Does “buried-raised” in 1 Corinthians 15 mean “left grave empty”?

Reasons given for answering "Yes"
  • Otherwise, “buried” is odd/gratuitous

      If v4 didn't entail a counteracted burial, then mentioning a “burial” in v3-4 would be superfluous (it would instead simply read: “He died… and was raised.”).

      James Dunn (NT professor at Durham): “Why the second clause ('that he was buried')? Why not the immediate transition from death to resurrection, as in other accounts? (E.g., Acts 3.15; 10.39-40.) The most obvious answer is that the disposal of the body in burial was an important point in the earliest confessional statements. Which probably reflects the place of the tomb narratives — burial but also empty tomb — in the earliest traditions of Easter.” [Jesus Remembered (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2003), 839.]

  • It elsewhere involves an empty tomb

      1 Cor. 15's “Died-buried-raised” tradition involves the empty tomb when reported in sister passages. 1 This is relevant because these sister passages give context to what was meant by 1 Cor 15, suggesting it too had the empty tomb in mind.

      William Craig: “This remarkable correspondence of independent traditions reveals that the four-line formula is a summary in outline form of the basic events of Jesus's passion and resurrection, including his burial in the tomb.” ["Visions of Jesus: A Critical Assessment of Gerd Lüdemann's Hallucination Hypothesis" (Edwin Mellen Press) online.]

      1. See:
        Acts 13:28-31, 36-37  1 Cor 15:3-5  Mk 15:37-16:7
        Though they could charge him with nothing deserving death, yet they asked Pilate to have him killed... they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb . . . But God raised him from the dead . . . and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. . . . He whom God raised did not undergo decay. For I delivered to you as of first importance__ what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last... And he [Joseph] bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb... "He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him." . . . "But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him."
      2. In response, one critic has this to say:

        Richard Carrier (Mythicist NT scholar): “Mark is adopting Paul's language, and thus Mark may have added any new ideology to the simpler core belief of Paul. This therefore tells us nothing about what Paul believed.” [“Craig's Empty Tomb & Habermas on Vision” (1999, 2005): Online.] By way of response, however, this is already more ad hoc, and becomes even more-so insofar as Acts 13 also has to be accounted for.

  • “Buried” & “Raised” are juxtaposed

      “Buried” and “raised” stand in deliberate juxtaposition.1 This is relevant because it means the latter was undoing the former. Jesus's being “raised” and “appearing” was conceived of as being thoroughly physical (grave-emptying).2

      Robert Stein (NT professor): “The words ‘died,’ ‘buried,’ and ‘was raised’ are unintelligible unless what ‘died and was buried’ was in fact ‘raised.’ While Paul does not anywhere specifically state that the tomb was empty, it would appear that in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 this is clearly implied. For Paul as a Pharisee, and no doubt for the Jerusalem Church also (which had a strong Pharisaic element; cf. Acts 15:5), the death-burial-resurrection of Jesus would have demanded an empty tomb.” [Was the Tomb Really Empty? Themelios 5.1 (September 1979):.]

      1. that He was buried, and that He was raised
      2. Markus Bockmuehl: “This probably composite tradition adds to the creedal confession of Jesus’ death and resurrection a list of trusted eyewitnesses who warrant the personal continuity between the dead and buried and the risen Jesus. Paul’s glosses on the inherited tradition merely underscore that same continuity (15.6, 8); and as the chapter unfolds, it remains vital to his interpretation of the resurrection that both modes of existence are ‘bodily’. Thus, although an affirmation of the empty tomb is not explicit, it would in any case be tautologous (cf. Wright 1999:119). Any known place of burial must have been empty: Paul’s argument leaves no room for any form of Jesus’ body to remain buried.” [Cambridge Companion to Jesus (Cambridge, 2001), 108-109.]
        N.T. Wright (NT Scholar, Ph.D [Oxford, +5 honorary]): “[T]he mention here of ‘buried, then raised’ no more needs to be amplified in that way than one would need to amplify the statement 'I walked down the street' with the qualification 'on my feet’.” [The Resurrection of the Son of God (Fortress, 2003), 321.]
        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.” [The Gospel of Luke (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1966), 273.]
        Robert Gundry (NT profesosr at Westmont): “Resurrection means ‘standing up’ (anastasis) in consequence of being ‘raised’ (egeirō in the passive). Normally, dead bodies are buried in a supine position; so in conjunction with the mention of Jesus’ burial the further mention of his having been raised must refer to the raising of a formerly supine corpse to the standing posture of a live body,… There was no need for Paul or the tradition he cites to mention the emptiness of Jesus’ tomb. They were not narrating a story; they were listing events. It was enough to mention dying, being buried, being raised and being seen.” [Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Figment? (IVP, 2000), 113.]
        Wolfhart Pannenberg (Systematic theology professor at Harvard [and others]): “This [failure to mention an empty grave] is not surprising if for Paul the empty tomb was a self-evident implication of what was said about the resurrection of Jesus.” [Systematic Theology, Trans. by Bromiley (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1994), 359.]
  • Reasons given for answering "No"
  • It meant a non-physical resurrection

      In 1 Cor 15, “He was raised” refers to an _immaterial _resurrection.[Forthcoming] This is relevant because if Jesus was raised non-physically then it would not affect his body (in other words, it would remain in the grave).