2. Was Jesus’ body stolen?
Morison wondered if the disciples faked the resurrection story by stealing Jesus’ body, and then claiming he was alive. That might be plausible if the tomb was in an obscure area where no one would see them.
However, the tomb belonged to a well-known member of the Sanhedrin Council, Joseph of Arimathea. Since Joseph’s tomb was at a well-known location and easily identifiable, any thoughts of Jesus being “lost in the graveyard” would need to be dismissed.
Not only was the location well known, but the Romans had assigned guards to watch the tomb 24 hours a day. This was a trained guard unit comprised of four to 16 soldiers. Josh McDowell notes, “The Roman Guard unit was committed to discipline and they feared failure in any way.” It would have been impossible for anyone to have slipped by the guards unnoticed and then move the stone. Yet the stone was rolled away, making it possible for eyewitnesses to enter the tomb. And when they did, the body of Jesus was missing.
If Jesus’ body was anywhere to be found, his enemies would have quickly exposed the resurrection as a fraud. Tom Anderson, former president of the California Trial Lawyers Association, summarizes the strength of this argument:
“With an event so well publicized, don’t you think that it’s reasonable that one historian, one eye witness, one antagonist would record for all time that he had seen Christ’s body? … The silence of history is deafening when it comes to the testimony against the resurrection.”
So, with no body of evidence, and with a known tomb clearly empty, Morison accepted that Jesus’ body had somehow disappeared from the tomb.