The empty tomb is the pivotal point of Christianity. I am always good for a debate, and when a person tells me that Christianity is false or illogical, I always say, "You have a point about your doubts, and I might agree with you except for one issue; the tomb was empty that first Easter morning."
That very fact is something the disciples were willing to die horrible deaths for, and it is something that Rome and the Jewish leaders despised. If the tomb wasn't empty, why did the disciples become martyrs for a lie? If the body was stolen as a plot, why couldn't the Jewish leaders or the Roman leaders produce the body to squash the newfound boldness of Jesus' followers? If the tomb weren't empty, why did people in Jerusalem come to Christianity by the thousands? It seems like the fact of the empty tomb, if false, would have been easy to disprove so soon after Jesus' death in the very city in which the events of the passion occurred. I can only come to one logical conclusion, and that is that the tomb was indeed empty that first Easter morning, and NOBODY knew (at first) what had happened to Jesus' body.
The truth is there, but it has been depicted so many times, how in the world can an artist find a fresh vantage point on this event? First, it is worthwhile to look at what other artists have done with this subject matter. Below is a trip through time and across continents to see how different visual artists have depicted the empty tomb in their work.
Above: Holy Women at the Tomb of Christ by Annibale Carracci, 1585.
Above: Unknown artist
Ottonian, Mainz or Fulda, about 1025 - 1050
Tempera colors and gold on parchment
Above: painting by Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308-1311.
Above: painting by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1882.
Above: The Angel Is Opening Christ's Tomb by Benjamin Cuyp, c. 1640
Oil on wood, 72 x 89,6 cm
currently in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
Above: The Two Disciples at the Tomb by Henry Ossawa Tanner, c 1906. Oil on Canvas
Above: Anonymous French painter c 1970's painted this scene for the Jesus Mafa project in North Camaroon.
Above: The Empty Tomb by Bertrand Bahuet, France
Above: painting by Hanna Cheriyan Varghese, Malaysia
Above: Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene in the Garden stained glass window by Edward Burne Jones, located in Trinity Church in Saugerties, NY.
Above: Women at the Empty Tomb detali from Passion of Christ stained glass window in Chartres Cathedral, c. 1150
Above: The Empty Tomb stained glass window in Grace Lutheran Saint Petersburg, Florida
Above: stained glass window in St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Ridgeway, North Carolina
To learn more about the art of stained glass, click here.
Above: relief in Munster Cathedral, Germany
Above: The Empty Tomb Dr. He Qi, China.
To learn more about Dr. He Qi, click here.
Above: Asma Menon Medium-Acrylic on Canvas(with simple wooden frame)
Dimension -35 x 27 inches from Chennai, India
This piece is a depiction of the empty tomb, but it is not painted by a Christian. The artist, Asma Menon claims to be a Muslim, and her husband is a Hindu. However, the depiction is interesting enough to include in this article, giving a different perspective than simply the European Renaissance idea of what the empty tomb scene must have looked like.
And last but not least, we present pictures of an empty tomb sculpture in Resthaven Cemetery in Lubbock, TX. The sculptor is Terrell O’Brien from nearby Lamesa, TX, and it was completed in 1993. This sculpture was envisioned by its owner, who was an outspoken Christian, in order to solve the problem of what to do with the excess dirt from the graves. Every year, on Good Friday, a worker rolls the stone in front of the tomb's opening, and then on Easter morning, a worker rolls the stone away.