Was Jesus's tomb empty?

Reasons given for answering "Yes"
  • Critics never showed off the body

      But so what? Couldn't it simply be that…
      • …they didn't/wouldn't try to show it?1
      • …they couldn't locate Jesus's grave?2
      • …they couldn't prove the (decomposed) corpse was Jesus's?3

      1. Ernest Hermitage Day (c. 1946): “If it be asserted that the tomb was in fact not found to be empty, [then there is] the problem of the failure of the Jews to prove that the Resurrection had not taken place by producing the body of Christ, or by an official examination of the sepulchre, a proof which it was to their greatest interest to exhibit.” [On the Evidence for the Resurrection (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1906), 34.]
        Murray Harris (NT professor at TIU, Cambridge): “The earliest Christians could not have continued to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus in the city of Jerusalem or have continued to survive there as a community, unless the tomb had been empty. It is inconceivable that when the Christians publicly claimed that 'the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob' had overturned the Jewish rejection of Jesus by raising him from the dead (Ac 2:23-24; 3:13-15; 4:10; 5:30) the Jerusalem Jews would have maintained a conspiracy of silence if they had proof that the tomb was still occupied or could produce witnesses who could account for the disappearance and disposal of the body.” [From Grave to Glory (Zondervan, 1990), 109.]
        C. E. B. Cranfield (NT professor at Durham): “There is also the highly significant fact that neither the Jewish nor the Roman authorities ever produced evidence to disprove the claim that Jesus had been raised.… The fact that with the will and the powers and resources they surely had, they never produced the body must count as a significant consideration in favour [of the empty tomb].” ["The Resurrection of Jesus Christ" in The Historical Jesus vol 3., ed. Evans (Routledge, 2004), 401.]
        Craig Blomberg (NT professor at Denver): “…the Jewish authorities, who had every reason to want to refute Christianity, could never produce the body of Jesus inside or outside a tomb.” [The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, 2nd ed. (IVP, 2007), 144.]
      2. Peter Carnley: “…the success of the early proclamation may possibly have been guaranteed bγ the fact that, … the exact location of the tomb could not be traced.” [The Structure of Resurrection Belief (Oxford, 1987), 55.]
      3. Gerd Lüdemann (Early Christian Hist. & Lit. prof. at Göttingen): “At seventy or more degrees, decomposition will soon make a face unrecognizable and thwart the surest ways to identify a dead person (fingerprints, dental records, etc., were not available at that time). Therefore, no easy way existed for the Jewish opponents to confront the young Jesus movement with counterevidence.” [Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Figment? Eds. Copan & Tacelli (IVP, 2000), 152.]
        Jeff Lowder: “[They] could have produced the body, but the disciples could simply have denied it was Jesus.” [“Historical Evidence and the Empty Tomb Story.” Journal of Higher Criticism 8:2 (Fall 2001): online.]
        Kirsopp Lake (NT professor at Leiden; 1872-1946): “…there is no trace of any attempt to investigate the tomb. The emptiness of the grave only became a matter of controversy at a period when investigation could not have been decisive.” [The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Williams & Norgate, 1907), 196.].
  • Mary witnessed it being empty
  • The AD 30 Jerusalem church insisted “His tomb is empty”
  • The AD 30 Jerusalem critics were crying “it's empty―theft!”

      In AD 30, the public stance of the Jerusalem Jews was that “Yes, Jesus's body is gone from its tomb”, crying “theft!”. 1 After all…
      • …Matthew 28 says they did
      • …Those Jews were saying it in AD 70

      But so what? Couldn't it simply be that…
      • …they were only dishonestly stating this, to counter claims that “Jesus's empty tomb proves He rose”?2
      • …they erroneously believed Jesus's body was gone?3

      1. A.J.M Wedderburn (NT professor at Munich): “…[for any would-be skeptic of the empty tomb] it remains a striking and puzzling feature of the rise of the Christian church and of its proclamation of the risen Jesus that the only refutation offered of its claim that Jesus had risen from the grave seems to have been the Jewish counter-claim that the disciples had stolen Jesus' body….” [Beyond Resurrection (Hendrickson, 1999), 61.]
      2. Maurice Casey (NT professor at Nottingham): “Some Jews who heard the story of Jesus' bodily Resurrection from an empty tomb will have found the story absolutely unconvincing and they responded with a story of their own, one which reflects their absolute and understandable mistrust of Christians. …it will have been made up far away from Israel some time after Jesus' death and burial,…”. [Jesus of Nazareth (T & T Clark, 2010), 478.]
      3. The idea that the Jews accidentally believed Jews believed Jesus's body was gone is commonly rejected for two reasons:
        • Jews would have seen no persuasive reason to believe it was gone.
        • Jews would have seen with their own eyes that it was not gone.
  • The original “body missing!” claim wasn't a lie
  • Tomb or not, the body was gone

      Jesus's body was gone from wherever it was originally placed. This is relevant because Jesus's body was placed in a tomb [Forthcoming]. and together these facts entail that Jesus's body was gone from its tomb.

  • Reasons given for answering "No"
  • The first Christians didn't report it
  • Jesus was not put in a tomb

      See: Jesus's corpse was not put in a tomb[Forthcoming]

  • TOGGLE MENU