JESUS’ ENEMIES MAY HAVE STOLEN HIS BODY
 
The gospels say that a miracle man called Jesus Christ lived. They say he died by crucifixion and three days later he rose again. The tomb he was placed in was found mysteriously empty. His body was gone. The gospels never say that anybody saw the body rising or coming out of the tomb. No evidence is given that he wasn’t stolen. One gospel says that Roman soldiers were at the tomb guarding it. They got a scare there and ran off and the Jews bribed them to say the apostles stole Jesus as they slept. Though all this seems to be legend like Jesus himself, let us put this possibility aside and pretend that the gospels are reliable history and we will see if the body could have been stolen by Jesus’ enemies. We will ask if the Roman enemies or the Jewish ones could have been responsible.

 

A big reason for saying that no Jewish enemy took the body was that the Jews had a huge cultural and religious taboo regarding making a spectacle of anybody's corpse.  That is rubbish for the law itself permitted making a spectacle of a man by hanging him.  And it is impossible to believe that the social taboo would apply if they were only showing the body to clear their own or somebody else's name.

 

One intense social taboo was the cleanness laws.  If the tomb was unclean Jesus could have been removed.  Or if Jesus was what was considered unclean he could have been removed.  However did it - if that was the reason - could not speak as it was breaking the law of the Romans.  Don't underestimate how strong the tradition of ritual cleanness was among the Jews.  The Orthodox tradition among some Jews in Jerusalem and Ashdod led to the body of an infant being snatched from an ambulance over religious taboos in 2018.
 
ROMAN GRAVE ROBBERS

The Matthew gospel alleges that guards were posted at the tomb of Jesus. They are certainly Romans for the Jews had to go to Pilate to get the guards set up.

Then the gospels reveal that there is no evidence against them having taken the body of Jesus.

The soldiers thought at the time that the Jesus cult was not a problem anymore. The thought of a new sect would not have bothered them. And especially one that was not into violence and gave the impression of being pacifist. The Romans would have liked another sect to come along and cause divisions among the Jews for that reduced the chances of a huge rebellion – rebellions come about only very very reluctantly among a divided people.

The argument that Pilate selected the soldiers at random so that a plan to steal the body was unlikely is useless for it is mere speculation. It is more likely that the men volunteered.

We know decapitation awaited lazy soldiers or soldiers who slept on duty. The soldiers were amenable to bribes and willing to risk execution for nothing according to the Matthew gospel only. Yes they got paid for it but no bribe is worth a lie like that. Christians advocate this absurd lie of Matthew’s as the truth! It doesn’t help to say the soldiers agreed to lie but didn’t for the gospel would say if they didn’t lie and reneged on the agreement with the Jews. And besides they still took a bribe and the Jews could have threatened them with that to make them lie. The story doesn’t cohere.
 
If the Romans would have gone that far for money then they might have been bribed to steal the body even though they would have been punished if caught. The wealthy disciple, Joseph of Arimathea would have liked to offer them a carrot to save face after the disappointment of a failed Messiah. Head rolling is the price for claiming to have slept on duty and Matthew says they claimed just that. They went to the Jews with a supernatural story the Jews would not have wanted to hear. They wanted to promote the Gospel despite the risk of being sacked and accused of drug taking or insanity.

Some wonder at all the soldiers wanting to take the body and consider it impossible. But if that logic were right there would be no such things as large gangs of thieves.

If the soldiers took the body then how do we explain their faint at the sight of the angel? Was it a faint or did they knock themselves out with something to make it look like they were drugged after they had first taken the body? Or did they just give the body to somebody and then pretend to have fainted? Fainting on duty – especially when it was a group that fainted – could not have got them into trouble. Would you take a bribe and lie after seeing an angel that scared you to death almost? The gospel of Matthew is lying.
 
God would not have sent an angel to put them out cold for that meant the tomb was unattended and somebody could have stolen the body. The story never says why the tomb was opened. Even the angel didn’t need to open the tomb.
 
There is no reason why the soldiers could not have admitted the angel story to Pilate if it were true. They had to explain why they were unconscious at the tomb. Also there was no reason for them to go to Pilate with that story even if it were not true!
 
