The Empty Tomb and Christian Faith

Authored by Gerald O'Collins in Issue #4.2 of The Catechetical Review

“It would make no difference to my faith,” someone once assured me, “if they found the bones of Jesus.” He spoke only of his faith not being shaken and did not claim anything about the faith of others. About the same time, I received the results of a questionnaire on the resurrection presented to several hundred college students. Almost 90% agreed that they could not believe in the risen Jesus unless his tomb was found empty. They accepted the underlying argument of the graffito one sees on walls in the springtime: “There will be no Easter this year. They have found the body.”

What is the historical evidence that underpins accepting the empty tomb? And how does the empty tomb center Christian faith in Jesus risen from the dead?

Evidence of the Resurrection
The New Testament offers at least three strands of evidence that support the historicity of the empty tomb story: the testimony of Mark 16 (followed by Matthew 28 and Luke 24) that three women discovered Jesus’ tomb to be open and empty on the first Easter Sunday; the probably independent witness of John 20 that Mary Magdalene made that discovery (immediately confirmed by Peter and “the beloved disciple”); and the implications of Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 15.

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Editor's Reflections: Recovering God's Work in the Sacraments
By Dr. James Pauley
Free The distress has been palpable. Important voices within the Church decry clericalism as the cause of the current scandal. Others point to the Church’s teaching concerning sexuality not being lived or taught with clarity. Still others describe a lack of authentic conversion, that many of our leaders are not allowing the grace of Christ to bring... Read more
The Eucharist: Who, When, What, Why, and Where? Part 1
By Peter Kreeft
Free Socrates and Plato and Aristotle and Buddha and Confucius and Lao Tzu all gave us their minds; Christ gave us his body. They all tried to save the world from ignorance by their philosophies; Christ saved the world from sin and death and hell by his body and blood—both on the cross and in the Eucharist. Christ said, “Come unto me.” Buddha said, “... Read more
The Two-Fold Gift of Sacramental Grace: To Heal and To Uplift
By Sr. Mary Madeline Todd, OP
One of the marks of contemporary experience seems to be a widespread sense of brokenness, a sort of heaviness of being. Therefore, one of the least debated claims of Christianity is that we need healing, both personal and societal. Social analysts repeatedly look for the causes of this individual and collective discontent. While there are cultural... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now