Some time ago, you and I briefly discussed whether or not the Pharisees were trustworthy. You wrote that they are not, which started the conversation. If I recall correctly, one thing you held against them was that they covered up the resurrection of Jesus, according to Matthew. This proved to you just how treacherous they were. I pointed out that Matthew was not trustworthy, drawing as proof his abuse of the holy words of HaShem. You were unable to answer this charge. You wrote something about the other books of the NT being in existence as well and Matthew (and John) speaking for itself. This, of course, does not establish that Matthew is trustworthy. You found it outrageous that I would take your lack of defense as an admission that Matthew was not trustworthy. Meanwhile, without any evidence, you have determined that the Pharisees are not trustworthy, on the say-so of a man whom you could not defend. Now, as I mentioned before, Matthew does not write that the Pharisees paid the guards. It was the chief priest and elders, which I mention only for accuracy (because you and I both know that someone will claim that I do not know the story, if I get a detail wrong.) I propose that we briefly examine Matthew’s story and see if it is credible. Once we examine it, we will see that Matthew is untrustworthy, fabricating stories to malign his opponents.
When you read Matthew 28:11-15, you should notice something exceedingly strange about the entire story. A huge question should come into your mind when you read that they paid the soldiers to say that the disciples stole Jesus away. I do not mean the question that is so often asked, about how the guards would be able to admit that they fell asleep on duty without being killed for it, although that is a good question. I do not even mean how the guards could be expected to testify to an event that they are supposed to have slept through, although that is also good. No, there is a huge question that reveals how the whole story is a lie, that Matthew made it up. Think for a minute.
How did they know that Jesus was not going to show himself publicly?
Think about it. I’ll wait.
The chief priests and elders have just heard that Jesus is going to come back. They have no idea what he will do. They do not know that he is going to ascend to heaven in forty days. But the story shows that they expect never to see him. Why is that?
Well, the answer is obvious. This story was fabricated by Matthew much later. Jesus never made any public appearances. But the Jewish leadership could not know that was going to happen. Yet they did not worry at all what he was going to do. Instead, they somehow knew in advance that they could say the disciples took him. This makes no sense. They should have been expecting him to appear. They could not bribe the guards on the day that Jesus resurrected to say the disciples took Jesus, because nobody knew that he was not going to show up.
This story only makes sense after the disciples begin publicizing the resurrection but have no Jesus to prove it. It is only then that the accusation of the Jewish leaders that the disciples stole the body would make any sense. But according to the NT, this happened 47 days later than the plotting of the chief priests and elders. The Jewish leadership did not know that Jesus was not going to show himself, so the story they hatched does not make sense at day three after his death. The claim that the disciples took the body presumes that they know that there is no Jesus to show.
Matthew’s story is a fabrication. He overlooked the fact that the Jewish leadership would not know what Jesus was going to do. His story reflects the idea that the claim of his resurrection was made without evidence, without an actual resurrected Jesus. It is a neat trick he has pulled. He has made the Jewish leadership look like hypocrites and tried to establish them as witnesses to the resurrection. But he clearly invented this story, overlooking that their behavior is not consistent with those who believed that a man back from the dead could present himself. Their behavior is consistent with people who know that the disciples will claim he came back and then disappeared.
Let’s be frank. Matthew lied. He made up a story about the Jewish leadership to cover up the lack of Christian proof and malign critics of Christianity.
In fact, if you pay careful attention, you can see he has pulled another trick. He is trying to establish the timeline by attributing it to his critics. See, the disciples did not announce the resurrection until long after Jesus was supposed to come back. Now, I am not saying that the disciples stole Jesus’ body out of the grave, but they had much more than three days in which to do it, if they wanted to. They could have taken it at day 47. It is likely that he invented the story of the guards, to give the appearance that Jesus was back by day three, as he was supposed to be. It is a real problem that his resurrection is not publicized until day 50 and that he is not there to do it. So, Matthew invents a story about guards. He makes his opponents look like liars and hypocrites, while making them appear to testify to his story.
In fact, you can see how useless guards would be. The guards are only going to be posted for a few days. So, whenever they leave, that’s when you take the body (if you were going to.) And then you just make up a story about how the guards were paid off or whatever story you like. The guards are useless.
It is clear that Matthew is not trustworthy. His accusations against the Pharisees should not be trusted. His accusations against the chief priests and elders are obvious fabrications. His abuse of scripture shows that he is disinterested in truth and would distort even the words of Tanach if it suited him. His accusations are not to be believed.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal