idiom that spanned not only centuries, but language and culture, a pretty rare thing indeed.

    THis article makes an intersting point: http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/3days-3nights.html
    He's saying the language was not exactly and idiom but was inexact, laymans language. He points out that the time of his death was explained in different places using different language. All 3 days, but some say "in three days" ohters "after three days" and the "three days and nights" and so none of it should be read with some exacting standard. He sets out a number of biblical passages reguarding time, as well as jewish legal standards that argue for a loose interpretation such that a day could be just a portion of a day rather than the fullness of it.

    Were I to critique his case, the "and three nights" part is pretty tricky to justify and he doesn't address it. I can see three days, but not three nights.
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    Re: Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Sigfried,
    re: "I think you would need to find a real scholar on the subject..."

    Do you know of a scholar who can provide examples from the 1st century or before which show that it was common to forecast a daytime or a night time to be involved with an event when no part of the daytime or no part of the night time could have occurred?

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    Re: Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Quote Originally Posted by rstrats View Post
    Sigfried,
    re: "I think you would need to find a real scholar on the subject..."

    Do you know of a scholar who can provide examples from the 1st century or before which show that it was common to forecast a daytime or a night time to be involved with an event when no part of the daytime or no part of the night time could have occurred?
    That sounds like a rhetorical question. WHy don't you explain what your own possition on the topic is?
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    Re: Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Sigfried,
    re: "That sounds like a rhetorical question."

    It's not. I'm really looking for an answer.



    re: "WHy don't you explain what your own possition on the topic is?"

    My own position is that I'm not aware of any examples which show 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.

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    Re: Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Quote Originally Posted by rstrats View Post
    My own position is that I'm not aware of any examples which show 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.
    Why do you say no part of night or day? I think all parties agree Jesus was in the tomb diring both daytime and night time. The question debated is how many.
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    Re: Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Sigfried,
    re: "Why do you say no part of night or day?"


    Many folks believe in a 6th day of the week crucifixion/1st day of the week resurrection. The Messiah said that He would be in the "heart of the earth" for 3 nights. A 6th day of the week crucifixion/1st day of the week resurrection allows for only 2 nights. There are some who try to explain the missing night by saying that Matthew 12:40 is employing common Jewish idiomatic language. If that is true, there would have to be examples of such usage in order for them to legitimately say that it was common. I am simply asking them to provide examples which show that a daytime or a night time was forecast to be involved with an event when no part of the daytime or no part of the night time could have occurred.

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    Re: Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Quote Originally Posted by rstrats View Post
    Sigfried,
    re: "Why do you say no part of night or day?"


    Many folks believe in a 6th day of the week crucifixion/1st day of the week resurrection. The Messiah said that He would be in the "heart of the earth" for 3 nights. A 6th day of the week crucifixion/1st day of the week resurrection allows for only 2 nights. There are some who try to explain the missing night by saying that Matthew 12:40 is employing common Jewish idiomatic language. If that is true, there would have to be examples of such usage in order for them to legitimately say that it was common. I am simply asking them to provide examples which show that a daytime or a night time was forecast to be involved with an event when no part of the daytime or no part of the night time could have occurred.
    Thanks, now that I have a better understanding of exactly what you are looking for I think I can provide better information for you.

    Lets start with this however, your standard is odd. "no part of night time or day time" doesn't make much sense. In the 6-1st scenario, there is both day and night. so "no part of night or day" isn't applicable. What you should really be asking for is idioms or situations where the exact count of nights and days is not fully accuate or taken to be a generalized description of a time period.

    It is certainly common in this day and age, we might say "I'll be in dalace for a couple of days" when in fact we arrive after sundown on a monday and leave some time tuesday night. We were there for only one sunrise and sunset (aka day) but as to calandar days we were there for two, monday and tuesday. We would rarely take the pains to be super specific about such things, and there is little reason to think ancient people were any different in this reguard. None the less you want actual examples.

    I'll use this souce I posted earlier http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/3days-3nights.html

    Lets start with 3 days...

    Here is one example...
    Taxes: Consider also the tax issue between King Rehoboam and the people. 2 Chronicles 10:5,12 says, "Come again unto me after three days. ... So ... all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day."

    After three days would require you to wait a full three days. To come on the thrid day would be to cut such a time short, only two and a half days for instance. Few would quiblble over such a trivial difference saying the people got it wrong and King Rehoboam wanted them there the day after they came.

