Why The Silence On The Empty Tomb?


Philip Jenkins, who is the distinguished professor of history at Baylor University, posted a couple of  intriguing questions yesterday.

He writes…

Beyond debate, the Christian church was founded on Christ’s Resurrection. What can surprise though is how interpretations of that event differ even within the New Testament itself. As I think over these ideas, I’d like to state an issue, and ask for a response. And I really am asking: this is not a rhetorical question.

Here’s the question. Outside the four gospels, does any part of the New Testament refer to the idea of Christ’s empty tomb?

All the New Testament writings believe in Christ’s survival beyond death, in some kind of Resurrection. To the best of my knowledge, though, other than the gospels, none refers to that empty tomb story. That does not necessarily mean that they do not know the story, or do not believe it, but they do not use it anything like a modern apologist would. Why not?

Many scholars of Acts believe that these sermons faithfully reflect the content of early Christian preaching as it would have existed in the later first century. But if that’s true, it’s curious that Peter or Paul never ask their audiences how they explain the mysterious empty tomb. Even if they were embarrassed about using the evidence of women, why do those early preachers not cite the male apostles who entered the tomb?

Why the silence?

What do you think? Why do the early New Testament writers not refer to the empty tomb? Wouldn’t it be important to mention it in regards to Jesus’ resurrection?

Jenkins asks these questions seeking some honest answers. And since Easter is in less than two weeks, I thought it would be good to share his questions in search of some answers as well.

I’ll post some thoughts on these questions later in the week, but for now, how would you respond?


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