How do we answer this objection? Three days and Three NIGHTS?


#1

Jesus said in Matthew 12:40 - for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

How do we explain this? I have a Muslim approaching me about this and the contradiction that he is accusing Jesus of? What do I say?


#2

Christ died around three in the afternoon on Friday and was entombed shortly thereafter. The Resurrection occurred by dawn on Sunday. Thus he was in the tomb less than nine hours Friday (by the modern reckoning), twenty-four hours Saturday, and less than six hours Sunday--at any rate, far less than the seventy-two hours that comprise three full days and nights.

Is there a contradiction here? No, because the ancient Jews counted as a whole day any part of a day, so "three days and three nights" (which means the same as "three days" in modern usage) could be as little as twenty-four hours plus a few seconds on either side--if there had been, back then, clocks that could register seconds.

In our way of reckoning things, from lunch time today to lunch time tomorrow is one day. Ancient Jews would have counted it as two days because it includes parts of two distinct days.


#3

I think the Jews also considered sunset the end of the day

Friday from 3pm to sunset = Day 1
Friday Sunset to Saturday Sunset = Day 2
Saturday Sunset to Sunday = Day 3

Of course that doesn't explain the "nights" part... but it shows three days. I'm sure someone with a little more theological background can shed more light on this topic.


#4

This has been discussed before this is just one.

How long was Jesus dead for? Matthew 12:40?


#5

The issue is not as problematic as it appears because in colloquial Jewish speech a ‘day’ could mean any portion of the day, as long as it was that day. The many references to Jesus rising on the third day meant exactly that – sometime during day three – even though 24 hours had not completed its course. Similarly, when we are told Jesus died about 3pm Friday; that was 'day one' even though, as GangGreen pointed out, the Hebrew day finished a mere three hours afterwards.

Another example of Jewish counting can be found in the account of King Rehoboam who told a delegation of people, “Go away for three days, then come again to me.” (1 Kings 12:5) So they went away, but instead of returning after three days as we might expect, they came back on the third day itself. In other words, when Rehoboam gave his instruction it was the first day, and the second day they stayed away, and on the third they all came back. “So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, Come to me again the third day.” (1 Kings 12:12)

There are plenty more examples of inclusive counting in the Old Testament as well as in Rabbinic literature. The story of Esther is another case, but suffice it to say that the ‘prophet Jonah’ sign should be understood in the same way. It does not mean a strict 3*24=72 hours.


#6

[quote="JDGaney, post:1, topic:338563"]
Jesus said in Matthew 12:40 - for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

How do we explain this? I have a Muslim approaching me about this and the contradiction that he is accusing Jesus of? What do I say?

[/quote]

Tell him the eclipse which darkened the sky accounts for the third night. Being in the whale symbolised death, not necessarily being buried.


#7

As the Church Fathers explain it in the Catena Aurea by St. Thomas Aquinas:

Jerome: Not that He remained three whole days and three nights in hell, but that this be understood to imply a part of the preparation day, and of the Lord's day, and the whole sabbath day.

Aug., De Trin., iv. 6: For that the three days were not three full and entire days, Scripture witnesses; the first day is reckoned because the latter end of it comes in; and the third day is likewise reckoned, because the first part of it is included; while the day between, that is the second day, appears in all its twenty-four hours, twelve of the night and twelve of the day. For the succeeding night up to the dawn when the Lord's resurrection was made known, belongs to the third day. For as the first days of creation were, because of man's coming fall, computed from morning to night; so these days are because of man's restoration computed from night to morning.


