Ahhh, the Swoon Theory. So, Jesus didn’t really die on the cross…

Crucifixion Statue 4
Crucifixion Statue 4 (Photo credit: DrGBB)

The swoon theory is, simply put, an attempt to explain the evidence used to support Jesus’ resurrection (empty tomb, appearances, etc.) by saying that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross, but only appeared to have died. He later revived and his disciples either believed him to be resurrected or lied about his resurrection. There was no actual resurrection because no one can resurrect if they were never dead.

Rautakyy (I keep fighting the urge to spell his name with two k’s) suggested this in our recent conversation. He used the following as support

1.  Jesus stayed on the cross for a relatively short amount of time and crucifixion was supposed to be a slow death

 Rebuttal: People say he was beaten before the crucifixion but

                    i.    There’s no eyewitnesses evidence for this

ii.    It might suggest that he did die does not rule out the possibility that he did not die

2. We have historical records of people who were taken down and survived.

3. When Jesus stabbed in the side, he bled and dead men don’t bleed. Ergo, he wasn’t dead

The above summary of his argument is mine and I believe it to be charitable and accurate.

Here’s some reasons why this argument is unconvincing to me.

1.  Jesus didn’t accidentally survive the crucifixion: The Roman soldiers knew how to kill people; it was their job. If a roman soldier allowed a convicted prisoner to live, he got killed. This was a good motive to make sure your prisoners were actually dead when removed from the cross. If your prisoner was still alive when you wanted him dead, you broke his knees (as was done to the other two prisoners). If you weren’t sure he was dead, you could pierce his hearts through with a spear (as was done to Jesus). If he was still alive at this point, that would do it. When Jesus was stabbed in his side, blood and water came out, not just blood and Rautakyy seems to suggest. It was not mere bleeding. So, the idea that dead men don’t bleed does not work here. Alexander Metherell (look him up) suggested that the spear went into his lung, where some fluid had collected as a result of heart failure and this was the blood and water reported by John1. Either way, Jesus was dead.

Given the fact that (1) the Roman official could have made sure that Jesus was dead, (2) should have made sure that Jesus was dead (for his own sake), (3) was competent enough to tell a dead man from a living one and (4) according to the record, actually made sure that Jesus was dead, I am quite certain that Jesus was dead. And if he wasn’t, it was not because of incompetence, but because the soldier did not intend for him to die. If you want to argue for such a conspiracy, be my guest. Whose word should I take, anyway, a roman soldier whose life depended on making sure his prisoners were dead and was trained at it, or Rautakyy?

2.  If Jesus survived the cross, what then?

Jesus was subsequently embalmed with 75 pounds of spices, laid in the tomb and the stone was put over it. Then, after lying there without food or water for three days, suffocating, after the torture he had gone through and all the blood loss, he doesn’t die. He revives, frees himself of the burial clothes, rolls away the two-ton stone from the tomb and walks into the city on his injured feet. He then tells his disciples that he had been victorious over death (while looking like death itself!). Rather than get medical attention for him, the disciples begin to worship him as the risen savior.

No. Even if Jesus had survived the cross, he would have died in the tomb from the injuries he had sustained. If he survived those, he could never have convinced his disciples that he was risen. In his half-dead state, they would not have mistaken Jesus for a victorious conqueror of death as opposed to a lucky guy who managed to escape death by crucifixion. Rather, they would have felt sorry for him and tried to nurse him back to health. That leads us to my final point.

3.  Josephus told of how he had three of his companions who had been crucified removed from their crosses and given the best medical care but two of the three died anyway. Yes, Rautakyy, it was possible that people removed from the cross could survive, when they had not already been stabbed through the heart, declared dead and embalmed, then left without food, water or air in a tomb – one in three under the best medical care. (edit: 12|1|2012 : It turns out the third guy died later). This does not give me much optimism about Jesus’ chances at survival.

A Conversation with a Skeptic

Me: So, do you see why I have difficulty buying the swoon theory now?

Skeptic: Not really. I still think it is a good theory and your objections don’t work. For one, it is still possible that Jesus did not die on the cross. It is possible that the Romans conspired to let him live like Rautakyy suggested. It might have served their purposes. That way, the guard would have no fear of being punished for letting Jesus live.

Me: Now, I noticed that you did not actually provide any evidence to show that the Romans had such a conspiracy. You simply assert that it is possible. I do not deny its possibility, but in the absence of evidence for it, I have to reject it. I’m sure Rautakyy would agree.

Skeptic: There is evidence for it. But even if there wasn’t, it’s still more plausible than the resurrection.

Me: More plausible to whom? You or me? I can believe that you find it more plausible. You probably have some background belief (my English professor called them ‘warrants’) that makes it more plausible to you than the resurrection. For example, some skeptics reject miracles a priori so that almost anything seems more plausible to them if the alternative involves miracles. I myself probably have background beliefs that make the resurrection more plausible than any conspiracy theory (e.g. I believe conspiracies are by nature wildly speculative and I accept the possibility of miracles). Unless we wish to stop here and explore our warrants (which I think is bound to be more productive), I believe that we should just follow the evidence for the time being. The Resurrection has the empty tomb and the appearances as its evidence. Your theory tries to explain all that away but has nary a scrap of evidence in its favor. Surely, you must see why I have to reject it unless I shared your warrant?

Skeptic: No, I don’t want to go into warrants right now. Like I said, it has evidence. The romans were not too keen on killing Jesus. They used a strategy of divide and conquer. They set political and religious rivals in their territories against each other. They could have been doing that here, fueling the myth of Jesus’ resurrection in order to bring up a new faction that would help destroy the Jews.

Me: That’s not evidence. You’re simply saying that the Romans could have conspired to do this. I have never contested that. I simply argue that you have provided no evidence to show that they actually did it. That they could have does not mean that they did. Where’s the evidence that they actually did it?

This is a very bad skeptic. It must be because I’m hungry. I’m going to have dinner and then come up with a better skeptic in my next post.

