From Slight Peg To Cornerstone To Capstone: The Resurrection Of Christ On “The Third Day” According To The Scriptures -- By: Stephen G. Dempster

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 76:2 (Fall 2014)
Article: From Slight Peg To Cornerstone To Capstone: The Resurrection Of Christ On “The Third Day” According To The Scriptures
Author: Stephen G. Dempster


From Slight Peg To Cornerstone To Capstone:
The Resurrection Of Christ On “The Third Day” According To The Scriptures

Stephen G. Dempster

Stephen G. Dempster is Professor of Religious Studies at Crandall University in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. This article is a revised version of a paper he presented in the biblical theological section of the ETS meeting in Milwaukee, Wis., November 2012.

The author dedicates this article to an esteemed friend: “I would like to dedicate this essay to a real pioneer in the field of Biblical Theology of the Old Testament, and most of all a personal friend and a brother in Christ: John Sailhamer.”

The NT evidence suggests that in its earliest texts Jesus was to be raised from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that his resurrection is inextricably bound up with the resurrection of his people. For example, Paul, writing to the Corinthians in the mid first century, states: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:4).1 This text reads very much like an early creed and is thus probably based on one of the oldest documents of the Christian church.2 Threaded through the later NT texts is the belief that the death and resurrection of Jesus was linked to a three day time period,3 and this was regarded as not being a surprise, aberration, or twist in the divine plan but something which at its very heart was grounded in a reading of Israel’s Scriptures. But the question remains as to what Scripture text is being considered by the NT authors since none is ever explicitly identified. It is true that Jesus likened his own death and resurrection to the person of Jonah and his experience of deliverance from the belly of the great fish, but there is no specific prediction in this “sign of Jonah” (Matt 12:38-42; 16:1-4; Luke 11:29-32).4 It is also true that many interpreters from as far back as Tertullian

believe that Hos 6:2 functions as the prediction that the resurrection of Christ fulfills: “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.”5 ...

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