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JESUS’ ENEMIES MAY HAVE STOLEN HIS BODY
 
The gospels say that a miracle man called Jesus Christ lived. They say he died by crucifixion and three days later he rose again. The tomb he was placed in was found mysteriously empty. His body was gone. The gospels never say that anybody saw the body rising or coming out of the tomb. No evidence is given that he wasn’t stolen. One gospel says that Roman soldiers were at the tomb guarding it. They got a scare there and ran off and the Jews bribed them to say the apostles stole Jesus as they slept. Though all this seems to be legend like Jesus himself, let us put this possibility aside and pretend that the gospels are reliable history and we will see if the body could have been stolen by Jesus’ enemies. We will ask if the Roman enemies or the Jewish ones could have been responsible.

 

A big reason for
“Social taboos would have forbid the Jewish leaders from putting Jesus’ body on display.”
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ROMAN GRAVE ROBBERS

The Matthew gospel alleges that guards were posted at the tomb of Jesus. They are certainly Romans for the Jews had to go to Pilate to get the guards set up.

Then the gospels reveal that there is no evidence against them having taken the body of Jesus.

The soldiers thought at the time that the Jesus cult was not a problem anymore. The thought of a new sect would not have bothered them. And especially one that was not into violence and gave the impression of being pacifist. The Romans would have liked another sect to come along and cause divisions among the Jews for that reduced the chances of a huge rebellion – rebellions come about only very very reluctantly among a divided people.

The argument that Pilate selected the soldiers at random so that a plan to steal the body was unlikely is useless for it is mere speculation. It is more likely that the men volunteered.

We know decapitation awaited lazy soldiers or soldiers who slept on duty. The soldiers were amenable to bribes and willing to risk execution for nothing according to the Matthew gospel only. Yes they got paid for it but no bribe is worth a lie like that. Christians advocate this absurd lie of Matthew’s as the truth! It doesn’t help to say the soldiers agreed to lie but didn’t for the gospel would say if they didn’t lie and reneged on the agreement with the Jews. And besides they still took a bribe and the Jews could have threatened them with that to make them lie. The story doesn’t cohere.
 
If the Romans would have gone that far for money then they might have been bribed to steal the body even though they would have been punished if caught. The wealthy disciple, Joseph of Arimathea would have liked to offer them a carrot to save face after the disappointment of a failed Messiah. Head rolling is the price for claiming to have slept on duty and Matthew says they claimed just that. They went to the Jews with a supernatural story the Jews would not have wanted to hear. They wanted to promote the Gospel despite the risk of being sacked and accused of drug taking or insanity.

Some wonder at all the soldiers wanting to take the body and consider it impossible. But if that logic were right there would be no such things as large gangs of thieves.

If the soldiers took the body then how do we explain their faint at the sight of the angel? Was it a faint or did they knock themselves out with something to make it look like they were drugged after they had first taken the body? Or did they just give the body to somebody and then pretend to have fainted? Fainting on duty – especially when it was a group that fainted – could not have got them into trouble. Would you take a bribe and lie after seeing an angel that scared you to death almost? The gospel of Matthew is lying.
 
God would not have sent an angel to put them out cold for that meant the tomb was unattended and somebody could have stolen the body. The story never says why the tomb was opened. Even the angel didn’t need to open the tomb.
 
There is no reason why the soldiers could not have admitted the angel story to Pilate if it were true. They had to explain why they were unconscious at the tomb. Also there was no reason for them to go to Pilate with that story even if it were not true!
 
If the soldiers were unconscious they must have fallen asleep. They would only have done that if the body was officially taken away already meaning they had not been sleeping on duty. Perhaps they were fooled by a group pretending to be official and who came to remove the body.

We don’t know if the soldiers who the gospels say had come to venerate Jesus were among those at the tomb. They might have been keen to create a bodily resurrection to rescue their Jesus from the disgrace he died in.

It is stupid to believe in a supernatural reason for the vanishing body when the gospel itself admits that unscrupulous men who could have raided the tomb were present there – alone.
 
DID CHRIST-HATING JEWS STEAL HIM?

