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Alternate Theories of the Resurrection
The Empty Tomb - Other Theories

Joseph of Arimathea Stole the Body

The story here is that Joseph had control of the tomb and the placement of the body. He therefore, could have taken it during preparation, or prior to actual burial. The first difficulty is one of motive. Why would he steal the body? He had no reason. Joseph was a Pharisee and would gladly have sided with the Pharisees if he were not otherwise convicted. Instead he chose to bury the body of Jesus in his own tomb.

Second, the tomb was sealed and guarded (Matthew 27:66). The seal was a signet of Rome that was a sign of warning to anyone who might break it. The Jewish leaders certainly would not have sealed and guarded an empty tomb. If Joseph was planning on breaking the seal and overpowering the guards there is virtually no chance he would still be alive.

Finally, all of the arguments about the disciples' theft apply here. It was out of character, as Joseph was an honest and devout Jew and a disciple; diligent Roman guards heavily guarded the tomb; and there were 500 eyewitnesses.

Grave Robbers Stole the Body

Grave robbers, then and now, rob graves for the purpose of stealing the valuables buried with bodies, not the bodies themselves! In the case of the burial of Jesus, the only valuables that were buried with the body were the one hundred pounds of spices, which were poured into the folds of the burial clothes. These burial clothes were left behind, vacated in the empty tomb! Finally, the same team of guards that would have stopped anyone else would have stopped any potential grave robbers.

The Authorities Moved the Body

This theory holds that the Jewish authorities moved the body so the disciples would not steal it. The biggest problem with this theory is motive. If, in fact, the Jews took the body then they gave support to the resurrection story to the Christians. If they knew the whereabouts of the body, certainly they would have produced the corpse and put it on display when the stories of the resurrection began to circulate around Jerusalem. And then there is still the enigma of the 500 eyewitnesses. This hypothesis does not hold up under scrutiny.

The "Swoon Theory"

This is one of the most ridiculous stories of all. It says that Christ, hanging on the cross, passed out from loss of blood and exhaustion, but did not die. Then, in the cool air of the tomb, He was resuscitated and walked out. That's quite a stretch!

Let's review the facts. Christ endured six trials, flogging to near death, a crown of thorns, crucifixion, and a spear thrust into His side. Yet somehow He was able to get out of His mummy-like linen wrappings, move a stone that weighed more than a ton (even though He couldn't carry a 100 pound cross-bar up the hill of Golgotha), and overpower a dozen armed guards. Finally, He was able to convince His disciples that He was in perfect health and had risen from the dead, not that He had barely escaped death. Now that is a miracle!

The "Passover Plot"

This postulation is the work of Hugh Schoenfield. He surmises that Christ elaborately planned the entire death, burial, and resurrection, even to the point of fulfilling prophecy. With the help of Joseph of Aramathea He took a drug, which made Him appear dead. The plan went awry when the unexpected spear was thrust into His side. As the drug wore off He could only live long enough to see His disciples for a short time. The blood loss was too great and He soon died.

As you can see, this one belongs with the "Swoon Theory." No one enduring the kind of torture that Jesus endured could walk out of a grave, move a huge stone, and overpower an assemblage of armed guards, all the while making it look as though He had overcome death. If Jesus could have survived He would have appeared to the disciples, ragged and torn, as though He was about to die. But this was not the case. Remember the attitude of the disciples changed from one of reverence to one of worship - even to the point that they would die for Him. They were unquestionably convinced that He overcame death.

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