    Here the author uses jesus's own words in explination...
    With Christ's definition of time before us, the picture snaps into clear focus. Speaking prophetically of His own death and resurrection, He said, "To day (crucifixion) and to morrow (in tomb), and the third day (resurrection) I shall be perfected" (Luke 13:32). There are all three days in their sequence. Even though He died in the late afternoon, the entire day would be counted as the first day. The second day would span the Sabbath when He slept in the tomb. Even though He was resurrected in the early hours on the third day, inclusive reckoning would make it one of the three days. Thus, Friday, Saturday and Sunday = Three Days!

    This I think (and he has many other examples) satisfies the 3 days of 3 days and 3 nights, but it does not directly address nights. A day can be any portion of a day in common biblical texts, both old testiment and new testiment and when jesus himself is speaking. 3 days need not span three sets of sunrises and sunsets, in need only have a foot in day one and three and encompas day two. Do you agree that is shown sufficeintly or do you need more examples, or have objections, there are many examples to be found on that site.

    So lets check on the nights part of this...
    Those who insist that Christ was in the grave a full seventy-two hours contend that the three days and three nights must be taken in the fullest literal sense. But such a contention is absolutely contrary to the testimony of the Scriptures. An example of the way the scripture uses the term is found in Esther 4:16. Do not overlook the fact that they were to fast "three days and three nights." Yet Esther 5:1 tells us, "it came to pass on the third day" that they ended their fast. Here is a perfect example of how three days and three nights terminate on the third day!

    We can also look to exapmles where two different authors used the terms "days and nights" vs just "days" interchangibly indicating they can often be simple matters of flourid speach. Invoking day and night being a more flourid and poetic phrasing rather than trying to be descriptive. Or, as in the case of fasting above, to indicate that during night time, there is not an abatement of whatever is hapening, aka Jesus wasn't out of the tomb during the nights of the three days. Again from the source I'm using...
    The expression "three days and three nights" does not indicate a precise computation of hours, minutes, seconds. We read that "forty days and forty nights" were spent by Christ in the wilderness of temptation. However, the writers of two of the gospels state it simply as a period of "forty days," showing that inspiration was not pinpointing the hours or minutes.

    Here are sources of both jewish and biblical scholars on the subject from http://www.biblicalcatholic.com/apologetics/num56.htm
    Now for some Biblical commentaries and sources that back this up, and further OT examples of the phrase "three days and three nights" :

    "'Three days and nights' (Jonah 2:1 [1:17]) need NOT imply complete days; PARTS of a twenty-four-hour day counted as representing the WHOLE day. In early Jewish law, only after three days was the witness to a person's death accepted." (Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary [Intervarsity Press, 1993], p 81)

    "'Three days and three nights' is a special phrase used in the ancient world with the meaning 'long enough to be definitely dead.' It derives originally from the ancient pagan notion that the soul's trip to the after-world took three days and three nights. Jesus' use of the same phrase for the duration of his death before his resurrection (Mt 12:40) carries a similar force: it is a way of saying that he would really die, NOT that he would be literally dead for exactly seventy-two hours. 'Three days and three nights' was a Jewish idiom for a period covering PARTS of three 24-hour 'days-and-nights' (cf. 1 Sam 30:12-13; Est 4:16-5:1)." (New Bible Commentary, p 819,920 under Jonah 1:17/Matt 12:40)

    "In ancient literature [three days and three nights] indicated a period so long that if someone appeared to be in the realm of death for that length of time, only divine intervention could bring him back to life. ...Three days may also simply mean a fairly long time (cf. 1 Sam 30: 12; Esther 4:16). In Jonah it heightens the picture of the great power of God who can save his disobedient messenger even after 'three days and three nights.' Much later Jesus' disciples on the way to Emmaus had given up hope because 'this is THE THIRD DAY since it happened' (Luke 24:21)." (The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah commentary by John D.W. Watts [Cambridge Univ Press, 1975], p 82f)

    "Jesus stayed in the realm of the dead PARTS of three twenty-four-hour periods, not three whole days and nights. But the reference to three days and three nights comes out of Jonah 2:1 [1:17] rather than from the story of Jesus and causes no problem in view of the Jewish method of reckoning PART of a twenty-four-hour day for the WHOLE (see Gen 42:17-18; 1 Sam 30:1,12-13; 2 Chron 10:5,12; Esth 4:16-5:1; and rabbinic references in TDNT 2:949-950). Here is the only reference to his death and resurrection that Jesus made in the hearing of Jewish leaders. The chief priests and Pharisees will allude to it in recalling that he said he would rise 'AFTER three days' (27:63)....The reason is that Matthew's Jesus spoke to the Jewish leaders about staying in the realm of the dead three days and three nights. But Jesus rose ON the third day. Though the peculiarity of the Jews' method of reckoning time eliminates a necessary contradiction, Matthew suits the two different ways of phrasing the matter to the audience of Pharisees on the one hand (27:63 with 12:40) and to the historical event on the other hand (16:21; 17:23; 20:19) [which read 'ON the third day']." (Robert H. Gundry, MATTHEW: A Commentary on His Handbook for a Mixed Church under Persecution [Eerdmans, 1994], p 244-245)

