Over the years as a Christian I have heard more than once that there was a resurrection of all The Saints located in Sheol, which was associated with Jesus own resurrection. That fact was supposedly confirmed by Josephus.
There is a passage of scripture, and only one I might add, which records the miracle which took place in relation to Jesus’ death:
Jesus, when He had cried out again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom, and the earth quaked and the rocks rent. And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the Holy City and appeared unto many. Matthew 27:50-53 KJ21
Since this is the only passage of scripture that we have to go on, we are told that there was an earthquake upon Jesus death that opened these graves. And though it seems clear that those who were resurrected did not come into the city until after Jesus was resurrected; yet, what is not clear is just when these resurrections actually occurred. The God’s Word Translation states it this way:
Matthew 27:52 The tombs were opened, and the bodies of many holy people who had died came back to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after he had come back to life, and they went into the holy city where they appeared to many people. (GOD’S WORD)
It is not stated that the bodies came to life exactly when the tombs were opened upon Jesus’ death, but it would seem that that is what is implied. If that is the case these resurrected Saints did not go into the city as we are told until after the resurrection of Jesus. How many were resurrected we are not told. So here is where the speculators take over, and this is where Josephus comes into the picture.
Some say that Josephus reported thousands coming out of the graves and into the city.
I have downloaded Josephus writings, and searched for this evidence. I have not found it. I’ve searched the internet to see if anyone might have been able to prove these claims. Following is an interesting article on the the support from Josephus and his support for the writings of the New Testament:
Nothing is stated in the above to support the claims. But in another article there is this:
“Mark Mountjoy has an interesting view of the resurrection. He believes that Josephus mentions the resurrection in The Wars of the Jews: “[A]t that feast which we call Pentecost [of A.D. 66], as the priests were going by night into the inner temple…they felt a quaking and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, ‘Let us remove hence.’” He argues that the departed saints in Sheol said to await the resurrection under the altar in Revelation 6:9-11 were quite literally under the altar in the Temple though perhaps in another dimension. These spirits were then released from Sheol in some way connected to the site of the Temple altar at the start of the Jewish War. Thus Mountjoy believes that this multitude of supernatural voices coming from the Temple were the departed saints announcing their release from Sheol and that this release was somehow related to or located at the site of the Temple altar.”
This quote comes from this article: https://www.revelationrevolution.org/josephus-record-resurrection/
What Josephus states here is what is credited to him, the rest is the speculation of one man, which is being discussed and repeated in many forms. Josephus has written concerning the teaching and beliefs of the Jews in his time, but nothing is stated that could imply a multitude of resurrected Jews having occurred except this one quote, where an obvious misunderstanding of this account has taken place. And this account which he reports having taken place was to have been in 66AD according to Josephus and, therefore is not even close to the time of Jesus’ own resurrection.
Furthermore, there is another passage in scripture which speaks to this subject of the Old Testament Saints, and it compared to other facts from scripture tells a very different story, in Biblical terms.
Ephesians 4:8 Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE, AND HE BESTOWED GIFTS ON MEN.” (AMP)
This captivity of souls awaiting their deliverance must refer to the souls in paradise, where Jesus told the thief, while on the cross, that they were going. “This day Thou shall be with me in paradise”. The question then is when did this transfer from captivity to captivity happen. When Jesus met Mary after His resurrection she was told not to handle Him as He had not yet been to the Father. So it is understood to have happened not at the time of His resurrection, but instead at the ascension, preceding Pentecost. What we know is that before Jesus’ own resurrection, that paradise was in the belly of the earth; and Paul tells that when he himself was caught up and shown unspeakable things, that he was in paradise in heaven. Apparently the place for the captivity of souls is now located in heaven. Here is Paul’s statement:
And I knew such a man (whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell — God knoweth), and how he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 2 Corinthians 12:3-4 KJ21
So what must be our conclusion concerning those resurrected at the time of Christ’s Crucifixion? First it could not be the Resurrection of all up to and including Israel in Paradise, which would contradict what Paul was speaking of in Eph 4. Secondly, if the resurrection in Matthew was a resurrection of any souls from mortality to immortality, where are these immortals now? They in fact, are never again mentioned in scripture. But the first resurrection is mentioned in scripture to occur in relation to Christ’s Second Coming, and it is said to be following the Tribulation recorded in Revelation 20. So these resurrected bodies at the time of Christ’s own resurrection must be considered a miracle supporting the gospel itself, just as the other raised individuals recorded in the pages of New Covenant Scriptures also do.
Josephus on the resurrection is very different than what is accredited to him.