Downright Stupid Analysis in The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave

imageJoe Marino writes:

I recently bought The Empty Tomb:  Jesus Beyond the Grave, edited by Robert M. Price and Jeffery Jay Lowder (Amherst:  Prometheus Books, 2005).  In a chapter called "The Plausibility of Theft" by Richard Carrier, the author is talking about what Luke and John says were found in the tomb.  ("Linen strips" or "wrappings" for the former and "linen cloths" and "napkin" for the latter.)  The author says:

"Since Mark and Matthew do not mention such cloths, and their presence is clearly a dramatic element in Luke and John, it is not likely a genuine detail."

First of all, Matthew and Mark do mention a sindon.  Secondly, since Jews were traditionally interred with burial clothes, is he trying to convince us that Jesus was buried without any burial cloths in order that his interpretation carries weight?  Apparently so, which is just downright stupid.

This review from Publishers Weekly helps us understand:

This uneven and sometimes obscure collection of essays takes up the gauntlets thrown by contemporary Christian apologists like Craig Blomberg, Peter Kreeft and William Lane Craig and argues that a physical resurrection of Jesus Christ is so unlikely as to be impossible. (As Price puts it, there is "implicit absurdity" in the "notion that Jesus is still alive, after two thousand years, in the personal, individual-consciousness mode intended by evangelical apologists.") The essayists, all of whom are male, previously published these articles in academic journals (most notably the Journal of Higher Criticism), mostly within the past five years. The fact that these essays originated in academic niche periodicals and seem largely unchanged means that these are often inaccessible works that demand prior knowledge of specialized philosophical debates. Michael Martin’s essay on the improbability of resurrection, for example, jumps right into proving his case by applying Bayes’s Theorem without even bothering to explain what that theorem is, and Evan Fales’s piece on "Reformed Epistemology and Biblical Hermeneutics" is clearly directed at the Ivory Tower, not the person in the pew. Price’s own contributions (the introduction and two essays) are more accessible than his peers’, but can also be polemical and mean-spirited, as when he calls Blomberg "a PR man for Bill Bright and his various agendas." However, several essays make excellent points about holes in Christian apologists’ arguments; Richard Carrier’s discussion of the "spiritual body of Christ," for instance, challenges Christians’ tendency to imagine a monolithic worldview among first-century Jews.

Robert M. Price is the editor of the Journal of Higher Criticism and Jeffrey Jay Lowder is a cofounder of Internet Infidels. The publisher is Prometheus. No surprises.

27 thoughts on “Downright Stupid Analysis in The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave”

  1. It just occurred to me that the author may believe that Jesus’ body may have been just thrown in a pit for criminals, but he doesn’t specifically say that. Yet, the one crucifixion victim that was discovered, “Johanan,” whose remains were found in 1968 in an ossuary in Jerusalem (and crucified around the time of Jesus), had apparently been given a traditional burial, otherwise his bones would likely not have been put in this bone box as the 2nd part of the burial process in effect in Jerusalem in that time period. So even though Jesus was crucified as a criminal, there’s no reason to doubt that he wasn’t given a traditional burial.

    1. Pierre Barbet commented extensively on the disposal of the bodies of executed criminals during Roman times in his “Doctor at Calvary” translated from the original French of 1950. The work provides a detailed forensic study of the TSM, and will be familiar to many students of the Shroud. In addition to his medical qualifications in forensics Barbet was also a competent scholar in the classics, Latin & Greek. He quotes several authorities: Horace, Seneca, Petronius, Artemidorus, Cicero etc.

      The usual practice was for corpses to remain on the cross to be devoured by birds of prey and wild beasts. However the bodies could be asked for by families who wished to ensure a decent burial. It seemed to Barbet that the law authorised this without hindrance and without payment. Even the ashes of those condemned to the stake were returned to their relations (Pandectes). That such clemency was the rule is proven by cases where free authorisation is refused are pointed out as exceptions. He quotes Cicero who bitterly reproaches Veres for extorting heavy payments for giving up bodies to families; he says that such extortion is against the law.

      However a judge might refuse to surrender the body where there is hatred against the criminal, or in cases of high treason. Vespasian demanded that certain conspirators be cast into the common sewer, and after the Battle of Philippi, Augustus refused permission of a notable prisoner. Flaccus, prefect of Egypt refused burial for certain crucified Jews in 38 AD.

      It was therefore not exceptional that Jesus would ask Pilate for the body of Jesus.
      Source: “A Doctor at Calvary”, Pierre Barbet,translated from the original French by the Earl of Wicklow, Image Books, Doubleday, 1953; chapter 2, ‘Crucifixion and Archaeology’, pp 50-51. .

