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The empty tomb

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Agnostic75, May 26, 2010.

  1. Agnostic75

    Agnostic75 Well-Known Member

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    Since my arguments have over 10,000 characters, I will have to make two posts. This is Part 1.

    Consider the following Scriptures from the NIV:

    Matthew 27

    62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63"Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.' 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first."

    If the chief priests and the Pharisees actually said that, I believe that the following subsequent scenario is plausible:

    Pilate:

    "No, there is no need to have guards posted at the tomb. No one could get away with claiming that the empty tomb reasonably proves that Jesus rose from the dead. Your own spies have told you that none of Jesus' followers believe that he will rise from the dead. Not only that, but I have much more important things for my guards to do at this time."

    Regarding "not only that, but I have much more important things for my guards to do at this time," even granting for the sake of argument that Pilate was moderately concerned about Jesus' followers, and normally would have been willing to post guards at the tomb, if he believed that the guards were more needed elsewhere, possibly for an emergency, that would have been sufficient reason for him to refuse to post guards at the tomb.

    As it supposedly turned out, Pilate's hypothetical comment "no one could get away with claiming that the empty tomb reasonably proves that Jesus rose from the dead" was correct since the empty tomb did not convince Peter and Mary Magdalene that Jesus had risen from the dead, and since Jesus criticized his disciples for their unbelief.

    Consider the following Scriptures:

    Matthew 13

    10 The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" 11 He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.”

    Even though the disciples were given "the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven," they still had unbelief.

    It is doubtful that Pilate would have paid much attention to the followers of Jesus even if he had been aware of them. The first century Christian church was very small and uninfluential. In "The Rise of Christianity," Rodney Stark estimates that there were only 7,530 Christians in the entire world in 100 A.D. In Christian apologist James Holding's article "The Impossible Faith," Holding quotes well-known Christian Bible scholar N.T. Wright as saying "This subversive belief in Jesus' Lordship, over against that of Caesar, was held in the teeth of the fact that Caesar had demonstrated his superior power in the obvious way, by having Jesus crucified. But the truly extraordinary thing is that this belief was held by a tiny group who, for the first two or three generations at least, could hardly have mounted a riot in a village, let alone a revolution in an empire."

    It is not likely that Pilate would have been very concerned with "a tiny group who, for the first two or three generations at least, could hardly have mounted a riot in a village, let alone a revolution in an empire." Based upon what Stark and Wright said, it would be reasonable to speculate that when Jesus died, he only had several hundred followers in Palestine, perhaps only a few dozen.

    Well-known Christian Bible scholar William Lane Craig knows how important the issue of the guards is. He knows that in the Gospels, only Matthew mentions the guards, so he tries to use the gospel of Peter as an additional source. That is well beneath his reputation as a Bible scholar. Consider the following:

    Consider the following:

    http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billc...ocs/guard.html

    William Lane Craig

    Of the canonical gospels, only Matthew relates the intriguing story of the setting of a guard at the tomb of Jesus (Mt. 27. 62-66; 28. 4, 11-1 5). The story serves an apologetic purpose: the refutation of the allegation that the disciples had themselves stolen Jesus' body and thus faked his resurrection. Behind the story as Matthew tells it seems to lie a tradition history of Jewish and Christian polemic, a developing pattern of assertion and counter-assertion:

    Christian: 'The Lord is risen!'
    Jew: 'No, his disciples stole away his body.'
    Christian: 'The guard at the tomb would have prevented any such theft.'
    Jew: 'No, his disciples stole away his body while the guard slept.'
    Christian: 'The chief priests bribed the guard to say this.'

    “Though Matthew alone of the four evangelists mentions the guard at the tomb,.......the gospel of Peter also relates the story of the guard at the tomb, and its account may well be independent of Matthew, since the verbal similarities are practically nil.

