Easter: Matthew’s Zombie Invasion and Other Oddities

For those unfamiliar with the gospel attributed to Matthew (it was not actually written by a Matthew, but was written anonymously, and the name was assigned to it later), the resurrection narrative features a full out zombie invasion, as well as plenty of other reason to doubt its reliability.

We all know that Jesus, is claimed to have resurrected from the dead and there is now some evidence of that Christians are tiring of atheist habitually calling Jesus a zombie, and using it as point of mockery. I personally like zombie stories and Jesus fits, most descriptions of zombies that I am familiar with, namely a dead body that is brought back to life and moves about. Jesus, even still has the visible wounds on his body from his crucification. One can nit-pick and say Jesus lacked the mindless, slow moving man-eating behaviors of the zombies in modern movies, but the image still is that of a dead body moving about and therefore rather zombie-like.

What is more interesting though, is that Matthew’s supposed Gospel mentions that the death of Jesus was accompanied by an earthquake in which “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” This is a full out zombie invasion of a significant city, during a well recorded time in Roman antiquity. If something this unnatural and this monumental happened, it would almost certainly have been recorded by countless witnesses and yet it appears in the Gospel attributed to Matthew and no where else.

These dead holy men, presumably got to live out their lives again, and yet we never hear any further stories involving them, or anything directly from them either. As noted before, no other gospel or any book of the new testament mentions this incident. This is also true of the Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, the two earthquakes surrounding Jesus’ death, and the strange celestial activity around the time of Jesus birth.  These are events that would have been independently verifiable but, they are not mentioned anywhere else in contemporaneous literature, including the other Gospels.  This also true of the visit of magi, and the holy family’s departure into Egypt.

Interestingly, Matthew’s gospel largely copies Mark’s gospel (the shortest, most striped down and most likely earliest gospel) word for word in many places, but embellishes heavily on it, in some cases simply doubling the beneficiaries of Jesus’ miracles, or placing extra emphasis Jesus divinity, and his ties to the old testament.
Additionally there is also evidence that the authors of Matthew and Luke copied from a shared earlier lost source, which consisted largely of sayings, known to scholars as the Gospel of Q.  It contains word-word material found in Matthew and Luke, but missing from mark.

Biblical scholars generally believe that Matthew was written in the late 1st century (more than a lifetime after Jesus supposed death), by an individual who not an eyewitness at all, but an unknown from Roman Syria.The author of Matthew, also had an agenda that centered on preserving the Jewish nature of Christianity and preventing it’s
Jewish traditions from becoming lost in a religion growing increasingly more popular among gentiles. Matthew’s gospel frequently makes (often sloppy) attempts to tie incidents Jesus life to statements in Jewish Scripture and presents the only gospel that directly states that the law of the old testament is to be kept by Christians. He specifically said, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”  Many Christians dismiss this, saying that because of Jesus, they no longer have to follow the law of the old testament.  It amazes me that they, never consider the possibility that the gospel writers disagreed on important points of theology.

For those reasons: wild stories, with no verification, a clear agenda, clear cases of copying from earlier sources, and an overall narrative that makes no sense, I am forced to dismiss Matthew’s alleged gospel and its zombie invasion story as unreliable religious propaganda.  I find that the other books of the old testament have have similar problems too.

As a bonus aside while we are on the topic of easter:

Easter is also, of course the day when Christians celebrate the resurrection of their lord,  Jesus with the seemingly nonsensical practices of dying chicken eggs and telling children that they have been hidden by a magical rabbit.  The rabbit is, of course ancient symbol, of fertility, for obvious reasons, and it’s habit of giving birth to large litters around spring time (due to the fact that in rabbits, fetuses at different stages of development can simultaneously
exist in the same female) have made them commonly associated with the vernal equinox.

Interestingly, an ancient superstition that rabbits are hermaphroditic and able to reproduce without intercourse also led to the association with the virgin Mary and Jesus. German immigrants introduced the Eastern bunny mythology to the United States in the 18th century, though it was originally thought of as an egg-laying hare.    Jacob Grimm (of the famous Grimm brothers) noted that similar traditions existed in Germany and believed their were tied to the worship of a Germanic Goddess called Ēostre or Ostara. This being may have been related to the Norse goddess Feyja who was also associated with Hares.

Combine this with another ancient spring time fertility symbol the egg, and much of the tradition starts to make sense. Eastern Orthodox Christians, have a tradition of using red dye in their eggs representing the blood of Christ, and a Catholic tradition of forbidding the consumption of eggs during the fasting for lent, insuring eggs would be abundant around Easter time.

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