________________________________________________________

For more on this topic:

On Guard: Defending your faith with reason and precision by William Lane Craig

I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

Just search the internet

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Tracy

I’m Tracy

50 thoughts on “Ahhh, the Swoon Theory. So, Jesus didn’t really die on the cross…”

  1. I am a bit busy, but since this post seems to be more or less directed at a claim I made, I now feel compelled to answer. And of course it is going to be an essay again. 😉

    I do not know this Swoon character, nor his/her theory. I have run into some amusing attempts of rebuttal of this theory, but it is very difficult to evaluate them without actually knowing the theory itself.

    My claim, to be exact, is that we do not know wether Jesus was actually resurrected, or not. You may have all the faith you want in it, but truth of any claim is usually decided by what is the most likeliest event. So, plausible in that respect. 🙂

    The Gospels are frequently referred to as eyewittness accounts and we are told that this proves the story to be true. However, the Gospels incorporate a lot of material, that is not presented from an eyewittness point of view. Like conversations between the priesthood and on one occasion events in the court of Herod and even the story of how the Roman soldiers mocked and beat Jesus up inside the Palace. Wich one of the apostoles could have ever wittnessed any of these? Then there is a lot of stuff that is openly admitted to be hearsay. Even the stuff that is alledgedly wittnessed by the apostoles could easily be explained by that they lied, remembered something wrong, or that they misinterpreted what they witnessed in the first place. Not to mention the possibility that most of it might be invented later by completely other people. In my experience these are all much more likelier and hence also more plausible options to the laws of nature to be broken by a particular deity.

    The Roman army was an efficient killing machine, but it also failed from time to time and was often found to be corrupted. It was specifically because the soldiers did sell convicted prisoners to friends and family, that such punishments as death for not killing the convict were given. As allways rules are being broken and all the more easily, if the commanding officer has allready “washed his hands” of the execution. (Think about the Abu Ghraib incident. Those US soldiers were well aware of the fact that they were in violation of a number of human rights treaties and that the punishment could be very severe, but they did not care, because they thought their commanding officers were totally uninterrested in these laws.)

    The fact that the apostoles claim they met their executed friend afterwards points out that the Roman soldiers were propably not so efficient at this very incident. Wich is more likelier, that the Roman soldiers did not kill the unemployed carpenter, that they thought he was dead, though he was not, as a result of the exeptional treatment he was given, or that he actually died and resurrected? The Gospels do agree that the Romans were not very committed in killing Jesus. Correct? Wether there was a conspiracy to save Jesus by the Romans, or by some of the followers of Jesus to bribe the Romans are actual possibilities. The motives for the people to act thus are there. Though, we have no proof of them having done so, we do have evidence that for some reason Jesus did not die, because his followers claimed to have met him alive and kicking later. There is even a possibiliyty that the soldiers thought Jesus was dead. The Roman army was composed of many different types of troops. The legionaries were known to be deadly killing machines, but there were several different types of mercenaries the Romans employed, and since no legion was stationed at Iudea during the time of the events it is even a very likely prospect that these soldiers were some sort of auxilia troops or palatia guards not at all worthy of the fierce reputation of the legionaries. All of these might seem remote possibilities, but are far more likelier explanations, than that any man resurrected, simply because the conspiracies and human errors would not need the laws of nature to be broken.

    We do not know how long the friends of Josephus who were taken down from the cross had been there. How propable it is that they had been up there for even a shorter time than Jesus, who was up there for one afternoon? Therefore we can not make any estimates on in how bad shape Jesus was when he was taken down, exept that since he had been there for a very short time in comparrison to how long the crucifixion was meant to last he could have survived it just as well as one of the friends of Josephus did. All this assuming the description of the event is accurate in any sense. After all it was not written down by historians interrested in historical integrity, but by some people long after .

    Where did you get the information about the amount of embalming fluids? In my version of the Bible there is no comment about Jesus being embalmed. In fact, quite the opposite. The women who found the empty tomb, were only on their way to embalm Jesus after the Sabbath with herbs they had aquired.

    How do you know it was a two-ton stone? The Bible I have read only ever said that it was a big stone. But if it was unremovable, what were the women going to do with the embalming herbs at the grave?

    The Gospels do not describe the state of Jesus after the alledged resurrection in very much detail. If he was on the cross at all, in few days he could have recovered enough to go about. Why not? Do you honestly think, that if he looked like he had really suffered on the cross, it would have caused more doubt in the minds of the diciples? He had changed, since the diciples did not at first recognize him at all and Thomas did not believe it was him before he had a chance to feel his wounds. If he still bore the wounds, then surely the resurrection had not removed any other marks of violence or pain from him, correct? How do you know what a man who has conquered death should look like? (When my grandfather was released from the concentration camp, and was horribly famished and had suffered violence and humiliation, I think at that state he really looked like he had “conquered death”, though he was just a lucky chap who did not die there like so many others.)

    You were quite charitable on my account of the issue, but since it was just a sidenote in a completely different conversation, I propably did not give a very thorough view on the matter. Is that why you presented this Swoon theory?

    The only major thing about my comment you forgot to mention here was that I showed by a small example, how the Gospel writers are unreliable as wittnesses. It was the part about Matt claiming there were other resurrections in the meantime Jesus was crucified. That was suspicious, because neither the other Gospel writers, nor Josephus the historian could be bothered to mention about such an extraordinary occurence. So, did one of the Gospel writers lie about that, or is there a nother explanation why this incident is not mentioned elswhere?

    Only one of the Gospels mentions there were guards at the grave, and while explaining that, Matt clearly is not giving an eyewittness account, because he goes far to explain how the Romans came to order the guards there. How could Matt have had any knowledge, why the Romans would have chosen to set a guard there? He even describes the conversation between pharisees and the Romans in wich it was supposedly decided that there should be a guard at the grave. Could it not be, that Matt came up with this stuff about the guards, just like he had come up witht the story about the other resurrections?

