Christianity says its core is how Jesus was saved body and soul when he was raised from an ignominious death to eternal life.  Al-Hallaj the Sufi God-man from Persia seems to have claimed to have been God. He suffered a horrific death by martyrdom for his blasphemy of claiming he could speak for Allah. He was crucified and mutilated and the body was burned to ashes. But the head however was put on display to put others off following him or copying him. He famously laughed with delight as he was nailed. If Jesus had been burned you would have missing ashes to worry about not a missing corpse!  What luck then for the Christians that nobody decided to cremate him!

Let us assume with the Christians for the sake of argument that we can depend on the gospels.

Christians say that the promise of the resurrection of Jesus is that God will save us completely body and soul for each person is complete when body and soul are together.  A person is not the soul or the body but both.  There is no mention of the fact that this is their interpretation.  Jesus never said that.  Anyway if Jesus just revived like a live burial or was just a ghost there is nothing special or spiritual about that.  The idea is that Jesus returned to live in his saved and transformed body so it is not like it was before his death.

So bodily resurrection is important to Christians.  If the early Christians and their critics thought that there would be an attempt to rule out fraud at the burial of Jesus or the dishonesty of anybody involved.  The gospels make no such effort.  They give bald statements that mean nothing.  The fact that there is no awareness of people saying, "Jesus' was not in his tomb for it was a fraudulent burial" shows that the resurrection tale is pure deception and myth.

What do we want?  We want concrete references supporting the good character of the witnesses and those involved in the burial.  How much did the witnesses, and Joseph of Arimathea who facilitated it, actually see?  We are not told.  People see customers in the shop who are not stealing.  But in fact they are stealing.  We need corroboration of careful and good observation.  It is not there in the gospels.

Was Jesus really buried?  Do we just have hearsay saying he was?  YES!  Let us look more into it.

The Christian Church tells you that the corpse of Jesus was taken down from the cross and buried nearby in a new tomb owned by a rich man Joseph of Arimathea from which he inexplicably disappeared and subsequently he started appearing to people claiming to have been raised from the dead. How much of this can we listen to? We must go back to the only sources we have, the four gospels to see if they can help us.
According to the gospels, Jesus was taken off the cross by Jews who seem to have intended to bury him in a tomb. The tomb may well have been already prepared and left open in readiness.
The gospels say that Jesus was buried on the Sabbath day, the Sabbath was thought to start on Friday evening. The Rabbis at the time allowed full burials on the Sabbath and the stricter ones required that bodies be covered in sand to make them keep for the real burial when the Sabbath was past (page 235, The Jesus Conspiracy). Perhaps the tomb was opened and because they didn’t want to do a full burial on the Sabbath they just put him in the sand outside and closed the door of the tomb. Some of them thought they saw Jesus being buried properly and the whole empty tomb thing was a mistake. Those who knew chose to say nothing and let a new religion come to birth.
The gospels say that the stone was rolled back on Sunday morning but it doesn’t confirm that the witnesses said they saw the tomb closed. One thing is for sure, if Jesus rose miraculously from the dead in the tomb it would have been better for him to have left the stone alone instead of having it rolled back by angels as if he needed to get out! It would have been a bigger miracle if Jesus had been put in the tomb and sealed in and still disappeared. He could have told the disciples later to have the tomb checked.

Jesus was allegedly interred on Friday and on Sunday the tomb was found empty and wide open.

But was the body put in the tomb in the first place? The Gospels never indicate that Joseph of Arimathea or anybody else ever said that Jesus was buried. They just take it for granted that they were there and buried him. What if the body had been snatched off the cross for a secret burial and the women made up the story of the burial and the tomb to cover this up and throw the investigators off the track until the body was safe in its grave? The gospels never give any proof that the women were honest which is a sign that the gospels were hidden for readers would have asked for proof and if there was proof it would have to be inserted in later editions.

When you look at the Gospels you read what the writers assumed happened. They say that some people saw where Jesus was laid which need not mean they saw what they should have been sure was the body inside it. We are not told if they said they saw it and there was no mistake about it.  They are not written about as if they were eyewitnesses or saw much or would testify.

Joseph who arranged the whole thing was a dodgy character. It was only people who were unreasonably biased towards the cause of Jesus who were there – no impartial observers. The witnesses to the body being put inside should all have been named. Somebody was afraid of secrets slipping out or maybe there were no witnesses.

We must remember that since Joseph owned the tomb he could have legally removed the body or not even put the body in the tomb (page 173, Who Moved the Stone?). This would have had to have been done discreetly for underhand tactics would have brought shame on him. There is the legend from early Christianity that Joseph disappeared when the authorities wanted to question him about the mystery of the tomb (page 173, Who Moved the Stone?) which would eliminate the argument that fear would have stopped Joseph for he could have been planning to go abroad for a while. He had already shamed himself by coming out as a disciple of Jesus after deceiving the Sanhedrin that he wasn’t.

There is no reason to think that the Jews and Romans would have supervised the burial on the basis that they were afraid of plans to create a fake resurrection. Even Matthew stupidly says that they did not worry about that until after the burial. Also, they would have expected the body to have been stolen after interment not before or at it. The Jews would not come for it was near the Sabbath so it must have been the Romans if it was anybody. And it would have been the ones that had come to see Jesus as the salvation of the world (Mark 15:39) at that for they would have liked to have been there and do what they could to restore their idol to favour in the land.

