Proofs From Silence


There’s a faulty line of argument that critics of the Bible sometimes have. It’s called “Arguing from silence.”

The line of reasoning is this – The Bible does not mention Nazareth in the Old Testament. Therefore it did not exist.

If anyone can spot the flaws in that reasoning, you’re probably already jumping up and down.

The Old Testament also never mentions South America. Therefore it did not exist until after the Bible was finished.

If I made that argument, then millions of critics of the Bible would froth at the mouth for my head on a charger. Call me Philip the Baptist. đŸ˜‰

This is arguing from silence. Now, you can’t have it both ways! If my argument about South America was ridiculous (and trust me, it was!) then the argument about Nazareth is just as ridiculous.

Well, hang onto your hat. I’m about to mention an argument that involves silence, and it’s a valid argument.

Sherlock Holmes fans will immediately identify this argument as “The curious behaviour of the dog in the night.”

6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: 7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. 8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? 9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. 11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. Acts 26:6-11 (KJV)

12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. 14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. 16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. 19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: 20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. 21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. 22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: 23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. 24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. 25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. 26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. Acts 26:12-26 (KJV)

What is curious to me is the protest of King Agrippa – not Festus, but Agrippa – when Paul mentions the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“what are you talking about? Agrippa didn’t protest!!!”

That’s the curious thing.

There’s all kinds of bizarre speculation – the swoon theory, recently raised by Deedat, and Ehrman’s insistence that the Jews simply moved Jesus’s body, or that Mary went to the wrong tomb, or that dogs ate the Lord’s body, or the Romans moved Jesus’s body, etc… all these theories fall apart rapidly, like the morning mist before a rising sun, in view of Agrippa’s silence.

“Hang on there Paul! We moved his body! We moved it to a different grave! Do you need to see it? Hey Arthur, can you go get a horse or a F-150 or something and bring that body here? Let’s get the servants to distribute refreshments while we fetch the body for this Paul guy…”

That’s similar to what Agrippa would have said. Agrippa was a good king. He was respected by the Jews, and was even called to read from the Torah by the Pharisees and Sadducees, who finally agreed on something. Alas. the Torah portion was the one about not letting a Hasmonean enter the Temple unto the fourth Generation. Agrippa was a third generation Hasmonean. He broke down and started weeping when he read that aloud. That should tell you something about Agrippa’s character, and why Paul tried so hard to witness to him.

But Agrippa said nothing. I even left a break in the verses where he should have protested.

What can we learn from that silence? “The behaviour of the dog in the night” shows the dog knew the culprit in the Sherlock Holmes story – indeed, it was the owner of the dog! In this case, the silence of Agrippa (the only good Herod in the whole family!) tells us that A). Jesus’s body was missing, and that B). the Jews did not have it.

Festus only accused Paul of being driven mad by his learning. He never said, “Wait a minute buddy! We took that body to keep you from saying exactly this!”

So, Festus too has a proof from silence. Festus too is exhibiting the curious behavior of the dog in the night.

So, now, we can derive that C) the Romans didn’t have it.

1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) 4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Acts 12:1-4 (KJV)

We’re several years from this verse, and 14 chapters. We’ve got proof from silence from the Apostles as well.

Not one Apostle ever recanted the belief that Jesus rose from the dead. The time to confess it would have been Acts 12:5.

The fact that all of the apostles died for their faith in painful ways tells me this – D) The apostles didn’t have the body either.

All right sherlock holmes fans… what’s the answer? Who’s got the body?

Why, Jesus Christ, of course. He’s the only person we haven’t examined. We explored the Romans, the apostles and the Jews. Who’s left? The Chinese? they weren’t there. The Greeks? They weren’t either. And it’s pretty probable they’d have turned the body over to the Romans or (if they wanted to embarrass the Romans) to the Jews.

And in that case, when Paul went to Macedonia, they would have simply produced the body,

So the only person we haven’t asked is Jesus Christ. And yes – He had his own body with him.

Because He rose from the dead on the third day. Becuase He was and is God,

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Author: philipdean2013

Seminary graduate with a Ba. in Theology/Pastoral Studies, Happily married, Independent Baptist. I can't keep silent about what I see going on in Christianity any longer! Apostasy reigns around us, churches are sliding into worldiness, a whitewashed Gospel is preached everywhere... "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Jeremiah 6:16 (KJV) So, I'm speaking out. ...Why aren't you???

11 thoughts on “Proofs From Silence”

  1. The comparison between the Bible not mentioning Nazareth and the Bible not mentioning South America, although true, is misleading. The question is one of whether the Bible omits something we can fairly expect it to mention. Given there are prophecies in the OT of Jesus’ birth, you’d think his home town might get a mention. But it doesn’t. Nothing relevant to the Bible happens in South America (except the Great Flood*).
    The more relevant issue is not actually the content of the Bible, though. It is the content of extra-Biblical sources and surveys that still do not mention Nazareth.
    * Given Genesis and its love of lists, it’s also of note that the Bible didn’t bother to list places immediately beyond the home town of the authors.

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    1. guilty – I used argument by bad analogy. However, ya gotta admit I got a point there!

      Good to see you’re still hanging around!

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    2. however, the point is, while you cannot argue from silence – you can argue proof from silence. That was my point. i just used bad analogy to get there. Sorry, I was tired when I wrote this.

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      1. I’m not convinced your argument necessarily holds. You are assuming to know the motive of each individual and assuming each person would want to be transparent about the disappearance of Jesus’ body, if they had information about it. I don’t know that that assumption is justified.

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      2. not really! Trust me when I say, if anyone had the body, someone would have produced it pretty quickly when Christianity began moving forward leaps and bounds! The Apostles were beaten by the Sanhedrin and told to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. If they’d had the body, they’d have shut the whole thing down right then. If Ehrman and the others are right that the Angel was saying “hey, you’re at the wrong grave” (which is not what he said), the Sanhedrin would have been stumbling over themselves to produce the body, once it started creating a schism and controversy in Judaism.

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      3. What if that body just happened to get up and walk away? You have to be prepared to examine that possibility.

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      4. Equally, you have to be willing to examine the possibility that nothing supernatural happened. And each possibility should be considered with some understanding of probability.

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      5. I did consider it, and examined the historical case for and against. The results: I became a Christian.

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      6. And I find that odd, given the possibilities:
        1. It’s a story invented by the Romans to encourage Jews to add the Roman emperor to the pantheon of gods (like the other religions did)
        2. It’s all fictional
        3. Jesus didn’t die on the cross (crucifixion had a non-0 survival rate)
        4. The body was taken to encourage the start of the Church
        5. The body was taken and given a respectful burial
        6. The body was taken so that no one could come to mourn (and attempt at stopping the Church from forming)
        7. Magic

        I’m not sure how the evidence is enough to overcome the sheer improbability of the answer being magic. All the other answers are vastly more probable.

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