    2. Price and Lowder, obviously have no clue what they are talking about or don’t care, it’s just another cheap-shot book written to make money. Joe your mention that Matthew and Mark do mention a Sindon obviously was overlooked, along with the fact both Matthew and Luke were most likely not at the crucifixion or the tomb. But John and Peter were, John most likely accompanied the burial procession and was aware of the way Jesus was ultimately entombed. John’s mention of the burial cloth(s) and the Sudarium (being apart from the others), along with something ‘special’ about thier condition obviously led to his instant belief in the resurrection. The cloths were found in the tomb, that is undeniable and if Jesus’s body was ‘stolen’ it is obsurd to think the thieves would carry off with the body, not still wrapped in it’s cloths.


  2. Joe stated: “First of all, Matthew and Mark do mention a sindon. Secondly, since Jews were traditionally interred with burial clothes, is he trying to convince us that Jesus was buried without any burial cloths in order that his interpretation carries weight? Apparently so, which is just downright stupid.”

    Angel replied: Pilate washed his hands, so the blood of Jesus would not fall upon him. Pilate did not believe Jesus was worthy of death and ordered the sign “King of the Jews” be placed on the cross. The Jews were adamently opposed to this sign, yet Pilate, in direct opposition to the Jews stated, “What I have written, I have written.”

    With this in mind, Pilate released the body of Jesus to Joseph of Arimathea, the rich man, with knowledge that Jesus would have a proper burial.

    As to the comments on the burial clothes of Jesus, I believe in the “Word of God,” but have found mistranslations, in a few New Testament scriptures that were translated from the original Hebrew, Greek and Latin into English.

    Just recently, I purchased a copy of “The Jewish New Testament” (Translation by David H. Stern), where the original Jewishness is clearly expressed within its pages.

    In this New Testament Jewish translation, the versions of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, concerning the linen and how the body was wrapped are detailed.

    The first two books, Matthew and Mark show the following:

    Matthew: 27: 57-59
    “wrapped it in a clean linen sheet.

    Mark: 15: 45-46 “he wrapped him in a linen sheet. (referring to Joseph)

    ***Yet, both versions, Matthew and Mark, fail to mention the “linen sheet” upon the disciples’ entrance into the tomb after the resurrection.

    Luke and John read as follows:

    Luke: 23:53 “wrapped it in a linen sheet. (referring to Joseph)

    John: 19:40 “wrapped it up in linen sheets.” (referring to Joseph and Nicodemus)

    After the resurrection, on entering the tomb,

    Luke: 24:12 Stooping down, he saw only the burial clothes. (referring to Peter)

    John: 20:5 The other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
    Stooping down, he saw the linen burial-sheets lying there, but did not go in.

    In conclusion, Luke’s version started with a linen sheet (singular) and ended with burial clothes (plural).

    And John’s version started with wrapped in linen sheets and ended with linen burial-sheets.

    Yet three books, Matthew, Mark and Luke clearly indicate Jesus was initially wrapped in a single linen sheet (sindone). And the burial clothes (plural) in Luke, after the resurrection, may refer to the single linen sheet and head napkin. This would account for the plural (burial clothes) outlined in Luke.

    Obviously, according to the Hebrew translation, Jesus was given a traditional burial.

  3. Discussion on such a topic can be endless, but it must be pointed out that here is another case (Ludëmann is one) where pastors of churches that hold fundamentalist views inevitably think that, as far as the Bible is concerned, “everything is true or nothing is true”. When they see they are wrong their faith is lost and they aim at Christian belief because apparently they were were taught in such a one-track-minded way that other subjects were not included. It is practically written over the walls that there is a lot more in the box and all one needs to to do is to go looking for it.

    Of course, there are others who also aim at the NT accounts for different, personal and ideological, reasons. Thus, the “Talpiot tomb”, the “Jesus dynasty”, “Jesus lived in India”, “Jesus’ tomb in Kashmir” and so on.

    Allow me to now direct attention to the link

    where Harvard, known for its liberal approach, has thought twice before publishing the material announced by Karen King. In a previous comment, I had said that this would have been the right initial approach.

    1. Louis, I agree with you.

      An excerpt from your referenced article follows:

      “King’s announcement about the fragment, which she called the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife, came after the school released details in advance to The New York Times and The Boston Globe, which gave the story prominent play. The Smithsonian Channel is planning to debut a program about it at end of the month.

      Text on the papyrus fragment, written in the language of early Egyptian Christians, records Jesus referring to a woman, Mary, as “my wife,” and later saying, “She can be my disciple.”

      ***Even if the papyrus was authentic, the translation never mentioned which of the Marys was his wife.

      Jesus also loved Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus, and there were three Marys at the cross; Mary the Mother, Mary wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene.

      By eliminating Mary the mother and Mary the wife of Clopas, only Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany remain. Jesus loved both of the remaining two Marys.

      Why are people assuming the wife in the papyrus was Mary Magdalene and not Mary of Bethany?