    Matthew's account has been nearly universally rejected as an apologetic legend by the critics. The reasons for this judgment, however, are of very unequal worth. For example, the fact that the story is an apologetic answering the allegation that the disciples stole the body does not therefore mean that it is unhistorical. The best way to answer such a charge would not be by inventing fictions, but by narrating the true story of what happened.[/quote]
     
    #1 Agnostic75, May 26, 2010
    Last edited: May 26, 2010
  2. Agnostic75

    Agnostic75 Well-Known Member

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    Part 2

    Consider the following:

    http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/proj...eraccount.html

    Gospel of Peter

    8 But the scribes and Pharisees and elders being gathered together one with another, when they heard that all the people murmured and beat their breasts saying, If by his death these most mighty signs have come to pass, see how righteous he is,--the elders were afraid and came to Pilate, beseeching him and saying, Give us soldiers, that we may guard his sepulchre for three days, lest his disciples come and steal him away, and the people suppose that he is risen from the dead and do us evil. And Pilate gave them Petronius the centurion with soldiers to guard the tomb. And with them came elders and scribes to the sepulchre, and having rolled a great stone together with the centurion and the soldiers, they all together who were there set it at the door of the sepulchre; and they affixed seven seals, and they pitched a tent there and guarded it. And early in the morning as the sabbath was drawing on, there came a multitude from Jerusalem and the region round about, that they might see the sepulchre that was sealed.

    End of quotes

    Consider the following:

    4Truth.net Home - 4Truth.net

    Charles L. Quarles

    (William Peterson Carver, Jr., Research Professor of New Testament and Greek, Louisiana College)

    An impressive number of clues suggest that [the Gospel of Peter] postdates even the latest New Testament book and belongs to the mid-second century. First, a close analysis of verbal parallels shared by the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Matthew suggests that the Gospel of Peter postdates Matthew and utilized that Gospel as a source. An example of these parallels is the account of the guard assigned to Jesus’ tomb. Of the four canonical Gospels, only Matthew shares with the Gospel of Peter an account of this event. Both the account in Matthew and the Gospel of Peter refer to the Pharisees gathering before Pilate to express concern about a staged resurrection on the third day. Both accounts refer to the guarding and sealing of the tomb. Both describe the Jews as “the people.” One sustained verbal parallel clearly indicates a definite literary dependence of one document on the other. Both Matthew 27:64 and Gospel of Peter 8:30 contain the precise words “lest his disciple come and steal him.” Crossan argued that the parallel demonstrated Matthew’s dependence on an early form of the Gospel of Peter (the Cross Gospel). However, an examination of the vocabulary, grammar, and style of the two documents strongly favors the dependence of the Gospel of Peter on Matthew. Robert Gundry, one of the most respected experts on issues related to Matthew’s style, called the phrase a “series of Mattheanisms” (Gundry, Matthew [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994], 584). Similarly, John Meier noted “when it comes to who is dependent on whom, all the signs point to Matthews priority.......The clause is a tissue of Matthean vocabulary and style, a vocabulary and style almost totally absent from the rest of the Gospel of Peter” (Meier, Marginal Jews, 1:117). This is consistent with a number of other Matthean features appear in the Gospel of Peter that all point to the dependence of the Gospel of Peter on Matthew.

    Second, other features of the Gospel of Peter suggest that the gospel not only postdates Matthew, but even postdates the latest book of the NT canon, the Book of Revelation. For example, although Matthew indicates that the Roman guard sealed the tomb of Jesus, Gospel of Peter 8:33 adds that it was sealed with seven seals. The reference to the seven seals conflicts with the immediate context. Gospel of Peter 8:32-33 states that all the witnesses present sealed the tomb. However, a minimum of nine witnesses were present leading readers to expect at least nine seals. The best explanation for the awkward reference to the seven seals is that the detail was drawn from Revelation 5:1. This allusion to Revelation fits well with the Gospel of Peter 9:35 and 12:50 reference to the day of Jesus’ resurrection as the “Lord’s Day” since this terminology only appears in Revelation in the NT and first in Revelation out of all ancient Christian literature. The reference to the “Lord’s Day” in the Gospel of Peter is a shortened form that appears to be a later development from the original form appearing in Revelation.

    Still other features of the Gospel of Peter fit best with the historical data if the Gospel of Peter was produced in the mid-second century. The Gospel of Peter assumes the doctrine of Jesus’ descent into Hades to preach to the dead. However, this doctrine first appears in the words of Justin Martyr around AD 150. The talking cross is a feature of other second-century literature. The Epistula Apostolorum 16 states that during the second coming Jesus will be carried on the wings of the clouds with his cross going on before him. Similarly, the Ethiopic Apocalypse of Peter 1 describes the returning Christ as coming in a glory seven times as bright as the sun and with his cross going before his face. In a similar fashion, beginning in the late first century, Christian texts describe Christ as possessing gigantic stature. In an allegorical depiction of Jesus’ supremacy and authority over the church, Shepherd of Hermas 83:1 described Christ as of such lofty stature that he stood taller than a tower. 4 Ezra 2:43, a portion of 4 Ezra dating to the middle or late third century, referred to the unusual height of the Son of God. These shared compositional strategies and features make the most sense if these documents and the Gospel of Peter were composed in the same milieu.

