I have devoted a large number of posts to going carefully through the main arguments that Craig Evans makes in his critique of the position I take in How Jesus Became God with respect to the burial tradition, in his essay, “Getting the Burial Traditions and Evidences Right” (in How God Became Jesus; check it out!). To this point I have been trying to argue that the accumulation of arguments in and of itself does not constitute a “cumulative argument.” Each of the accumulated arguments has to carry *some* weight if the overall argument is to carry *much* (or a lot of) weight. And in my judgment, none of the arguments that I have adduced and responded to so far carries much, if any, weight.
Some of you will probably disagree with me, and that’s fine. But I do hope that I’ve shown that I’m not the uninformed skeptic that Craig portrays in his essay. At times, reading it, I felt like I was being lectured to. On the other hand, maybe Craig feels the same way in reading my responses (he’s not on the blog, but I have a sneaking suspicion that these posts have made their way to his computer screen for his reading pleasure) (Hi Craig!).
I am now in a position to consider two final arguments. I have saved these until last because in my opinion they are his strongest ones, and I think most anyone reading his essay will agree. He actually gives rather short shrift to one of them, which strikes me as odd and counter-productive for his own case, since he could have hammered it home. In fact, my view is that he should have written his essay stressing these two arguments and used everything else as auxiliary backups, in very brief order, since in fact on their own none of the others, on close inspection, as I just pointed out, actually seems to carry much (or any) weight.
So, in my next several posts (the final ones of the thread, for which we can all be grateful) I will address the two arguments that are most important: (1) The Jewish historian Josephus appears to say that the Romans allowed Jews to practice their burial customs (whether he actually says that or not will be part of our question); and (2) We have the remains of a crucified victim with a nail still attached to his ankle, showing that *this* crucified Jew, at least, was buried.
Before addressing these important points (neither of which convinces me, as you may have suspected [!]), I realize that I need to provide a bit of background on Josephus, to help make sense both of what Craig says and of my response to him. So, for some very basic background to bring you sufficiently up to speed, in case you’re not already, I include the few introductory comments that I devote to Josephus in another one of my books (my NT textbook). As follows: