Another major factor in favor of Jesus’ burial and the empty tomb is that (5) both are actually admitted by the Jewish polemic against the Christian message. The response of the Jewish leaders is not only recorded in Matthew 28:11–15, but we are told by both Justin Martyr^27 and Tertullian^28 that this continued to be the Jewish message at least through the second century. It would be incredible that this would be their report instead of what Crossan thinks is the more likely scenario, if the latter had, indeed, occurred. Why was not this simpler thesis employed?
Of course, some may think that the Jewish report of the empty tomb is simply an invention of the early Christians. But such an assertion is question begging; it merely assumes what has not been proven. Once again, we ask for the evidence for such claims.
Continuing, certain evidences for the empty tomb also argue for a specific burial for Jesus. (6) From a very early date, the pre-Markan passion account points to an empty tomb.^29 And if the story was created later, (7) why would women be cited as the initial witnesses, given the fact that they were not even allowed to give testimony in law courts? Such details argue for the traditional scenario.
26 Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, pp. 152–158, especially p. 158; also Crossan, The Historical Jesus, pp. 391–394, especially p. 394.
27 Dialogue with Trypho, 108.
28 On Spectacles, 30.
29 William Lane Craig dates this pre-Markan testimony, at the latest, to AD 37. See his essay, “The Empty Tomb of Jesus” in Gospel Perspectives: Studies of History and Tradition in the Four Gospels, vol. II, ed. by R.T. France and David Wenham (Sheffield: JSOT, 1981), pp. 182–183, 190–191.
Further, (8) Jesus’ burial is supported by confessional statements in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4 and Acts 13:29.^30 These early, traditional reports confirm the ancient belief that he was buried in a tomb rather than in some unknown grave.
Lastly, (9) the apostles’ early proclamation of the resurrection message in Jerusalem, the very city where Jesus died, was in direct opposition to the will of the Jewish leaders. This reality would have provided a catalyst to make sure that the burial details were known and that the grave was, in fact, empty.
In sum, the agreement of each of the Gospel texts, the lack of any early, contrary documentation, both the Jewish and Roman interest in Jesus’ death, the Jewish polemic admitting the empty tomb, the pre-Markan narrative, the witness of the women, the early confessional statements, and the Jerusalem preaching all argue strongly against Crossan’s challenge to the traditional burial of Jesus.^31 His allegation that absolutely no one either witnessed the burial by the soldiers or otherwise remembered it is simply unconvincing. Nothing even approaching strong evidence favors his hypothesis. The Resurrection of Jesus
The Jesus Seminar fails to provide adequate evidence for either its general response to the supernatural or its particular skepticism towards the resurrection. But perhaps separate Seminar scholars offer a more careful response. Do we find additional critical approaches to this event? We will examine comments from Crossan and Borg in order to ascertain their thoughts on this subject. John Dominic Crossan