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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Project Faith

You may or may not have seen a recent internet graphic floating around the last year or two (or before--I'm not really sure when it was created). It can be found at project-reason.org and it basically displays a host of alleged contradictions in the Bible by means of big, red arcs connecting verses believed to be in conflict with each other. At the bottom, it lists the verse references and questions raised by them. I believe in total, there are about 439 alleged contradictions. It's an impressive image, and, as you may have guessed, ridiculously misleading. It's just the perfect tool to confirm a non-Christian's stance against biblical inerrancy and divine perfection and authority...so long as they never look up the references themselves or research any possible solutions to the apparent discrepancies.

I'm not sure I will actually systematically go through and research every single one of the alleged contradictions and blog about them here; I've made enough promises already to continue the "confessions of faith" series and the "Romans exposition" series (still planning on it, don't worry!). But I thought I'd share at least the beginning of my work on the discrepancies with you here. I've gone through 20 so far. I haven't spent a very long time on each one; I've contented myself with basically initial possible answers to some of the historical and numerical contradictions. I've spent a bit more time on ones that are more about theological issues, because that's more my field. A lot more thorough study could be done by someone else, or I may do more in the future as I study particular passages.

But I just wanted to share some of my initial work here to 1) demonstrate the low-level quality of many of the objections; 2) demonstrate a few of the various sources and causes for apparent contradictions; and 3) demonstrate how a Christian believer should go about studying the issue of alleged biblical contradictions.

Related to that last reason, before I share the first 20 objections and possible solutions, I want to discuss a few important but more abstract and fundamental things.

One is that Christians by definition must submit to and believe in the Bible as God's perfect Word, free from all error. A Christian should not be afraid of the multitudinous allegations of contradiction brought against the Bible by the unbelieving world, no matter how insistent unbelievers are that the contradictions are apparent, obvious, and large in number. For starters, that's simply not true. But an apologist reassuring you of that should not be the ground of your hope and faith in God's Word. A Christian should boldly believe, together with the historical Christian Church, that God's written Word contained in and co-extensive with the 66 books of the Bible, is free from error. This is because the truth of God's Word should be the highest authority and most basic assumption in a believer's thought life. Even if a Christian is presented with what, on the surface, looks to be a blatant, direct contradiction in the text with no evidence of scribal copyist errors, he or she should not immediately jump the ship of inerrancy or abandon inspiration in any sense at all. Rather, he or she should study the issue and think and pray about it for a year--two years--five years! There are at least two reasons for this: 1) God cannot lie, and a very plausible solution will almost certainly arise through diligent and patient, humble (oh the importance of humility!) study; and 2) difficult textual issues such as these often lead to some of the most profound biblical insights as a person learns important text-criticism issues, theological distinctions, or new hermeneutical principles and tools, enabling them to get more out of the riches of God's Word in the future!

Second, a Christian studying alleged contradictions must understand clearly what biblical inerrancy does and does not mean and imply. For example, he or she needs to realize and be able to articulate that ultimately, inerrancy only strictly applies to the original manuscripts in the original languages, yet that it is still meaningful for us to speak of our copied and translated Bibles today as inspired and inerrant. Also, a proper view of biblical inerrancy takes into account issues of diverse literary genres, figurative language, ancient vs. modern standards of numerical precision, and a host of other important issues. For someone who is not very familiar with these issues yet, I highly recommend reading through the long form of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. The denials and affirmations are immensely helpful in articulating and clarifying the definition of biblical inerrancy and some related concepts.

Third, a huge number of alleged contradictions, particularly ones leveled against parallel narrative accounts in Scripture, disappear as relevant problems when one simply keeps in mind the actual definition of a logical contradiction. The formal definition of a logical contradiction could be stated as "the situation where something is both true and not true at the same time and in the same relationship." Or: "A and not-A are true in the same way at the same time." Very, very often, unbelievers eager to level charges against God's Word (spiritually speaking, so as to avoid accountability before the God whom they know at some level yet refuse to acknowledge as God, see Romans 1:18ff) will point out differences between parallel narratives which amount to varying level of detail, "telescoping," imprecise quotation, and the like. These do not meet the requirements of the definition of "contradiction," though. Most of these actually do not even introduce direct conflict such that A and not-A are ever true at the same time. In the case of alleged contradictions between heavily theological passages, often the lacking requirement for the definition of contradiction is "in the same relationship." For example, we are and are not "justified by works" depending on whether it's in the sense of justification Paul usually means (except for in Romans 2 perhaps) or the sense of justification that James usually means (apart from his quotation of Gen. 15:6).

