Three out of four gospel writers agree: Zombies didn’t invade Jerusalem.
“And 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.”
~ Matthew 27:52-53
So why is Matthew the only gospel writer to include this detail?
Zombies? What Zombies?
Whenever a story is missing from the other gospels, a common apologetics move is to say that “the absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.” In other words, just because Mark, Luke and John don’t mention it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Perhaps they’re right. Perhaps the other gospel writers just forgot that detail, or were ignorant of it, or didn’t feel it was important to the story. Seriously?
Queue the Thriller music
Imagine you witnessed a car accident near a graveyard. After the accident, some graves opened up and several people rose from the dead. Do you think this might be something you’d mention when retelling the story? Sure, because it’s an extremely unusual event. People don’t just rise up out of the grave every day (well, not nearly as often as they used to).
But what if several other people witnessed the same accident, but didn’t mention any dead people rising from the grave? Perhaps they all just had a minor lapse in memory. Or perhaps they all didn’t feel it was relevant to the story. Or perhaps they all would later recall “Oh yes, I forgot the bit about the zombies. Now that you mention it, I definitely saw some zombies.”
No, I’m sorry, but one does NOT forget to mention zombies. It’s certainly normal to forget (or leave out) minor details when retelling a story, but not something as significant as this.
So what happened next?
Matthew doesn’t go into much detail, so one can only speculate about what happened after the dead arose…
Did they have physical bodies or were they ghosts? Could they talk? What did they say? Did they talk about life after death? Did they return to their graves? Or rise to heaven? Or did they just go back home? (“Honey, I’m home! … Again!”)
No one can say for sure, but I like to think the citizens of Jerusalem panicked and started stabbing them with knives and pitchforks screaming “You’re dead! We buried you! Why won’t you die!?!”
A story only Fox News could love
Why do no other outsiders cover this story? Wasn’t this big news? You’d think everyone leaving the city would be saying, “Hey, did you see the dead people yet?” and the people entering would say “No, we heard, we’re heading there now!!!” How unfortunate it is that Matthew is the only person in the world to record this event.
Back to the Gospels
So did the other gospel writers just think Matthew was full of crap? Maybe they thought the story would steal Jesus’s thunder. After all, if everyone else is rising from the dead, maybe it’s not such a big deal. (“You say Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to many? So did my uncle Joe!”)
Incidentally, Matthew is also the only one to record an earthquake after Jesus’s death. He also has the most dramatic retelling of the resurrection. You might say that while the other gospel writers were telling a story, Matthew was writing a screenplay. “More earthquakes! More thunder! More blood! More zombies!!!”
So what does this mean?
At best, Mark didn’t know of the event, and somehow Luke and John never heard of it or read Matthew’s account.
At worst, Matthew isn’t telling “the gospel truth,” and lied to make the story more convincing.