Is there any evidence in Roman records of Jesus’ body being stolen? There is an account of the body being stolen in Jewish records, but what about Roman records? 


The answer is no.  There are no ancient Roman records of Jesus’ body being stolen. We have the Roman Tacitus reporting in the very early second century that he was crucified, but not that his body was stolen.  Josephus, the Jewish writer, also records the fact of his crucifixion at about the same time.  There are no Roman records or even written rumors of his body being stolen.  There are also no Jewish records or claims of his body being stolen—at least not contemporary with Jesus or in the next couple of generations.  Published Jewish claims that his body was stolen came from MUCH later—long after anyone can legitimately claim that such a claim has any historical validity. The earliest recorded Jewish claim that the body was stolen comes from Toledoth Yeshu in the 5th century. 

The only record of the claim that Jesus’ body was stolen which comes from the first century is a Christian source, not a Jewish one.  This is in Matthew 28:11-15 in which Matthew records that there were Jews making this claim. “And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.”  Of course, the Christian account is one of Jewish leaders plotting to create a conspiracy theory and using bribes to assure this theory would not die.  In Matthew it is clear that there were no actual facts to back up the claim (unless, of course, Matthew is lying).  Another source for the claim that Jesus’ body was stolen comes from Dialogue with Trypho about AD 170. This is an account of a debate between Justin Martyr and a Jewish opponent named Trypho.  In this record the Christian source, Justin himself, reports that his opponent, Trypho claimed the body was stolen. Trypho presents no evidence or even names of who he claims stole the body in the debate.

John Oakes

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