In sum of preparation for this kind of study, then: 1) As a Christian, you have a duty to believe God's Word apart from any supposedly independent human judgment of its truth and consistency, and this should give you boldness and comfort in the face of hostile unbelief (as well as a spur to ever-deeper study of the Word) rather than a fear of being criticized for circularity or some kind of "blind" faith commitment. Only God's revealed truth makes sense of His created world, and God's truth will be vindicated in the end, just as Christ Himself was raised from the dead after being put to death by mockers (the central tenet of the Christian faith); 2) Make sure you are familiar with and stick to your guns when it comes to defining "inerrancy" and defining "contradictions," strictly.

Alright, here's what I have so far for the first 20 from project-reason:



1) How many men did David's chief captain kill?

2 Sam 23:8 vs 1st Chron 11:11

Possible scribal copyist error 300/800 Hebrew; less likely: two battles referenced; far less likely: different individuals with very similar or same name;


2) Abraham justified by faith or works?

Rom. 4 vs James 2

Two senses of justification are in view; Gen 15:6 was before Gen 22 in the Abraham narrative. Paul in Rom. 2 uses the sense of "justify" James more commonly means, and James quotes Gen. 15:6 which is what Paul always quotes to prove justification by faith apart from works! Obviously both writers were aware of both Gen. 15 and 22, and the dynamics of justification in each. James 2 speaks of vindication by works after having been justified by faith (he speaks of the obedience as a "fulfillment" of justification by faith), and Paul in Rom. 2 speaks of eschatological vindication at the final judgment in accord with works, and in accord with a previous declaration of justification through faith in Christ. James also references justification by faith in Gen. 15:6, and Paul mostly focuses on that aspect of justification in Romans 3-8 and Galatians. Both writers speak of "justification" in both ways, but each emphasizes a different kind of justification.


3) How many sons did Abraham have?

Heb 11:17 & Gen 22:2 vs Gen 16:15, 21:2-3, 25:1-2, 4:22??

a) Obviously Isaac is the "only" son of *promise* with whom the covenant was established.; b) Heb 11:17 is monogenēs and Hebrew and LXX of Gen 22:2 can also mean "only" in sense of "unique/one of a kind" (cf. Jn 3:16 where Jesus is "only/only-begotten/monogenēs son of God" even though in Jn 1:12 believers can all become sons of God).


4) Is Abiathar son or father of Ahimelech?

1 Sam 22:20, 23:6 vs 2 Sam 8:17, 1 Chron 18:16, 24:6

"Ahimelech, the father of Abiathar, was murdered by Doeg, according to the command of Saul (1 Sam 22:9-23). His son, Abiathar seems to be the only one to have escaped the massacre.

This Ahimelech, being dead, cannot be the same Ahimelech who is spoken of in 2 Samuel 8, 1 Chronicles 18, and other places. It would appear that Abiathar had a son, whom he named Ahimelech, perhaps as a tribute to his father, who died at the hands of ungodly men.


5) Mother of Abijam?

1 Ki 15:1-2 vs 2 Chron 13:1-2

Two names, one person. "Maacha", which means "suppression"; in 2 Chronicles however, she is called "Michaiah", which means "Who is like Jehovah?". Michaiah is the name which is used for her as the queen mother, Maacha is the name which is used in connection with her idolatry (cf. 2 Chronicles 15:16). Note: actually *grand*mother. "Mother" is used in general sense of female ancestor.


6) How are Asa and Abijam reltaed?

1 Ki 15:1-2, 8, 9-10

Possible that Abijam married his own mother and became Asa's father; more likely, "mother" used in a broader sense (just as "father" is often used broadly in Jewish literature, not always referring to first-generation descent). Maacah an important "queen mother" and maybe simply Asa's *grand*mother.


7) How long was the ark at Abinadab's house?

1 Sam 7:1-2; 10:24; 2 Sam 6:2-3; Acts 13:21

1 Sam 7:1-2 does not intend to record entire length of ark's stay, but rather to describe length of time between events of vv. 1-2 and the convening of representatives of house of Israel in vv.3ff. There is no mention of the ark being moved in 1 Sam 7.


8) How old was Abram when Ishmael was born?

