In 1 Corinthians 15, are “buried” and “raised” contrasted?

“Yes, after all…
  • The formula doesn't subordinate “buried”

      The formula structure of the 1 Cor 15 creed equally emphasizes all four lines (“died,” “buried,” “raised,” “appeared”).1, 2

      1. This should be granted for two reasons: a) The sequence of 4 events listed in the creed precisely match their chronological sequence in history. b) In 1 Cor 15:3-5, the gratuitously repetative hoti ("οτι") is overtly intentional, and stands equally in front of each of the 4 lines. ◦ Line 1. that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
        ◦ Line 2. and that He was buried, ◦ Line 3. and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, ◦ Line 4. and that He appeared to Cephas…"
        Paul Gwynne: “…there is good reason to believe that the phrase is connected both to the death and the subsequent resurrection and appearances. All of the items in the sequence - died, buried, raised, appeared - are introduced by the grammatical term "οτι" (that). Hence, the second item concerning burial is seen as a crucial, early link to the developing gospel burial tradition and strongly suggests that resurrection from the tomb is envisaged.” [“The Fate of Jesus' Body: Another Decade of Debate.” _Colloquium _32 (2000): 13.]
        William Craig: “The four-fold hoti and the chronological series of events weighs against subordinating the burial to the death.” ["The Historicity of the Empty Tomb of Jesus" New Testament Studies 31 (1985): 39-67. Online.]
        Greg Herrick: “The expression… indicates the emphatic nature of each part of the tradition.” [“The Historical Veracity of the Resurrection Narratives”, online at]
      2. Some respond that this should be rejected on grounds that Formula structure suggests ‘buried’ is subordinate.
  • They are juxtaposed in Mk 15 & Acts 13

      The “died—was buried—was raised—appeared” formula in Acts 13 and Mk 16 juxtapose “raised” with “buried.”1 This is relevant, because 1 Cor 15 is a summary of Acts 13 and Mk 16.2

      1. a) In Acts 13 “buried” & "raised” stand in relation to each other (where the latter undoes the former).

      b) In Mk 15 “buried” & "raised” stand in relation to each other (where the latter undoes the former). 2. They articulate the same general formula, with the same language.

      **Acts 13:28-31, 36-37** ** 1 Cor 15:3-5 ** ** Mk 15:37-16:7**
      _Though they could charge him with nothing deserving **death**, yet they asked Pilate to have him killed__… they took him down from the tree and **laid him in a tomb **… But God **raised** him from the deadand for many days **he appeared** to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people…_ _He whom God raised **did not undergo decay**._ _For I delivered to you as of first importance__ what I also **received**, that Christ **died** for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was **buried**, and that He was **raised** on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that **He appeared** to Cephas, then to the twelve._ _And Jesus uttered a loud cry and **breathed his last**_And he [Joseph] bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and **laid him in a tomb**"He has **risen**, he is not here; see the place where they laid him." "But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there **you will see him**."_
  • They are juxtaposed in Rom 6:4 & Col 2:12

      The “died—was buried—was raised—appeared” formula in Romans 6:4 and Col 2:12 all juxtapose “raised” with “buried.”1 This is relevant because:

      Robert Stein: “…the idea of being 'buried' and 'raised' with Christ in baptism as it is found in these two verses is traditional, for Paul introduces his discussion of this theme in Romans 6:3 with 'Do you not know…,' implying that what he is saying is established doctrine not only in his own churches but also in a church that he did not found - the church in Rome. (In Colossians 2: 6 we should also note that the passage is introduced by 'As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord' (italics mine), which is the same term that introduces the tradition found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.) It was traditional, therefore, to understand the baptism of the believer as in some way reflecting or re-enacting the resurrection of Jesus.” [“Was the Tomb Really Empty?” Themelios 5.1 (September 1979): 11-12.]

      1. a) Rom 6:4 -- “…buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead …”

      b) Col 2:12 -- “…buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

  • “raised” is otherwise superfluous

      No reason to mention “burial” if it was not believed that Jesus was buried.

      Dale Allison: “…the apologists have a point. Why did Paul say that Jesus was raised if he did not mean that he was raised? Why not just: ‘He was buried and he appeared to Cephas?’” [Resurrecting Jesus (Continuum Int., 2005), 315.]

  • That's the most natural reading

      Prima facie: A casual reading most naturally understands “buried” and “raised” to stand in relation.1 This is especially relevant because the creed was fine-tuned to be clearly understandable for mass use. In other words, the widespread acceptance of the creed without modification/adjustment mitigates any hypothesis which suggest that it means something other than what it most immediately seems to mean to casual hearers

      1. After all, just read it: “that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day…”

        Dale Allison: “The sequence is burial followed by resurrection. If this creates any image in the mind's eye, surely it is of a tomb first being filled and then being emptied. It is indeed difficult to know what else one might envision.” [Resurrecting Jesus (Continuum Int., 2005) 314.]

  • “No, after all…
  • The formula couples “buried” & “died”

      The formula structure of the 1 Cor 15 creed simply couples “buried” (line #2) with “Christ died” (line #1).1, 2, 3

      1. For examples of scholars holding to this view:
        Peter Carnley: “When Paul, for example, declared that Jesus had died and was buried, the mention of the burial in 1 Cor. 1:4 is usually interpreted to underscore the finality of the death, rather than to imply that he was raised from the grave in such a way as to leave it empty.” [The Structure of Resurrection Belief (Oxford, 1987), 52.]
        Hans Conzelmann: “και οτι εταφη, ‘and that he was buried,’ is not an independent statement, but underlines απεθανεν, 'he died.'” ["1 Corinthians" in Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Fortress, 1975). 255.]
        E.L. Bode: “‘Buried’ stands in parallel with ‘died’; this confirms the notion that ‘died’ and ‘buried’ are to be taken together. They emphasize the reality and apparent finality of Jesus' death." [p 98-99.] “…the burial is in parallel with the death in the preceding line and emphasizes that the death was real and appeared final” [The First Easter Morning (Biblical Institute, 1970), 180.]
      2. This(allegedly) should be granted for two reasons:
        • In 1 Cor 15:3-5, lines 1 & 3 close with “according to scripture” while their following lines (2 & 4 respectively) do not.   ◦ Line 1. that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, Line 2. and that He was buried,   ◦ Line 3. and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, Line 4. and that He appeared to Cephas…"
        • The preceding lines (1 & 3) can be warranted/evinced by their following lines (2 & 4 respectively). After all, “He appeared to xyz”(#4) shows that “He was raised”(#3) and “He was buried”(#2) shows that "[He] died for our sins”(#1). By way of response, even if “He was buried” gratuitously “showed” that Christ died, it doesn't show that “Christ died for our sins,” which was Paul's explicit point.
      3. This should be rejected for two reasons:
        • See “Formula structure suggests ‘buried’ is not subordinate” below. • Even if there was an intentional special relation between line 2 and 1, that hardly implies there is therefore no relational standing between 2 and 3 (as if the author wasn't cognizant that readers would understand line 3 [“and that He was raised”] in light of the verse just before it [“and that He was buried”]).