Crossan also notes that, because the two earliest complete New Testaments in existence do not contain the last twelve verses of Mark, his gospel actually ended with: "So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid." (Mark 16:8) Yet, if that's how Mark actually ended, how did Mark find out that the women saw a young man in a white robe inside an otherwise empty tomb?
All of this leads Crossan to conclude: "the empty-tomb story is neither an early historical event nor a late legendary narrative but a deliberate Markan creation." (p. 558)
Professor Vermes probably would dispute that last assertion, if only because he believed that "the themes of the identity, suffering and resurrection of the Messiah" were "inserted" into the gospels "under the impact of early church tradition." (p. 76)
Part Two of this essay will examine the transformation of the historical Jesus of Nazareth, the messenger of God, into Jesus Christ -- the message of God.