Gen 16:16; Acts 7:2-4; Gen 11:26, 32

(The objection is that because of Gen 11:26 it seems he departed from Haran when he was 135, therefore was way past 100 even before Ishmael born, much less Isaac). False assumption: Gen 11:26 does not require that Abram be born to Terah when Terah is 70; it only requires that Terah begin having children at age 70. Abram is 75, not 135, when departing from Haran, and 86 when Ishmael was born.


9) (same objection as #7)



10) When did Absalom rebel against David?

2 Sam 15:7 vs 2 Sam 5:4

Almost certainly a textual variant issue. 2 Sam 15:7 should almost certainly read as "four" years instead of "forty" (see some LXX and Syriac mss., as well as Josephus). There really isn't any notable 40-year period which author would be speaking of. Consider number of times a MT scribe would've written Hb. of "40" in his work given the importance and frequency of the number in the OT. Looks relatively similar in Hebrew to "4" so is an easy mistake to make.


11) Contradictory creation accounts...

Gen. 1:25-27 vs Gen. 2:18-22

If framework view correct, Gen. 1 days may not be intended to indicate chronology at all. In any case, 2:18-19 definitely does not have to be read chronologically (particularly the first part of v.19).


12) Who was Achan's father?

Josh 7:1, 24; 22:20

Compare Josh 7:18! Zerah is Achan's great-grandfather and Carmi is his father (broad use of "father" once again).


13) How many of Adin's offspring came back from Babylon?

Ezra 2:15 vs Neh. 7:20

Possible scribal error; much more likely, one account is from when they departed Babylon, and the other account records numbers upon arrival to Jerusalem.


14) How many of Adonikam's offspring returned from Babylon?

Ezra 2:13 vs Neh. 7:18

(see #13)


15) How should adulterers be punished?

Lev 20:10 vs John 8

a) Story of woman caught in adultery likely not original part of Johannine gospel account; b) Lev 20:10 requires death of both parties, while the scribes and Pharisees only bring the woman; c) scribes and Pharisees hypocritical law-breakers in many ways; d) Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath and the whole Law has the right to administer it as He sees fit (but as demonstrated by previous points, even in this apocryphal story, Jesus reverences the Law as written and knows the scribes and Pharisees are not truly following it).


16) Is it wrong to commit adultery?

Ex 20:14; Deut 5:18; Heb. 13:4 vs Num 31:18; Hosea 1:2 and 3:1

Num. 31:18 manifestly does not condone adultery. It simply allows virgin Midianite women not involved with Baal-peor worship to live and marry Israelite men. The language of Hosea points to Gomer being a woman who *would* be unfaithful but who was not an adulteress yet; she seems to have been faithful in the beginning, in giving birth to first child, yet she seems "under suspicion" in the giving of birth to the second and third "children of whoredom" (see legal proceedings of chap. 2). Gomer serves as an illustration of Israel as a covenant partner in a relationship which started off well but which fell apart because of her later unfaithfulness.


17) How was Haman an Agagite (in light of Saul's destruction of the Amalekites?)

Est. 3:1 vs 1 Sam 15:2-3, 7-8, 32-33

Either Saul, in sparing Agag, also spared his children, or the possibility also exists that Agag had children in the time span between the destruction of Amalek and his death at the hand of Samuel.


18) Was Ahaz buried with his fathers?

2 Ki 16:20 vs 2 Chr 28:27

Ahaz "slept" with his fathers in the sense of having died and gone to them in Sheol; but in fact, he was even buried "with" them in Jerusalem, just not in the same sepulchre, because of his gross sin.


19) When did Ahaziah begin to reign? Eleventh or twelfth year of Joram?

2 Ki 8:25 vs 2 Ki 9:29

Could be partial year co-regency, could be a difference in partial-year reckoning, etc. Also note: there is also a definite copyist error in 2 Chr 22:2 wherever it says he was 42 when he began to reign. He was 22.


20) How old was Ahaziah when he began to reign?

(see #19)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Baptist Faith & Message Ch. 4 "Salvation" Part 1

"Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord."

I will comment on the various subsections under "Salvation" throughout several posts. This post will only comment on the introductory paragraph in the F&M, as shown above.

