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No One Better

Essays in Honour of Dr. Norman H. Young

Edited By Kayle B. de Waal and Robert K. McIver

In honour of the work and legacy of Norman H. Young, this compilation of essays covers a range of topics on the Old Testament, New Testament, mission, sociology of religion, identity, and church history. The Old Testament essays include typological readings of Esther, the goodness of God, and the centrality of the cross in understanding all of Scripture. The New Testament essays reflect research in the Gospel of Matthew, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the book of Revelation, offering new insight into the interpretation of the Apocalypse. Additional essays provide focus on mission, identity, and sociology of religion. This cutting-edge collection breaks fresh ground in research and analysis, bringing the latest scholarship to bear on each chosen topic.
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The Old Testament Background of Matthew 27:45, 51–53



Avondale Seminary

Matthew 27:45, 51–53 continues to be a crux interpretum for interpreters of the first gospel. The text is studied in its final canonical form and reads: “From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land… At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people” (Matt. 27:45, 51–53).

The unusual events mentioned by Matthew and the pressing together of theological ideas make this passage difficult to grasp. Recent studies have provided better literary analysis of the text and background studies in the Second Temple literature.1 My aim in this essay is to investigate the Old Testament background of Matt. 27:45, 51–53 and its rhetorical impact on Matthew’s first readers.2


While the first-century C.E. provides the contextual framework within which to understand the gospels, the Old Testament provides the sub-structure for the thoughts and perspectives of the New Testament writers. Richard Hays maintains that the Old Testament is the “generative mileu for the gospels, the original environment in which the first Christian traditions were conceived, formed and nurtured.”3...

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