    We do not know, if any of the apostoles – not to mention the particular ones that wrote the Gospels – were at the crucifixion. They do not even make claims of having been there. It seems more like their account of the events there are a bunch of hearsay. The stories of angels at the tomb are obvously hearsay. I am sorry, but these are not actual eyewittness accounts. They are hearsay stories. And even, if they were in some parts eyewittness accounts, they do not prove that Jesus actually died and resurrected. The only thing they tell is that the people who wrote the Gospels wanted the readers to believe he did.

    We do not take eyewittness accounts of UFOs or alien abductions at face value, do we? Why is this ancient story any different? Most of the stories about alien abduction or UFO stories are actually more reliable, because they do not require the laws of nature to be broken. I do not find them plausible. Do you? If not, why would you find a less likely story to be more plausible? Or do you have evidence to back this story up that is more convincing and if so why is your evidence compelling to you?
    We do not know wether or not Jesus was in the grave for the three days. The Gospels claim that on the third day after the crucifixion the women found the grave empty, but there is no way of knowing wether Jesus had been there for all that time. It was not the apostoles who took Jesus down from the cross. Why? Perhaps because they were not even present? It was Joseph of Arimathea, correct? The Gospels claim that he put Jesus in a grave pit, but they do not tell us who wittnessed this event, nor what happened in between that and the third day when the women found the grave empty.

    The issue here is wether you would rather believe in a miracle, or would you rather accept that there was a natural explanation to the miracle. Any person whose own religion is not considered usually subscribes to the natural explanation. Correct? Or do you believe that the miracles claimed by Hindus are equal to those of Christians? From my perspective they are.

    You have the liberty to believe Jesus died and resurrected. 🙂 I have a liberty (under secular laws of both of our countries) to point out, that is not a very likely explanation all things considered in this natural world. To me the things Jesus alledgedly said about compassion are no less vaulable, if he was just a man, then if he was a son of a god like Matt claims the Roman officer at the execution said, or just a very righteous man like the Roman officer said according to Luke. Wich is interresting, since in the ancient Jewish tradition the former actually simply means the latter.

    Remember there were other sons of gods known to men in the culture of the empire that were – unlike the sons of Yahweh – considered flesh and blood sons of these gods (see Osiris, Horus all the pharaohs, and Hercules) and some of those were even known to have resurrected. In that sense cultural history shows us how Christianity was a union of Jewish monotheism and so many other religions (like Mithras cult, Magna Matera and many other mystery religions) within the Roman empire.

    You might be interrested in reading my earlier post referring this subject and the resulting conversation with a real living christian:

    http://rautakyy.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/miracles/#comments

    1. I replied with a post here. https://ferlans.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/how-we-defend-the-resurrection-no-its-not-by-telling-you-to-have-faith/
      It’s as organized as I could make it but I was pretty exhausted by the time I was done so I can’t say much for it. I hope to add my citations later.

      Speaking of citations, the quote for the weight of the stone, embalming and the amount of spices is from The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. I’ll give you the name of the guy who said it and a page number when I get home.I believe the idea is that Joseph of Arimathea and his people did some of it before laying Jesus in the tomb. The women were going to finish it on Sunday but the body was gone. I never said the stone was immovable (but even three women did not thing they would be able to move it by themselves. That should give you an idea of how heavy it was).

      John 19: 38 – 40 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.

      “do you believe that the miracles claimed by Hindus are equal to those of Christians? ”
      Only if the evidence is equal. I do not know if it is.

      “The Gospels claim that he put Jesus in a grave pit, but they do not tell us who wittnessed this event”
      Joseph of Arimathea and the women witnessed it. Mark 15: 47; Matt 27: 61; Luke 23: 55

      Exhausted. Must sleep. When I wake up, I’m going to give you a set number of words your comments must not exceed and then you’ll have to find a way to say what you wish to say with brevity.

    2. The quote about the size of the stone is from I don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Geisler and Turek, page 305.

      Your comment quota is 200 words. One word more and I’ll approve it, but I won’t reply.

      🙂 Let’s see how that helps your brevity. Have a nice day.

  2. So, the weight of the stone is not mentioned in the Bible. In effect, those guys Geistler and Turek just invented it. And this Strobell fellow just swallowed it in full? I would be very skeptic about any other claims they make in their book, if I were you. There is no way they could know what the stone weighted. Is there?

    The weight of the stone is not the real issue here, however. It is typical though, that coming up with such enormous weight, these apologetics are trying to influence our minds, so that we could not possibly think there are alternatives to the miraculous explanation of the events. It seems to me that the ancient people were much more supceptible to the miracles, because they had a limited knowledge about the natural laws, so they did not need to make bold claims of the stone being an immense obstacle for Jesus to come out.

    Three out of four Gospel writers only say, that the Jesus was wrapped in linen by Joseph of Arimathea and only one suggests he might have been otherwise treated like the Jewish corpses usually were in those days. One of them however says, that the women came to embalm the Body of Jesus days after because it was a holiday when he was crucified. As if suggesting he was not embalmed before because of the holiday. However, none of them even suggests they were eyewitnesses to these events. So it is hearsay. Where does hearsay qualify as evidence?

    Does the Bible not say: “Thou shalt not add anything to this”. Yet, there are tons of apologetic literature supposedly explaining what the Bible is all about. Why would the word of god be in need of such an amount of explanation? Could the all-mighty all-creator not achieve a message to humans that was universally understandable? Now, that would be a miracle to convince people.Would it not? 😉

    I have no idea how many words there are here now. 🙂

    1. It’s three hundred and 34 words. Copy it into a word processor and that’ll do the counting for you. It was not from Strobel and Geisler and Turek didn’t necessarily make it up. There are other ways to know things about biblical history than just the Bible, you know.

      Now, I was serious about those 200 words. I’m sure you can do it. That was the number of words we had for essays when I was in high school.

