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STONE EASY TO MOVE?
 
The gospels say that a miracle healing 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 wide open with the stone that had been across the entrance moved back and the tomb was mysteriously empty. His body was gone. Certain witnesses claimed that Jesus appeared to them as a resurrected being.
 
The Christians claim that the stone was very heavy. They like to claim that for it makes it look more likely that nobody could have stolen Jesus' body and started the resurrection legend. There is no evidence that one man or maybe a woman would have been unable to move it on their own. Why not suppose that if there was a miracle it was probably that somebody got the strength to get the stone shifted and the body out? Surely if you have to assume a miracle you have to assume a lesser one rather than a greater one?

 

 A heavy stone is hardly a great thing in a book that says Samson had magical strength and the Gadarene demoniac was able to break the chains which secured him with the power of the demons.  There is a cloud hanging over Jesus' innocence with regard to sorcery.
 
The Jews did not close tombs properly for the first three days in case the person would revive (page 89, The Turin Shroud is Genuine). They would have done this especially in the case of Jesus if they thought he could raise the dead and heal. The stone for the tomb of Jesus would have been in place well enough to keep animals out but Jesus could have got out. 
 
The New Testament states that Jesus’ tomb was cut out of a rock. Since that is so difficult it would seem to be a small tomb with a small stone for a door. The stone would have been like a flagstone for why have a big boulder? A flag would seal up the gaps better. Flags were used and rolled back and forth along a grove in the ground. And the angel in Matthew could still have sat on it if it were lying on something high.

The simplest way to shut defenders of the miraculously vanishing body idea up is to ask them what proof is there that the tomb was finished? If it was half-finished then who knows what happened? Accidents will happen and stones will fall out when the job is incomplete. They will answer that Jesus would not have been put there if it was not finished knowing fine well that the inside could have been ready.

It is interesting that Frank Morison says that two men could have moved the stone of the tomb (page 148, Who Moved the Stone?).

There were at least five women according to Luke and there is one in John and two or three in the rest. They wondered who was going to move the stone for them but that may say nothing about the size for that was a man’s job and that society was rigidly sexist. When they had no men in their company it gives us the clue that only one man was needed. How? For they were going to ask a passer-by for one man is easier to find than a few. There would have been few men about at that hour. (Or maybe the women meant they needed somebody with authority to break the seal, which is out of the question because they would have got their permission from the authorities before they had set out at all.) If so, one man would have done when they were just going to keep an eye out for one of the few men about to do it. An inconsistency in the story is that they ran to the apostles minutes later instead of bringing one along to move the stone. Some say the stone was heavy when five women could not move it. But most of them may have been old and they may have only imagined it was that hard to move. When they went alone it suggests they believed they could move it themselves. Matthew and Mark have two or three women which must be taken to be exact for they would not have implied that such a small number went alone to the tomb obviously intending to open it which would indicate a small stone that was easily moved and a grave easily robbed. It is certain that the stone was easily moved and not ultra heavy. The stone might have just been a light flag that was cut in a hurry so that the tomb would not be left open.
 
The tomb might have been partly open but closed enough to keep animals out and the women might only have needed it moved a bit to climb into the tomb. Or maybe they thought they needed it. Jesus could have got out through the gap.
 
Matthew 27:60, Mark 15:46 and Luke 23 say that Joseph moved the stone back to close the tomb at the burial and don’t mention anybody else. John says that Nicodemus was there as well burying Jesus. Nobody else was mentioned so there was nobody else meaning that just two men could move the stone. The gospel would not omit mention of another helper who moved the stone for it would have been to its advantage to have a stone that only say ten strong men could shift. Luke’s at least five women could manage it. Matthew’s “angel” who he never says was supernatural moved the stone alone. Matthew says that the angel who we know could be just a man moved the stone. He may not say the man physically lifted the stone out but he could mean that and that is significant.

The Secret Gospel of Mark says that Jesus moved the stone of a young man’s tomb by himself.

Scholars who say there were no guards would say that the stone must have been exceptionally heavy when no guards were needed to keep intruders out. That is stupid for if the disciples would have stolen Jesus they could have got enough men to move the stone so the guards would still have been needed.

Worse is the argument in Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Vol 1 that Jesus’ stone would have been heavier than usual for there was a danger of theft (page 208). The best way to avoid theft is not to let anybody know where the body is. And the tomb was not made for Jesus so the stone would have been ordinary and who was going to transport a mammoth rock at that time? If there were guards nobody would have worried about the stone. And the Matthew Gospel says Jesus was left unguarded for a long time which shows there was nothing unusual about the size of the stone.

The Bezae Manuscripts say that Mark 16:4 originally said that the stone could not be rolled away even by twenty men (page 71, The Resurrection Factor). But there is no evidence that the manuscripts are right or that this was in the original. The best manuscripts omit that reference. Also, since the stone was flat one can imagine how big it would be if twenty could not move it. Nobody would have a stone that size at their tomb. And the Jews would not have been able to say the apostles stole Jesus for there were only eleven of them and most of them were believed to have turned against Jesus because of the way they treated him at the end. This left only a few to steal the body if they wished.