 

Matthew says the Jewish leaders agreed that Jesus was not in the previously tomb for he was taken and they plotted to do damage limitation by getting his disciples blamed for it. Why didn’t the Jews reseal the tomb and say nothing? Or why not say Jesus was inside and there was a risk of the body being taken so people had to be banned from going in? There was a legal procedure that would help. The Jews telling people to say Jesus was stolen and not in the tomb was not the best way to try and quash a resurrection rumour. A body being admitted to having been taken would only fan the flames.  If they did not care or realise that that would happen then if there was a missing body then did they take it?
 
The Jews who hated Christ could have done the body snatching. Yet they are the least likely suspects in everybody’s mind.

If they were as hypocritical as the Bible says they would have been willing to commit the sin of uncleanness by touching his corpse and might have reasoned that the evil of desecrating a tomb was the lesser one under the circumstances.

The Jews might have decided to remove Jesus after they had Roman Guards appointed and seals put on the tomb. Maybe after that the guards felt entitled to sleep at the tomb. And when the Jews realised that they had made a mistake they tried to frame the Jesus people. The body would have been taken secretly and would have scandalised the people if it is true that the people were fans of Jesus or did not want him dead so the Jews dared not parade the body or perhaps some sympathiser of Jesus stole the body from them.

The guards would have let them steal the body for a bribe if Matthew is right about their corruption. But it was not stealing if the Jews got permission.

There is no evidence that whoever took the body left the tomb open. Even the Gospels never say that the tomb was opened to let the body out. The Jews would not have left the tomb open unless they were nearly caught. They did not want any far-fetched stories. Or perhaps somebody else opened it after they had gone with the body like the women?

Now from could to would. Would they have taken the body?

If the Jews were scared of a resurrection story as Matthew maintains they might have taken the body in order to produce it once the rumour started to extinguish it. They knew that a resurrection story was inevitable if miraculous tales about Jesus were already doing the rounds and if Jesus predicted that he would arise. They had no reason to believe that the resurrection might not involve the resurrection of the whole body although God could make a risen spiritual and supernatural body out of a drop of blood. Perhaps the Jews thought that if they had the body in custody they could kill Jesus if he revived. Maybe they thought they could lock him up so that the people would never know he rose. They couldn’t admit to having done anything like this for people would be saying Jesus must have had power for the Jews were afraid of it.

Perhaps the Jews thought that nobody would believe Jesus rose just because his remains had vanished and did not expect to hear of visions. Remember, Matthew says the Jews only remembered Jesus said he would rise the day after they killed him which is odd. His evidence that they feared a resurrection story is spurious. But then why did they take him in that case? If the Jews were just afraid of silly interpretations of the empty tomb it is hard to believe that there would have been guards posted to keep the body in for such interpretations would only have the status of futile speculation.

The Jews might have secretly taken the body in order to plant it on the disciples and blame them if a resurrection tale broke out. If so then that plan failed for the disciples had gone into hiding or no resurrection story seemed to be coming out – Luke says it took forty days. By the time the story came out it was a waste of time to present the body the state it would have been in then. Without that story they would have had no motive to pin on them. When Pilate let the apostles off despite their association with Jesus the Jews might have had to do something to change that.

There was a risk that if the Jews took the body then this would result in what they would never want: a resurrection story. Maybe, the Jews were going to say that the body was in their keeping but they didn’t want to say it too soon. Sometimes people like to let fusses reach a peak and then reveal that the fusses were about nothing. Maybe for one reason or another they finally never bothered admitting they had the body.

If the Jews removed the body to stop a patriotic shrine starting up centred around the tomb perhaps Arimathea who was one of them stole him and hid the body from them then, so that they were left unable to refute the resurrection story.

The Jews said that Jesus was using evil spirits to do wonders. The Jews might have illegally taken the body to be blessed and exorcised and laid in a sacred place thinking that no demon would be able to restore him to life then. They took him secretly in case there would be an outcry and could not speak out when the lies about Jesus’ comeback had started. They thought this would not happen as long as the disciples were in hiding and they did not expect them to visit the tomb and see inside.
 
WOULD ENEMIES HAVE RETURNED BODY?