    This evidence confirms the traditional Christian claim that the four NT Gospels are the most reliable accounts of Jesus’ trial, death, burial, and resurrection. The accounts of crucifixion and resurrection in the four Gospels were based on eyewitness testimony rather than naïve dependence on an unreliable source like the alleged “Cross Gospel.” The Gospel of Peter (and the so-called Cross Gospel) is clearly later than the NT Gospels and is sprinkled throughout with imaginative elements and traces of legend. Although the gospel is helpful for understanding the thought of some sectors of the church in the mid-second century, it is of little value for understanding the details of Jesus’ final days on earth. [For a more detailed discussion, see Quarles, “The Gospel of Peter: Does It Contain a Pre-canonical Resurrection Narrative?” in The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N. T. Wright in Dialogue (ed. Robert Stewart; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005), 106-120].

    End of quotes

    Even though Professor Quarles is a conservative Christian, he knows better than to use the Gospel of Peter as a source for, as he says, "Jesus' final days on earth." Quarles easily dismisses by implication Craig's claim that "the gospel of Peter also relates the story of the guard at the tomb, and its account may well be independent of Matthew, since the verbal similarities are practically nil." As Professor Quarles shows, the verbal similarities are far from being nil.

    Regarding Craig's claim about the "tradition history of Jewish and Christian polemic, a developing pattern of assertion and counter-assertion," as I have shown previously, it is probable that guards were not posted at the tomb.

    Even with subsequent claims of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances, since it is probable that guards would not have been posted at the tomb, the empty tomb does not provide support for Jesus’ supposed post-resurrection appearances.

    Even assuming for the sake of argument that Jesus was buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb, that guards were posted at the tomb, that the body was not stolen or moved, and that the tomb was found empty three days later, without sufficient evidence that Jesus made post-resurrection appearances, a plausible case can be made that Jesus rose from the dead, and ascended directly into heaven without making any appearances.
     
  3. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    No witnesses?

    I couldn't help but notice, as I made a comparative study between the four gospels.....

    There were no witnesses to Jesus walking out of the tomb.
    (Roman guards were there, but negligent in their watch.)
    Some witness to His appearance afterward.
    Some witness to His ascension.

    But are you leaning toward no resurrection?
    Or no ascension?

    Or perhaps you would say 'yeah' to both?
     
  4. Agnostic75

    Agnostic75 Well-Known Member

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    My main intention in this thread is to try to provide reasonable evidence that the story of the guards is probably false. If the story of the guards is false, the story is not useful as additional support for Jesus' post-resurrection appearances.

    I do not believe that Jesus made any post-resurrection appearances, but that would be a topic for another thread.
     
  5. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    I find the tale altogether likely.

    Picture yourself as a Roman guard.
    Your immediate task is to watch over a dead man.

    Do you concern yourself that He might rise? no.
    Your task is to make sure no one steals the body.
    With stone in place, can anyone enter the tomb without you knowing it?

    There are only two possible scenarios.
    The tomb was emptied, as you watched a dead man walk away....or
    The tomb was emptied as you were bribed.

    You were bribed to hold your peace or to say you slept.
    What you did see will not be told.
    If you did see a dead man walk...would you say so?
    If you let someone steal the body...would you say so?
    Would you take money to say you slept?
    (sleeping on duty is punishable...by death.)
    Why pay a guard to be silent, if he could be executed for dereliction of duty?

    Is this relevant to the resurrection story?
    Only that the most opportune witnesses won't talk.
     
  6. no-body

    no-body Well-Known Member

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    Or a third scenario is that all of this was made up by person or persons to further their own agendas. There are no other sources that any of this actually happened other than the bible. Find me some scrolls with the name of the roman guard that was at Jesus tomb and all the witnesses that saw Jesus supposed ascension.
     
  7. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    Photographs and fingerprints?

    Why not approach the discussion with....
    what if yeah?...what if nay?

