Logic of the Empty Tomb.






The Argument:

* In all likeihood Jesus tomb was found empty
* The Resurrection is the best explaination for that fact.



I.Evidence of empty tomb.


A.Following reasons support likelihood of empty tomb:



(1) The burial is mentioned in the third line of the old Christian formula quoted by Paul in 1 Cor. 15.4.

William Lane Craig:


"The historical reliability of the burial story supports the empty tomb. If the burial account is accurate, then the site of Jesus' grave was known to Jew and Christian alike. In that case, it is a very short inference to historicity of the empty tomb. For if Jesus had not risen and the burial site were known:(a) the disciples could never have believed in the resurrection of Jesus. For a first century Jew the idea that a man might be raised from the dead while his body remained in the tomb was simply a contradiction in terms. In the words of E. E. Ellis, "It is very unlikely that the earliest Palestinian Christians could conceive of any distinction between resurrection and physical, 'grave emptying' resurrection. To them an anastasis without an empty grave would have been about as meaningful as a square circle."(b) Even if the disciples had believed in the resurrection of Jesus, it is doubtful they would have generated any following. So long as the body was interred in the tomb, a Christian movement founded on belief in the resurrection of the dead man would have been an impossible folly.(c) The Jewish authorities would have exposed the whole affair. The quickest and surest answer to the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus would have been simply to point to his grave on the hillside."



(2) It is part of the ancient pre-Markan passion story which Mark used as a source for his gospel.

See Helmutt Koester's Ancient Christian Gospels in which he argues that textual criticism of the diatesseron and other ancient documents reveal a textual tradition of Gospel narrative which is used by all four Gospels and is pushed back to AD 50 (the pre-markan redaction).


(3) A tomb was venerated in Jerusalem as Christ's empty tomb, since the end of the first century (at least).

Strong Support for authentic Site of Jesus' Empty Tomb. Archaeology cannot yet identify with certainty the tomb of Christ, but here is strong evidence supporting the Church of the Holy Seplicur as the original site. The site does date back to the fourth century when it was shown to Constantine. Bruce attests to the evidential support.(New Testament Documents) . More important confirmation comes from Gaalyah Cornfeld in Archaeology of The Bible Book By Book. Cornfeld tells us that from early times Christians reverenced the site, but it was desecrated when the Romans put up a statue of one of their gods. Jewish-Christians could no longer worship at the site for that reason, but they continued the knowledge of it until the time of Constantine when they were able to point him to it as the original site of the resurrection. Constantine put up a basilica over the original shrine, the Anastasis. Excavations by V. Corbo found a gold ring with the representation of the dome of the original shrine Anastasis. This indicates that this site was venerated by Christians in ancient times as the site of the resurrection. (and there is an empty tomb underneither it). (See Archaeology of The Bible: Book by Book, New York: Harper and Row, 1976, 271-2).


(4) No other competing burial traditions exist.

See my argument on No other versions.
(5)The Polemic the Opposition Assumed Empty Tomb.


The opposotion never asserted that there was not a tomb. They first tried to argue that the deciples stole the body, that the guards were sleeping, but never that there was no tomb. If there was a tomb they certinly could not have asserted that there wasn't when everyone in the community knew there was.
B. Why skpetics must deny the tomb


Given that we can trust the basic accounts, that we can trust that there was a tomb, there was a body, and the tomb was guarded by soliders:


The opposotion never asserted that there was not a tomb. They first tried to argue that the deciples stole the body, that the guards were sleeping, but never that there was no tomb. If there was a tomb they certinly could not have asserted that there wasn't when everyone in the community knew there was. Given that we can trust the basic accounts, that we can trust that there was a tomb, there was a body, and the tomb was guarded by soliders:
1) How did they get the body past the guards?

The guards were there to prevent a theft of the body. IT meant death for a Roman soldier to sleep on duty. Matt. records that the High Priest offered the soldiers money to hush up their testimony and to make it right with their supirors so they would not be killed. Given the harsh penalty for sleeping, we may assume that they would not be asleep. Even if they were it would still be very difficult to get the body past the guards.

2) Who moved the Stone?

We must ask Frank Morrison's famous question "Who moved the stone?" (form his book of the same title). The stone weighed several tons, it required many men to move it. This would have been impossible to do with a whole troop of Roman soldiers standing guard right in front of the stone, even had they gone to sleep the noise of the effort would have awakened them.


C. why didn't the opposition produce the body?


The Jewish leaders obvioulsy had a motive to fear the spread of Jesus teachings and the growth of his movement. This motive is seen in the fact that they put him to death in the fist place, and that they placed guards on the tomb so that the prediction he made of his own resurrection could not be fulfilled by theft of the body. Therefore, had the "myth" growen overtime into the accounts of the resurrection, any re-telling would be quached by the opposition, "you aren't telling it right, they said x, y, and z at first." Moroever, when the movement did begin to grow, why did they not just produce the body? That would have killed off the movement before it ever got started.

When claims began to surface that Jesus had been seen alive again, all they had to do was produce the body in public, then anyone claiming to have seen him would have been laughed out of town, or stoned. So why didn't they do this?

If the accounts were manufacturered years latter, if there were actualy never guards on the tomb, than when the claims began to circulate about the tomb being guarded, why didn't the opossition just say "You guys are nuts, there were no guards on the tomb"? There were claims that the body was stolen away by diciples, why didn't those cliams carry any punch? Because people who knew there were guards, who saw guards, and who heard of guards form the earliest telling kept asking "how did they get the body past the guards?" Why is there no disputing of this fact until the middle ages, when Talmudic sources, unfamiliar with the New Testament began to change the story and offer new accounts?



The Religious A priori