Sunday, 12 April 2009

Empty or Not Even There?

One book I am currently reading is The Empty Tomb. It's an analysis of whether or not there was an empty tomb in the first place after Jesus was raised, or if there were naturalistic reasons for the tomb being empty. (Obviously this is a rather more skeptical view than a literal acceptance of the Bible stories.)

It's a collection of essays, some of which are more convincing than others (the ones that rely on statistics, logic and probability are the least persuasive). More interestingly, it demonstrates that there is no real consensus on the actual explanation.

Richard Carrier has a few essays, one of which says the tomb story was fiction as Paul meant that Jesus would leave his human body and take on a spiritual one and there is no tomb. In another, he discusses how Jesus' body was prepared and that it would end up in a mass grave site for those condemned by Jewish law (after being stored for a night in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb, aka the relocation hypothesis - which others also argue for), and in another he discusses the possibility of the body being stolen.

The point of all these ideas are: is the resurrection hypothesis more likely than any other hypothesis? And is it more likely than any other explanation? Obviously Christians accept it as given, but there are many other possibilities which explain more than the resurrection hypothesis. This isn't to say the Christians aren't right, just that it isn't the most likely answer.

But the point is, even if the resurrection hypothesis isn't correct, there isn't any real weighty alternative that skeptical sources have. There is so much information missing, that a definite answer isn't going to turn up any time soon. On the other hand, no-one can say the skeptics are presenting a united face. Discussion and argument is flowing well even for this one point.


No comments: