Philip Schaff, the great historian wrote, the purpose of the historian is not to construct a history from preconceived notions and to adjust it to his own liking, but to reproduce it from the best evidence and to let it speak for itself.
This study will cover only a few of the most popular theoretical explanations that have been set forth, generally by unbelievers or liberal theologians who very often operate out of a moral twist to explain away the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They reject the evidence not because it is insufficient, but because of its moral implications on their lives.
This theory says that Jesus did not really die, He only swooned, therefore the disciples saw only a revived or resuscitated Christ. Christ was nailed to a cross and suffered from shock, pain and loss of blood. But instead of actually dying, He only fainted (swooned) from exhaustion. When He was placed in the tomb, He was still alive and the disciples, mistaking Him for dead, buried Him alive. After several hours, He revived in the coolness of the tomb, arose, and departed. Some people go beyond this theory to claim that Jesus visited his disciples and then went to Kashmir to preach to the "Lost Tribes of Israel" with His mother, Mary. It is also claimed that Jesus died in Kashmir and buried there. This theory was made popular by Ahmadiya Muslims as the Quran states that Christ did not die on the cross1 although it was introduce by Karl Bahrdt, Karl Venturini and others.
The Physical Condition of Christ After Crucifixion. A word about the Roman Method of Crucifixion would be helpful in our case. Crucifixion was the worst form of execution in the Roman Law. It was so painful that this death was only given to the worst criminals. The Roman Law states that no Roman Citizen must be crucified under any circumstance.
But preceding the crucifixion, Jesus was exposed to a brutal flogging by the Roman soldiers2. These floggings usually consisted of thirty nine lashes but frequently were a lot more than that depending on the mood of the soldier. The soldier would use a whip of branided leather throngs with metal balls woven into them. When the whip would strike flesh these balls would cause deep bruises or contusions, which would break open with further blows. And the whip had pieces of sharp bone as well, which would cut the skin severely. Some people would die from this kind of beating even before they could be crucified. On other occasions the victim would go into a state called Hypovolemic shock. It is a condition in which the person suffers the effects of losing a large amount of blood. In this state, the heart tries to pump blood which isn't there. As the result the blood pressure drops, causing fainting or collapse. This has caused Jesus to collapse when He was carrying the cross. Then the kidneys stop producing urine to maintain what volume is left. The person becomes very thirsty as the body wants some fluids to replace the lost blood volume. This is why Jesus said "I thirst".3
After this comes the more painful part as if the flogging procedure was not painful engough. Jesus was nailed to the horizontal beam with nails that are five to seven inchs long. This would crush the largest nerve going out to the hand. When the cross was hoisted nail will also be driven through the feets of the prisoner. When hoisted the arms would have been stretched, dislocating the shoulders. This would fullfill the prophecy in Psalm 22 which told says "My bones are out of joint". The pain experinced by the victims were absolutely unbearable that they had to invent a new word excruciating to describe this pain.
Once a person is hanging in the vertical position, crucifixion is essentially an agonizingly slow death by asphyxiation. The reason is that the stresses on the muscles and diaphragm put the chest inot the inhaled position; basically, in order ot exhale, the individual must push up on his feet so the tension on the mucles would be eased for a moment. In doing so the nail would tear thruough the feet, eventually locking up angainst the tarsal bones. This would go on and on until complete exhaustion would take over, and the person would'nt be able to push and breathe anymore.
To say that anyone could survive such a punishment and survie is lunacy.
Historical Documents. When examining this theory, ask yourself how much evidence is there to support this theory. This theory is one desperatly lacking proof. The death of Christ was recorded by four diffrent people. Thery are many external documents also to support this theory. Tacitus, the Roman historian quotes “The originator of that name, Christus(Christ), had been executed when Tiberuis was emperor by order of the procurator Pontius Pilatus”4. There are more documents that support this fact. The Bible says that the Roman soldiers did not break Jesus’ legs because they saw that He was already dead5. Pontius Pilate ordered a centurion to verify the death of Jesus6. He couldn’t make a mistake because he would have to pay for it with his life. A Roman soldier plunged a spear into Jesus side and blood poured out7. Medical experts say that if He were not already dead, this would have killed Him. Others say that pouring out of blood and water was the proof that Jesus was already dead.
Methord of Burial. The body of Jesus was wrapped in a linen cloth together with 70 rathel of embamming spices(in liquid form). This was tightly wrapped around His body. The spices would make the linen very hard as the spices would harden. This would make it impossible for a man to qet out of this wrapping even though he is alive. This was placed in a tomb cut out of solid rock. A very large stone weighing about 2 tons was rolled against the entrance. Roman watch of strictly disciplined men stood guard at the tomb according to the instructions of the authorities8. They obviously wanted the body to stay behind the stone barrier. Yet the tomb is empty till today.
The swoon theory would require that Jesus, in his very weak condition, would wriggle out of the wrappings, push aside the 2 ton stone alone and fight the migthy Roman soldiers and walked the long distence to Kashmir.
On account of the overwelhming evidence that I have presented before you, we come to the conclusion that what gospels say about the life, death and ressurection of Christ are actual facts and incontrovertible truth.
Appearances of Jesus. Jesus appeared to his disciples and many others for 40 days after His resurrection. More than 500 people saw the resurrected Christ at the same time during this period9. History also supports this fact. The historian Josephus wrote “For Jesus appeared to them the third day alive again, as the holy prophets had predicted”. These appearances can only be possible if He rose from the dead. This evidence strongly points towards the resurrection of Jesus.
Transformation of People. Christ transformed people in history and still is transforming people today. This is only possible if he is alive. He transformed his disciples. They all fled out at the time of His capture. But after a few days they became men who were ready to die for Him. Only one of the disciples died a natural death. Others were stoned, crucified killed by sword etc. Only the conviction that Jesus conquered death could transform them. The disciple saw the risen Jesus. If they had not seen Him, they would never have given their lives for what they knew was a lie. And such lives of conviction led many such Christians to do the same in times of persecution in history.
|1. Surah IV:156-157||4. Annals XV,44||7. John 19:30|
|2. John 19:1||5. John 19:33||8. Matthew 27:66|
|3. John 19:28||6. Mark 15:43-45||9. I Corinthians 15:6|