Saturday, September 15, 2007

No guards at the tomb of Jesus

Long time since I made a post at this blog (but plenty at Daily Atheist). Anyway, I've been reading/listening to the gospels lately and noticed some interesting differences in how they deal with the empty grave. Skepticsannotatedbible.com is naturally an excellent tool for finding differences but I also made some independent reasoning. I discussed some of the issues with Christians on a fourm and as my own original ideas met their resistance, I noticed some parts that withstood pressure.
I have to stress that this is just scratching the surface, but at the same time, it's a very precise scratch that doesn't need lots of reading..

Firstly, we need to state that Matthew is partly based on Mark and was thus written later. (Look up the synoptic problem. Wikipedia link for convenience.)

Now, there are differences in the gospels and there are direct contradictions.
A direct contradiction is that in Matthew 28:2 the grave is closed when the women arrive, while in the other three gospels the grave is open when she/they arrive. The significance here is that in Matthew they arrive at a sealed grave(that is opened by an angel), while the others come to an open grave where anything could have happened. A body is gone. So? Any graverobber, disciple or town loonie could have been there. An open grave doesn't prove anything, but a sealed one is more impressive. (Why would Jesus have to use the door btw?)

OK, but there were guards, no? Yes, in Matthew 27:64 he writes that the sepulchre needs to be secured: "lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead". But none of the other gospels mention any guards.
There is another thing with the guards In Matthew 28:13 the guards (after having reported to the priests that Jesus has left the building) are bribed to say that the disciples stole the body. Clearly, Matthew is addressing a Jewish rumour that the disciples took him.

So what we have here is that Matthew improves on the story about the empty grave. Mark's story is easy to attack for a skeptic. An empty grave without guards prove nothing, but a closed & empty grave with tight security, now that's a real Houdini story.

But 3/4 gospels disagree with Matthew.

2 comments:

KOSTAS said...

Dear Strappado!

The fact that only Matthhew
mentions the guards should'nt
be a problem that Christians apologists couldn't deal with;
since one of the four Evangelists
did mention them, I'm afraid the argument from silence is invalid.
The unguarded tomb in the other three gospels, you see, could easily be explained by the
assumption that the Roman soldiers
probably ran away in panic when
they witnessed the resurrection of Jesus! This though would certainly not explain how come the women in Matthew were worrying about a problem (moving the stone)which according to the other three gospels simply didn't exist!

But what does all this really matter anyway, when the soldiers
according to Matthew 27:62-66
were set to guard the tomb ...
after the feast! Yes! That is
exactly what according to the gospel itsself happened! It's
really hard to believe it, but too few people seem to notice that
detail! Jesus was placed on
Friday afternoon into the tomb,
the guards though were set
on Saturday morning! That simply means, during the very first night the tomb had remained completely
unguarded!! I am not trying to
prove now that the body was stolen.I'm just trying to show
that the popular argument of the well-guarded tomb has a big hole!

Anonymous said...

you said that there were no gaurds on friday, but when they arrived on saturday they would of that the giant rock covering the tomb was moved. the tomb was open on sunday, (I'm doing some research on the gaurds and there were probably around 20-30 gaurds and not 2 or 3 which makes it unlikely that they fell asleep) so they probably would of noticed if it was stolen on friday.