Were there guards at the tomb of Jesus and was the body stolen by grave robbers?

Two questions:
1). Were there guards at the Jesus’ tomb after His death? I am aware of Matthew’s Gospel staying they were but I’ve read many scholars reject that because guards only appear in Matthews gospel and
2). Was the body stolen by grave robbers? I agree it was impossible for the apostles to steal the body as they died professing they saw the Risen Lord, but grave robbers? If the presence of guards were established, then the notion of grave robbers is obsolete so I guess the main question is were there guards? Nevertheless, even if there were no guards, I still believe the apostles couldn’t have stolen as it they died rather than admitting to a conspiracy. That leaves the possibility of grave robbers

Seeing as all the Apostles saw the risen Jesus after his resurrection I don’t see how they could have stolen his body.

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Biblical scholars are many times playing devils advocate. The Gospels were written by separate people in different areas either as eyewitnesses or through the testimony of one. This isn’t a biography on the life of Christ. The writers wrote what they felt was most important to the message and left out others. It is simple as that. Through all four we get more of the full message.
It is interesting how these scholars come to these conclusions yet many things are considered historically credible based on one source.

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You’d still have to explain how they managed to roll the stone, wouldn’t you?

And, you’d have to distinguish between “grave robbers” (who, ostensibly rob graves for valuables found therein) and “body snatchers”.

How would you argue for the latter? Especially considering:

  • contact with a dead body rendered a Jew ritually impure. Are you suggesting that they deliberately made themselves impure over Passover? Or are you suggesting that they weren’t Jewish?
  • If they grabbed the body, then they did something with it. What, then, considering that (under this construction) the body never turned up? Or, are you arguing for a conspiracy theory that asserts that it was the apostles themselves who snatched the body?
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I’m asking how can we know that body snatchers didn’t take the body? I would argue the apostles didn’t take it, but the issue of body snatchers who perhaps were not Jews or were Jews who didn’t practice and ignored Jewish law

  1. Why would they?
  2. If the body was just stolen, and there was no resurrection, how do you explain the resurrection appearances?
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That’s what I’ve been thinking recently. I read over those appearances and the apostles’ default position was that Jesus was stolen (from what I can gather) and then all of a sudden they flip and go out and die, meaning something (such as the resurrection) happened

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Grave robbery is one of the otherwise seemingly possible explanations other than the Resurrection, that is to my mind proven impossible.

@Gorgias mentioned above “conspiracy theory,” and what I myself have concluded is that in order for the Resurrection to not be real, then what must be true instead is a suicide pact.

The pact would have involved Jesus of Nazareth, John the Baptist, Judas, and the Apostles, including Paul. According to this theory, all but the Apostle John died due to some form of suicide, whether directly (Judas), or through the ancient equivalent of the modern “suicide by cop” phenomenon.

And if this is what happened, what was the purpose of the pact? How were they trying to change the world? What were they all dying to accomplish?

Humanly speaking, there were Roman guards on duty, and a stone large enough that multiple persons were required to move it, and a seal on the tomb:

Mat 27:62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,

Mat 27:63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

Mat 27:64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.

Mat 27:65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.

Mat 27:66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Mat 28:4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

Mat 28:11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.

Mat 28:12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,

Mat 28:13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.

Mat 28:14 And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.

Mat 28:15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

The Bible doesn’t say “grave robbers”. It even records that the Jewish Leaders told the Roman soldiers to say, “the disciples stole” the body.

Mar 16:3-4

In John’s Gospel the women at first thought that the Roman guards took the body of Jesus:

Joh 20:2,13

Yet, even so, more than men were guarding that tomb. All the evil angels surrounded it, so that none would claim the prize of the devil. All the good angels of Heaven had watch over it, ready for the time of removal of the stone (and so Gabriel comes down at the Father’s command the third day), and God the Father and Holy Spirit had their eternal vigilance over it. Thus the Holy Spirit by inspiration has the events recorded in scripture.

Other OT texts speak of the resurrection of Jesus, and of the other special ones that were raised with him, called "firstfruits’, and ‘captivity’ being freed:

Isa_26:19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

Eph_4:8; Mat 27:51-53; Lev 23:10-12

So the Bible, prophecy, history, context and even logic all refer to the resurrection of the body of Jesus, not a stolen body, see Luk. 24:39; Rev. 12:5; Php. 3:21

The historical record indicates that Jesus was buried in the tomb of [Joseph of Arimathea], a member of the Sanhedrin, the very group that had orchestrated Jesus’ execution.

