T Nation

Catholic and Protestant Views


This is more of a comparison of people's beliefs or interpretations.

I'll start with a 2 basic topics for people to discuss.

1) The dead: What state or states are the dead in right now. Conscious, aware, is anyone in hell right "now" or in heaven? Where are Elijah, Moses, Enoch and Mary? Where/what is Hades. Where/what is purgatory? Where/what is paradise? What did Jesus mean when he told the theif that today he would be with him in paradise? Should we pray for the dead? Can we pray to "saints" to intercede on our behalf?

2) What is the origin of humans? Could they have had a natural origin, ie evloving from lower life forms? Are Adam and Eve historical, at least in there being 2 first humans? What does it mean in Genesis when it says that the Nephalim, or "sons of god" and daughters of man had intercourse, (or do I misremember that?) Did Adam and Eve's children only reproduce with each other? Did God literally make humans from the dust of the earth? Did they live several hundred years in the early times?


Conscious, aware, and in Hell, purgatory, or Heaven right now.



Purgatory is where the those who are dead who did not completely love the Lord go for their last purification of sin for Heaven.


That the thief was going to Heaven because of his repentance and conversion.


It is advised.

G-d created us.

Possibly, but if they did G-d would have supernaturally fused soul and body together.


Sons of Seth, the chosen stock

I doubt it.

Don't know, but he can. I think the theological implications for the dust of the earth is to tell us that he made everything from nothing.

Don't know, but I believe that G-d could do it.


I knew we were gonna get the truth sooner or later. I simply am not possessed of the time to do this. Maybe I'll chime in I dunno. My big concern is how do I defeat the corruption in my heart and grow into a better man, husband and father.


"What did Jesus mean when he told the thief that today he would be with him in paradise?" Very interesting question mertdawg especially when Jesus tells Mary after his resurrection I have not ascended to the Father; makes me think of when Jesus talked about the rich man and Lazarus and Abraham's bosom and hades. I am not sure of my interpretation but I have been thinking about it for a while thought.


I wasn't quite sure, so I decided to do further research and I found this:


It would seem to me that I would concur.


My addendum:

Could they have had a natural origin, ie evloving from lower life forms?

Absolutely, no problem. We are at the core animals, but God selected us to be different. I do not know if it happened right away, or later down the evolutionary track, but God chose to give us freewill and reveal himself to us, something we don't know but seriously doubt he did for any other animal.

Are Adam and Eve historical, at least in there being 2 first humans?

They would be the first to receive freewill and divine revelation. Whether it's historical, I don't know. It cannot be known if there were two people with the names of Adam and Eve and lived in a fancy garden where they could fuck and eat fruit all day long.
Archeological evidence seems to indicate man has been around longer than the story of creation would suggest. But somewhere, God chose man to be different, to not merely just do what we're designed to do like other animals, but to choose Him or not. To choose good over evil.
Animals just do what they do, men can act contrary to our own nature.


What ever he meant, it had to be a hell of a lot better than hanging on that cross. You can only go up from there :slight_smile:

Happy Good Friday everyone....

Or should I say Solemn??


I had a bunch of people today wish me Happy Earth Day, and every time I'd wish them a Solemn Good Friday. If they'd say what? I'd tell them this is the greatest day in the world, because 'you have been redeemed of your sins! Repent and be baptized!'


Those are excellent questions and the Bible makes it absolutely clear as to what the condition of the dead is and what happens when we die.

One of the key passages to understanding the condition of the dead and what happens when we die is to look back to when this penalty of dying was given to man.

First, how was man created? Genesis 2:7 states that God created man from the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life and he became a living soul or person as some Bibles translate. This verse is important because this clearly states how man was created and the fact that we were created from the same elements that make up dust. The verse does not state that God used dust, and gave man a soul and spirit and then he became a living person. No, that verse states that he used dust to form man's body, blew air into his nostrils and he became a living soul or person.

