Just How Long Did Jesus Stay in the Tomb?
But the point of Jesus' prophecy is to draw a comparison to Jonah, who was willing to die to save his shipmates (and spent three days in the belly of a big fish), not to set a timetable for the Resurrection, said Witherington.
Martin Connell, a scholar at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn., calls the chronology conundrum a "never-ending question."
"So unsettled is the evidence, and so elastic, that the debate will likely always continue," Connell said.
The Apostle Paul wrote that the third-day Resurrection accords with the Hebrew Scriptures.
Some scholars, such as Wahlen, think Paul is pointing to a passage in the Book of Hosea, which says God will "heal" and "restore" Israel after three days.
Benedict says that theory "cannot be sustained."
There may be a very practical reason for the Resurrection to have happened in three days after Jesus' death, scholars say.
First-century tradition held that only after three days could you be sure someone was dead; after four days the spirit was presumed to leave the body.