Seismic Theophany is a literary motif where earthquakes are seen as a manifestation of God’s will. Examples in Hebrew (primarily prophetic) literature follow.
- Isaiah Ch. 2
- Nahum Ch.1
- Ezekiel Ch. 38
- Zechariah Ch. 14
- Joel Ch. 3
- Gospel of the Hebrews
- Matthew Ch. 27 and 28
Isaiah Chapter 2
The Day of the Lord
6 You, Lord, have abandoned your people,
the descendants of Jacob.
They are full of superstitions from the East;
they practice divination like the Philistines
and embrace pagan customs.
7 Their land is full of silver and gold;
there is no end to their treasures.
Their land is full of horses;
there is no end to their chariots.
8 Their land is full of idols;
they bow down to the work of their hands,
to what their fingers have made.
9 So people will be brought low
and everyone humbled—
do not forgive them.[a]
10 Go into the rocks, hide in the ground
from the fearful presence of the Lord
and the splendor of his majesty!
11 The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled
and human pride brought low;
the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.
12 The Lord Almighty has a day in store
for all the proud and lofty,
for all that is exalted
(and they will be humbled),
13 for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty,
and all the oaks of Bashan,
14 for all the towering mountains
and all the high hills,
15 for every lofty tower
and every fortified wall,
16 for every trading ship[b]
and every stately vessel.
17 The arrogance of man will be brought low
and human pride humbled;
the Lord alone will be exalted in that day,
18 and the idols will totally disappear.
19 People will flee to caves in the rocks
and to holes in the ground
from the fearful presence of the Lord
and the splendor of his majesty,
when he rises to shake the earth.
20 In that day people will throw away
to the moles and bats
their idols of silver and idols of gold,
which they made to worship.
21 They will flee to caverns in the rocks
and to the overhanging crags
from the fearful presence of the Lord
and the splendor of his majesty,
when he rises to shake the earth.
22 Stop trusting in mere humans,
who have but a breath in their nostrils.
Why hold them in esteem?
While modern scholarship views the Book of Isaiah as being written by more than one person, the section above is from a part of Isiah which is thought to contain his words and to have therefore been composed a decade or two after Amos.
Nahum Chapter 1
~610 BC around the time of the fall of Ninevah (capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire)
1 A prophecy concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
The Lord’s Anger Against Nineveh
2 The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The Lord takes vengeance on his foes
and vents his wrath against his enemies.
3 The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
and clouds are the dust of his feet.
4 He rebukes the sea and dries it up;
he makes all the rivers run dry.
Bashan and Carmel wither
and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.
5 The mountains quake before him
and the hills melt away.
The earth trembles at his presence,
the world and all who live in it.
6 Who can withstand his indignation?
Who can endure his fierce anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire;
the rocks are shattered before him.
7 The Lord is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,
8 but with an overwhelming flood
he will make an end of Nineveh;
he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.
9 Whatever they plot against the Lord
he will bring[a] to an end;
trouble will not come a second time.
10 They will be entangled among thorns
and drunk from their wine;
they will be consumed like dry stubble.[b]
11 From you, Nineveh, has one come forth
who plots evil against the Lord
and devises wicked plans.
12 This is what the Lord says:
“Although they have allies and are numerous,
they will be destroyed and pass away.
Although I have afflicted you, Judah,
I will afflict you no more.
13 Now I will break their yoke from your neck
and tear your shackles away.”
14 The Lord has given a command concerning you, Nineveh:
“You will have no descendants to bear your name.
I will destroy the images and idols
that are in the temple of your gods.
I will prepare your grave,
for you are vile.”
15 Look, there on the mountains,
the feet of one who brings good news,
who proclaims peace!
Celebrate your festivals, Judah,
and fulfill your vows.
No more will the wicked invade you;
they will be completely destroyed.[c]
Ezekiel Chapter 38
593-571 BC during the Babylonian Exile
The Lord’s Great Victory Over the Nations
38 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of[a] Meshek and Tubal; prophesy against him 3 and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Gog, chief prince of[b] Meshek and Tubal. 4 I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. 5 Persia, Cush[c] and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, 6 also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops—the many nations with you.
7 “‘Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. 8 After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety. 9 You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land.
10 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme. 11 You will say, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people—all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. 12 I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.[d]” 13 Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages[e] will say to you, “Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?”’
14 “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? 15 You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. 16 You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.
17 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You are the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel. At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them. 18 This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign Lord. 19 In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. 20 The fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. 21 I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. 22 I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. 23 And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.’
Zechariah Chapter 14
520-518 BC post Babylonian Exile – during the reign of the Persian King Darius the Great
The Coming Day of the Lord
14 Behold, a day is coming for the Lord, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. 2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3 Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. 4 On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. 5 And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.[a]
Zechariah references the Amos earthquake (the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah) at the end of the quote above and also mentions seismic effects (splitting of the Mount of Olives) that do not (to me) seem to be geologically plausible. However, the “splitting” of the Mount of Olives may be a “fanciful” description of seismic effects recounted in now lost oral and written descriptions of the original Amos Quake. At the end of the first century AD, Josephus wrote the following paragraph in his book Jewish Antiquities about Uzziah – the King of Judah when the Amos quake struck.