    Now for the scholarly Theological Dictionary of the New Testament referred to above as TDNT, edited by Gerhard Kittel, under "DAY" :

    "The difficulty has often been advanced that there is a discrepancy between the ['on the third day'] of Matthew, Luke, and Paul and the usual ['after three days'] of Mark. But in this connection it has to be remembered that difficulties always arise in the reckoning of days according to Jewish usage. Thus

    'in Halachic statements PART of a day is reckoned as a WHOLE day'

    [Footnote has rabbinic source Str-B I,649 and the original Hebrew 'part of a day counts as a whole day' e.g. bNazir 5b; Pes 4,2]

    "and already in the first century A.D. we read: 'A day and a night constitute a -onah- ([Hebrew for] a full day), and part of a -onah- counts as a whole -onah-' (jShab 12a,15,17)

    "IT IS IN THIS LIGHT THAT WE ARE TO UNDERSTAND MATTHEW 12:40...Thus the Marcan narrative ['after three days'] means that Friday and the night up to the resurrection are each counted as a day, while Matthew, Luke and Paul...use a mode of expression ['on the third day'] which would be regarded as more correct by Greeks. Both forms are found in close proximity in Matthew 27:63f..." (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament [TDNT], vol 2, p 949f)
    And then there is the counter case.
    Jesus and other sources say specifically he will rise "on the third day". Alternate timelines proposed for the resurection have him dying on Wednsday and rising on Sunday. But any jew describing this would say "he rose on the 4th day" because an accounting of days alwasy includes any portion of the day. All the examples above and many more show this consistently nor can any example be found where a thing happened "on the X day" and more calandar days than X had elapsed.

    So the Friday-sunday timeline only requires you accept the notion that Days and Nights, is an idiomatic expression used as both a poetic device and one to indicate no abatement after dusk, while the Wendsday-Friday requires you ignore every other accounting of what a "day" constitutes in biblical usage as well as a tortured mangling of the Jewish calandar sabath which has remained unchanged for thousands of years. Ocams razor argues stongly the friday-sunday version is the most credible.
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    Re: Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Sigfried,
    re: "...your standard is odd. 'no part of night time or day time' doesn't make much sense."

    Tell that to the 6th day of the week crucifixion/1st day of the week resurrection advocates. The Messiah said that a 3rd night would be involved with His time in the "heart of the earth". Some of them explain the lack of an actual 3rd night by saying that the Messiah is using common idiomatic language.



    re: "...you should really be asking for is idioms or situations where the exact count of nights and days is not fully accuate or taken to be a generalized description of a time period."

    That is what I am asking. I am asking them to provide actual examples which show that a daytime or a night time was forecast to be involved with an event when no part of the daytime or no part of the night time could have occurred.




    re: "It is certainly common in this day and age, we might say 'I'll be in dalace for a couple of days' when in fact we arrive after sundown on a monday and leave some time tuesday night."

    But is it common to say "I'll be in dalace for a daytime and a night time" when no part of the night time could have occurred?



    re: "...3 days need not span three sets of sunrises and sunsets, in need only have a foot in day one and three and encompas day two. Do you agree that is shown sufficeintly..."

    Yes. But it doesn't show where a daytime or a night time was said to be involved with an event when no part of the daytime or no part of the night time could have occurred.




    re: "Those who insist that Christ was in the grave a full seventy-two hours contend that the three days and three nights must be taken in the fullest literal sense."

    I'm not asking for 72 hours. I'm only asking for examples where at least a part of a daytime or at least of part of a night time couldn't have been involved. And BTW, nothing in the Esther account precludes at least a part of 3 daytimes and at least a part of 3 night times.




    re: "Here are sources of both jewish and biblical scholars on the subject from http://www.biblicalcatholic.com/apologetics/num56.htm"

    But none of them show where a daytime or a night time was forecast or said to be involved with an event when no part of the daytime or no part of the night time could have taken place.



    re: "So the Friday-sunday timeline only requires you accept the notion that Days and Nights, is an idiomatic expression..."

    There is no question about it - that timeline has to mean an idiomatic expression. But was it a common expression? That is what this topic is asking.

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    Re: Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Since it's been awhile, perhaps someone new looking in may know of examples.

 

 

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