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Alternate Theories of the Resurrection
The Empty Tomb - The Disciples Stole the Body

Just in case anyone thinks this is a new theory, let's notice the fact that it has been in existence since the very resurrection itself. The theory here is the one recorded by Matthew,

"Now while they were on their way, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and counseled together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, 'You are to say, 'His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.' And if this should come to the governor's ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.' And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day." (Matthew 28:11-15)

First, one might ask how the guards knew that the disciples stole the body if they were asleep. Most people sleep with their eyes closed in an unconscious state. Another difficulty associated with anyone stealing the body is the disciplined nature of the Roman guard. These guards were highly trained soldiers. It is absurd to assert that they were sleeping, and equally absurd to think that the disciples or anyone else would overpower the guards without some dead bodies being present.

Either the guards would have killed the disciples protecting the tomb or they would have died trying. Surely there would have been some sign of a conflict. According to Stephen Harris in his book Introduction to the New Testament, the idea of sleeping guards isn't a serious conclusion,

"Severe punishment, including torture and death, awaited any Roman soldier found thus derelict... soldiers guarding the gates of Pompeii preferred being buried alive during the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius rather than face the consequences of leaving their posts without permission." 1

Furthermore, how do you suppose that several (probably between four and sixteen) disciplined, conditioned, loyal guards slept while a stone weighing easily more than a ton was moved under their noses? Certainly, it would have made an earthquake-like noise. Besides the problems with the Roman guards, it is very difficult to believe that the disciples would have departed from everything they held precious, in order to carry out the illusion of a phony resurrection. They were righteous, ethical, honorable men. Why would they suddenly change and become blatant liars? What's even more difficult to understand is why they would die for that great deception.

Finally, how does one explain the post-resurrection appearances to more than 500 eyewitnesses? Too many people saw Jesus to deny that He was there. The theory of the disciples stealing the body of Christ is far too hollow to believe. According to Frank Morrison,

"So far as I know there is not a single writer whose work is of critical value today who holds that there is even a case for discussion." 2

Harris, Stephen. The New Testament: A Student's Introduction, second edition, Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing, 1995. p. 132.
Morrison, Frank. Who Moved the Stone, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1958, p. 88.

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