Christians rely on the claim that Jesus was resurrected from death as convincing evidence for the truthfulness of Christianity. Skeptics however have tried to find alternative explanations to the resurrection in ways that rely on naturalistic factors to avoid any miraculous explanations and discredit the Christian claims. One of those alternative explanations is called the relocated body theory.
What do they mean when they say His body was relocated?
This theory proposes that the body of Jesus was temporarily put in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea on Friday night before being relocated to a criminal’s tomb. The tomb of Jesus was empty not because He resurrected, but because the body was simply relocated.
The relocation theory is supported by the fact that reburial was common in ancient Palestine. But it’s important to note that the reburial procedures of the Jews differed significantly from the theory proposed here. The Jewish tradition was to bury a body for one year, and after the flesh decomposes and only bones remain, they would remove the bones and place them in an ossuary.
Why is this theory false?
The problem with the relocation theory is the complete lack of historical support, either in biblical or non-biblical sources. None of the New Testament accounts suggest that the body of Jesus was planned to undergo a reburial procedure. Also, the relocation plan wasn’t a concern for either the Jewish leaders or Pontius Pilate, who allocated soldiers to guard the tomb of Jesus without giving them instructions about a plan for reburial.
At best, if the reburial idea were true, all it accounts for is the empty tomb. Interestingly, the empty tomb didn’t convince any of the disciples—possibly except for John—that Jesus was resurrected from death. The multiple appearances of Jesus convinced them, and the reburial theory can’t account for these.
If the body of Jesus was simply relocated, then why didn’t the Jewish and Roman leaders reveal the actual body to refute the claims of the resurrection early on?
Here are links to the other articles in this series:
- Alternative theories about the Resurrection [1/5]– The Wrong Tomb Theory
- Alternative theories about the Resurrection [3/5]– The Swoon Theory
- Alternative theories about the Resurrection [4/5]– The Stolen Body Theory
- Alternative theories about the Resurrection [5/5]– The Hallucination Theory
Here is a link to the YouTube playlist covering all the alternative theories for the Resurrection: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAEp2qMB5dZIzERDWu6OSti9r9O2T1myp