      This is how falsehoods originate.

      Look at the article link below and the assumption Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus although Magdalene is mentioned nowhere in the papyrus translation.

      Jesus was married! ‘Proof’ God spoke to his wife and Mary …
      A recently uncovered fragment of ancient papyrus makes the explosive suggestion that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were man and wife, …

      This is why it is important, with respect to scripture, to check, double-check and look to other sources, as well.

      1. Thanks for the support , Angel. The big problem in this realm also seems to be that sometimes scholars assert something, have their words distorted, and then have to distance themselves from what is being announced. Take the case of the so-called Jesus family Tomb, where Prof. François Bovon, who wrote on the Acta Philipi and Mary Magdalene, was interviewed without knowing the real intentions of the documentary producers, and had no choice in the end but to say that “reconstructions of Jesus’ marriage with Mary Magdalene and the birth of a child belong to science fiction.

    1. darla, you may want to view Ron Wyatt’s summary with pictures, and how he believes Jesus is positioned at the right hand of God. Here’s an excerpt from the link below.

      “The temple in Jerusalem was situated on the north part of the city. Judgments of God’s people would come from the north, e.g., Babylon attacking Jerusalem, the future prophecy of Ezekiel 9 of angels coming to slaughter also come from the north. “He comes from the north as golden splendor; with God is awesome majesty” Job 37:22.

      Ron Wyatt has said that the blood of animals is on the right side of the ark, as you face it, and the blood of Jesus is on the left. It has been theorized that Jesus, in the sanctuary in heaven which is spoken of in Hebrews, is standing behind the Ark with His blood in front of him and with God next to Him. This would place Jesus on the right hand of God.”

  4. You’re welcome, Louis.

    Professor Bovon must have been thoroughly humiliated. Imagine the countless hours of writing, proof reading (both draft and final copy), and then the time consumed in preparation for the interview.

    Unfortunately, “shock value,” is a marketing ploy, often used by the media to increase ratings. The documentary producers may either mislead, edit out, sensationalize or take words out of context to increase viewership. The feelings of others don’t even enter into the equation, because it’s a business (nothing personal) and producers know with certainty, Ratings = Money.

    1. Angel, Professor Bovon had no choice but to distance himself from the sensationalism in which he became involved through no fault of his. That also was the reason why Discovery aired an interview with some top scholars a little after the documentary was seen. And, of course, as you said, there is the marketing ploy.

      1. Louis, the documentary is a skeleton in a locked closet now and those producers hold the key.

        If Proressor Bovon was to present something on that subject in the future, the documentary that caused him so much pain would suddenly emerge, opening, once again, an old wound.

        Unfortunately that’s the nature of the media business.

  5. Angel, you’ve hit it in one: “Desire of money is the root of all evil” 1 Timothy 6:10.
    Check out the following for a full discussion on the pervading power of covetousness. New Advent site, Summa Theologica, Question 84. The cause of sin, in respect of one sin being the cause of another, Article 1. Whether covetousness is the root of all sins:
    This is what seems to be behind much of media sensationalism, and other evils as well.

    1. Dave, this detailed discussion is excellent. And note too, those who have wealth desire more and more money. Enough is never enough!

      I’ve found many, not all, who have excessive wealth tend to be extremely arrogant; refusing to humble themselves before God. Yet, God demands humility. Those that denounce God, by not obeying His laws or denying His existence, do this only to rationalize their own bad behavior.

      Therefore, I believe arrogance (lack of humility) is also a sin in the eyes of God.

      When Job questioned God, as if God was his equal, God replied, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”

  6. Desire of money is the root of all evil… Ask yourself the question : And what lies behind this desire of money (or sex or power or fame or whatever) ??? A desire the be LOVED and a great suffering because this desire is not satisfy !!!! That’s the root of all the other roots and God see this much better than we do and that’s why he love so much the prodigal son…

    Only God who is Love and Mercy and nothing else can really satisfy this profound desire that can be found in the heart of every human being but right now, because we’re not completely spiritual, it’s hard for us, humans, to connect completely with God and live in total communion with him. Only some Saints have been able to do so throughout history and even then, it wasn’t a 100% connection all the time. It’s only after death that this connection will be complete and that our great desire to be loved totally for who we are will be fullfiled. That’s my belief.

    Amen. End of my sermon ! ;-)

    1. Yannick, what you state is true.

      We all live in corruptible bodies on this earth, but even with our corruptible bodies,
      we should still be able to choose between God and money.

      A condensed version of what Jesus stated on this subject is we are all given the choice to worship either God or mammon.

      Yet, we should never fail to remember, the one we choose becomes our God.

      When Jesus made the remark, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s, I believe He was stating, we should use money to pay bills, taxes, etc., but we should call on the name of God the Father for or food, clothing, shelter and other necessities.

