Copied from: “Why I am not a Christian” by Keith M. Parsons
It is clear that Matthew and the other gospel writers were responding to Jewish polemics of their day, i.e., 55-60 years after the crucifixion. By the time Matthew was written, ca. 85-90, any Jewish memory of the details of Jesus’s burial were certainly long forgotten. There is no reason for thinking that the Jews by that time really were aware of where Jesus’s tomb had been and that it had been found empty. Why not interpret the Jewish polemic as conceding, purely for the sake of argument, that there was an empty tomb? I.e., they said “If there was in fact an empty tomb, as you guys say, how do we know the disciples didn’t steal the body away?” Matthew responds by making up his story about the Roman guard (a story found only in Matthew). To the argument that experiences of the risen Jesus were mere ghost stories, Luke (24:39-43) has the risen Jesus invite the disciples to touch him, showing he is not a wraith. Also, he eats a piece of fish, as no ghost would. These later additions to the primitive Markan account were probably fabrications created by the later evangelists to answer the critics of their day.