 
If the hostile Jews or the evil Romans had stolen the body it is thought that they would have returned it to stamp out the resurrection tale. But when the early Christians were allowed into the Temple as good Jews and when Paul said that Jewish Christians avoided persecution not by denying the resurrection but that Jesus opposed Judaism as it was then (Galatians 6:12) nobody was interested in debunking the resurrection. This left the Church free to lie all it liked.

But if the theft was illegal the thieves could not return the body and bring disgrace on themselves. Robbing tombs brought execution.

Perhaps their plan went off course and they were forced to destroy the body or could not give it up. Perhaps the body was stolen from the thieves.

The argument that the theft was illegal ignores the fact that the Romans had the authority to trample on the Jews except very dangerous Jews and it assumes that the tomb of Jesus was meant to be a permanent tomb for him. The Rabbis taught that nobody should take a body from a tomb unless the tomb is only for the time being – the New Testament significantly never says Jesus was intended to stay in the tomb. It is not likely that he was for the tomb was a new one and didn’t belong to Jesus or his relations. The soldiers would have been instructed to remove the body if there was danger of a huge mob coming to take it away. All they had to do was say they had been tricked by Jesus people they trusted telling them a mob was coming.

The New Testament hints that nobody bothered digging up bodies to stifle resurrection stories. We see this hint in when it does not say that John the Baptist was exhumed to prove that Jesus was not John back from the dead though many people thought Jesus was the resurrected John. It is not likely that Jesus looked like John for John had it rough and took life very hard. This shows that an impostor could have impersonated the risen Jesus and gotten away with it after Jesus was put to death and this impostor was the man who the Church reveres as the risen Lord. Anyway, back to the point. The point is that the body might not have been returned if the gospels are true had anyone stolen it and even if they did not like the resurrection reports.

The resurrection tales did not go into circulation for forty days after the crucifixion. By that time, the battered and wounded body would have been too decomposed to convince anybody that Jesus was dead. The Midrash says that the face of a corpse decomposed and was unrecognisable in three days. It forbade anybody identifying by the face alone for that reason. Bar Kappara taught the popular view that the soul keeps returning to the body for three days and gives up visiting on the third for it sees the face decomposing. Lazarus, we are told in John, was rotting after four days.
 
Incidentally, all this shows us is that the Turin Shroud which shows no sign of decomposition is a fake.
 
If Jesus had inexplicably vanished from the tomb and the resurrection story started before that then the enemies of Jesus could have presented another man’s beaten and bloody body as that of Jesus. It would have been worth a try even if the Jewish people would mostly say that it was not Jesus. And if Jesus’ body had been presented they would still have said that – and perhaps it was. The enemies would have done it if they were as antichrist as the Bible says. And they could have got some people to pretend to have been the thieves and send them on a holiday forever and say they were executed or been punished.

When the gospels do not mention this body that was allegedly Jesus’ it shows that they were either dishonest or afraid that it was really Jesus or that Luke is telling the truth about he resurrection story only emerging after forty days.

It could have been that a substitute was nailed to the cross and removed from the tomb by the Romans in case the ruse would be found out and the real Jesus escaped from custody and made his stigmata and then manipulated his friends to think he was raised from the dead.
 
Conclusion
 
If a saint is in the same room as a hundred pounds and there is nobody else about and the money goes missing the saint stole it no matter how unlikely it is. Choosing to believe that the money dissolved into mid-air would be mad no matter who says it did. The Romans guarding a tomb from which the body vanished could only mean they took it if nobody else could have done it. Did they do it? Maybe.
 