The stone had to be removed by rolling it up a slot in an incline (page 86, The Resurrection Factor). But the women found it at a distance from the grave see page 87 of the fundamentalist tripe The Resurrection Factor. If this is so, then it sounds like the stone fell out and rolled a bit away from the tomb. That would scare the soldiers off, giving somebody the chance to remove the body. Perhaps the slot went on down past where the stone was positioned at the door and was kept in place with a brick or something. Jesus might have been able to move the brick so that the stone would slide and he could get out. Perhaps there was a rope to the brick and somebody hiding in the bushes pulled it out scaring the soldiers away for they were superstitious. This person then was able to rescue Jesus.


Richard Carrier on his Internet site, Why I Don’t Buy the Resurrection Story, says that stones across tombs in Palestine at the time of Jesus were very small and none larger than 4.5 feet high are known. The 4.5 feet one is on Herod’s family tomb meaning the others were probably smaller for it was a royal tomb. The stone of Jesus would have been less than a ton in weight and not hard to push from inside and the word roll in the gospels suggests that the stone was a big flat thing.  But it can't have been that big for the gospels would love to tell us if it were.
 
Jesus knew he would die one day and the gospels say he planned to rise again long before he did. The tomb could have been rigged to manufacture evidence that Jesus rose. It could have been a magic trick.
 
WORKS CONSULTED
 
Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible, John W Haley, Whitaker House, Pennsylvania, undated
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
Handbook of Christian Apologetics, Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, Monarch, East Sussex, 1995
In Defence of the Faith, Dave Hunt, Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon, 1996
In Search of Certainty, John Guest Regal Books, Ventura, California, 1983
Jesus and the Four Gospels, John Drane,ion Books, Herts, 1984
Jesus Lived in India, Holger Kersten, Element, Dorset, 1994
Jesus the Evidence, Ian Wilson Pan, London 1985
Mind Out of Time, Ian Wilson, Gollanez, London, 1981
Mother of Nations, Joan Ashton, Veritas, Dublin, 1988
The Bible Fact or Fantasy? John Drane, Lion Books, Oxford, 1989
The Encyclopaedia of Bible Difficulties, Gleason W Archer, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1982
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh & Henry Lincoln, Corgi, London, 1982
The Jesus Conspiracy, Holger Kersten and Elmar R Gruber, Element, Dorset, 1995
The Jesus Inquest, Charles Foster, Monarch Books, Oxford, 2006
The Messianic Legacy, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh & Henry Lincoln, Corgi, London, 1987
The Metaphor of God Incarnate, John Hick, SCM Press Ltd, London, 1993
The Passover Plot, Hugh Schonfield, Element Books, Dorset, 1996
The Resurrection Factor, Josh McDowell, Alpha Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1993
The Resurrection of Jesus, Pinchas Lapide, SPCK, London, 1984
The Truth of Christianity, WH Turton, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co Ltd, London, 1905
The Turin Shroud is Genuine, Rodney Hoare, Souvenir Press, London, 1998HoarHo
The Unauthorised Version, Robin Lane Fox, Penguin, Middlesex, 1992
The Vatican Papers, Nino Lo Bello, New English Library, Sevenoaks, Kent, 1982
The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Raymond E Brown Paulist Press, New York, 1973
The Womb and the Tomb, Hugh Montefiore, Fount – HarperCollins, London, 1992
Verdict on the Empty Tomb, Val Grieve, Falcon, London, 1976
Who Moved the Stone? Frank Morison, OM Publishing Cumbria, 1997
Why People believe Weird Things, Michael Shermer, Freeman, New York, 1997
 

BIBLE VERSION USED
The Amplified Bible
 
THE WWW
 
Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? Dan Barker debates Mike Horner.
www.ffrf.org/debates/barker_horner.html

A Naturalistic Account of the Resurrection
http://www.phlab.missouri.edu/~c570529/PhilosoStop/resurrection.html

Earliest Christianity, G A Wells, Internet Infidels
www.infidels.org/library/modern/g_a_wells/earliest.html

A Resurrection Debate by G A Wells,
www.infidels.org/library/modern/g_a_wells/resurrection.html

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

The Resurrection by Steven Carr
www.bowness.demon.co.uk/resr.htm
 
The Evangelical Apologists: Are They Reliable? Robert Price
www.infidels.org/library/modern/robert_price/beyond_born_again/chap5.html

Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? Dan Barker versus Mike Horner www.ffrf.org/debates/barker_horner.html
 
Jesus Slept! This page asks if Jesus could have been doped on the cross meaning that the explanation for the resurrection was that he was never dead.
http://www.forteantimes.com/articles/146%20mandrake.schtml
 
Beyond Born Again
http://www.infidels.org//library/modern/robert_price/beyond_born_again/chap6.html
 
Did Early Christians use Hallucinogenic Mushrooms? Archaeological Evidence. Franco Fabbro.
http://people.etnoteam.it/maiocchi/fabbro.htm
 
Blessed Easter
www.mindspring.com/~bab5/BIB/lessons.htm
 
Craig’s Empty Tomb and Habermas on the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus
www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/indef/4e.html
 
The Case For Christianity Examined: Truth or Lies?
www.askwhy.co.uk/awstruth/ChristianCase.html
 
Challenging the Verdict
A Cross-Examination of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ
http://human.st/jesuspuzzle/CTVExcerptsThree.htm#Twelve