Theory #1 – The disciples stole the body

This was suggested by the earliest opponents to the Christian movement. The Jewish leaders circulated a story that the disciples stole the body and began to lie about his resurrection[1]. This idea is recycled every now and then and put forward as an explanation for the events that caused Christianity to burst onto the world stage 2000 years ago. And it certainly gives a perfectly reasonable suggestion as to how the tomb came to be empty.

However, despite it being a valid explanation for the empty tomb, it lacks coherence when the other facts are brought into view.

We have already concluded that the disciples did not expect resurrection to occur, neither before or after Jesus had died. How likely therefore are they to have fabricated this story? Furthermore, they were transformed by some kind of experience from fearful rural countrymen to confident outspoken orators. They must have genuinely believed what they were saying about Jesus, regardless of whether or not it was true – we established this fact very firmly. It is therefore impossible to accept that the disciples stole the body and concocted an elaborate conspiracy. This doesn’t explain all the facts as we know them.

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[1] Matthew 28:11-15