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.


Jesus was guilty of blasphemy under Jewish law and found guilty.  If the gospels are to be believed, Pilate let his Jewish brethren have the body to bury it.  But the rule is, "He that blasphemeth God, let him be stoned; and let him hang upon a tree all that day, and then let him be buried in an ignominious and obscure manner” (Antiquities of the Jews 4.8.6).  If the Jews were unable to do all that to him they were able to give him a shameful hidden burial.  If that happened the story of the tomb is lies.  Or the tomb was temporary and he was taken from it and dumped.




There is no evidence that the tomb of Jesus was the only one in the vicinity. There would have been more than one for it was near the city and families bury close together. Tombs were made out of quarries so there would have been lots of them in the one place.

Matthew 27


50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split


52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.


53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.


[If rocks were splitting and the earth was shaking then it is no wonder Jesus' stone enclosing the tomb was unstable.  The tomb if a cave would not have been entered in case there were aftershocks.  So where did they put him?  So Jesus was one of many resurrected people appearing.  This increases the chance of mistaken identity.  Maybe Jesus was only glimpsed once and maybe one of those beings pretended to be him?  Maybe the real messiah rose and Jesus did not?  It was easy to make a mistake and go to the wrong tomb when Jesus was not the only one who rose.  Jesus could have risen and still not be the son of God but just a saint.  If he did not rise and others did then his followers lied.]


This reports that several tombs were found opened after Jesus’ demise when he says that lots of saints rose from the dead before Jesus and came out of their tombs after he appeared. Perhaps this was an excuse to cover up what was really going on. Perhaps it was to explain away all the empty tombs. If somebody had been searching for his body they might have gone wide of the mark several times and left a number of tombs empty. Perhaps there were several opened tombs.


If there was an earthquake as Matthew says it could have damaged many tombs  Since bones were flung into the same ossaries nobody would have been sure if bones were missing due to resurrection or not. Reports of resurrections would mean that there was a lot of talk about the missing bodies and empty places where bones had been. There is every reason to believe that these alleged resurrections were surmised to be complete bodily resurrections like the resurrections Jesus had performed before his death reserving the semi-physical one for himself (the records seem to say that Jesus was more like a spirit than a man after death). Perhaps there was too much of it about for anybody to worry about Jesus and his tomb.


If the New Testament is thinking here of Isaiah 26:19 which predicts that the dead will rise and those who are in the tombs shall be alive or of Hosea 6:1-2 which says a number of people will be raised up on the third day we must ask a question?  Is that why Matthew has several resurrections happening at the one time of which Jesus’ was one? Anybody could have done a bit of spin and presented one of these people as the true saviour. For all we know, somebody could have been raiding tombs and the people assumed the bodies had risen from the dead.  Maybe the apostles saw somebody else - the gospels say Jesus was not easily recognised - and lied or thought it was Jesus?  If there were more than one empty tomb that makes Jesus's less impressive!  Why is there no other legend or evidence that these tombs existed?  The chance of people looking for Jesus' resting place going to the wrong tomb is increased.


It is likely that if the New Testament writer had a gap in his information, because of the doctrine that the Old Testament preaches Jesus and the gospel in a prophetic way, that he used a prophecy to fill the gap.  For all we know, Matthew then may have thought people rose because the Old Testament seemed to say so.  It is possible that the same technique was used to work out that Jesus must have been entombed.  Isaiah 53 says the servant of God will be entombed with the wicked.  Ezekiel 37:13 has God saying he will open graves and the bodies will be brought up from them. Daniel 12:2 says that many who are dead in the earth will awake.




If the gospels are to be believed, Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus.  He was a secret disciple and lived in fear of his Jewish peers.  His secretiveness makes it unlikely that Pilate the Roman governor or anybody knew where the tomb was. The Jews definitely did not know. Why would anybody want them to know anyway?  Matthew alone says the tomb was guarded.  So there was no way the guards could have went to the right tomb. 


However Matthew says the hostile Jews got the tomb guarded and testified to the tomb being empty and blamed the disciples for robbing it.


John says Jesus was anointed at burial but the other gospels say the women came to do it on Sunday morning. The women would not have been coming to anoint Jesus if they knew the tomb had been sealed.  Were the women in fact deliberately going to another tomb to misdirect?  If Matthew is to be believed. there were a number of tombs with stones rolled back!  Matthew writes that when Jesus died, “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.”

The tomb was found empty by women and then some of the apostles came to the tomb when they heard the women's story. The apostles did not see Jesus buried so they had to take the women's word for it that it was indeed the right tomb.


It is assumed that since the Jews and Roman soldiers went to the tomb before the resurrection no mistake would have been made (page 98, The Resurrection Factor). But what if Joseph of Arimathea deliberately directed them to the wrong tomb? Joseph was the only person mentioned that they might have asked for he was one of their own. They would not have told him why they wanted to go to the tomb of Jesus and he would have been afraid that they were going to have Jesus removed and dumped so he would have lied. Christians reply that the Romans already knew where Jesus was buried but there is no evidence from the gospels that that was the case.