    2. “It was customary to roll big stones against tombs; the stones were generally too big to be moved by just a few men, so levers were used to move them. Some have estimated that the stone that sealed Jesus’ tomb weighed 1-1/2 to 2 two tons (1,361-1,814 Kilograms), which is the approximate weight of a midsize car.” – http://www.riverpower.org/resurrection.htm

      Hold on while I find their source before you accuse them of making it up.

  3. “It would be really nice if I could tell you that the photo below is of the tomb that Jesus once was laid in. Though this tomb, well outside of Jerusalem, serves as a great example of a first century burial place, that’s all it is… a great example.

    Note the track for the stone to roll in. Some of these tombs had even larger stones and a steeper incline… making it easy to close the tomb and very difficult to open. The steel band, of course, was not part of the original and now prevents the stone from being moved.”

    That’s from http://www.bibleistrue.com/qna/pqna1.htm If you want their source, I suppose you’ll have to ask them. I’m assuming someone visited the holy land and took a picture of it.

    I have emailed Geisler and the writer of that other website asking for their sources on the size of the stone and I’ll tell you if I get any replies but there’s one other thing I want to say. If you intend to comment on this blog, you will refrain from accusing anyone of lying or making things up without adequate evidence. In order to call someone a liar without getting banned you have to show that
    1. What they said was untrue
    2. They knew it was untrue
    In order to accuse someone of making up a fact, in addition to 1 and 2, you have to show that:
    3. The claim originated with them

    Anything less will get you blocked. If you are not necessarily in the habit of making up blatantly untrue statements to advance your cause, then I demand that you extend to others the charity of assuming that they believe the claims that they make (whether they are true or not) and refrain from accusing them of lying until you can prove it even if you have issues with the point they make.

    Now, as for your point that that the claims from the Bible are merely hearsay and were not witnessed by the gospel writers, it seems irrelevant to me. If you did not witness an event, hearing it from people who witnessed it is how you know the event happen. If Luke did not see Jesus being placed in the tomb, but Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea and the women told him Jesus was placed in the tomb, should he refuse to believe it merely because he did not witness it? What would he then conclude, that Jesus was left unburied to rot in the open? That you heard something from someone else does not make it untrue. Calling the gospels hearsay because Luke interviewed the women who saw the events is not a good way of dismissing them.

    Have a nice day.
    And if you wish to call Geisler and Turek liars again, arm yourself with some evidence.

  4. It is a blatant lie when a person deliberately comes up with misleading information to influence others, but sometimes people succumb to self suggestion. That is when a person really, really wants something to be true, and sincerily believes it with minimal evidence, or with no evidence at all, but tells the story forward as absolute truth.

    It seems to me, that something aching self suggestion is evident both in the case of Geisler and Turek and with the Gospel writers. There are reasons why no legal court accepts hearsay stories as evidence. Nor should they.

    If the stone was as big as claimed by Geisler and Turek and the tomb would have needed several men to open it up, or if there were guards at the tomb to prevent people from opening the tomb as only Matt suggests, then what were the women coming to the tomb with the embalming herbs going to do there?

    A nice day to you too.

    1. Self suggestion is a less serious charge than lying, but still requires evidence. It is also harder to show than lying because it requires some sort of expertize in psychology. it also requires you to be familiar with the person you wish to accuse. If you wish to say that the gospel writers, Geisler and Turek seem to you to have succumbed to such a thing, you may do so. You may believe whatever you wish to. But if you wish to present it as a fact and not merely your opinion, you will need evidence. I suggest you refrain from doing either unless you are an experienced psychologist and have actually met these people. You would also still need to show that the claim is false since if I come to believe that the moon is real by self suggestion, it does not mean that the moon is not real (Genetic fallacy)

      As Matthew (or was it someone else) pointed out, the women did wonder who would role the stone away for them but they wanted to anoint Jesus’ body anyway so they went to the tomb because they wanted to anoint Jesus’ body. They loved him, remember? Perhaps they would have begged the guards to open it for them. Would the guards have been expecting the grief-stricken women to steal Jesus from right under their noses? Perhaps they hoped to find some other people in the vicinity. Perhaps they weren’t even thinking about it in their grief. Perhaps they thought they would figure it out when they got there. I guess my answer is that the knowledge that they themselves could not roll away the stone need not have prevented the women from doing something they felt needed to be done.

      Courts might not accept hearsay evidence but historians do. For historians, if I write a story about something that happened to a friend of mine, this counts as some evidence. If Tacitus or Josephus or Luke writes the biography of someone they never met on the testimony of those who met him, it counts as evidence. If there is doubt, judgement is suspended until they have more than one source. Multiple attestation = probably true.

  5. Modern historians do not take any stories at their face value. If a historian has no faith invested in a story that tells a miraculous event, they do not write it down as a historical fact, even if there were multiple sources for that event. In such a case historians usually agree to either not to comment on the historicity of the miracle (if they suspect their comments would be offending to the adherents of a major religion), or they write it down as mythical element in the otherwise historical events (as often with religions that have allready died out). Scientific integrity demands that they do not claim miracles, that break the laws of nature as actual events.

    Historicity of an event is determined by the historical method from eyewittness accounts in contemporary sources. The claims of contemporary chroniclers are often measured by other information such as psychology of the masses and archeological evidence and other contemporary sources.

    Psycological reasons such as self suggestion is often referred to when the historicity of events are evaluated. People tend to do self suggestion a lot. It is not a medical condition.

    Though Jesus is recognized as a historical character, we still do not know, the actual events around his death, if he really even existed, because of the less than reliable sources on his life. Now, I happen to think he did, but I am not convinced about the acclaimed resurrection as long as there are other possible explanations to the events. Why would you be?

    Perhaps you should read my blog post I linked abowe here before. I am getting a feeling I am engaging in a conversation I have allready had.

    1. Yes, I think most secular historians do accept multiple attestation as a criteria for accessing historicity unless the event at hand is miraculous in which case they reject regardless of the abundance of sources for it. I say this is irrational, but beside the point. I do not intent to argue that the mere fact that the gospels say Jesus resurrected is enough to show that Jesus resurrected. I will be arguing to establish two facts. That Jesus died and that he was seen alive after his death. If I were to suitably establish both facts, would you consider the RH? Why or why not?