God told Adam that if he disobeyed him and ate from the tree he would die. Before Adam disobeyed he had the prospect of living forever and never dying. But once Adam disobeyed, God sentenced Adam to death and in doing so he went into detail as to what would happen when would die. Genesis 3:19 states:
"In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return."
According to God's statement, Adam would return to the same element he was made from - dust. God did not say that his body would turn to dust but his soul would live on and be eternally tormented in fire. If the penalty for sinning was being tormented forever in fire then Genesis chapter 3 would be where this would be stated. Again, God gave Adam the gift of perfect health, a paradise to live in and the prospect of living forever. Once Adam sinned his penalty was the opposite of this. They no longer had perfect health, they were kicked out of paradise and they faced dying and being dead forever. Think about this. If a part of you survives the death of the body and that part can think, feel and is conscious then you are not dead, you're actually still alive. If this happened to Adam meaning if a part of Adam survived the body decaying and returning to dust then Adam would not have died and God would be lying regarding the penalty he gave to Adam because Adam would still be alive. Also, if the penalty for sinning was something other than what God clearly stated at Genesis 2:17 and 3:19 then God would have been misleading Adam and would have enforced a penalty more severe than what he stated. In effect God would have lied to Adam. Of course that was not the case and Adam's penalty was dying, returning to the same element he came from - dust.

Before I get into why knowing and understanding the above is so necessary there are number of scriptures that support the fact that we are made from dust and once we die we return to dust and our thought cease.

Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20:
"For there is an eventuality as respects the sons of mankind and an eventuality as respects the beast, and they have the same eventuality. As the one dies, so the other dies; and they all have but one spirit, so that there is no superiority of the man over the beast, for everything is vanity. 20 All are going to one place. They have all come to be from the dust, and they are all returning to the dust."

That passage shows that humans and animals share the same spirit or life-force and when a human dies he is not superior to an animal because they both go to the same place - that is they both return to the dust.

Psalms 146:3,4:
"Do not put your trust in nobles, Nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs. 4 His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; In that day his thoughts do perish.

Psalms 104:29:
If you conceal your face, they get disturbed. If you take away their spirit, they expire,
And back to their dust they go.

Both of the passages in Psalms show that once the spirit or breath as some Bibles translate leaves the body the person dies and he returns to dust.

The reason why it's so important to understand the penalty of death given to Adam and what happens when we die is because that penalty of death and what God told Adam would happen to him when he died is passed on to all of Adam's descendants. The Bible makes this clear at Romans 5:12 which states:
"That is why, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned."

So all of Adam's descendants including you and I will eventually pay this penalty. Dying and returning to the dust is the penalty that all of Adam's descendants must pay. The Bible clearly states this at Romans 6:23 which states:
{b]"For the wages sin pays is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord."[/b]

Once a person dies he paid the "wages" or price for sinning and he is given a clean slate. His past sins will not be held against him. This is why Jesus told the thief next to him that he would be with him in paradise. It wasn't because in his last dying moments he believed Jesus was the messiah. It was because once he died he was going to be given a clean slate. Luke clearly states at Acts 24:15 that "there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous." Why are the unrighteous resurrected with the righteous? Because according to the Hell fire doctrine, these unrighteous should be burning in Hell instead of being resurrected. Romans 6:7 can answer that. This verse states:
"For he who has died has been acquitted from his sin."
So according to the Bible, once one dies he paid the price for sinning that he inherited from Adam, since he paid the price for sinning he is then acquitted of all his past sins and is given a clean slate. This person will then be given a second chance and will be resurrected.

As for the conscious state of the dead. The Bible makes it clear regarding the conscious state of the dead. Ecclesiastes 9:5,6,10 states:
"For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten. 6 Also, their love and their hate and their jealousy have already perished."

Verse 10 states:
"All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol, the place to which you are going.

These passages makes it clear that once you die you are not conscious of anything and you have no emotion or knowledge in Sheol which is the Hebrew term for grave.

All of what I stated above is based firmly on any translation of the Bible. It's not based on a theologically point of view or the reasoning of men.

The other questions you ask are good ones and I'll answer them in another post.


Now to answer some of your other questions.

Everyone who died before Jesus died had no concept of going to heaven. Meaning none of the Israelites in the Hebrew scriptures had a heavenly hope which is why Jews to this day don't believe salvation is in heaven. Modern day Jews believe that they will eventually be in paradise on earth and that's because they follow the Hebrew scriptures or Old Testament only. Paradise being on earth is stated many places in the Hebrew scriptures. For example,
Psalms 37:11, 29 states:
11 "But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.

Verse 29 states:
"The righteous themselves will possess the earth, And they will reside forever upon it."

