I normally try shorter quotes than this, but the whole of this quote exceeds the sum of its parts:
Assuming that Jesus did in fact die on the cross, the question about what happened to his body naturally follows. Was Jesus’ body really absent from his tomb? Through excavations of first-century tomb sites, archaeologists have been able to ascertain the security of Jesus’ tomb. A narrow ramp would have led to a low entrance, and a large stone weighing nearly two tons would then be rolled down this ramp and sealed in place across the door. While it would not have been difficult to put the stone into place, it would have required the strength of multiple men to push the stone back up the ramp. In other words, the entrance was quite secure. Yet as the earliest Christians proclaimed, on Easter Morning, the tomb was empty! And the tomb site was known to Christian and Jew alike. If the grave had not been empty, it would have been impossible for a movement based on the Resurrection to have come into existence. Skeptics could have easily quelled the movement by producing Jesus’ rotted corpse. Yet even the earliest Jewish polemic against Jesus presupposes that the tomb was indeed empty. No one claimed that the tomb contained Jesus’ body. The question rather, was, What happened to the body? The Jews proposed that the Roman guards appointed to guard the tomb had fallen asleep and that Jesus’ disciples had stolen the body. They, never denied, however, that the tomb was empty.
My two cents
I remember one of my YouTube videos where I posted some quote on God or Jesus, and then I got a message saying that there is no evidence to support either God, Jesus, or the Resurrection (or all three). I replied that there was evidence, it’s just that the reader happened to reject it. Perhaps I should go to that person and ask what evidence they have for Jesus’s apparently unresurrected body…
When it comes to evangelism, I often think of what the correct balance is between relying on faith and appealing to the evidence. According to the Apostle Paul, we should prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21), but at the same time, anything that is not based on faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
I’ve heard of lawyers and judges who’ve said that the eyewitness testimony recorded in the Bible would pass legal standards of evidence for the purposes of securing a verdict. Further to that, I like this webpage that gives 365 reasons as to the Messiahship of Jesus. In raw mathematical terms, that beats the book I saw which gave 26 reasons why Jesus is not considered to be the Messiah.
Then again, I wonder if this type of mathematical shootout is the best way to reach the conclusion; I imagine that no number would be enough to convince certain people. This is where the evidence-based approach falls short—and only faith can take care of that.
Dunn, C. (2010). The Reality of the Resurrection: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus. Available: http://www.dartmouthapologia.org/articles/show/110. Last accessed 22nd Jan 2013.