  6. I have nothing in particular against the claim that Jesus was seen alive after the crucifixion so no actual need to prove that one, though it is possible that the entire story is a fabrication. That being aside the point of our conversation here (if I have understood correctly), I would be very much interrested how you are going to “establish” Jesus actually died. So, yes I like to think I keep an open mind to all possibilities. I have no knowledge of the supernatural. I am suspicious about any claims made about it though, because of the wast abundance of examples of when it has been used to explain a natural phenomenon people have not understood and to lead people by demagoguery and authoritarianism.

    At this point I am only claiming that one of the two claims has to be false, because both of them being true would require the laws of nature to be broken. I am just more inclined to think the fact that Jesus was seen alive after the crucifixion holds more evidence, because it is alledgedly an eyewitness account, unlike his death, wich is more difficult to determine in this case, even if it was an eyewittness account. Also because something happened that caused the new end-of-the-world cult to be born. There allways is something that launches the imaginations of people in these cases.

    1. Let me try to get this. Is the main reason you do not believe Jesus died on the cross because there is not enough evidence for it or because you think there are ‘laws of nature’ that it would break.

      Now that I come to think of it, it seems to be the second. A cursory reading of the gospels does not led credibility to the idea that Jesus never died, nor is there an immediately obvious reason to believe so. It seems that only someone who wants to deny the death of Jesus for some reason would try to deny it and such a person could come up with any number of speculative reasons to do so.

  7. It is not about me wanting somehting. It is the fact that I am not compelled to believe any claims that demand the laws of the nature to be broken. And mind you, I am not demanding you to agree with me since you obviously are compelled. It is virtually impossible to verify the laws of nature have ever been broken, so why should anyone believe this story is an exeption unless they have blind faith invested in it?

    There is no doubt, that the Gospel writers wanted their audience to think a resurrection happened. Their friend they thought was a richteous man who could liberate Iudea from the Roman rule, had been declared a heretic by the priesthood and killed by the empire, or so they thought. They were disheartened, and then suddenly this fellow appears wounded but not dead. Yes, he did not beat the Romans, but he won a greater victory he won death. Though he takes leave of them very soon (perhaps dying of an infection) they have found a new meaning.

    But the story depends us to to believe such a thing as resurrection is possible in the first place. There were millions in the empire to whom such a notion was not unheard of. And allthough the Jews thought that if someone was the son of a god, that only meant he was a richteous man, to the masses of the empire it meant he was a flesh and blood son of a particular deity.

    The Gospel writers do not systematically rule out the other possibilities then resurrection, because some of those they did not even know of, like coma. Also in their time people took hearsay as evidence for all kinds of imaginary things like Cynocephalons in Sarmatia. A miracle was much more valid explanation in that era for something that we now know is a natural phenomenon, that does not need gods to explain it like earthquakes for example (one Gospel demands it was an earthquake that opened the tomb). In a mind set where gods and spirits are everywhere even the storm that darkened the skies according to the story on the day of crucifixion seemed like some sort of a sign from a god. But because we cannot verify about any gods having any influence to such things as weather, and because we know how natural weather forms by itself as a result of the physical world, such “signs” gradually loose their meaning in the minds of people.

    Some, like Matt with his story about the guards make an effort to deny conspiracies, but since that is a highly incredible story and because he himself could have been one of the conspirators, not even that rules that sort of explanation out. In fact it kind of points to the opposite direction.

    All the Gospel writers deliberately add mythical elements to the story, but in their time this was a way of emphasizing the story as having more truth to it.

      1. The “Laws of nature”, as determined by science, are descriptive rather than prescriptive, and the descriptions are based on a foundation of inductive logic. That’s why scientific theories must be tentative. Indeed many “laws” seem a lot less solid than they once did, including basic things like you can’t have 2 different things in one place, and you can’t have one thing in 2 different places (place being a point in the 4-D Space-time). There is no logical reason to believe that a hitherto unknown or unstudied phenomenon, including acts of God, couldn’t have effects that these “laws of nature” would seem to forbid.

        That said, conspiracy theories aren’t necessarily irrational either. After all, conspiracies do happen.

      2. Thanks, Josiahkane. I would like him to tell me what he means by the laws of nature himself, just to make sure we’re all on the right page.

        As far as conspiracy theories go, conspiracies obviously happen, but every conspiracy theory I’ve ever heard tends to have no physical support and mere speculation in its favor. Case study: The idea that all the books of the new testament were actually written by Josephus and his pals using pseudonyms in order to create a new religion to control the Jews.

        I have no problem with a conspiracy theory so long as it sounds plausible, has supporting evidence and shows itself to be the best explanation.

  8. Thank you josiahkane. That pretty much sums up what I mean by laws of nature.

    This is about the backround propability of the claim that Jesus actually died and resurrected. Science deals not in absolutes, like faith in that a particular man did resurrect, or even that he could not resurrect. Instead, science is all about higher propabilities. Science is the best way we have to determine what is true, correct?

    1. Nothing else ever has resurrected, that we know of, but such claims have been made before Jesus about other gods (like the pharaos). All these claims are unverifiable. When a living organism dies and fatal organs cease to work, that organism does not come back to life, it starts decomposition, i.e. resurrection is against the laws of nature.

    2. Eyewittness accounts are known to be erroneous. “Errare humanum est.”

    3. The death of Jesus was a hearsay story for the Gospel writers. Not an actual eyewittness account.

    4. Conspiracies are known to happen and are often verifiable, as resurrections are not. Though, both are claimed to happen more often than they actually do.

    5. All the possible “conspirators” in this story have more than adequate motives.

    6. The information of the incident is very limited and there is no way to verify what happened to Jesus during the three days after the Crucifixion.

    7. The Gospels contradict each other on several occasion, wich suggests they are not reliable sources. The cultural backround of the writers made them very supceptible to supernatural claims, so they were inclined to choose the supernatural explanation over a natural one to any exeptional event.