Isaiah 65:21-25 states:
"And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. 22 They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full. 23 They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah, and their descendants with them. 24 And it will actually occur that before they call out I myself shall answer; while they are yet speaking, I myself shall hear. 25 "The wolf and the lamb themselves will feed as one, and the lion will eat straw just like the bull; and as for the serpent, his food will be dust. They will do no harm nor cause any ruin in all my holy mountain," Jehovah has said.

The above passages are future prophecies that will be fulfilled on the earth - not in heaven. This is the paradise that Jesus was referring to when he told the evildoer that he will be with him in paradise. The evildoer was a Jew and he would not have had any concept or understanding of going to heaven. The term paradise means garden like park and this term is NEVER used anywhere in the Bible to describe heaven where a "little flock" of humans have the privilege of going. The only term used in connection to describe where "little flock" of humans go is Kingdom of the heavens. Jesus did not tell the evildoer next to him that he will be with him in his Kingdom which is a heavenly term, instead Jesus told him that he would be with him in paradise which is an earthly term.

So Moses, Abraham, David, Enoch, Elijah and all of the faithful people in the Hebrew scriptures will be part of the people who have the earthly hope because the privilege to go to heaven was not available to them. Paul said this at Hebrews 9:8,11,12 which states:
9"Thus the holy spirit makes it plain that the way into the holy place had not yet been made manifest while the first tent was standing."
10 - 11
"However, when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come to pass, through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, 12 he entered, no, not with the blood of goats and of young bulls, but with his own blood, once for all time into the holy place and obtained an everlasting deliverance for us.

The holy place Paul referred to was heaven and the first tent that he referred to was the tent that Moses made which had an innermost compartment that was called the Most Holy. Only the High Priest entered this compartment to offer sacrifices on the annual day of Atonement. Jesus became the High Priest and his sacrifice he presented to God in heaven made it possible for others to have a way into the holy place which is heaven.

Jesus clearly stated that no one has went to heaven except him. He states this at John 3:13:
"Moreover, no man has ascended into heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man."
So when Jesus said this no man before him had ever went to heaven.

Luke states that David did not go to heaven at Acts 2:34:
"Actually David did not ascend to the heavens, but he himself says, 'Jehovah said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand."

Jesus said at John 7:28 that there had not been anyone greater than John the Baptizer but a lesser one in the Kingdom of the Heavens will be greater than he. Jesus said that because John died before Jesus therefore he did not have the privilege of going to heaven so a person who is part of the "Little Flock" who has the privilege of going to heaven will be greater than John because they will be immortal, mighty spirit beings who will rule with Jesus as kings and priest.

So according to the Bible none of the faithful who died before Jesus are in heaven. Jesus dying and going to heaven opened up the way for a limited number or "Little Flock" of humans to go to heaven.

Hades is the Greek term and it refers to mankind's common grave. The King James translates this Greek word as Hell. This is the only translation that does this. The word Hades is used in most translations of the Bible and in these translations the term Hell is not found in them. To get a better understanding of what Hades is you can look to Revelation 20:13-15. Verse 13 states that Death and Hades gives up the dead and verse 14 states that both Death and Hades are thrown into the Lake of Fire. So John sees a vision where dead people are resurrected from the grave or Hades and he then sees death and Hades or the grave thrown into the lake of fire which means the second death. What does this mean? Isaiah 25:8 states that God will swallow up death forever and 1 Corinthians 15:26 states that "the last enemy death is to be brought to nothing." This is symbolized by both death and Hades which means mankind's common grave being thrown into a huge lake of fire and sulfur which symbolizes complete destruction. Death and Hades is swallowed up and brought to nothing by being thrown into a lake of fire and the ancient people back in 96 C.E. would have understood that whatever was thrown into a lake of fire would be completely destroyed by it.

Purgatory is not a Bible teaching. Nowhere in the Bible is the word used and the teaching can not be found in the Bible. As a matter of fact those who die are described as sleeping or asleep in death.

