Review of “The Son Rises” by William Lane Craig, Chapter 3: The Empty Tomb. Assumptions, Conjecture, Exaggeration…and Lies, Part 2

“The tomb must have been empty when the disciples began to preach the resurrection…  …the disciples themselves could never have believed in the resurrection of Jesus when faced with a tomb containing his corpse.  

—William Lane Craig, p. 46

Gary:  If the Joseph of Arimathea Tomb story is true, then Craig’s claim makes a lot of sense.  But if there was no rock tomb of Arimathea; if Jesus’ body was dumped by the Romans into an unmarked, common grave with other criminals executed that week, it would have been very difficult for anyone to verify that his body was missing from a common grave.  If shortly after Jesus’ death, his followers began to experience visions and vivid dreams of a resurrected Jesus, who says that they would have insisted on seeing an empty grave to believe in the Resurrection, especially if they knew that an inspection of his grave was not possible?

Jesus’ burial in Arimathea’s tomb is not a proven historical fact.  At most, if Gary Habermas’ literature search is correct, 75% of scholars believe in its historicity.  That is certainly a majority, but it also means that a quarter of scholars do not believe in its historicity.  That is a considerable minority.  Imagine any other historical “fact” in our history books about which 25% of historians doubt it really occurred!

WLC“In AD 33 Paul became a Christian when he saw an appearance of Jesus on the way to Damascus in Syria.”  p. 48

Gary:  Does Paul anywhere in his epistles make this claim?  No.  This statement is only made by the anonymous author of the Book of Acts.  I am surprised that a “scholar” would make such a sloppy statement.

WLC“If Paul had not already received this saying [the Early Creed] in Damascus (which I think is probable, as he spent three years there), then he must have received it during the visit to Jerusalem.  For Paul spent two weeks with Peter and spoke with James, both of whom claimed to see Jesus alive from the dead.”  p. 48

Gary: Assumption.  We have no idea when Paul received the Early Creed.

WLC“Hence, the information furnished by Paul in First Corinthians 15:3-5 provides early and reliable evidence that Jesus was buried in the tomb as the Gospels report.”  p. 51

Gary:  Are you serious, WLC?  Paul says nothing about a “tomb” in First Corinthians, or for that matter, anywhere else in his writings.  Most people in first century Palestine were buried in dirt graves, not tombs, so we have no proof that when Paul says that Jesus “was buried” that he was referring to a rock tomb and not a dirt grave.  You are seeing in the text what you want to see.

WLC“Although its [the Gospel of Mark] exact date is disputed, it is dated by most scholars around AD 70.”

Gary:  Wow!  That statement must infuriate most conservative evangelicals who want to date the writing of the Gospel of Mark in the 40’s or 50’s!

WLC Reading through the gospels, one notices that they seem to be made up of many somewhat disconnected, self-sufficient stories about Jesus.  But the part about Jesus’ sufferings, crucifixion, death, and burial, is related in a smooth continuous narrative.  That suggests that the narrative is all of one piece and all existed before the gospel writers sat down to write their gospels.  The story of Jesus’ suffering and death was thus part of the source material they used in writing their gospels.

…It is now universally acknowledged that the burial account was part of that story, which was used as source material by Mark.  [emphasis, Gary’s]  p. 51

Gary:  Is this a lie, dear Reader?  Do scholars universally acknowledge that the burial story of Jesus was part of source material that Mark received and then used to write his Gospel?  I say that this is a typical Craig exaggeration, bordering on, if not in actuality, a lie.

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