The significance of this should not be overlooked as the Sanhedrin would then have certainly known the location of Joseph’s tomb, and thus, where Jesus had been interred. And if the location of Jesus’ tomb was known to the Jewish authorities, it would have been nearly impossible for anyone to get near.

Did not the Sanhedrin have every motivation to produce Jesus’ corpse (if it were available) and put an end to these rumors of a resurrected Jesus once and for all?

If Jesus’ crucified body had been produced, the Christian movement, with it’s emphasis on a resurrected Jesus, would have been dealt a huge lethal blow.

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""1). Were there guards at the Jesus’ tomb after His death? I am aware of Matthew’s Gospel staying they were but I’ve read many scholars reject that because guards only appear in Matthews gospel and
2). Was the body stolen by grave robbers? I agree it was impossible for the apostles to steal the body as they died professing they saw the Risen Lord, but grave robbers? If the presence of guards were established, then the notion of grave robbers is obsolete so I guess the main question is were there guards? Nevertheless, even if there were no guards, I still believe the apostles couldn’t have stolen as it they died rather than admitting to a conspiracy. That leaves the possibility of grave robbers""

Jesus Resurrected. :slightly_smiling_face:

Back when, Jesus’ Enemies neither denied His Existence nor His Miracles … which they later on decried as being the work of Sorcery… The only Miracle that they’ve vigorously denied is His Resurrection - via peddling the same notions as are found within that presentation / questions … For reason that It clearly proves them Wrong… :slightly_smiling_face:

_

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Are there true stories of grave robbers or body snatchers in that time in Jerusalem ?

Roman law had severe penalties for grave robbery. You don’t make laws for something that never happens.

My reasoning for discarding the grave robbery theory is that none of the apostles were sought nor arrested for grave robbery and they would have been the first and most likely suspects.

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I was asking for details on grave robberies.

Umm… let’s be a bit more precise, and see if it doesn’t help us in this conversation.

When we say “grave robbery”, are we talking about:

  • breaking into a grave to steal the valuables buried with the dead?
  • breaking into a grave to desecrate the corpse?
  • breaking into a grave to steal the corpse?

I would think, @PattyIt, that your mention of laws against grave robbery speak to either (or both) of the first two. In the discussion of Jesus and his resurrection, we’re only talking about the third.

If I’m mistaken – and hey, I might be! – would you point me to what you’ve read about grave robbery in the Roman Empire, so that I can take a look at it?

Thanks!
G.

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I’m recalling this information from a post from a long time ago and I’m strictly going on memeory. I don’t recall the professor making any distinction about what was stolen…he may have…but made it very clear that it was very illegal to break into any tomb or grave. Romans had a disgust of dead bodies as did many ancients.

So, my opinion only, is that your distinctions wouldn’t have mattered much. Graves and tombs were to be left alone. Bodies had value as well as any artifacts or grave goods. Magicians, mystics and others would pay for fresh bones, especially the skull if I remember correctly. So motives would be for any monetary gain, especially if they had sponsors!

I’ll try to find the post on this. A quick search didn’t yield it…sorry but I can dig deeper later!

It is (my memory) a story by Petronius of the widow of Ephesus.

Another similar story by Fedros the widow and soldier.

What is interesting here is that even those who disagreed with the Christians did not deny that there were guards at the tomb. According to Matthew, they paid the guards to say they fell asleep, not that they were not present.

People who propose that the body was stolen ignore the fact that the disciples were convinced that they had in fact seen the risen Jesus, spoke with the risen Jesus, touched his risen body, and even eaten with the risen Jesus. Then at Pentecost as many as 5000 people witnessed his ascension. When you combine that fact with the subsequent lives and martyrdom of most of the apostles, it is difficult to believe that Jesus body was stolen, either by the apostles, or someone else. Notice how the gospel accounts name-drop excessively in the accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. This is not by chance. They are referring to people who were known by the Church, many of whom were still alive at the writing of the gospels, and were considered faithful witnesses. Also, this witness testimony is extremely ancient and is admitted even by skeptics, going back to within three years of the death of Christ. It is up to the skeptic to prove that Jesus body was stolen, not offer unsubstantiated hypotheses that are refuted by the eyewitness testimony of the day. If Jesus was not resurrected, feel free to produce his body.

By the way, you may be interested in reading the work of Gary Habermas who is one of the world’s foremost historical writers on this very topic.

Yes. The only miracle denied by Jesus’ Enemies was The Resurrection…

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