FURTHER READING

Christianity for the Tough-Minded, Ed John Warwick Montgomery, Bethany Fellowship Inc, Minneapolis, 1973
Conspiracies and the Cross, Timothy Paul Jones, Front Line, A Strang Company, Florida, 2008
Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Vol 1, Josh McDowell, Alpha, Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1995
He Walked Among Us, Josh McDowell and Bill Wilson, Alpha, Cumbria, 2000
Jesus: The Evidence, Ian Wilson, Pan, London, 1985
The First Easter, What Really Happened? HJ Richards, Collins/Fount Glasgow, 1980
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, Corgi, London, 1982
The Jesus Event, Martin R Tripole SJ, Alba House, New York, 1980
The Jesus Inquest, Charles Foster, Monarch Books, Oxford, 2006
The Passover Plot, Hugh Schonfield, Element, Dorset, 1996
The Resurrection Factor, Josh McDowell, Alpha, Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1993
The Resurrection of Jesus, Pinchas Lapide, SPCK, London, 1984
The Unauthorised Version, Robin Lane Fox, Penguin, Middlesex, 1992
The Second Messiah, Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, Arrow, London, 1998
The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, Raymond E Brown, Paulist Press, New York, 1973
The Womb and the Tomb, Hugh Montifiore, Fount – HarperCollins, London, 1992
Verdict on the Empty Tomb, Val Grieve Falcon, London, 1976
Who Moved the Stone? Frank Morison, OM Publishing, Cumbria, 1997

THE WWW

Still Standing on Sinking Sand, Farrell Till,
www.infidels.org/library/magazines/tsr/1997/1/1sink97.html

Why I Don’t Buy the Resurrection Story by Richard Carrier
www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/resurrection/index.shtml

A Naturalistic Account of the Resurrection, Brian Marston
http://www.phlab.missouri.edu/~c570529/PhilosoStop/resurrection.html
This site argues that somebody unknown stole the body to stop the apostles stealing it or venerating it and lost it and argues that the witnesses of the risen Jesus were lying because no effort was made by them to preserve first hand reports of what was seen and how and when. It argues that since the apostles had followed Jesus at great personal sacrifice and now he was dead they invented the resurrection to save face. Also the inclination of people at the time to believe in dying and rising gods may have overwhelmed them and made them lie to themselves that Jesus had risen. He answers the objection that a lie like that would need a large-scale conspiracy for lots of lies start off with a small group of people and if the lies are attractive other people will believe them. Plus he says that Jesus could have rigged events to make sure he would fulfil Old Testament prophecy so the Christians should not be saying the gospel story is true for it fits old prophecy. I would add that owing to the total absence of evidence that Jesus was nailed to the cross and the fact that the gospels never say any of his friends were close to the cross that Jesus might have been tied to it and the Christians later assumed he was nailed because the psalm seemed to say so.

The Case For Christianity Examined: Truth or Lies?
www.askwhy.co.uk/awstruth/ChristianCase.html

Historical Evidence and the Empty Tomb Story, A Reply to William Lane Craig by Jeffrey Jay Lowder
www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/empty.html

The Resurrection, Steven Carr
www.bowness.demon/co.uk/resr.htm

Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? Dan Barker versus Mike Horner
www.ffrf.org/debates/barker_horner.html
 
Craig’s Empty Tomb and Habermas on the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus
www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/indef/4e.html

Did a Rolling Stone Close Jesus’ Tomb by Amos Kloner
www.bib-arch.org/barso99/roll1.html
 
Who Moved the Stone? Review by Steven Carr,
www.bowness.demon.co.uk/stone.htm This tells us that if you assume that two contradictory books are true in all they say and try to make them fit you will manage it but the result will be contrived. You are really still assuming they are true and have no proof for it. This observation should be a warning to the fundamentalist Christians who say there are no contradictions in the Bible. They have no faith in the Bible at all for they are only assuming it is right. If they really believed, they would not need to work out and produce laughable far-fetched ways of reconciling Bible contradictions. They wouldn’t do that with anything else but the Bible.


Morison claims that Peter’s clever and unbiased mind was behind the first Gospel, that of Mark. But Morison only assumes this for there is no evidence that the gospel is clever and unbiased or that Peter had much if anything at all to do with it. Morison then tries to make out that the claim of Luke that the apostles waited seven weeks before saying Jesus had risen from the dead is too detrimental to the evidence for the resurrection to be true. In other words, the evidence for the resurrection is right and any evidence against it is wrong! That is bias if I ever seen it. He then makes out that these things which undermine the pro-resurrection evidence prove it happened. So the evidence against the resurrection makes the evidence for it stronger! How ridiculous.