We now move on to the next part of the empty tomb. Loftus says that there are several mainline Christian scholars who argue against the empty tomb. Some references as to where they do this would be nice, but it appears we’ll have to do without. I am wondering though how it is that Rudolf Bultmann is considered a mainline Christian scholar.
The argument that it was a legend though is that Paul never mentions it. (Maybe Jesus teaching the Sermon on the Mount was a legend also.) However, Paul does not need to mention it. In the 1 Cor. 15 creed, he says that he died, was buried, and he rose again. In the Jewish mindset, he would not have to mention an empty tomb left behind. The Jews would have known that one was.
Loftus knows of this and says that Peter presupposed the empty tomb based on his Acts 2 sermon. If it’s so important though, why didn’t they mention it more? Again, Peter is also speaking right next door to the empty tomb and being explicit is good for him in this case. For the other times though, if you mention the burial and the resurrection, there is no need to say “empty tomb.” Apparently, the only way the apostles can show they believe in one is to say “empty tomb.”
We’ve already looked at the idea of the gospels being embellished also. Apparently, it’s not enough that evolution apply to biology. It has to go to everything else as well. Loftus compares this to Catholic doctrine and states that since the virgin birth became perpetual virginity, then we can see how the gospels were being embellished as well.
I’m not a Catholic, so I won’t defend a concept of perpetual virginity, however, there is no doubt there was an oral tradition as far as I can see on these statements as one can read earlier saints and find where they made statements that would not mesh with later Catholic statements. This is one for the RCC to deal with though.
As for the ending of Mark, Mark has in earlier places in the book mentioned the resurrection. (See Mark 9:9 for instance.) Mark is a writer who focuses on abrupt endings and action. Why not think this was his purpose here? Having said that Christ would be raised from the dead earlier, Mark gets to the end and leaves the reader to realize that and decide what to do with that from there.
Also, the mention is made that the darkness over the land is not in any texts. Unfortunately, it is in Phlegon. Most people would have read of what happened as an eclipse. Even if told though that it was in connection with the death of a man, they would have scoffed. Why is that? A simple reason. Loftus still hasn’t learned that ancient people weren’t gullible.
And why was the tomb not venerated? It wasn’t because which tomb it was didn’t really matter once Jesus rose. Tourism was not a big deal for the Jews. The idea that locations connected with famous people should be venerated came about from Gentile influences. Also though, there are even Jewish NT scholars who believe we have found which tomb it was.
Now Loftus does hint at a couple of other resurrection theories. Unfortuantely, there is no reason given to believe any of them. Without evidence, it’s hard to give them credibility.
Loftus also says the empty tomb alone doesn’t prove a resurrection. I don’t know anyone who says it would. It is necessary, I agree, but not sufficient, as his source of Stephen T. Davis says. That is why the other facets are mentioned along with the empty tomb such as the conversion of skeptics and the appearances to the apostles.
Tomorrow, we shall look at Loftus’s arguments on “What Really Happened?”