The following excerpts are from a fascinating article written by author Peter Kirby. He believes (as do I) that the Empty Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea was the invention of the author of the Gospel of Mark. I will give a link to the entire article below the excerpts. It is fascinating. I strongly encourage you to read it:
Several scholars doubt the historicity of the empty tomb. I intend to set out the reasons for disbelieving the empty tomb story. I will argue that the empty tomb narrative is the invention of the author of Mark. This conclusion will be supported by showing that all reports of the empty tomb are dependent upon Mark, that there are signs of fictional creation in the empty tomb narrative in Mark, that the empty tomb story as told by Mark contains improbabilities, and that traditions of the burial and appearances support a reconstruction of the events that excludes the discovery of an empty tomb.
If Not an Empty Tomb, then What?
There are at least four other possibilities.
1. Jesus was left hanging on the cross for the birds.2
2. The Romans disposed of the body, perhaps in a “limed pit.”
3. The body of Jesus was buried in a criminal’s grave by Jews.
4. The body of Jesus remained buried in a tomb.
…Many make much fuss over the contradictions between the [four] resurrection narratives, but my interest in them lies solely in their function as a linch-pin in the argument that the empty tomb stories are all dependent on the Gospel of Mark. I will not list such discrepancies, not only because this has been done many times before, but more importantly because the matter under contention is not biblical inerrancy. My interest is in under-standing the cause of these discrepancies. My theory is that the evangelists freely shaped their resurrection narratives with theological concerns, not on the basis of historical knowledge, and that their few agreements derive from dependence, particu-larly dependence on the account in the Gospel of Mark for the empty tomb story.
…Since all accounts of the empty tomb are dependent on Mark, the story hangs by a slender thread indeed. The evidence that follows will cut that thread by showing that the story in Mark is most likely fictional.
…There is a final reason to think that Pilate would most likely have ensured that Jesus did not receive an honorable tomb burial. Raymond Brown notes, “There was in this period an increasing Jewish veneration of the tombs of the martyrs and prophets.” If Pilate considered the historical Jesus to be an enemy of the state, how much more would Pilate have to fear not only making him a martyr but also establishing a shrine to Jesus right in Jerusalem? It is in Pilate’s best interest to make certain that Jesus would have been buried without honor and in obscurity.
…There is a tradition in the Secret Book of James that the body of Jesus was, shamefully, buried in the sand. There is a tradition in the Gospel of Peter that the body of Jesus was taken down by the Jews. Finally, there is a tradition in the Epistula Apostolorum that the body of Jesus was taken down from the cross along with the two thieves. Even if these documents might be harmonized with the Gospel of Mark using a little ingenuity, that does not negate the possibility, indeed the likelihood, that they contain the vestiges of a different tradition or traditions.
So the evidence would indicate that the story of the tomb burial by Joseph of Arimathea was not seared onto Christian consciousness as an indisputable historical fact. But can we say that these other traditions are likely to be pre-Markan? There is reason to think so. After all, there is little cause for Christians to imagine that Jesus was buried shamefully when in fact he was properly interred in the rock-hewn tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. On the face of it, it is more likely that the tradition would develop in the direction that would provide Jesus with a more hospitable burial. Thus, it is likely that the earlier tradition was that Jesus was buried in a shameful manner, what Reginald Fuller describes as “the final insult done to him by his enemies.”47 In the words of J.D. Crossan, “It is most probable that Jesus was buried by the same inimical forces that had crucified him and that on Easter Sunday Morning those who knew the site did not care and those who cared did not know the site. The major reason for this conclusion is that the tradition has protested too much: an indifferent burial by Roman soldiers becomes eventually a regal entombment by his faithful followers (cf. Jn 19:31-32 and 38-41)”.
Link to full article here.