If There Was No Tomb, How Would The Resurrection Story Been Told?

Earlier I wrote the odds Jesus’ body was put in a tomb is less the 50%.  From what we know of Roman law and Pontus Pilate most likely the body hung there for a week or two in full view of the public. The Romans did that to make this point: We Romans are in charge. Don’t break our rules.

If our information is correct and Jesus’ body just hung there on display, those who wanted to write a resurrection story needed something better.  Their version had to conform to story telling standards.

Whether you are reading a book, watching a movie or play, the required pattern is this:  The stage is set by letting the audience become acquainted with the characters.  The hero and villains are identified.  There is a dramatic event.  But, who did it, what it meant or what will be the outcome develops a tension the story teller wants.

The Pharisees and the Romans were perfect villains–Jesus the perfect hero.  The tomb in the story was a perfect prop. It allowed a drama to develop of a stone removed, a body missing and an unresolved outcome.

A story with the body just hanging there and crows pecking at it, then, instantly coming to life, is too quick and simple. A mystery had to be developed.

Maybe story tellers could have had the fog roll in, mysterious sounds heard followed by a missing body.   “Where is it?  Did you see anything?” might have worked, but a tomb was better.

P. S.  Announcing an exciting event, a humanist conference right here in Fargo ND, Sept 12-14, 2014. Details at



13 Responses

  1. Grandma

    Most cultures, at some time or other, “change” history to make current events fit with older ideals or religion. Thus, the one “Great Spirit,” to which America’s First Nations were supposed to believe, but since they were polytheists with no one major god, was adopted because the Europeans couldn’t believe that any group of people had only one god.

    1. Grandma 11:00 Thus, the one “Great Spirit”, to which America’s First Nation were supposed to believe , but since the were polytheists with no one major god, …

      Great post. It’s interesting that the “one god” religion came to dominate in the U. S. through superior weapons, not because it a superior religion.

  2. Tyndale

    The elements that seems to be continually ignored are the Jews, the event of the Passover, and the religious tolerance of the Romans, in general.

    Concerning the burial, Josephus tells us, “Nay, they proceeded to that degree of impiety, as to cast away their dead bodies without burial, although the Jews used to take so much care of the burial of men, that they took down those that were condemned and crucified, and buried them before the going down of the sun.” (4.5.2)

    1. Tyndale

      Posted in haste. It should be read to say “Concerning burial in general” and the Josephus reference is from The Wars of the Jews. Apologies.

  3. Freedom

    Just curious Jon. I don’t believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny but I don’t feel the need to convince everyone else that they don’t exist. Perhaps, that’s because I know, deep down, that I am right. If y0u are that sure that there is no higher power, in all the universe, why even write about it? What’s the point? Again, I’m just curious.

    1. Freedom 3:43 Thanks for posting. Actually, I am not “that sure” there is no higher power. I’m interested in the evidence and that’s what I discuss.

  4. Wanna B Sure

    Here is one of those “Go or no-go ” situations. This is quite common on this site. Topics meant to be more provocative than meaningful. Filled with more holes than the filling. Not really worthy of reply, yet a non-reply may appear to be agreement with the topic for some. They would be wrong.

    1. Wolfy32

      As a fledgling writer I can appreciate the thought behind this post. If one looks at the bible as archeological and historical evidence, then why is it all told in stories with plots and with climaxes and resolution?

      There’s a few books like Numbers, that are more of the historical document layout, just stating facts, and no other real “Story” types of information. However, much of the bible is comprised of stories with many magical twists.

      1. Wanna B Sure

        Every day of your life is a story in itself. Full of plots, climaxes and resolutions. When you die, the full story is revealed.

        1. Wolfy32

          I’m fine with that, I’ve got nothing to hide.

          My concern would be more around if the stories are indeed real and not metaphorical.. Then, where’s the corroboration outside the bible. Is there any documentation throughout the world that corroborates the bible or the Koran?

Comments are closed.