    8. Though the Gospels agree that Jesus died, it does not mean the writers had any knowledge wether he did or not. They even could not have that information, because even a modern doctor could make the mistake of thinking someone was dead, though that person was in a state of coma.

    9. The writers of the Gospels had invested emotionally on Jesus before he alledgedly resurrected, so they had a strong motive to expect great deeds from him. Therefore it was easy for them to become convinced, that he was not just a lucky guy who happened to survive the execution.

    Tracy, I am going to indulge you with one possible scenario.
    Wich is more propable: That a man who claims to be a son, or an avatar of a god, is actually that and therefore has the ability to resurrect? Or that because of a storm and political situation Roman soldiers are not efficient in killing a man to whom their commander allready has shown pity and the follower of this unemployed carpenter turn preacher who takes his body notices, that he did not die yet and takes him from the tomb to recover for few days?

    There simply is not enough evidence for either of these to be considered facts. However, I will give you what little positive evidence exists for the latter one:
    a) The roman commander “washes his hands” of this religious murder. Hence the soldiers are disinterrested in killing Jesus.
    b) There is a storm and the Romans abort the execution without braking the legbones of their victim, wich was usually done just to be sure.
    c) The Romans fear the wrath of the local god and therefore are not inclined to kill, or mutilate the body of the alledged son of this god. Their leader even declares, that he thinks Jesus was a son of some god.
    d) Jesus is not thrown in massgrave like all other crucified criminals, but taken by Joseph of Arimathea to an actual tomb.
    e) A few days later the tomb is found open and empty when the women come to embalm Jesus.
    f) Later still, Jesus appears to the diciples bearing the wounds of the crucifixion and is recognized by them.
    g) Many years later, when some of the former diciples have learned to write, they do so out of memory, wich has been influenced by how the cult has come to think of the events and what rebuttals to their story has been tried out (like the possibility of a conspiracy by the diciples to take the body of Jesus).

    This does not even require any “conspiracies” to take place.

    I can allready guess wich of the explanations you find more plausible and as I have said that is your liberty. I am not even asking you to give up your faith, but do you see why I find the other more compelling?

    1. a) While Pilate “washes his hands” of it as a symbolic gesture, he does instruct the death of Jesus.
      b) The soldiers did not neglect to break his bones. They broke the bones of the other 2, and consciously decided not to break his because he was dead. Instead, just to make sure, they plunged a spear into his side!
      c) This hypothesis cannot be justified given b). Also, the beatings, whippings, mockings, et cetera indicate it is false. Therefore there is no reason to believe that the Romans’ neglect allowed Jesus to live.

      As to your earlier conspiracy theory that the Roman authorities wanted to use Jesus to cause discord among the Jews; it is not only unsupported by the evidence, but it’s downright torn down by it. The Jewish leaders didn’t want a revolt because that would force Rome to come down hard on them. See John 11:48-50. The Romans didn’t want a revolt, because they had the Jews fairly well under their thumb, paying their taxes, and scared stiff that their special religious privileges may be removed if they sneezed without permission. When you’ve occupied a territory, you don’t want to sow discord. And Jesus didn’t want a revolt; he said that he wasn’t an earthly king. In short, you’ve got 3 groups who all want peace.

      1. a) At the same time as Pilatus gives the order to execute Jesus, he also gives a sign to his soldiers that he is not interrested in the end result. It is possible, that the soldiers took that signal wether he intended it or not.
        b) Is there a reason why Jesus gets special treatment by the soldiers? If they were so sure he was dead, that they did not need to brake his legs, then why did they stab him? He did bleed from the wound. It is possible that the soldiers mistook him as dead, is it not? People are known to have survived far more terrible situations, than being beaten, crucified and stabbed by a spear, you know. The fact that death is quite likely after that kind of treatment does not mean it is certain he died. Actually, that kind of treatment could very well be the cause of a coma. Could it not?

        The beating was ordered before the washing of the hands, was it not? Even, if it took place afterwards, it could very well have been more like symbolical in nature. It may have been that Pilatus ordered the beating in order to save Jesus, to show the people, that after such a humiliation Jesus was no longer believable son of a god, nor a serious contester to the crown. Why? Because Pilatus took Jesus as a pacifist, perhaps, or because he thought that by humiliating this leader of a minor sect he could create unrest. The possibilities are abundant. We simply can not know.

        If there were just peace loving parties as you say, then howcome there was a bitter revolt in Iudea not long after the death of Jesus? How is that possible, when what everyone wanted was just peace, and the Jews had to understand they stood little chance against the legions? After that revolt Iudea (the Mediterranean gate to the Silk road) was no longer a protectoriate of Rome, but it became a Roman province. The war opened the markets for the rich merchants of the empire to step in and in the process they made fortunes by taking people as slaves. War is allways in someones interrests. The Mediterranean truly became “Mare nostrum” to the empire. To cause unrest and then come to the aid of one of the parties, or to protect their own citizens (how ever few in the area), was a strategy employed by the Romans several times when they wanted to secure their military and commercial interrests in an area. It is still used by the empires of this world. Those are the typical real reasons for real conspiracies.

    2. “Science is the best way we have to determine what is true, correct?”

      Focus, Rautakyy, focus. This is about history, not science.

      Evidence for your hypothesis:
      “a) The roman commander “washes his hands” of this religious murder. Hence the soldiers are disinterrested in killing Jesus.”

      Pilate did wash his hands of it, but it does not follow that the romans were disinterested. It follows that Pilate was disinterested. The roman guards were the ones who mocked Jesus, spit on him and put a crown of thorns on his head.

      ” Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. ” – Matt 27: 27 – 31. Also mark 15: 16 – 20

      Does that sound like people who were disinterested in crucifying him or sacred of his god?

      “b) There is a storm and the Romans abort the execution without braking the legbones of their victim, wich was usually done just to be sure.”

      No. breaking the legs was done to kill the victims if they were not yet dead. Jesus’ legs were not broken because he was dead. What was done to make sure was piercing the person through with a spear.

