Why didn't the Jewish authorities produce Jesus' corpse?

Why didn't the Jewish authorities produce Jesus' corpse when the rumor spread that he had risen from the dead? Let's find out.


The New Testament fixes public announcement of the supposed resurrection not three days immediately following the crucifixion event, but after a period in which some of Jesus' followers regrouped following their initial shock and disappointment and formulated their future plans. Public announcement of a resurrection was set for the Jewish festival of Shavuot, "The Feast of Weeks," approximately fifty days following the crucifixion (Acts 2:1, 22-24). By that day, Jesus' corpse would have been sufficiently decomposed to prohibit positive identification.

In the post-Shavuot period, exhuming the corpse would have been a pointless endeavor. A mishnah states: "They must not give evidence [of identity in respect of a dead man] except on [proof afforded by] the full face with the nose, even though there were also marks on its body or on its clothing. No evidence [of a man's death] must be given before his soul has departed, even though they saw him with his arteries cut or crucified or being devoured by a wild beast. They must give evidence [of identification] only during the first three days [after the death. After this period the decay of the corpse makes identification impossible or uncertain.]. . ." (Mishnah Yevamot 16:3). The general rule followed was that of identification within three days. In contrast, almost two months after death, in the warm Judean climate, forensic identification of Jesus' corpse would no longer be possible (cf. John 11:39).

© Gerald Sigal