In a 2001 interview with John Ankerberg, conservative evangelical Christian apologist and New Testament historian, William Lane Craig, made the following surprising admission regarding the historicity of the “Guards at the Tomb of Jesus” pericope, found only in the Gospel of Matthew. The interview has subsequently been deleted from Ankerberg’s website. However, I was able to find a transcript of an excerpt from this interview here. The excerpt is reposted below:
William Lane Craig:
[T]his is a question that I think is probably best left out of the program because the vast majority of New Testament scholars would regard Matthew’s guard story as unhistorical. I can hardly think of anybody who would defend the historicity of the guard at the tomb story, and the main reasons for that are two. One is because it’s only found in Matthew and it seems very odd that if there were a Roman guard or even a Jewish guard at the tomb that Mark wouldn’t know about it nor would there be any mention of it. The other reason is nobody seemed to understand Jesus’s resurrection predictions. The disciples who heard it most often had not an inkling of what he meant and yet somehow the Jewish authorities were supposed to have heard of these predictions and understood them so well but they were able to set a guard around the tomb. And again that doesn’t seem to make sense so most scholars regard the guard at the tomb story as a legendary Matthean invention that isn’t really historical.