Someone Stole Jesus' Body?

The Guards Claimed that Someone Stole the Body

Given the opposition that the Christian church faced in the first century, one might expect there to be writings or claims that oppose the empty tomb. The gospel according to Matthew does speak of some opposition to the resurrection story. He writes in 28:12-13, ESV, “And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sum of money to the soldiers and said, ‘Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’” Here, the Jewish leaders attempted an explanation for the empty tomb. If the tomb were not empty, the Jewish leaders would not have told the guard to lie about how Jesus’ body came up missing. Dr. Dale Allison, in his treatment of this passage, writes, "Some have, to be sure, surmised that the verses bear 'the mark of a fairly protracted controversy'."[1] Essentially, he means that by the time Matthew wrote his account, there had been many conversations about why the tomb was empty. William Lane Craig does a bit of a hypothetical reconstruction of the supposed controversy when he writes, “Christian Jew: ‘The Lord is risen!’ Non-Christian Jew: ‘No, his disciples stole away his body.’ Christian Jew: ‘The guard at the tomb would have prevented any such theft.’ Non-Christian Jew: ‘No, the guard fell asleep.’ Christian Jew: ‘The chief priests bribed the guard to say this.’”[2] Whatever the argumentation was, it seems clear that the heart of the dispute was why the tomb was empty, mainly, what happened to Jesus’ body.


Matthew 28:12-13

“And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sum of money to the soldiers and said, ‘Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’”

Why do you think it's significant that the guards claimed the body of Jesus was stolen?

 


[1] Dale C. Allison. Resurrecting Jesus: The Earliest Christian Tradition and Its Interpreters. Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha Supplement. New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2005, 312. Quoted in “Dale Allison On Jesus’ Empty Tomb, His Post-Mortem Appearances, and the Origin of the Disciples | Reasonable Faith.” ReasonableFaith.org. Accessed May 05, 2015.

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/dale-allison-on-jesus-empty-tomb-his-post-mortem-appearances.

 

[2] “Dale Allison On Jesus’ Empty Tomb, His Post-Mortem Appearances, and the Origin of the Disciples | Reasonable Faith.” ReasonableFaith.org. Accessed May 05, 2015.