It’s the famous old excuse:
“Jimmy, where is your homework?”
“I’m sorry teacher, but the dog ate my homework.”
We’ve all heard it, but have you ever actually known someone to use that excuse? Have you ever used it yourself? Probably not.
Because it’s ridiculous!
In my last post, I stated that there was no alternative to an empty tomb on the first Easter Sunday morning. Well, that was sort of untrue. Sorry.
I was a little disingenuous there, but for good reason. There has been one theory floated out there in recent times which does supposedly account for there being no body in the tomb. The problem is that the theory is as ridiculous as little Jimmy’s excuse, and should be dismissed out of hand. So although there may be an alternative, I don’t think there are any serious alternatives to the empty tomb.
This theory, which was touted prominently by Jesus Seminar founder and “expert” John Dominic Crossan, states that the reason there was no body in the tomb on Easter morning was because the body was never placed in a tomb in the first place. Instead, he argues, it was either thrown in a mass grave or left up on the cross to be devoured by wild dogs and carrion birds.
Now, on the surface that sounds like it might actually be a plausible explanation. We know that the Romans did in fact make it a practice to dispose of crucifixion victims in this way. But dig down just a quarter-inch or so and it completely collapses into utter nonsense.
The main problem is that in holding to this belief, you by necessity have to call all four of the gospel writers and Paul outright liars, for all of them specifically stated he was buried. The gospels even have specific details as to whose tomb it was (Joseph of Arimathea’s) and why he was placed in it. Then they all tell elaborate stories about women going to the tomb to finish dressing the body, disciples running to the tomb, Jesus appearing to them, talking to them, eating with them, teaching them.
Lies! All lies! Really?
Later I’ll go into why I don’t believe the gospel writers were lying, but does anybody really believe that all of these guys were lying through their teeth when writing this stuff? And that nobody called them on it when they did? No anti-Jesus people at the time spoke up and said, “Uhh hey wait a minute. That’s not true and you know it. We saw him thrown into a mass grave with our own eyes.” No, in fact you see people saying just the opposite and affirming the burial of Jesus.
Another major problem with the ‘wild dogs’ theory is that not only do we have specific evidence that Jesus was buried in a tomb (the gospels), we also have extra-biblical evidence that all Jewish crucifixion-victims in general were buried. The Jewish historian Josephus corroborates this in his Jewish Wars, Volume 4 (Chapter 5, 2nd paragraph). In it, he states specifically that although the Romans did in fact humiliate corpses by casting them away without burial, the Jewish people:
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.
This was to abide by Deuteronomy 21:22-23:
When someone is convicted of a crime punishable by death and is executed, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree; you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse.
So, really, there’s no good reason to believe that Jesus’ body was devoured by wild dogs. No one at the time used this as a refutation of the Resurrection, and Josephus specifically mentions that Jews were buried. It’s important to note too that his quote is not in any way referencing the Jesus story. He’s not using it to prove a point, he’s just mentioning it as something that happened at the time.
In the end, though, do we really believe that a theory such as this would only come to light after two thousand years had passed?
Really? It took that long for us to figure it out? And nobody, not one single person, who lived at the actual time the Gospels were being written thought to speak up and mention this?
Wow. That takes some faith.
So what do you think? As for me…
I think the dog theory is for the birds.
Truth poorly defended loses not its truthfulness;
Falsehood aptly defended loses not its falsity.