What did Jesus mean when he said today he would be with him in paradise? Unfortunately, many people get this completely wrong. I touched on this above but I'll show why the common thinking is incorrect. Unfortunately, the punctuation as we know it today was not used when the Bible writers wrote the Bible and some translators translated Jesus statement at Luke 23:43 to read the following way:
"Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."
By putting the coma after the you instead of after the today, many people think that Jesus was saying that on that very day this person would be with him in paradise. This is not possible because of several reasons. First and foremost Jesus was physically dead for three days and when he was resurrected he remained on earth for forty days before he ascended to heaven. Jesus did not resurrect anyone while he was dead for three days nor did he resurrect anyone when he was on earth for those forty days. By believing that Jesus was alive after he died on the torture stake means that people completely miss the purpose of Jesus coming to earth. All throughout the Christian-Greek scriptures Jesus' death is emphasized as being necessary in order for not only our sins to be forgiven but also to get back what Adam lost which is everlasting life. If Jesus was actually alive after he died on the torture stake then there actually would not have been a sacrifice made because in order for there to be a sacrifice Jesus would have had to have been completely dead. If he was alive then most of the Christian-Greek scriptures would be a complete lie because again all throughout the Christian-Greek scriptures Jesus death is emphasized as being necessary for our sins to be forgiven and so we can have everlasting life.

Second, the resurrection had not taken place the day Jesus died. Acts 24:15 states that there is GOING to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. When Stephen is stoned to death at Acts 7:60 the verse states that he fell asleep in death. The book of Acts was written 28 years after Jesus died and went to heaven.

Paul referred to people who died as being asleep in death. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16 states:
"Moreover, brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant concerning those who are [u]sleeping in death[/u]; that you may not sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope. 14 For if our faith is that Jesus died and rose again, so, too, those who have fallen asleep in death through Jesus God will bring with him. 15 For this is what we tell you by Jehovah's word, that we the living who survive to the presence of the Lord shall in no way precede those who have fallen asleep in death." Paul wrote these letters 17 years after Jesus died and went to heaven. The above scriptures are Biblical proof that the resurrection did not take place so this one individual would not have been resurrected the day Jesus died.

The correct translation of Luke 23:43 is the following:
"Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise."
Here Jesus is saying On this day I am telling you that you will be with me in paradise. Again the paradise which is a term to describe what the earth will soon be like did not take place the day Jesus died in 33 C.E. and to this day has not yet happened. So Jesus could not have meant that the evildoer would be with Jesus that day on Nissan 14, 33 C.E.

Your question number 2 also has some excellent questions and I'll answer those in a later post.


Why does it say in the in the Gospel: "and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.?

Anyway the Orthodox do not believe in Purgatory (as something not contained in Sheol or Hades) but rather we believe that the Roman Catholics misunderstood the Hades for Hell (such as in the parable of Lazarus). They saw the word Hell but in reality what was being described was Hades, or the place of the dead.

So we believe that Christ died on Good Friday, and then destroyed death and the gates of Hades by his presence. This actually would have happened, to the best of our understanding at the beginning of the Sabboth which would have actually been at sunset, Good Friday, the turn of the day. Now we would say that Christ created a path from Hades to the resurrection when he rose. Paradise we would also see as a place for the righteous dead who sleep in the Lord, but Hades and Paradise are both the place of waiting for the resurrection. So basically we see the so called Purgatory as being Hades, the place of the dead, and we do believe that our prayers can help them, but that without flesh they can not confess and repent on their own.

I THINK we would say that those who lived and died righteously are in Paradise, again a place of waiting for the Kingdom, which has not been fulfilled yet. Others are bound in Hades by their sins. Basil says that we should pray for the dead bound in Hades that they may be freed from their bonds-presumably to enter into Paradise with the faithful waiting for the final resurrection, however, I do not know if the Church would say that those faithful "saints" have already received their glorified bodies. Probably they have, because they are one with Christ and he has only a glorified body now.


Do you not believe in the final purification? And, we're Catholics not Roman Catholics, only a small portion of us live in Rome.


Well you call yourself Roman Catholic in these 4 official documents:

"27. Some say they are not bound by the doctrine, explained in Our Encyclical Letter of a few years ago, and based on the Sources of Revelation, which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing.[6] Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation. Others finally belittle the reasonable character of the credibility of Christian faith."

"This follows of necessity because in the City of God, the Holy Roman Catholic Church, a good citizen and an upright man are absolutely one and the same thing."

