The Stolen Body Hypothesis Debunked


After going over the other hypotheses for the eight facts, we approach the the second last hypothesis- the stolen body hypothesis (SBH). This is perhaps the strongest counter-hypothesis raised by my non-theistic friends and is a common objection that you may encounter. That is why I will provide you with three simple, yet effective reasons why this hypothesis fails.

A failure to explain Christian Martyrdom

1. The Disciples were willing to die for their belief

One of the main reasons why most people reject the suggestion that the disciples stole the body is the fact that they were willing to die for their beliefs. While people may be able to make things up without thinking about the consequences, every disciple (apart from Judas who killed himself) died for their Christian faith, some in very gruesome ways.

It is inexplicable why anyone would suffer such a punishment knowing full well that they made it up. This is further emphasised by the fact that the disciples had no motivation to die for this belief.

To anyone in the Jewish world, belief in the resurrection of Christ and the proclamation of another God-man (in this case the trinity) would have been seen as outright heretical and would lead to future damnation. The disciples, being God fearing people themselves, would not have risked this damnation unless they really believed that this was true.

Therefore, by proclaiming that Jesus really did resurrect would have damned them on this earth and also eternally, a price which no God-fearing Jew would pay over a lie. This makes it very improbable that the disciples stole the body.

2. The SBH goes against everything we know about the disciples.

Stealing a body and lying about a resurrection would go against everything that the disciples believed in.

Jesus taught a message of honesty and truth, the action stealing the body would be in contrast with everything that Jesus taught. This would suggests that they weren’t sincere followers of Christ. However, this is highly improbable.

Imagine a businessman who gives up his job to follow his passion. He doesn’t know whether his new passion would be sufficient to put food on the table, but he does so anyways. The last thing you would do is accuse them of insincerity. However, this is exactly what the SBH postulates. Making it remarkably improbable

“This [the SBH] would run totally contrary to all we know of [the apostles]: their ethical teaching, the quality of their lives. Now would it begin the explain their dramatic transformation from dejected and dispirited escapists into witnesses whom no opposition could muzzle”

 McDowell, Josh. More than a carpenter. p. 95.

3. The Disciples went back to fish after the death of Christ.

The Disciples went fishing after Jesus’ death

What did the disciples do after Jesus’ death?

A) They started preaching the resurrection.

B) They joined a bass fishing competition.

C) Went back to their old life.

The answer is C. They went back to fish for a living.

What does this have to do with the SBH?

It does show that they were willing to leave the disciple life all behind, that they lost significant interest in the Resurrection account. Instead of spreading the gospel immediately. They gave up and went back to their old life.

This runs in direct contrast with the SBH. If the SBH was true, the disciples would have stolen the body and started spreading the gospel immediately. They definitely would not have gone back to fish.

Furthermore, one must ask what made the disciples stop fishing. In the gospel accounts (John 21), it suggests that visions of Jesus (post-mortem) led to the disciples renewed passion in Christ.

Hence, both the post-mortem vision and the change of the disciples work against the SBH and suggest that it is significantly improbable.

To Conclude:

Due to these three important reasons, we can see that the SBH is an insufficient explanation of the eight facts due to its low probability and explanatory scope.

I would like to remind you to check out my channel where I posted a video on this very topic and feel free to subscribe. It is free and you can always change your mind. Stay safe and I look forward to the next upload.

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