How should I understand Matt. 27:51?

When Matthew writes, “And behold, the veil of the santurary was torn in two from top to bottom,” was he speaking symbolically or literally?

It seems that if this event literally happened, it would have caused a widespread panic among the Jewish people, which is not recorded in secular histories of that time.

Dear S,

The fact that is doesn’t appear in secular histories does not mean that it didn’t happen. There didn’t exist at the time the means we have of preserving information and so there is much that is missing in such histories.

The New Jerusalem Bible says that the veil was probably the one that hung between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies and that Christian tradition saw in this the abrogation of the old Mosaic cult and that it symbolized the opening of the new messianic sanctuary.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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