Refuting William Lane Craig’s Evidence for the Empty Tomb

Historical Evidence and the Empty Tomb Story

A Reply to William Lane Craig

Jeffery Jay Lowder

Anyone familiar with apologetic arguments for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus knows that a historical empty tomb is crucial to the entire enterprise. Although countless Christians have defended the historicity of the empty tomb, William Lane Craig is widely regarded as its foremost contemporary defender.[1] Yet, to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever directly responded to all of Craig’s specific arguments for the historicity of the empty tomb story.[2] The purpose of this paper is to provide such a response.

While I tentatively agree with Craig that Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb–in which Jesus was presumably interred–was empty,[3] I shall argue that none of Craig’s arguments show that the Markan story of the empty tomb is probably historical. For reasons that will become clear shortly, I make a distinction between the empty tomb and the empty tomb story of Mark, the earliest detailed account of the empty tomb. However, I shall not argue for the opposite conclusion, namely, that the story is false. All I shall argue is that even if the story is historical, its historicity is not established on the basis of any of Craig’s arguments as they stand…

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