One of the common reasons Christians and apologists give to say that the resurrection of Jesus was an historical event that really happened, as opposed to allegory or myth, was that the disciples didn't steal the body from the tomb of Jesus - because grave robbery was illegal.
There are two problems with this argument:
1) The mere fact that something is illegal doesn't prevent that something from happening. Murder and insurrection were illegal in the Roman empire - yet we see, for example, in the gospels that state laws against murder and insurrection certainly didn't prevent those murder and insurrection from happening. Barabbas, the man who was released in place of Jesus (see Mark 15:7), was charged with those very two crimes.
So the fact that there were laws in place to prevent grave robbery isn't an iron-clad guarantee that ensures no grave was ever robbed.
2) If indeed grave robbery was illegal, then why were there no trials of any of Jesus' disciples for such a crime?
Jesus was allegedly crucified by the Roman authorities and placed in a tomb. Three days later, that tomb was empty.
Afterwards, the known associates of this man the Romans had executed (the disciples/apostles) were proclaiming that he is no longer in that tomb.
In one instance of the resurrection narrative, a celestial force defeats the Roman soldiers put on guard to prevent this very thing.
Yet, for all the trials of the apostles that are recorded in Acts, no-one brings up grave robbery even once.
So then we come to a two-pronged problem:
a) If Jesus was indeed killed by the Romans and grave robbery was illegal, then why were there no trials of the disciples for either grave robbery, being an accessory to grave robbery, or for associating with a man condemned and executed by a Roman governor?
b) If a man the Romans had condemned and executed had indeed come back to life, this would make him an escaped convict - thus, the Romans would surely have rounded up Jesus and all his known associated and made sure the escaped convict was dead by killing him second time around.
Yet we know this didn't happen either.
So Christian apologists face a hurdle:
Either grave robbery wasn't illegal, thus opening the possibility up that the disciples of a crucified Jewish messiah figure took the body of the man they pinned their hopes on, thus enabling an embellishment (or outright myth making), or;
Grave-robbery was illegal, but no-one in authority noticed to ever press charges of such a serious crime - even though the testimony of those who had seen Jesus after he left the tomb spread like wildfire across three continents, or;
The gospels are reporting myth and embellishment.
Stay warm and healthy!
Discussion page for Walking Away From Faith: Interview With An Apostate.
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