4. While Uzziah was in this state, and making preparation [for futurity], he was corrupted in his mind by pride, and became insolent, and this on account of that abundance which he had of things that will soon perish, and despised that power which is of eternal duration (which consisted in piety towards God, and in the observation of the laws); so he fell by occasion of the good success of his affairs, and was carried headlong into those sins of his father, which the splendor of that prosperity he enjoyed, and the glorious actions he had done, led him into, while he was not able to govern himself well about them. Accordingly, when a remarkable day was come, and a general festival was to be celebrated, he put on the holy garment, and went into the temple to offer incense to God upon the golden altar, which he was prohibited to do by Azariah the high priest, who had fourscore priests with him, and who told him that it was not lawful for him to offer sacrifice, and that “none besides the posterity of Aaron were permitted so to do.” And when they cried out that he must go out of the temple, and not transgress against God, he was wroth at them, and threatened to kill them, unless they would hold their peace. In the mean time a great earthquake shook the ground (21) and a rent was made in the temple, and the bright rays of the sun shone through it, and fell upon the king’s face, insomuch that the leprosy seized upon him immediately. And before the city, at a place called Eroge, half the mountain broke off from the rest on the west, and rolled itself four furlongs, and stood still at the east mountain, till the roads, as well as the king’s gardens, were spoiled by the obstruction. Now, as soon as the priests saw that the king’s face was infected with the leprosy, they told him of the calamity he was under, and commanded that he should go out of the city as a polluted person. Hereupon he was so confounded at the sad distemper, and sensible that he was not at liberty to contradict, that he did as he was commanded, and underwent this miserable and terrible punishment for an intention beyond what befitted a man to have, and for that impiety against God which was implied therein. So he abode out of the city for some time, and lived a private life, while his son Jotham took the government; after which he died with grief and anxiety at what had happened to him, when he had lived sixty-eight years, and reigned of them fifty-two; and was buried by himself in his own gardens.
The original seismic effect from the Amos Quake may have been a landslide on the Mount of Olives and damage to the First Temple in Jerusalem which in some ensuing oral traditions “grew” into a crack (rent) that split out from the Temple and included “splitting” of the Mount of Olives; thus inspiring parts of Zechariah’s prophecy. Wachs and Levitte (1984) report landslide scars on the western slope of the Mount of Olives.
Joel Chapter 3
The Lord Judges the Nations
3 [a] “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, 3 and have cast lots for my people, and have traded a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it.
4 “What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will return your payment on your own head swiftly and speedily. 5 For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples.[b] 6 You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks in order to remove them far from their own border. 7 Behold, I will stir them up from the place to which you have sold them, and I will return your payment on your own head. 8 I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far away, for the Lord has spoken.”
9 Proclaim this among the nations:
Consecrate for war;[c]
stir up the mighty men.
Let all the men of war draw near;
let them come up.
10 Beat your plowshares into swords,
and your pruning hooks into spears;
let the weak say, “I am a warrior.”
11 Hasten and come,
all you surrounding nations,
and gather yourselves there.
Bring down your warriors, O Lord.
12 Let the nations stir themselves up
and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
for there I will sit to judge
all the surrounding nations.
13 Put in the sickle,
for the harvest is ripe.
Go in, tread,
for the winepress is full.
The vats overflow,
for their evil is great.
14 Multitudes, multitudes,
in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near
in the valley of decision.
15 The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.
16 The Lord roars from Zion,
and utters his voice from Jerusalem,
and the heavens and the earth quake.
But the Lord is a refuge to his people,
a stronghold to the people of Israel.
In Joel 3:16, he uses a phrase (the Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem) seemingly lifted directly from Amos.
The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the heavens will tremble. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.
וַיהוָ֞ה מִצִּיֹּ֣ון יִשְׁאָ֗ג וּמִירוּשָׁלִַ֙ם֙ יִתֵּ֣ן קֹולֹ֔ו וְרָעֲשׁ֖וּ שָׁמַ֣יִם וָאָ֑רֶץ וַֽיהוָה֙ מַֽחֲסֶ֣ה לְעַמֹּ֔ו וּמָעֹ֖וז לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
He said:“The Lord roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem;the pastures of the shepherds dry up,and the top of Carmel withers.”
וַיֹּאמַ֓ר ׀ יְהוָה֙ מִצִּיֹּ֣ון יִשְׁאָ֔ג וּמִירוּשָׁלִַ֖ם יִתֵּ֣ן קֹולֹ֑ו וְאָֽבְלוּ֙ נְאֹ֣ות הָרֹעִ֔ים וְיָבֵ֖שׁ רֹ֥אשׁ הַכַּרְמֶֽל׃ פ
Joel may also be using earthquake imagery in Chapter 2 verse 10
Gospel of the Hebrews
Between 40 AD and 398 AD – Original author may have been the Apostle Matthew
The Gospel of the Hebrews is no longer extant. It is mentioned a number of times in ancient literature frequently as a document written in Hebrew and used exclusively by the Ebionites and Nazarenes who were reportedly derived from Jesus’ original followers in Jerusalem and the Galilee respectively. The Ebionites were said to have lived a communal lifestyle, refused to eat meat, obeyed Jewish Law (Halakha), rejected the teachings of the Apostle Paul (which evolved into normative Christianity), believed Jesus was a human being and not a God, and attempted to imitate the life of radical ascetic poverty advocated by Jesus of Nazareth. There are claims that the Gospel of the Hebrews was written by the Apostle Matthew before 40 AD when he left Jerusalem and traveled northeast into the Parthian Empire (according to Pantaeunus and Hippolytus).
