//A not so serious archeology of the swoon theory and the stolen corpse conspiracy

Easily the craziest idea about the famous empty tomb of Jesus is the one propounded by four allegedly anonymous authors in the initial decades after the “discovery”. Forget that there are excellent arguments that one was written by Luke, another by John Mark, a third by John the Elder and that in the case of the only one that is truly anonymous, a strongly attested tradition actually dedicates ownership of the text to the community that surrounded a Jewish apostle. FORGET THAT! Because there is no point in seriously entertaining the idea that the empty tomb was created by a resurrection since we now have microwave ovens and alarm clocks that project the time on to the ceiling. Also, scientists have discovered that dead people stay dead. Did you know that? So technically no evidence can ever possibly surmount the sheer wall of scepticism that we are bound to erect against such ridiculous claims because our lives are governed by the understanding of scientific investigation freed of historical context, philosophical complications, real-world practice or the awesomely inconvenient fact that science cannot adjudicate history any more than ballet can adjudicate who got me the best birthday present.

QM always gets me the best birthday present because he secretly really loves me.

Anyway, the swoon theory, which I mentioned yesterday, was first popularised by the German scholar Heinrich Paulus in his history of Jesus’ life. Hugh Schonfield’s The Passover Plot got lots of attention in the 1960s for claiming that Joseph of Arimathea colluded with Jesus to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. Funny how the Gospel writers who we know through their extensive and revealing works are to be utterly mistrusted but we can hang a conspiracy theory off Joey (who is only known through the Gospels). But then again, a lot of Mafioso types are called Joey, so he might be crooked. Maybe we can do some empirical tests later. My friend Geoff reiterated these arguments, which I once heard vividly described as a tissue of imagination, yesterday. I didn’t even point out that the strongest and earliest attestation to the Resurrection is actually made by Paul and that his testimony is utterly unchallenged and unchallengable by such arguments.

Further crazy ideas about Jesus

The idea of the stolen body was the earliest objection raised to tales of resurrection. As I alluded to yesterday, Matthew, which is to say ANONYMOUS WRITING PERSON (if it was written by a human- alien robots anyone?) himself addresses it. In the early 200s, Origen in his debate with Celsus takes up the same challenge. HM Reimarus in his hugely important 1778 work of liberal scholarship The Goal of Jesus and his Disciples made the case that Jesus’ body was stolen and concealed by his disciples.

Hence, in answer to my friend Geoff:

As a sceptic it’s always interesting to read what Christians think we are saying. It’s often a complete surprise! Do you have a source for a sceptic who says that disciples of Jesus stole his body?

Aside of course from the fact that Geoff unintentionally suggests in his sentence structure that sceptics and Christians are two non-overlapping sets, I have to say that the sources and heritage for both these arguments, which I only discussed because my friend S. was engaged in contemporary German literature that makes the same arguments, is long and gloriously incoherent!

Your Correspondent, Attributes his cockiness to sugar-rush