      ” The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.” – John 19: 32 -34

      “c) The Romans fear the wrath of the local god and therefore are not inclined to kill, or mutilate the body of the alleged son of this god. Their leader even declares, that he thinks Jesus was a son of some god.”

      No, the roman said Jesus was the son of God after Jesus had died, not before. They did not seem scared when they were mocking him. If after Jesus’ death, the earthquake, etc. convinced him that Jesus was the son of God, there was nothing he could have done to resurrect Jesus.

      1. The unanimous testimony of every source we have is that Jesus died on the cross.
      2. The cruelty of the soldiers towards him shows that they did not care much for him and so were not inclined to let him go free.
      3. The roman soldiers did not usually botch executions even if they were as you say, not legionaries. This is understandable, given the fact that letting a crucified man live got you the death sentence.
      4. Crucifixion was fatal, even if the crucified ones were brought down and given medical care (as Josephus’ story about his friends shows).

      I would write more but I’m jet-lagged and probably not making as much sense as I would like and my search engine is giving me results in arabic. 😦
      Besides, I do not really believe you have rejected the idea that Jesus died on the cross on the basis of the evidence you presented me. I believe the main reason you believe Jesus did not die on the cross is that you wish to avoid the resurrection in some way because of something about these laws of nature you still haven’t told me about.

      So, answer my question. Tell me more about these ‘laws of nature’ and why you think they cannot be broken.

  9. Tracy, history is researched by scientific method. History is a science. If we are to understand what really happened in our history we need to research it with scientific integrity. Laws of nature, like what happens to living organisms when they die, are commonly agreed upon by all sciences. The problem with this particular history is the fact that the Bible is more like an ethnographic source, than an actual historical account. That does not stop us from speculating what happened, but we can not know for sure what happened. If you think, that it is more propable that Jesus actually resurrected, that is accepting the mythical element of the story as true. It is not falsifiable, hence it requires blind faith from you.

    You mentioned Tacitus as a historical source and it is actually by him and Josephus that we even consider Jesus as an actual historical charater, and not just a mythical character. Tacitus, who we know was a historian a couple of generations later than these events, describes very accurately the lives of several Germanic and Baltic people whom he had propably never had the opportunity to study. We know this from archaeological and other historical sources. He and several other historians of the time mention that dogheaded people live beyond Sarmatia. The mere fact that there are several accounts from reliable historians who signed to historical integrity of their time does not result, that there ever were any dogheaded people anywhere. We do not take those accounts at face value. Why? Because, It would require us to abandon what we know about nature to accept these claims to be true. It would require the laws of nature to be broken. That does by no means diminsh the value of what Tacitus said about anything else.

    All evidence is not equal. Scientifically speaking, the resurrection of Jesus is not an historical event, it is a mythical event.

    1. So, what you’re saying is that it is a law of nature that dead people don’t come back to life and so anything that suggests that a dead person could come back to life must be wrong.

      1. Well, no. What I am saying that braking that particular law of nature is such a remote possibility, that it makes resurrection THE least likeliest explanation, though I very well understand why some people in those days took it as the obvious explanation to the events. Their knowledge and understanding of the nature was much more limited to that of today.

        And yes. It is virtually impossible to resurrect and that is why it has been thought it had to be a god that was at play. But since there are other options by wich we could explain what happened, nor do we even know for sure, if these events ever took place, we simply do not know what happened. There is no way we can know. We may make guesses, but how ever educated those guesses are, we have very little to verify them.

        Even though Polybius was a historian who swore on the ideal of historical integrity, we can not know wether the miracless by the Roman gods like Juno and Juppiter he claims happened just prior to the third Punic war are true or not. However, you would be hard pressed to find any historian who actually believes those miracles took place, exept maybe the ones, that are somehow naturally explainable, so that they actually were no miracless at all.

      2. So, what you’re saying is that it is a law that dead people stay dead.

        There are different kinds of laws.
        1. Laws like the law of gravity: These laws cannot be broken.
        2. Moral laws: You should not steal, lie, murder, etc. These laws can be broken and often are. They are simply rules that one ought to follow

        It does not seem that you are referring to either of those laws. You seem to be saying that all through history, dead people have stayed dead. This does not make it a ‘law’ in any of the above sentences, just a pattern that we have observed, like the pattern that I have bread and eggs for breakfast every morning. If I were to have pancakes for breakfast tomorrow, I wouldn’t have broken a law.

        What you seem to be saying is that since throughout history, dead people have remained dead, then by induction, it is unlikely that anyone would rise from the dead. Do I have that right?

    2. “a) At the same time as Pilatus gives the order to execute Jesus, he also gives a sign to his soldiers that he is not interrested in the end result. It is possible, that the soldiers took that signal wether he intended it or not.”
      Yes, it is possible. But I do not think it is probable. Here’s why: The soldiers mocked Jesus after Pilate had given the order to crucify him. (They scourged him before the crucifixion order was given. The scourging is not the same as the mocking). If they were uninterested in killing him because Pilate was uninterested in killing him, spitting on him, crowning him with thorns, beating him and mocking his claim to kingship is a curious way to show it, don’t you think? Besides, like I have pointed out severally, the fact that something is possible does not mean that it probably happened. It is possible that Jesus actually died on the cross but had a twin brother who pretended to be him. It is possible that my parents stole me.

      b) The breaking of legs was to kill people who were still alive. It would make them unable to push themselves up to breathe and then they would suffocate and die. If Jesus was dead, there was no need to break his legs in order to kill him, obviously. The piercing was to make sure a person who looked dead, was indeed dead so a living person was not accidentally removed from the cross.

      c) Josiahkane did not say that everyone wanted peace. He said Jesus, the Jewish leaders and the Romans did not need war. Who then would have tried to keep Jesus alive to start a war?
      Lots of things are possible. But are they probable given the evidence that we have? Like I said previously,
      1. The unanimous testimony of every source we have is that Jesus died on the cross.
      2. The cruelty of the soldiers towards him shows that they did not care much for him and so were not inclined to let him go free.
      3. The roman soldiers did not usually botch executions even if they were as you say, not legionaries. This is understandable, given the fact that letting a crucified man live got you the death sentence.
      4. Crucifixion was fatal, even if the crucified ones were brought down and given medical care (as Josephus’ story about his friends shows).
      While none of that make it certain that Jesus died (Were you not the one saying that in history we deal in the realm of probabilities?), it makes it more probable that he died than that he survived. But if you agree that Jesus died and that he was later seen alive, how could you stop short of affirming the resurrection?