Jerome, who translated the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the New Testament into Latin for the Catholic Church, produced the most extensive list of quotations from the Gospel of the Hebrews which he claims to have obtained from the Library in Caesarea (Israel) in 398 AD**. At this point in time, this text (which was also viewed as canonical by the Nazarenes) may have been distorted from the original Gospel of the Hebrews and hence is referred to as the Gospel of the Nazarenes for the sake of clarity.
One particular quote from Jerome is noteworthy for it’s seismic description of Temple damage from the earthquake of the crucifixion :
In evangelio cuius saepe facimus mentionem superluminare temple lintel infinitae magnitudinis fractum esse atque divisum legimus.
In the Gospel we often mention we read that the immense Temple Lintel fell and broke into pieces
While the canonical synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) all mention the tearing of the curtain of the Temple in the moments after Jesus death, the description above is more compatible with archeoseismic evidence in the region. Lintel Stones (example of a Lintel Stone from an old synagogue) above doorways are in fact among the weakest part of a structure and are frequently the first part of a structure to fail (Example from Jerash, Jordan). Hence the description of lintel destruction associated with an earthquake is seismically compatible and could also explain the curtain tearing descriptions in the canonical synoptic gospels since the curtain (parochet) would presumably (possibly?) be attached to the lintel (although none of the ancient descriptions I have seen in Josephus, the Tanakh, the Midrash, and the Talmud mention of how this very think curtain was attached or hung).
Although one might be tempted to view the Greek New Testament Gospel of Matthew as a translation from The Gospel of the Hebrews written in Hebrew or possibly Aramaic, this view is not accepted by New Testament scholars. The Gospel of Matthew is noted as being written in what appears to be fluent original Greek and does not bear any marks of being a translation from an earlier text. It is possible however that the author of the Gospel of Matthew was aware of the Gospel of the Hebrews as well as other source documents that have been lost to history.
- The Nazarenes appeared to be similar to the Ebionites (vegetarians, followed Jewish law, believed Jesus was human and not divine, rejected Paul, etc.) and were said to be derived from the original followers of Jesus in the Galilee. Some passages in the Quran and Hadith about Jesus suggest that Mohammed may have come in contact with Ebionites. (reference to Waraka Ibn Nawfal in the Hadith or references to Ebionite-like people in the Hejaz in 1128 AD)
- The curtain tearing mentioned in the 3 synoptic canonical gospels could be allegorical fiction symbolizing that the sacrifice of Jesus provided a direct personal link to God thus making the formerly necessary barrier to protect an impure and unclean world from a pure and clean God in the Holy of the Holies of the Second Temple obselete. Such a point would be well understood by readers of these Gospels in the immediate aftermath of the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD around which time some or all of the canonical gospels may have been composed.
- Note to self : Need to cite Eisenmann who appears to be the intellectual founder of the Ebionite’s understanding of Jesus of Nazareth was closer to the Historical (i.e. real and non-legendary) Jesus than what became normative (aka orthodox) Christianity theory.
- Second note to self :be careful with translations. Edwards (“The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition”) appears to be producing translations that support his theory – if possibly always include original source text in original language (Greek. Latin, Hebrew)
Matthew Chapters 27 and 28
~40-~90 AD (author was probably not Matthew the Apostle)
Judas Hangs Himself
27 Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. 2 So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.
3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
6 The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”[a]
Jesus Before Pilate
11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus[b] Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews.
38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
The Death of Jesus
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[c] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[d]
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[e] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph,[f] and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
The Burial of Jesus
57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
The Guard at the Tomb
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
Jesus Has Risen
28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Seismic Events described in The New Testament Gospel of Matthew could have been an effort on the part of the author of Matthew to fit the events surrounding Jesus’ death to coincide with Hebrew Prophetic Literature regarding the “Day of the Lord“. Although this day is often thought of as Judgement Day, it’s meaning was apparently extended to include a day of a collective spiritual transformation. Whether the author of Matthew was inventing, mis-reporting, or accurately reporting seismic history, it seems certain that he was aware of the role of earthquakes (and darkness and moons turning red and stars dissappearing etc. etc.) in Hebrew prophetic literature as his gospel is widely noted to include more passages about prophecy fulfillment than any other and is thought to have been written for a primarily Jewish (rather than a Gentile) audience.
Although the Gospel of Matthew was written in Greek, it is is clearly in the tradition of Hebrew literature.
Wachs, D. and D. Levitte (1984). “Earthquake risk and slope stability in Jerusalem.” Environmental Geology and Water Sciences 6(3): 183-186.