I really appreciate the first line of this introductory paragraph about salvation. It reminds us to be mindful of the whole picture of salvation as applied to individuals, and seems particularly aimed (although it's hard to say for sure) at neo-Gnostic tendencies on the part of some evangelical Christians in the West to neglect the physical aspect of our ultimate redemption in Christ: the fact that Christ's bodily resurrection was the firstfruits of the resurrection of the righteous on the Last Day, at which point all of Christ's people will receive glorified new bodies like His and inhabit a redeemed, renewed, physical, new earth. Final salvation does not consist in disembodied existence in the ether, as the cartoons would have us believe.

The language of "free offer" is also important in establishing the propriety of the universal and indiscriminate offer of the gospel, although the syntax here is a bit ambiguous. It could mistakenly be understood to read "whoever accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour is *then offered salvation*," but hopefully most readers understand the intent to be "this salvation, which is received by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, is offered freely to all who hear the gospel."

That Christ "obtained eternal redemption for the believer" "by His own blood" is, of course, the heart of the gospel and the foundation of all redemptive benefits. I wish the resurrection were mentioned explicitly here as well, but the gospel is often summarized in Scripture as either Christ's cross (1 Cor 2:2) or His resurrection (Acts 4:2), one always proclaimed in light of and assuming the other.

I believe the next sentence is an overstatement. Salvation, in its truly broadest sense would include not only these existential items of the ordo salutis, but also election/predestination in eternity past (which is dealt with in the next chapter of the F&M), and also the entire cosmic context of redemptive history in the historia salutis--the unfolding over centuries of God's plan for the redemption of the whole world. But clearly, the focus here is intentionally on understanding what happens to an individual as they experience salvation in Christ.

The final sentence of this paragraph is important for at least two huge reasons. First of all, it correctly establishes Christian exclusivism. Taking the words of Jesus, the apostles, and church leaders across the centuries, seriously, absolutely precludes any notion that Christ and His gospel are just one good option for a spiritual path among many legitimate ones. Yahweh, the God of Israel, would tolerate no other gods before Him (see Exodus 20...it may sound familiar), and His Son, "Yahweh Saves by His Anointed One" basically being the meaning of the name "Jesus Christ," is the only provision God has provided by which sinful men may be redeemed and made right with a holy God. Only in the cross and resurrection of Christ is true divine mercy set forth and divine justice satisfied simultaneously--only union with the true and perfectly obedient Son of God can provide a basis in reality for the gracious adoption of sinners as sons and daughters of the Most High.

The other reason this last line is so important is that it highlights especially the saving necessity of faith in Christ as Lord, contra radical "free grace" anti-Lordship-salvation advocates who seem to think one can receive Christ on some kind of installment plan: Christ as Savior first, then as Lord later on the "second tier" Christian experience of sanctification. The centrality of union with Christ, especially in Paul's soteriological language in the New Testament, should put any such notion to flight immediately upon consideration. As we will see, faith and repentance go together as two sides of the same coin, the "coin" of a regenerate heart "living and breathing" Christ. And repentance is directly connected to a recognition of Christ's sovereign Lordship.

While I have minor scruples with this paragraph, if reading with a very picky eye, it hits a number of very important doctrines right on the head.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Redemption and the Burial of Christ



A while back, I heard one of my favorite preachers--an extraordinarily able expositor--make a passing comment on a passage that spoke of burial, and, in making a small connection with the burial of Christ, say something to the effect that there wasn't really any huge redemptive significance there. Knowing this preacher, my immediate thought was: "I'm sure he overstated that and doesn't really believe it." That's still my belief, but it got me to thinking. I wasn't sure I had any firm grasp myself of the redemptive significance of Christ's burial! So I decided to study it a little bit in Scripture. I still have *plenty* to learn on this subject, but I found a couple of interesting things. And really, what I want to share here is not so much a full exposition of what the burial of Christ should mean to us, but simply a broad framework in which to understand it, theologically and biblically. I also want to preface by saying that Scripture gives the overwhelming majority of the weight of redemptive significance to the cross and resurrection events in the work of Christ (the historia salutis as it is sometimes called). Mutually interpreting, those two events are the heart and center of the gospel, and as we will see, the burial of Christ is best understood in light of both of those events.

However, the burial is also explicitly mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:1-5, which is one of the clearest and most succinct summaries of the gospel in the New Testament:

"Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve." (NASB, emphasis mine)

So how does the rest of Scripture talk about the burial of the Christ? What emotions are we supposed to associate with it? How does it impact our redemption? Does it?