If the soldiers were unconscious they must have fallen asleep. They would only have done that if the body was officially taken away already meaning they had not been sleeping on duty. Perhaps they were fooled by a group pretending to be official and who came to remove the body.

We don’t know if the soldiers who the gospels say had come to venerate Jesus were among those at the tomb. They might have been keen to create a bodily resurrection to rescue their Jesus from the disgrace he died in.

It is stupid to believe in a supernatural reason for the vanishing body when the gospel itself admits that unscrupulous men who could have raided the tomb were present there – alone.
 
DID CHRIST-HATING JEWS STEAL HIM?

 

Matthew says the Jewish leaders agreed that Jesus was not in the previously tomb for he was taken and they plotted to do damage limitation by getting his disciples blamed for it. Why didn’t the Jews reseal the tomb and say nothing? Or why not say Jesus was inside and there was a risk of the body being taken so people had to be banned from going in? There was a legal procedure that would help. The Jews telling people to say Jesus was stolen and not in the tomb was not the best way to try and quash a resurrection rumour. A body being admitted to having been taken would only fan the flames.  If they did not care or realise that that would happen then if there was a missing body then did they take it?
 
The Jews who hated Christ could have done the body snatching. Yet they are the least likely suspects in everybody’s mind.

If they were as hypocritical as the Bible says they would have been willing to commit the sin of uncleanness by touching his corpse and might have reasoned that the evil of desecrating a tomb was the lesser one under the circumstances.

The Jews might have decided to remove Jesus after they had Roman Guards appointed and seals put on the tomb. Maybe after that the guards felt entitled to sleep at the tomb. And when the Jews realised that they had made a mistake they tried to frame the Jesus people. The body would have been taken secretly and would have scandalised the people if it is true that the people were fans of Jesus or did not want him dead so the Jews dared not parade the body or perhaps some sympathiser of Jesus stole the body from them.

The guards would have let them steal the body for a bribe if Matthew is right about their corruption. But it was not stealing if the Jews got permission.

There is no evidence that whoever took the body left the tomb open. Even the Gospels never say that the tomb was opened to let the body out. The Jews would not have left the tomb open unless they were nearly caught. They did not want any far-fetched stories. Or perhaps somebody else opened it after they had gone with the body like the women?

Now from could to would. Would they have taken the body?

 

The assertion in Matthew that the scribes and Pharisees believed Jesus vowed to rise from the dead when the apostle did not is suspect. It is as if they expected the scared and scattered apostles to claim that he did! Did they steal the body themselves in order to frame a disciple or two? Did it go all wrong?

Perhaps the Jews thought that nobody would believe Jesus rose just because his remains had vanished and did not expect to hear of visions. Remember, Matthew says the Jews only remembered Jesus said he would rise the day after they killed him which is odd. His evidence that they feared a resurrection story is spurious. But then why did they take him in that case? If the Jews were just afraid of silly interpretations of the empty tomb it is hard to believe that there would have been guards posted to keep the body in for such interpretations would only have the status of futile speculation.

The Jews might have secretly taken the body in order to plant it on the disciples and blame them if a resurrection tale broke out. If so then that plan failed for the disciples had gone into hiding or no resurrection story seemed to be coming out – Luke says it took forty days. By the time the story came out it was a waste of time to present the body the state it would have been in then. Without that story they would have had no motive to pin on them. When Pilate let the apostles off despite their association with Jesus the Jews might have had to do something to change that.

There was a risk that if the Jews took the body then this would result in what they would never want: a resurrection story. Maybe, the Jews were going to say that the body was in their keeping but they didn’t want to say it too soon. Sometimes people like to let fusses reach a peak and then reveal that the fusses were about nothing. Maybe for one reason or another they finally never bothered admitting they had the body.

If the Jews removed the body to stop a patriotic shrine starting up centred around the tomb perhaps Arimathea who was one of them stole him and hid the body from them then, so that they were left unable to refute the resurrection story.

The Jews said that Jesus was using evil spirits to do wonders. The Jews might have illegally taken the body to be blessed and exorcised and laid in a sacred place thinking that no demon would be able to restore him to life then. They took him secretly in case there would be an outcry and could not speak out when the lies about Jesus’ comeback had started. They thought this would not happen as long as the disciples were in hiding and they did not expect them to visit the tomb and see inside.