Matthew says there was an earthquake before the burial. Earthquakes mean crime and looting so maybe there were no Roman guards there at the funeral for they had bigger duties to attend to. It depends on the rota and on where they were and how many there were. The crowd that gloated as Jesus died would have left if there was an earthquake to check on family and friends. Joseph of Arimathea would not have come out of the woodwork to help Jesus if they were about. And John says Jesus was crucified in a garden and buried in one for Mary saw what she thought was the Gardener. So, not many could have been allowed in to spoil the garden.

The funeral party just vanish from the New Testament like the ground opened up and swallowed them. This is extraordinary because their testimony to having placed Jesus in the tomb was important for many would have surmised that the tomb was empty for nobody had been buried in it. Their words could have been kept for posterity no matter where they went. Either they did not exist which was why they had to be eliminated from the story or they were found to have been up to something and really had to get away.

There were all sorts of ways to make it look like you were burying somebody and not do it. The shrouded body might have been hidden in bushes and replaced with a shroud full of straw. The straw could then have been shaken out inside the tomb and the cloths folded making the empty tomb seem inexplicable. We must also remember that the gospel of John only mentions the cloths that were seen in the tomb which does not rule out there being other cloths – so Jesus could have been removed in a shroud while the other cloths were left behind. The gospel says that Joseph wrapped Jesus in a shroud which need not necessarily mean he did it all himself. Perhaps he did the same for the other two men who were crucified with Jesus out of kindness though they would be thrown on the dump and ended up taking the wrong body to the tomb. Perhaps the real Jesus climbed out of the dump. Perhaps Joseph noticed signs of life in Jesus and took the wrong man on purpose and had this body stolen from the tomb for the broken legs would prove it was not Jesus. This was a cover so that they could attend to Jesus and hopefully save his life as quickly as possible. If they put him in the tomb he would have been harder to rescue. The gospels only say that no other body was in the tomb when Jesus was laid there but what if it was pretended that both Jesus and one of the thieves was buried there and when only one body the thief’s was found there they could still say the tomb was empty meaning empty of Jesus’ body whereas in fact there was only ever one body in it? Perhaps somebody came to steal the thief and took Jesus by mistake.

If they had been seen to lay Jesus in the tomb perhaps the body went down into a secret compartment of the bier or there was a secret opening in the tomb from which the body could be removed when all was quiet. The tomb would have been left open when the body was removed if there was a secret exit so that it would not be found. We don’t even know for sure where the tomb is to examine it. Remember, if Matthew is right that the leading Jews knew Jesus vowed to resurrect then Joseph of Arimathea may have seen to it that this promise would be fulfilled one way or another.

Perhaps Jesus was alive and was smuggled out when the mourners had gone for it is not said they saw the tomb being sealed. If he was disguised well enough and helped out they would have paid no attention to him even if they had stayed until the end.

Sadly it is not necessary to believe that the tomb was empty for a supernatural reason to believe in the resurrection.

The Jews would not have let it be known where Jesus was buried. Putting guards at the tomb would only draw attention. Yet Matthew asks us to believe they got guards posted there. The Jews would not have let the women watch the burial if they thought he could rise again or could become an explosive political martyr. The gospels say the women did watch the burial. In reality, nobody knew what was going on during the burial. There was nobody allowed to be there.

Jesus would not have been permitted the burial the Bible describes. Criminals were thrown into a pit.

Joseph may have pretended he got the body while the real one had been incinerated at the dump. Perhaps the man that was buried was found not to have been Jesus and it was explained that this was somebody who was laid there about the time Jesus was and that Jesus had gone. This fits the Bible which simply says that Jesus was put in a tomb that had never been used. If Jesus was in a big cavern and the tomb referred to one of many alcoves in the cavern then the tomb on which nobody was laid could have just been an alcove. The Jews removed bodies that had disintegrated into ashes and bones.
Jesus could have sneaked out when somebody came into the tomb or just between his burial and the closure of the tomb. There is evidence that the crucifixion of Jesus wasn’t as bad as Christians are led to think. He could have survived his crucifixion.

Why listen to the gospels if Jesus might not have been buried at all even if they are true?

Evidence for the burial not having happened is that myrrh and aloes are light materials yet one hundred pounds of them were brought to the tomb according to John (19:39). A large pallet of bags was necessary. This only makes sense if they were going to embalm but the Jews abominated embalming for it involved removing the entrails. The pallet seems to have been a cover for getting Jesus out of the tomb before the tomb was sealed. You could throw off the spices and hide Jesus in their wrap and smuggle him out.

The spices were so expensive that it would be no wonder if the tomb was opened on Sunday morning to get them but we don’t know if they were left there. They probably were when they were so heavy. Nobody carries such a load without apparent need and then takes them home again. Some would be stupid enough to suggest that guards were posted to watch the spices! If nobody shifty knew about them they would have been safe inside. If there had been spices in the tomb that were still there when the body was gone the guards would not have left the tomb despite what the Matthew gospel says that they did abandon it.

The body was possibly stolen from the cross itself.  By whom does not matter. 

Maybe the Romans secretly moved him.  Pilate did not care if they did.  Pilate did not want to risk Jesus being paraded through the streets to incite the people to rebellion if Jesus was as popular as the gospels would pretend. If Jesus had royal blood as the gospels say, even if he was hated as a person he could still have been used as a trophy by those who sought an independent Jewish monarchy and who wanted the Roman occupation out. This thinking would suggest that nobody knew where the tomb was and could know and the women just deliberately went to an empty tomb and let on they had seen Jesus buried there. The guards could have been around for another reason that was unclear and the followers of Jesus made out that they had been watching the tomb of Jesus.

There was odd behaviour around the entombment of Jesus and the aftermath.  If we are not suspicious then we should be.

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