    Determining an event gone by 2000nd years ago? I think not.

    This is theology. Say as you please and then consider the consequence for the 'nay' saying.
     
  8. angel_delight

    angel_delight New Member

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    do you not think that more important than these things are the things that jesus actually said, rather than things that could have happened or could have not happened. these things are completely irrelevant if you just listen to the words that jesus spoke. 1. love 2. have no fear. to have no fear is to accept things for how they are and to see that you are part of it.
     
  9. Agnostic75

    Agnostic75 Well-Known Member

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    You must not have read all of my two part opening post. If you didn't, please read all of it. If you did read all of it, you did not understand it, so please read it again.

    No, there are at least two other possibilities, that guards were not posted at tomb, which is the most likely possibility, and that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended directly into heaven without making any appearances. I discussed both of those possibilities in the opening post.
     
    #9 Agnostic75, May 26, 2010
    Last edited: May 26, 2010
  10. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    I read it.
    I understand it.
    I simply took a more direct approach.
     
  11. Agnostic75

    Agnostic75 Well-Known Member

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    No, there are at least two other possibilities, that guards were not posted at tomb, which is the most likely possibility, and that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended directly into heaven without making any appearances. I discussed both of those possibilities in the opening post.
     
  12. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    So you would disregard Matthew and report of someone keeping watch.
    This gospel uses the plural, indicating more than one guard.
    Upon the appearance of an angel, the 'keepers did shake and became as dead men.

    Luke reports an appearance made, during which the Carpenter did eat broiled fish an honeycomb.
    The ascension is reported also.

    John reports more appearances, including the incident of 'doubting' Thomas.

    Of course, dismissing the scripture of a believer is a pointless effort.
    Do you really think you can derail someone's faith by refuting a written testimony?

    Sure, the gospels have contrary images and the details are quite varied.

    But when you take up an effort to disprove a belief....
    do you really think debunking written scripture will work?
     
  13. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
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    Of course, both of you are assuming that Jesus' corpse was in fact put in the tomb to begin with...
     
  14. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    Excellent! yet another...non-scripture....scenario!

    This thread could take awhile.

    And to what end.
    Tossing Christian faith on the bonfire, along with all the bibles?
     
    #14 Thief, May 27, 2010
    Last edited: May 27, 2010
  15. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
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    Merely pointing out a scenario which had not been pointed out before.
     
  16. no-body

    no-body Well-Known Member

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    Then why even speculate on what "really" happened? Just say God did it all; Hosanna. Even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff makes sense now.
     
    #16 no-body, May 27, 2010
    Last edited: May 27, 2010
  17. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    I believe that is the viewpoint I profess.

    But when I do speculate, I prefer to take aim at the topic.
    This topic is a good example.

    This thread, would be an effort to debunk the common belief held by many of Christian faith.
    Speculation is offered and supported, in an attempt to derail an entire faith system.
    After all...how to be Christian, if the leading belief of bodily resurrection did not occur, for it's Founder?

    Of course, a bodily rising would need be confirmed, and the pharisees of the day were concerned, the followers of the Carpenter, would come and steal the body....causing far more 'difficulty' than the ministry He preached.

    So someone was assigned the task of watching over the grave site.

    What happens of resurrection is told by four gospels.
    Articles of faith.
    There will be no 'proving', one way or the other.

    The real speculation forms after you decide to believe... or deny.
     
  18. no-body

    no-body Well-Known Member

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    Fair enough. I respect people that say it's purely a matter of faith.

    I just get annoyed when people imply that the bible is objectively historically truthful, that if you apply the scientific theory to it everything is verifiable or something.
     
  19. Agnostic75

    Agnostic75 Well-Known Member

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    For purposes of this thread, my only interest is whether or not guards were posted at the tomb. As I showed in my two part opening post, it is probable that guards were not posted at the tomb. At the very least, it is plausible that guards were not posted at the tomb. If you wish, we can discuss each part of my opening post.

    Even if guards were posted at the tomb, without accompanying evidence of Jesus' post-resurection appearances, it is plausible that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended directly into heaven without making any personal appearances. Even if Jesus made personal appearances, since there is not sufficient evidence that guards were posted at the tomb, a specific empty tomb is not a valid argument.
     
  20. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    And I should accept your resources, rather than scripture?
     
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