Besides the question of the culture that the Bible was originally written within, and for, there’s also the question of the purpose of the writing. We must be careful in drawing conclusions about the purpose for a particular section of the Bible, because we aren’t God, and don’t know His purposes exactly. Also, God most likely had more than one purpose in mind when He allowed, or caused, many Bible passages to be written. Sometimes, the main purpose seems to be quite clear. Not always.
The main purpose of the verses concerning how long Jesus was in the tomb was not to discuss Jewish burial customs, or to establish a timetable of what happened. . . . Luke 23 tells us that Jesus was not in the tomb when his followers got there on Easter morning. It doesn’t tell us when Jesus left the tomb. We can guess, but we don’t know. He could have arisen very early in the morning, before daylight, or just before the women arrived. But the main point remains. Jesus was not in a sealed, guarded, tomb. He arose!
. . . The genre of Biblical writing is related to the purpose. Bible students classify the writing of the Bible into several different genres, such as poetry, history, law, apocalyptic literature, parables, doctrine. (There are other ways of classifying sections of the Bible.) In almost no case, with the exception of the parables of Jesus, is the genre indicated – the Bible doesn’t tell us. We just have to figure it out. Occasionally, there is controversy over which genre a particular part of the Bible belongs to. This is true of the first part of Genesis. I’m not going to discuss the controversies over that section of the Bible, other than to say that there are such controversies, and that we should be careful not to be too sure that we know what the right answer is.
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