It is assumed that the Romans and the Sanhedrin (Evidence that Demands a Verdict Vol 1, page 257) and Joseph of Arimathea would have inspected the tomb after Jesus was said to have vanished and would have gone to the right one. Joseph would not have said had there been a mistake for he would have been glad if it looked like Jesus rose and might even have directed them to the wrong tomb. The Sanhedrin would have made do with a report from the Romans – they were judges and religious leaders not detectives. The guards might have been posted at the wrong tomb thanks to him which was hit by lightning making the rock move.


It is interesting that Peter argues in Acts 2 that the Psalm that says somebody will not suffer the grave does not refer to David who wrote it for his tomb is among us but to Jesus.  Nobody knew where David was or could check if his body was in the tomb.  The argument is suggesting that it is important than the prophecy says somebody will rise (it doesn't say that) but checking tombs is not important.


Acts 13 reads, “Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people."  Efforts are made to deny that this is saying hostile Jews took Jesus and buried him but they will not do.  The text means what it says and does not have nice Joseph and Nicodemus and the kind Jewish women of the gospels in mind.  If the accounts can't agree on who buried Jesus then why trust them that the tomb was known and found empty?  The text tells a bare-faced lie that Jewish scriptures are so full of predictions about the execution of Jesus that they are read every sabbath.  It is passive aggressive and trying to make out they had no excuse but wilful blindness for not recognising Jesus.


John 20:19 and 21:1 make it clear that Jesus apostles stayed in Jerusalem after his death and were in hiding for they felt they were in danger from the Jews who could have sent them to the same fate they obtained for Jesus.  As Jesus was killed for being an allegedly fake Messiah it followed his supporters had to be in danger too.  Luke 24 has the apostles staying in Jerusalem too.  What lacks credibility is that they stayed in the city at the heart of their troubles.  You don't hide in a city where the enemy are all-powerful.   If they were that scared, how come the women risked going to the tomb of Jesus?  Were they not afraid of being followed or forced to tell where the apostles were?  How come the apostles went to the tomb?  The Matthew gospel has the apostles getting a message to go to Galilee to see Jesus which does not fit John's allegation that Jesus appeared to the apostles in Jerusalem on the day he rose.


If the apostles were in hiding which seems to ring true, then there were lies about them going to the tomb.  You would think the lies are trying to cover up that nobody knew anything for sure about the tomb.
Some say tombs that were new and empty would have been scarce so the women probably did go to the right tomb. But how do they know?  Surely if such tombs were out of the ordinary a mistake would have been easier?
Jesus is believed to have been buried in a new tomb owned by rich man Joseph of Arimathea that he cut out of a rock. Mark's gospel says nothing about this. Matthew who used Mark as a source does. Matthew sometimes embellishes things so we cannot be sure. Matthew tries to make the story fit the prophecy of Isaiah 53 better. It says the holy servant is with the rich one and the wicked one in his death. So Matthew presents Jesus as being buried in a rich man's tomb. Matthew however conveniently ignored the bit about the wicked.  Matthew says that the angel told the women to go into the tomb to see where Jesus had been but he never says they went in.  It was only hearsay that the tomb was empty then.  Even the angel does not say he looked.  Mark it must be admitted has a forged account that does say the women and the angel looked.  However Luke says they and the angel looked.


The John gospel says that the Jews asked Pilate to get the three men including Jesus who were nailed to the cross killed quickly by having their legs broken if they were still alive so that the bodies could be taken away before the religious holy day.  Then it says Joseph of Arimeathea who was afraid of the Jews and a secret disciple of Jesus went to Pilate to get permission to take the body away.  How secret was the removal then if Joseph was scared?  The gospel says nothing more than that Joseph and Nicodemus buried Jesus.  The John gospel likes to stress testimony so we must assume it means that there was only those two involved.  So two men could move the stone of the tomb and the burial was very secret and the gospel gives no hint that Pilate thought they would bury the body never mind where.  The account says that they were in a hurry because of the festival so they picked the nearest tomb not the best one or the most accessible one.  The owner of the tomb is not stated.  It is not stated in any gospel that the tomb was meant to be Jesus' final resting place.
Some think that as people worried that Jesus could turn political revolutionary or his followers could orchestrate an uprising to make him king that when Jesus died he was buried as soon as possible as it would seem inflammatory to keep him too long on the cross. If they are right, you would expect the tomb to be in an unknown location. The gospels say that there was no attempt at keeping the tomb secret.  But is that credible?


The location of Jesus' body is messier than what you are led to believe.  It is all about making the resurrection story sound more believable.  When Paul wrote, "If Christ has not been raised..." he was challenging the followers he used to have who were not saying the body cannot come back to life.  It fits the notion of somebody whose location was unknown and whose absence from his grave is surmised from his apparitions and alleged Bible prophecies. 


By the way, who says that angels or as Mark has it, "men in white" that may or may not have been angels, had the right tomb?  Why do we assume they knew more than us?  Doesn't the Old Testament say God raised man to a greater dignity than the angels?  Did they mislead the women?  Why can't we just admit that if Jesus rose he did not need the tomb opened so why was it opened then?


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