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The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute

ISSN: 2658-7599 (print)
2713-3141 (online)

Individual Resurrection of the Righteous in the New Testament: Matt 27:52–53

Alexey Somov, Ph.D. in Theology, Associate Professor, Department of Holy Scripture and Biblical Studies, St Philaret’s Institute; Translation Projects Consultant, Institute for Bible Translation; senior research fellow, Research Laboratory for Oriental and Comparative Literature Studies, School of Public Policy, Russian Presidential  Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (Moscow)
pp. 48–66
DOI: 10.25803/SFI.2019.32.53365
At least three types of resurrection are found in early Jewish literature. Two of them represent resurrection as an eschatological event: the resurrection of the righteous and the general resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked before the last judgment starts. The third type of resurrection does not emphasize the eschatological aspect. It can be called the individual resurrection of the righteous, because it deals with individual martyrs or a small group of those who were martyred for their faithfulness to the Lord. The most salient account of such a belief is found in 2 Maccabees 7, where this resurrection is described as a bodily one and is explicitly connected with resurrection.
Three examples of individual resurrection can be found in the New Testament: the resurrection of Jesus, the resurrection of certain saints in Matt 27:52–53, and that of the two witnesses of Christ in Rev 11:3–12. This article focuses on the analysis of Matt 27:52–53, which has so far not been discussed in the context of individual resurrection.
The article suggests that Matthew takes both the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of the saints as a case of individual resurrection. These two events are related to each other as a fulfillment of God’s promise about the resurrection of martyrs. Since it was important for Matthew to present the story of Jesus in the context of the fulfillment of messianic prophecies, he took the promise to martyrs that would be raised from the dead very seriously and believed that if Jesus was resurrected as a martyr, other martyrs would also be resurrected. The saints in Matt 27:52–53 can be identified with the martyrs from 2 Macc 7, according to the earliest traditions, who were buried near Jerusalem. However, Matthew might not have had any specific figures in mind but rather was concerned with the fact that this expectation of resurrection had been fulfilled.
Keywords: Judaism, New Testament, eschatology, resurrection, Jesus, Maccabees, righteous, martyr, saints.

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