#8

THE SACRIFICE OF REDEMPTION
Redemption, that could have been effected otherwise, has been effected by way of sacrifice. Jesus is a true priest, who offered a true sacrifice. But where can we find in the work of redemption, the elements of a true sacrifice ? For the immolation, no difficulty : the Passion suffices to it. But it was the work of the executioners, and not of Jesus : therefore it can not, by itself alone, constitute the ritual oblation that is the specific external and sensible action of the priest. Where can we find this offering, this oblation, absolutely necessary, if the death of Jesus has to be a true sacrifice ?
At the Last Supper :
On Holy Thursday, Jesus took bread, blessed it, and in the same way the cup, saying : "Eat, this is my body, given (to death) for you; drink, this is my blood which is shed for you and for the multitude (of the souls) in remission of sins." What to say ? If not that the Christ, put symbolically into state of victim, commits to God for us the bloody death of which he covers the sacramental signs of bread and wine.
His mystical immolation (symbolic and mystical, it's all one) commits him to effective and painful immolation of Calvary. Through the image of his passion, he refers to and dedicates himself to his passion itself. He devotes himself to the atoning death and he constitutes himself the debtor of it with respect to God, for our salvation. He no longer belongs to himself : "The grave now has rights on its prey." Therefore, it is from that moment that, according to the Eastern interpretation (resumed by the Latin Church), three days and three nights will pass without interruption on the tomb of Christ in wait of His Resurrection : Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday, three days. I permit myself to insist on that, because if I asked the question to most Christians, they would not know what to answer me, I am intimately convinced of this, and yet we affirm it all the time in our Creed : three days and three nights.
So, you feel, he put himself in state of victim from his offering of Holy Thursday. How important it is to understand this, because it's the same way we do the offering at mass. All this is already leading to mass.
But who ignores that the realization of the Passover, it is the sacrifice of the Passion ? And that the kingdom of God date of the redemption ? It is therefore that, already here, the sacrifice of passion is going on, redemption has begun. So here he is, the Lamb of God, lamb prophesied by fifteen centuries of Easter celebrations, lamb whose blood, at this very moment, delivers from death and from the sevitude of sin; Here is his sacrifice : here is already, at the Last Supper, the sacrifice of Calvary : the Last Supper looks at the Cross and dedicates to it the divine lamb.
The Last Supper introduces the new Covenant which abolishes the old one. It does not announce, it concludes : "This IS the new covenant." But what ? Isn't the new covenant the work of the redemptive sacrifice ? So, here again, it is the sacrifice of redemption, which already is underway. This is the new covenant in the blood of Christ, price of our sins, offered to God to be paid at the Cross.
(Father GEORGES FINET, spiritual father of MARTHE ROBIN, extract from a conference on Holy Mass.)


#9

[quote="JDGaney, post:1, topic:338563"]
Jesus said in Matthew 12:40 - for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

How do we explain this? I have a Muslim approaching me about this and the contradiction that he is accusing Jesus of? What do I say?

[/quote]

First, it appears that this expression is another way of stating “on the third day” or “in three days.” This can be illustrated from 1 Samuel 30:1213. The same Greek expression is found in 1 Samuel 30:12 in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) as in Matthew 12:40. Verse 13 refers to this three-day and three-night period as “three days ago” or, as the LXX literally states, “the third day today.” If “three days and three nights” can mean “on the third day,” there is no major problem in our passage. By Jewish reckoning Jesus could have been crucified on Friday and raised on Sunday, the third day. Friday afternoon = day one; Friday 6 PM to Saturday 6 PM = day two; Saturday 6 PM to Sunday 6 PM = day three.’

A second argument against a literal temporal interpretation is the fact that Matthew did not see any conflict between this expression and either a third-day resurrection (Matt. 16:21; 17:23; 20:19) or a Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection scheme (Matt. 27:62; 28:1). For him, as well as for the other Evangelists, expressions such as “three days and three nights,” “after three days,” and “on the third day” could be used interchangeably.

Finally, it should be pointed out that the main point of Jesus’ analogy in Matthew 12:40 does not involve the temporal designation but the sign of the resurrection. Only one miracle or sign will be given to this evil and adulterous generation. That sign will be Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The temporal designation is much less significant. Perhaps Jesus refers to three days and three nights because this expression is found in the Old Testament passage which he wants to quote (Jonah 1:17).

Understood in the context of biblical Judaism—and knowing the idioms and figures of speech in the designation “three days and three nights”—there is no problem with the Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection scheme described in the passion narratives. It is only if a twentieth-century reckoning of time is imposed or if the idiomatic nature of this temporal designation is not understood in its context that a problem appears.


#10

While understandable that phrases have a different meaning than just what the collection of words would suggest,
and that to the ancients three days and three nights = three days as we commonly use the term today,

thank you; to my mind this is the most meaningful explanation of what was meant by:

Matthew 12:40 - for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth

.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, how like Jonah’s cold, solitary journey inside the whale.


#11

I like this. Keeps it simple.

A day without a night, and a night without a day.


#12

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