The formula structure of the 1 Cor 15 creed equally emphasizes all four lines (“died,” “buried,” “raised,” “appeared”).1, 2
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
|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 dead … and 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."|
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.]
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.]
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 suggests that it means something other than what it most immediately seems to mean to casual hearers.
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.]
The formula structure of the 1 Cor 15 creed simply couples “buried” (line #2) with “Christ died” (line #1).1, 2 This is relevant because if “buried” simply functions to emphasize Jesus' death, then it's false that it is “buried” and “raised” that are being juxtaposed.
• See “Formula structure suggests ‘buried’ is not subordinate” above.
• 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”]).