Was the tomb empty?: A lawyer weighs the evidence for the resurrection. A book by Graeme Smith

  Was the tomb empty?

There is no greater question for anyone this side of death than whether the resurrection took place. That question is only matched by the question which arises for the enquirer if he or she concludes the resurrection did occur, namely 'shall I give my life to Christ?' The apostle Paul put it in the negative: '...if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith' (1 Cor 15:14) but, he continued, if he did rise there is eternal life for believers.

Given the enormity of what is at stake Judge Graeme Smith's fresh look at the issue in his book 'Was the tomb empty?' is very welcome. As a conscientious and experienced judge he has to think about and consider how to handle, assess and weigh evidence, to address his mind to burdens and standards of proof, to consider prejudice, bias and preconceptions and to give judgments. He is open about the fact that he writes the book as a judge who is a Christian but as Lord Mackay says in his endorsement of the book, it is 'well-written, even-handed and very refreshing'. Sir Mark Hedley comments that it is a 'clear and thoughtful judicial study' adding that 'there is a solidly rational basis'. Judge Smith's methodology and approach is clearly set out and he approaches the evidence in a reasoned and transparent manner.

Graeme Smith takes the reader on an accessible tour through the evidence of Christian and non-Christian sources analysing them at every turn. He looks at the various alternative explanations for the resurrection and he address some of the expert material.

The twist at the end of the book is that a judge who has a civil ticket and is used to giving probably several judgments a day does not give his judgment: he rightly recognises that his jurisdiction is limited and that the judgment is for the reader to give. He does an excellent job in going through the evidence and summing up. But whilst he does not give the judgment he makes it clear that the decision is not a dry judicial exercise but that it leads to the second greatest question which has life changing consequences.

This book is well-worth reading and makes a great book to give to non-Christian colleagues, friends or family to encourage them to engage with the key questions in life.

David McIlroy

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