Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
I think few people can have summed up this verse better that Thomas Paine, writing what must rank as one of the most devastatingly satirical commentaries on the Bible in "The Age of Reason" in 1794:
It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told
The writer of the book of Matthew should have told us who the saints were that came to life again, and went into the city, and what became of them afterward, and who it was that saw them - for he is not hardy enough to say he saw them himself; whether they came out naked, and all in natural buff, hesaints and shesaints; or whether they came full dressed, and where they got their dresses; whether they went to their former habitations, and reclaimed their wives, their husbands, and their property, and how they were received; whether they entered ejectments for the recovery of their possessions, or brought actions of crim. con against the rival interlopers; whether they remained on earth, and followed their former occupation of preaching or working; or whether they died again, or went back to their graves alive, and buried themselves.
Strange, indeed, that an army of saints should return to life, and nobody know who they were, nor who it was that saw them, and that not a word more should be said upon the subject, nor these saints have anything to tell us! Had it been the prophets who (as we are told) had formerly prophesied of these things, they must have had a great deal to say. They could have told us everything and we should have had posthumous prophesies, with notes and commentaries upon the first, a little better at least than we have now. Had it been Moses and Aaron and Joshua and Samuel and David, not an unconverted Jew had remained in all Jerusalem.
Had it been John the Baptist, and the saints of the time then present, anybody would have known them, and outfamed all the other apostles. But, instead of this, these saints were made to pop up, like Jonah's gourd in the night, for no purpose at all but to wither in the morning. Thus much for this part of the story.
Thomas Paine then draws the all-too-obvious conclusion from this ridiculous passage:
The tale of the resurrection follows that of the crucifixion, and in this as well as in that, the writers, whoever they were, disagree so much as to make it evident that none of them were there.
Perhaps there are some Christians who can answer the questions Thomas Paine raised over 200 years ago and can counter with reason the conclusion he draws...