At first glance, it may seem to be obvious that we are supposed to associate the burial of Christ with negative emotions and realities like death, sadness, decay, despair. Even if we understand that the suffering and death of Christ are ultimately for our salvation and good, in and of itself, the burial of Christ means that He is physically dead, lifeless, dishonored, in a state of having endured the shame of the cross. In fact, this is a real part of the meaning of the burial of Christ. But as I found in my study of the subject, it is not the total picture.

The main way in which I want to approach the subject of the significance of Christ's burial is the lens of the theological category of the "states of Christ." In traditional Reformed, if not also more broadly evangelical, systematic theology, zooming into "Christology," and then zooming in to the "work of Christ," Christ's existence is divided into three "states" or categories. These would include Christ's pre-incarnate glory, His "humiliation" spanning from His incarnation to His death, and His "exaltation." This is often illustrated by means of a large U-shape, with His highest states of glory and exaltation at the ends of the 'u' on top, and the lowest point of His state of humiliation, usually His death on the cross, at the bottom of the curve of the 'u'. Such illustration is often accompanied by quotation of the Carmen Christi or "Hymn of Christ" in Philippians 2:6-11. This passage speaks, in language fitting Aramaic better than Koine Greek and therefore suggesting a very early traditional Christian creed or hymn with strikingly high Christology, of how Christ, who though being equal with God, didn't regard equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself, becoming a servant, obedient to God to the point of death on a cross, and therefore subsequently being exalted by God the Father to a place of new honor and glory, to be acknowledged by all men.

If we take this visual of the 'U-shape' of the states of Christ, where do we place the burial? The humiliation of Christ includes everything from the left end of the 'u' at the top, to the bottom of the curve, and the exaltation spans the rest, on the right side, up to the other end of the 'u'. Does the burial of Christ fit better in the area of humiliation or of exaltation? I personally have an idea of where to place it, but it is a little complicated for a number of reasons.

First of all, there are some factors that would lead us to believe it would be most appropriate to place the burial somewhere in the humiliation section of the graph. Obviously, physically lifeless existence doesn't seem to be much of an "exalted" state...at least as far as the human body goes, it's weak, even impotent, and void of the zōē life God breathes into a living human being to animate him for life lived in dominion over the Creation. Moreover, the burial of Christ specifically means that it's a burial following the igominy of Calvary--His burial is the indirect result of a brutally violent substitutionary death...hardly any kind of "exaltation," right? Scripturally, Christ's "grave was assigned with wicked men" (Isaiah 53:9a, although "grave" here is perhaps best understand as a Hebrew idiom for death in general since the tomb in which Jesus was laid was unused until then) and the grave was associated with at least the hypothetical prospect of "corruption" or "decay" (in the sense of biological decay) (Acts 2:27, 31). Romans 6 associates being "buried with Christ" in faith-union with Him with being "buried" into His death, only subsequently to be raised with Him in newness of life. Burial is more closely associated with death than with resurrection...or is it?

Actually, the Jewish custom of burial itself pointed forward to hope in the day of resurrection, at which time God would physically raise all the dead and carry out final judgment. This ancient Jewish belief is confirmed and continued in the New Testament, although, as we will see, Christ is a special case. Christ is the "firstfruits" of the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20). His judgment day has come and gone. He was punished with eternal-quality punishment on the cross, under the curse of the Law (Gal. 3:13) as a substitute sacrifice for His covenant people; then He was vindicated for His personal righteousness and victory, and also declared the Messianic Son of God, through His resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4). Not only that, but in both 1 Cor. 15:42-49 and Romans 5:12-21 the resurrected Christ is envisaged as the "Second" or "Last Adam," whose resurrection has brought the age to come--the age of new Creation controlled by the principle of the Spirit (as opposed to "decay" and the "flesh") into the present age, and in whom (united by faith) a new humanity is being created, being fitted for the age to come by regeneration of the heart, sanctification, and the indwelling power of the Spirit. Everyone in Christ is a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). The "old" age is still here, but is passing away and being overcome by the light and power of the gospel of the risen Christ. We are partially in the "age to come" already, as Jews believed would come with the Messiah. They were right about that, but the already-not-yet ("inaugurated eschatology") of God's plan wasn't clearly revealed until Christ's resurrection and its New Testament exposition by the apostles. We await the consummation of the age to come, in the eternal state which will commence with Christ's Second Advent.