      Jesus confirmed this when He spoke, concerning the clothing of the lilies of the field.

      This statement signifies God the Father, if asked, will take care of our basic needs (food, clothing, shelter). And, didn’t God drop manna (bread) and quails (meat) from heaven to the Israeli children in the desert? Therefore, God will providesto those who ask and believe.

      1. It’s NEVER all white or all black in the life of any human being. Sometimes, we chose God (or Love) and sometimes, we chose to follow another path. That’s why we’re all sinners (= human) and that’s why Jesus died for ALL humans. I would NEVER be so sure of myself to claim I always chose God in my life but so what ? Anyone’s like that (even good Christians that go to mass every day) !!!!

        And in the end, the MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember is this : No matter the road we chose today, that will NEVER change one iota of the Love and Mercy of God for us and that doesn’t change anything about the FACT that we’re all saved (even those who are not Christians). To me, that’s the most important message coming from the Passion and Resurrection of Christ : Every human is a child of God and is Loved so much by God that he died for him.

  7. Yes, Yannick, Jesus certainly stated something similar to “There are none righteous; no not one,” and Isaiah 64:6 states, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…”

    Perhaps Jesus wants us to continuously reflect on his statement, “You honor me with your lips, but your heart is far from me.”


    1. Jesus said one day to the Pharisees (who thought they were not sick) : I came for the sick, not the well.

      On the spiritual level, this statement of Christ applied to ALL and EVERY ONE of us ! We’re ALL spitirually sick (meaning sinners). It’s like the lost sheep or the prodigal son. On the spiritual level, we’re ALL this lost sheep and we’re ALL this prodigal son.

      But we have rejoice because the Father love us so much that he will go after all the lost sheep to take them back one after the other at the sheep barn of eternal life ! I truly believe this because if that’s not true, I know that I’m done !!! ;-) That’s my greatest hope. I have decided to put all my hope in the Love and Mercy of God for me and for anyone else.

      And to me, the Shroud of Turin is one very important piece of evidence that show me that my hope will not be disappointed !

  8. Yannick stated:

    On the spiritual level, this statement of Christ applied to ALL and EVERY ONE of us ! We’re ALL spitirually sick (meaning sinners). It’s like the lost sheep or the prodigal son. On the spiritual level, we’re ALL this lost sheep and we’re ALL this prodigal son.

    ***Yes, we are all sinners and none of us are righteous, but we are NOT lost sheep. We’ve heard the word of God and we may either keep it or denounce it.
    Of the 99 sheep, only one was lost.

    So, those in the most remote places of the world may be considered lost, since they have not been exposed to the Gospel of Jesus. You are not lost, because you have heard His word.

    Why did Jesus state to the Pharisees, “You did not recognize the time of your visitation?” Jesus made this statement, because the Pharisees had seen the miracles Jesus worked and still denounced Him.

    Since no one in the world is righteous and all of us have sinned, we are to repent and ask forgiveness for our sins. This was preached by not only John the Baptist, but Jesus and His disciples, as well. The majority of us are NOT lost. We know Jesus’ preachings and we know what we must do when we have sinned.

    The choice is ours alone. The determining factors, concerning the Kingdom, center on humility and arrogance, love and hate, money worship and spiritual worship.

    Those who denounce Jesus and His message, worship money over God and are greedy and hateful are labeled cursed and arrogant. Those who are lowly in heart, poor in spirit, love their neighbor and follow Jesus’ words (as sheep follow the shepherd), are considered blessed and humble. There is a difference in the two, like the thieves on the cross.

    If it were not so, there would be no reason for Jesus to separate the sheep from the goats. For we’d all be sheep.


    1. The single lost sheep of the parable of Jesus represent all the humanity because we’re all sinners and submit to death. Consequently, we’re all lost IF God would not be there to save us. That’s the profound message of that great parable.

      And Salvation is not something that happened 2000 years ago. It happen every day ! God is constantly at work to search us and to save us… And don’t worry, at the end of times, he will succeed.

  9. PS. We have ALL sinned, but we will NOT all be saved. One the Day of Harvest, there will be a separation of wheat and chaff.

    1. The reaping of the harvest parable, is a very ‘telling-tale’ of God’s final judgement. Not all will be saved is very clear! Those who love the world and ‘worldly’ things over Jesus, and especially those who denounce Jesus and his message, will suffer the consequences. This IS the reality of Jesus’s message…No one should kid themselfs of any other reality.


    2. Yes we’ll all be saved. That’s exactly the message of the parable of the lost sheep. Of course, you’re free to believe otherwise. But deep in my heart, I know that God will never accept that a single one of his children could be damned forever.

      God is Love, not Judgement. It’s we, the humans, who are very good at judging. Not God. Jesus never condemned anybody and the cross is his final statement about that. That’s far from being a joke.

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