"Since that meeting, the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion have entered into a process of fruitful dialogue, which has been marked by the discovery of significant elements of shared faith and a desire to give expression, through joint prayer, witness and service, to that which we hold in common. Over thirty-five years, the Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) has produced a number of important documents which seek to articulate the faith we share. In the ten years since the most recent Common Declaration was signed by the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the second phase of ARCIC has completed its mandate, with the publication of the documents The Gift of Authority (1999) and Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ (2005). We are grateful to the theologians who have prayed and worked together in the preparation of these texts, which await further study and reflection.

True ecumenism goes beyond theological dialogue; it touches our spiritual lives and our common witness. As our dialogue has developed, many Catholics and Anglicans have found in each other a love for Christ which invites us into practical co-operation and service. This fellowship in the service of Christ, experienced by many of our communities around the world, adds a further impetus to our relationship. The International Anglican - Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) has been engaged in an exploration of the appropriate ways in which our shared mission to proclaim new life in Christ to the world can be advanced and nurtured."

It was during the visit of Pope John Paul II, his first ecumenical visit, that the creation of the Mixed Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church was announced.

AS FOR THE FINAL PURIFICATION, yes. Some Latin versions and translations of the Bible replaced the term "Hades" in Greek meaning the place of the dead, or Sheol in Hebrew with the term "hell" or gehenna in some cases. Since you misinterpreted Hades as Hell, you had to rename Hades as Purgatory, though we believe that non Christians are most certainly in the place of the dead, and the fate of those in Hades is not settled, and that no human is in Hell, at this time.


I am neither Roman nor have I been to Rome. I usually don't even go to a Latin Church.

You're either a Greek Catholic (I suppose you have 22 names to choose from here) or a Latin Catholic. I don't call you Denver Orthodox. Both Orthodox and Catholics get their names from the language, not what city they reside in.

Roman Catholic Church has become popular, but it has not been used as a formal and proper name. Roman was added by protestants during the reformation to block the universality of the word Catholic in the Catholic Church's name. Faithful Catholics didn't come up with that, however, they have followed it at times.


I have! :slight_smile: It's amazing...I be checking out the Roman forum here.... Easter 2000.


Just so you understand, the 22 "Eastern Catholic" groups listed on that page are actually not Orthodox. They are Eastern rite churches that are not considered to be in schism with Rome. They were at one time more commonly called Uniates. For example, the "Greek Catholic" exarchate is actually an Eastern rite group of diocese with a Patriarch directly under the Pope and who is not in Schism with Rome. These groups were considered to be a way of bridging the Catholic groups which are in full communion with Rome TO the Orthodox Churches which Rome considers to be part of Christ's body, and not heretical, but schismatic or "structural" or "heirarchically" but not fundamentally theologically separated.


I never said they were Orthodox, I was trying to point out that I am EASTERN CATHOLIC and not from Rome.


OK I understand. We use the term Catholic to describe ourselves as well, and also I thought you were equivocating that a western rite Catholic living in America who has never been to Rome is not a "Roman" Catholic.

At any rate, I have no problem calling you and the entirety of those in full Communion with the Pope "Catholic", and myself Orthodox.


Praying to saints to intercede on our behalf is not a Bible teaching. Nowhere in the inspired canon can this practice be found. Catholics add the Apocrypha to their Bible and use a passage in 2 Maccabees to support the belief of intercession by saints which is why this is exclusively a Catholic teaching. The books in the Apocrypha are not inspired by God. God is the only one in the Bible called the "Hearer of Prayer." Paul said at Philippians 4:6: "In everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God. So no matter what it is we pray for it should be directed to God only.

In regards to the origin of humans, the Bible clearly states at Genesis and goes into detail about how man was created. Unfortunately, many people who claim to be religious and have faith in Jesus disregard the Genesis account as merely a fictional story. This is so sad. Because only through the Genesis account about Adam and Eve and the downfall of them will one have a clear understanding about how man was created, the penalty for sinning that all of Adams descendants face, the universal sovereignty issues that were raised as a result of the rebellion and why God has allowed things to continue on the way they have for centuries. Religious people who claim to have faith have let the wisdom of men cause them to not believe in the creation account and believe in the THEORY of evolution. The Bible states that the wisdom of men is foolishness to God. If one claims to believe in Jesus then he should believe in the creation account because Jesus himself believed in it and makes direct reference to it. Jesus quotes to the Pharisees at Matthew 19:4-7 the Genesis account and based on the Genesis account institutes a new law regarding the only way a married couple can have a scriptural divorce. So if one has faith in Jesus then that person should believe that Adam and Eve where created, real people because Jesus and the other Bible writer did. Also, since Jesus was in heaven when they were created he is an eyewitness.

