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Alternate Theories of the Resurrection
The Occupied Tomb - Various Theories

Jesus was not Buried in a Tomb

The premise of this theory is that His tomb was similar to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There was a shrine of sorts, but His body was probably thrown into a pit. This theory simply ignores all historic documentation and evidence. It is purely conjecture. Further, we still have the problem of the 500 eyewitnesses. Finally, as previously mentioned, if the Jews knew where the body was, there is no doubt that they would have produced it for all to see, and put an immediate end to Christianity.

The Disciples Went to the Wrong Tomb

Somehow, between Friday and Sunday, the disciples forgot the location of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Not just one forgot, but all of them forgot--hundreds, perhaps thousands forgot where He was laid to rest. Does this sound crazy? It is irrational to think that they could lose the tomb in such a short time with so many disciples. Further, there is no question that the officials knew the location. After all, they were guarding it. If so, they would have been glad to point out the occupied tomb to suppress the resurrection rumors. And don't forget... 500 eyewitnesses.

The Resurrection was Legend or Myth

This theory says that the myth of the resurrection was developed several hundred years after Christ. This might seem logical if the documentation could be dated several hundred years later, but that simply isn't the case.

With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we now have fragments of the Gospel of Mark dating back to 50 AD, and Luke to 57 AD. These copies postdate the actual events by less than twenty years! Additionally, eyewitnesses of the resurrection wrote the documents. There simply is not enough time for a myth to develop. It would have to be an outright fabrication, but contemporary historians and disciples would never have accepted such fables. In his book, From the Stone Age to Christianity, archaeologist and historian William Albright writes,

"Only modern scholars who lack both historical method and perspective can spin such a web of historical speculation as that with which some critics have surrounded the Gospel tradition... a period of 20 to 50 years is too slight to permit any appreciable corruption of the essential content and even the specific wording of the sayings of Jesus."

It was a Spiritual Resurrection

Is the story of Jesus' resurrection given with spiritual intent? Is the language describing His resurrection to be taken figuratively? Did His spirit rise from the grave, but not His body? This theory is a paltry substitution for would-be Christians who believe in Christ, but cannot accept His bodily resurrection. The record clearly shows Him in a fleshly body. In fact, Jesus Himself said,

"See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." (Luke 24:39)

Mary clung to his feet (John 20:17); He ate with the disciples (Luke 24:42-43); He implored Thomas to touch the scars of His crucifixion (John 20:27). There are too many records of bodily resurrection to consider it metaphorical. This theory also does not reconcile the story of the Roman guards. The body was missing. The tomb was empty. If this was a spiritual resurrection the body would have been present for all to see.


This theory is almost too crazy to mention. It holds that all of the post-resurrection sightings were hallucinations. Perhaps if a single person reported seeing Jesus this would be a plausible argument. The quandary is that 500 people would not likely hallucinate in unison. It would be one thing to say that one person had a vision or hallucination about Christ, but there were just far too many corroborating witnesses.

The Twin-brother Theory

The speculation here is that a twin or impostor was crucified, and that the real Jesus was hidden away until after the crucifixion. Again, this is pure conjecture without a shred of evidence to support it. If this were true, the body of this impostor would have been in the hands of Jewish officials. They could have produced it to confront Christ's claims that He overcame death. Instead, they offered the story that the body was stolen, confirming the empty tomb.

Albright, William. From the Stone Age to Christianity, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1946. p. 297-298.

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