(Matthew 28:1) Now after the sabbaths, at dawn toward the first of sabbaths, Mary the Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
(Mark 16:1-2) And the sabbath having passed, Mary the Magdalene, and Mary of James, and Salome, bought spices so that having come they may anoint him. And very early on the first of the sabbaths, they are coming to the tomb at the rising of the sun.
(Luke 23:56-24:1) Then having returned, they prepared spices and ointments, and on the sabbath indeed they rested gaccording to the commandment. But on the first of the sabbaths, at daybreak, they came to the tomb, carrying the spices they had prepared.
(John 20:1) Now on the first of the sabbaths Mary the Magdalene comes early (there being still darkness) to the tomb, and sees that the stone having been taken away from the tomb.
That phrase there, mian sabbaton/mia ton sabbaton “first (literally ‘one’) [of the] sabbaths” is rendered in most translations as “first day of the week.” Some would latch onto the usage of ‘sabbaths’ at this point and argue that Jesus was actually risen, not on Sunday as is commonly believed, but on Saturday (=Sabbath).
But does this argument really hold water? To quote from a book known as The Sabbath in Scripture and History (“The Sabbath in the New Testament,” by Walter F. Specht):
Sabbaton, the Greek word for “Sabbath,” is found sixty-seven times in the critical text of the Greek New Testament. The plural of this word, sabbata, may be regarded as a transliteration of the Aramaic, shabbeta, the emphatic state of the singular noun, meaning “the Sabbath.”[sup]1[/sup] In its Greek transliteration it was apparently taken as a plural, and hence the singular sabbaton was constructed from it. Another possible explanation is to regard the singular as a transliteration of the Hebrew shabbath, whereas the plural came from the Aramaic.[sup]2[/sup]
Lexicographers recognize two clearly differentiated meanings for sabbaton in the New Testament: (1) Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, and (2) the period of seven days between Sabbaths, i.e. week.[sup]3[/sup] The second meaning is demanded when sabbaton or sabbata is used in a genitive construction with a numeral: a clear example is found in Luke 18:12, where the Pharisee boasts, “I fast twice a week,” dis tou sabbatou. It would obviously not make sense to translate: “I fact twice on Sabbath.” It is well known that the Pharisees fasted on Mondays and Thursdays. In seven passages (eight if the long ending of Mark is included),[sup]4[/sup] the first day of the week is designated by the numeral “one” and the genitive of sabbaton, mostly in the plural.[sup]5[/sup] The fact that the numeral is feminine indicates that the feminine noun “day” is understood. The regular Greek word for “week,” hebdomas, which had been used in the Septuagint, is not found in the New Testament.
The idiom used for the days of the week occurs in the Greek titles of a few of the psalms in the Greek version. Psalm 24 (Psalm 23, Septuagint) is designated tēs mias sabbatōn, “for the first day of the week.” Psalm 48 (Psalm 47, Septuagint) has in its title deutera sabbatou, “for the second day of the week.” Psalm 94 (Psalm 93, Septuagint) is designated as tetradi sabbaton, “for the fourth day of the week” (Wednesday). Most probably these originally meant the first, second, and fourth days after the Sabbath. Friday, however, was known as prosabbaton, and Psalm 92 (Psalm 91, Septuagint) was, according to the title, used in the temple ritual for that day.
1: A different explanation of the final – a is offered in F. Blass, A. Debrunner, and Robert W. Funk, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, 1961), par. 141 (2): “Σάββατα = שׁבּת + ά to make it pronounceable in Greek.”
2: A.J. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Nashville, 1934), pp. 95, 105.
3: See such standard Greek lexicons as Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, rev. and augm. by Henry Stuart Jones (Oxford, 1940), p. 1579; Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (New York, 1889), pp. 565, 566; Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, rev. and augm. by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich (Chicago, 1957), p. 746; and G. Abbott-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, 3d ed. (Edinburgh, 1937), pp. 399, 400.
4: A brief summary of the evidence regarding the problem of the ending of Mark is given in Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London, 1971), pp. 122-126.
5: Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1,19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2.