The Nephilim account in Genesis chapter 6 took place when angels in heaven notice that women were good looking so these angels materialized human bodies for themselves to have sex with these women. As a result the human women had part angel part human offspring. Genesis 6:4 calls these hybrid offspring "mighty" and the "men of fame." So evidently they were powerful, mighty men who must have publicly displayed their feats of strength which is why they are described as the "men of fame." Mythology of part man, part gods such as Hercules are based on the Bible account of the Nephilim. The transliteration of the Hebrew word Nephilim means Fellers or To Cause Others To Fall Down which shows that they were bullies, tyrants who helped make conditions worse. They no doubt contributed to the badness all around which caused God to bring about the flood and kill everything on the earth except Noah's family and the animals in the Ark.

Adam and Eve's children would of had to reproduce with each other since there was no one else to reproduce with. Also, the people of that time did live to be hundreds of years old. They lived that long and the siblings were able to reproduce without the bad effects we would see today because they were closer to the original perfect state. The sicknesses, diseases and defects that have plagued man for centuries had not yet developed with early man. The further man got away from that original perfect state the shorter their live span was. Many people theorize that years were only a month long as opposed to 12 lunar months. But according to the Bible this is not the case. If years were only a month long then this would mean at Genesis 5:9 Enosh would have become a father before he was eight years old, and others, such as Kenan (Genesis 5:12), Mahalalel(Genesis 5:15), Jared(Genesis 5:18), and Enoch(Genesis 5:21), would have fathered children before they were six years old. A month was 30 days based on a lunar month and a year was 12 months.


That's a good point! This verse is a very ambiguous verse that has caused a lot of confusion. There has been a number of different opinions as to what this actually means. Many people think that a resurrection took place when this happened. I don't believe this was a resurrection but instead a number of corpses were exposed as a result of the earthquake that took place. First, the verse speaks not of the "dead" but of the 'bodies of the saints' being raised. Strictly speaking, the account does not say that the "bodies" came to life. It merely says that they were raised up or thrown out. The Greek verb egeiro, meaning to "raise up," does not always refer to a resurrection. It can also mean to "lift out" from a pit or to "get up" from the ground. Also the "they" (they that went into the holy city) could not refer to the "bodies," because all pronouns in the Greek have gender and "they" in this case is in the masculine, whereas "bodies" is in the neuter gender.

Alternative renderings can read:

The translation by Johannes Greber (1937) renders these verses: "Tombs were laid open, and many bodies of those buried there were tossed upright. In this posture they projected from the graves and were seen by many who passed by the place on their way back to the city."

The New World Translation renders the passage the following way:
"And the memorial tombs were opened and many bodies of the holy ones that had fallen asleep were raised up, 53 (and persons, coming out from among the memorial tombs after his being raised up, entered into the holy city,) and they became visible to many people."

German scholar Theobald Daechsel gives the following translation: "And tombs opened up, and many corpses of saints laying at rest were lifted up."

Corpses being thrown from tombs during an earthquake has happened several times before. An incident similar to this took place in Ecuador in 1949. There the dead are usually buried in large burial vaults, shelf upon shelf and vault upon vault. An earthquake cracked open these vaults, ejecting many dead bodies, which had to be buried at once to prevent a plague from breaking out. The same thing happened in Bogota, Colombia, in 1962 were 200 bodies in a cemetery tombs were thrown open due to a violent earthquake.

Further evidence that this was not a resurrection can be found in the Bible. At 1 Corinthians chapter 15 Paul gives convincing proof of the resurrection but completely ignores what's stated at Matthew 27:52,53. None of the other Bible writers who mention Jesus being resurrected or the resurrection hope mention what's stated at Matthew 27:52,53. Also, after Jesus was resurrected three days later according to Colossians 1:18, he became "the
firstborn from the dead" which means he became the first person resurrected directly by God.

So I believe the when Jesus died the earthquake that resulted broke open tombs near Jerusalem and thus exposed corpses to persons who visited the tombs and brought news of the event into Jerusalem.