Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Silly Argument for the Empty Tomb

If the Jews or Romans had produced the body of Jesus, Christianity would have been immediately disproved.

This has always struck me as a very weak argument.

I don’t think that the Roman practice was to prove to troublemakers that their beliefs were incorrect. Rather, the Roman practice was to prove that their beliefs were ill advised. They did this by hanging a bunch of them on crosses, sacking a town or two, and shipping a couple of boatloads off into slavery. If Paul is any example, the Jewish authorities weren’t much into persuasion either.


  1. It seems, for Christians, it's less important what evidence is there than what evidence isn't there. This is why some of them claim that the fact that we haven't found fossilized remains of every intermediate species is somehow contradictory to the theory of evolution.

  2. This is true Pokey. On the other hand, they go nuts if you suggest that the almost complete absence of anything Jesus said or did from Paul's epistles might show that the gospel stories were later inventions. "Argument from silence!" "Doesn't prove anything!"

  3. I would like to suggest that what you have posted is not the best evidence for the empty tomb. The key evidence for the empty tomb is in Mark's Gospel, which happens to be the earliest gospel. In this gospel we have an account of the ladies finding an empty tomb. This is mentioned in Mark prior to the part which is thought to be a later addition. And if Mark were making the story up, why would he have women find the empty tomb? The story would have had far more credibility in his time had he said Peter or John found the empty tomb.

  4. Thanks for stopping by Student. Here is my response:

    Many (if not most) textual scholars, both conservative and liberal, believe that Mark 16:9-23 was not originally part of the gospel because these verses are not found in the earliest manuscripts. These scholars believe that the gospel of Mark originally ended with “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”

    One theory would be that Mark invented the story of the empty tomb. However, Mark knew that his readers would wonder why they had never heard the story before. Therefore, Mark also added the part about the women finding it. That way he could say to his readers that the reason they had never heard the story is because these silly unreliable women were too scared to tell anyone about it. Under this hypothesis, Mark’s gospel is not at all inconsistent with the prevailing view that women were bad witnesses because the fact that they were bad witnesses serves an explanatory purpose.

    Once Mark had written the original story, later writers were kind of stuck with the women being the first witnesses to the empty tomb. However, Matthew, Luke and John vary the story in ways that put men in an important role.

  5. The women tell nobody in Mark's Gospel.

    In fact, not one person in history ever named himself as ever having seen Arimathea, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome, the other Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Nicodemus, Bartimaeus, Simon of Cyrene etc etc.

    They all vanish, even from church history, as quickly and surely as the Golden Plates and the Angel Moroni vanish from Mormonism.

  6. The elephant in the room here is the implausibility of the whole story. If the Romans crucified Jesus, there wouldn't have been a tomb at all, because the whole point of crucifying people was to make their suffering death very public. They wouldn't take them down after just a day or two.

  7. The fact that there probably wasn't a tomb proves that the story is true because if they made it up why would they include a fact that probably wasn't true?!? Check and mate! :)))))))))

  8. Of course!!!

    How could you miss that one TGirsch?