What is interesting about the burial of Christ in this regard, is that a number of biblical texts point in the direction of anticipation of the resurrection, and of the resurrection as the beginning of New Creation, as well as the fulfilment of the Davidic covenant. For example, Isaiah 53:9 continues "Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth," prophesying the relatively honorable circumstances of Christ's burial in a new tomb, because of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (members of the Sanhedrin, actually). And the Acts 2 passage referenced earlier, in which Peter is preaching the Pentecost sermon explaining the outpouring of the Spirit in connection to Christ's death and resurrection, says that in fact Christ was not utterly abandoned to Hades/Sheol, and was not allowed to see corruption, because of God's promise to the king (even though David had undergone decay, his greater Son, the ultimate Messianic king, would not) (Acts 2:27, 31-32). Another important factor is that Christ, in crying out "It is finished" on the cross (John 19:30), declared that the suffering of divine wrath was over (or at least was proleptically over, barring the actual death itself moments later) on the cross. Surely this is the lowest point of the humiliation of Christ, and therefore the grave must be placed somewhat past this point on the 'U-graph' of the states of Christ. This last point is bolstered by Jesus' words to the repentant thief on the cross in Luke 23:43 that "Today" he would be with Christ in Paradise. Exegetes of varying theological opinions dispute comma placement here, but the preponderance of instances in which Christ says "Amen, I say to you," indicate that "today" is not usually a part of that introductory formula. Hence, Christ's suffering was over when He died on the cross.

Other than a couple of other significant things about Christ's burial that could be discussed further, such as 1) the apologetic power of the details of the grave clothes recorded in several of the gospel accounts (and the apparently traditional Jewish burial method by which Christ fully identified with His people in death as well as in life), 2) the occasion for another demonstration of divine power in the angelic appearance and earthquake that shook up the guards at the tomb, and 3) the idea of the "sign of Jonah" (Matt. 12:39-40) which points to the burial and resurrection of Christ as a powerful chastisement particularly of the Pharisees for their refusal to repent and believe in Christ and even more pointedly, given the background narrative of Jonah, for their disdain at Gentile inclusion, the location of the burial of Christ is perhaps the most powerful indicator that the burial should be seen not only as the conclusion of a violent death, but a prelude to an even more powerful life--New Creation, resurrected life.

What do I mean?

Look at John 19:41, 42: "Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there."

The hewn out rock in which Joseph and the other disciples placed the breathless Lord Jesus' body was situated in a garden. Whether or not John intentionally included this detail in his gospel account because he understood the theological import of this fact, the biblical-theological, redemptive-historical significance cannot be missed, especially in light of 1 Cor. 15 and Rom. 5 as discussed above.

The First Adam, who failed in his mission to fill the earth and extend God's representative dominion throughout the Creation, began his mission and then sinned and disobeyed God in the garden of Eden. The Second Adam, with His new resurrection life granted because of His obedience, in whom all Christian believers are made alive in spirit and will one day also participate in resurrected physical life, was raised to that new, eschatological life in a garden just outside Jerusalem. From there He commissioned His disciples to carry out representative dominion restoration through making disciples to the ends of the earth, in the new power of union with the incarnate, risen, and all-authoritative Christ, and the presence of the Spirit (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). The successful accomplishment of this in history will (after the unsuccessful final Satanic rebellion of Rev. 20:7-9) lead to the consummation of new Creation in a garden-city complete with the "water of life" and the "tree of life" as described in Revelation 22 (however symbolic the imagery may be).

So we see that although the burial of Christ is intimately connected with Christ's sacrifical death on the cross (and I can't help hearing echoes of Micah 7:19b in Romans 6...as Christ takes our sin into the heart of the earth by His death, God truly "casts our sin into the depths of the sea"), it is perhaps even more intimately connected with the anticipation of the resurrection. Just as the cross can be seen ironically as the place of Christ's greatest victory over evil (Col 2:14-15; cf. in Revelation when the saints overcome "by the blood of the Lamb," e.g. in 12:11), the grave can be seen as simultaneously Christ's participation in human death, as well as His victory over death. It is perhaps best to place the burial at the very beginning of the "upswing" of the 'u' on the "states of Christ" 'U-graph.'

The burial of Jesus Christ is simultaneously the dénouement of His Passion, and a Grande Ouverture to the drama of New Creation, the realization of the blessings of the long-awaited age to come through the resurrection of Christ. Praise His holy name!