  10. a) Try to think of it this way, the soldiers had their fun on the expence of Jesus and his followers when they tortured and mocked him. After that they were disinterrested. They were superstitious people who feared the supernatural powers. They were most likely pan- or polytheists so they believed gods live where they are worshipped, or that the same gods are worshipped by different names in different places. So to them the suggestion that Jesus was a son of one was real enough, even if this unemployed carpenter did not impress them enough to make a plausible case as a son of a god. By torturing and mocking him they tried to overcome their fear, but when the storm came they interpreted it as a sign and were compelled to be cautious about killing or mutilating him. Their unit leader responsible for the executions thought that Jesus was a son of a god at least at some point. He did not think it was the the ultimate supergod Jews and even more so Christians believe in, it was just like any god that had sons that he knew about.

    b) How did the soldiers know Jesus was dead and not in a coma? He bled when he was stabbed. Dead people do not bleed, but this was not common knowledge untill the 17th century even among doctors. When professional soldiers want to make sure someone is dead by stabbing with a spear, they do not stab at the side of that person, but to the head, or the throat. Stab wounds in the side are a lot less fatal than head or throat injuries.

    c) There were allready Jews who thought that their god wanted Romans out of Iudea. Some of those guys even were the followers of Jesus, because they thought that was what the Messaiah was for. The Romans wanted to conquer Iudea, but their pact with Herodes was in the way. They needed a “casus belli” to break their treaties, since otherwise no one would trust their treaties, if they broke one. Rome was empowered by slave markets, and taking slaves by war was a profitable and respected source of income. It was best to fight wars against small nations especially when they had been weakened by internal strife. Oh there were plenty of people who wanted unrest. And most of those did not want to be open about it.

    1. None of the people who wrote those sources were even present. None of them, or of the people present were doctors. Even a modern doctor could make a mistake to believe someone dead when they actually are not. We simply do not know, if he died or not. Had he not been seen later alive, we could take their word for it, but that is just it. He was alledgedly alive afterwards, so the most obvious conclusion is that he did not die in the first place.
    2. Addressed in a)
    3. Yet there were rules how to treat soldiers who did botched the crucifixion, as they were known to do so from time to time. Pilatus for sure had signalled he was not interrested in the end result of this particular incident, and we have no way of knowing what orders he had given his soldiers about this incident. Even though Jesus was on the cross for a very short time, his legs were not broken. The signal from Pilatus could have been interpreted by the soldiers in a way that he was disinterrested wether they eventually sold him to his relatives and friends or not. And they did, since the soldiers gave Jesus to Joseph of Arimathea, even though usually executed criminals were thrown into a massgrave.
    4. We do not know how long the friends of Josephus had been on the cross. We do not even know what was their physical condition. They could have been old geezers, or young boys. Jesus was a thirty something unemployed carpenter, a labourer in his prime who had trained his endurance in the desert. Not the first guy to die like this even if beaten up and both of the robbers were alive and had their legs broken by the time they alledgedly took Jesus down. Josephus came by an accident to see that some of his friends had been crucified, and hurried to ask them to be taken down, so we do not know how long they had been up there. One afternoon perhaps, like Jesus, or an entire day, maybe it was event the second day after their crucifixion. We simply do not know. One of his friends did survive it, hence crucifixion was not allways fatal. It depends on the physical condition of the victim and on the amount of time on the cross, wich was less than usual for Jesus. Hence, we can not rule out the possibility that he survived, as the fact that his friends later claimed to have seen him alive confirms.

    I see no reason or evidence compelling enough to change my mind. I expect it is the same for you, though.

  11. What makes it a law of nature, that it is most unlikely, that dead people rise from the dead, is that a) we have no undisputable evidence of a dead person, or any living organism having ever risen from the dead and b) what we know about rigor mortis and decomposition of cells after the vital body functions have seaced. There is nothing to indicate, that it could even be possible. Zombies are a fable.

    The traditional view to the resurrection of Jesus has been, that there was a supernatural intervention. That there had to be supernatural forces – to wich nothing is impossible – at work, because it is impossible in the natural world for something, that has died to resurrect. So, exactly because it is against the laws of nature. This has been afterwards seen as the final test where Jesus alledgedly proved to be a son of a god. Never the less, as long as there are other possibilities, however remote, it requires a blind leap of faith for us to take such a claim at face value. Wich, you are of course, wellcome to take. Even though I am not compelled to do so.

    You do understand why the people who originally told this story were compelled to choose the suprenatural explanation over the natural ones, do you?

    No science (including the study of history) accepts supernatural explanations, because they are all unverifiable. Instead psychology, sociology and religion studies are sciences, that explain religious behaviour and supernatural explanations of the world.

    It is even possible, that the spear stab at the side of Jesus saved his life. Death by crucifixion was caused by drowning, as holding hands up long enough causes the lungs to fill with fluids. If he was stabbed to the lung and the fluids came out as claimed by the Gospels, it could result in that he could breathe again. The soldiers could have been aware of this method of helping their victim, or not. But since they decided not to brake his legs, it would suggests, that they were aware of what they did. Joseph of Arimathea was a rich councelman who was a secret follower of Jesus, so if he bribed the soldiers, he had doubled the motive to act in secrecy. As in “conspiratively”.

    1. If I understand you, then what you are saying is the abundance of historical evidence suggesting Jesus died on the cross, you are unwilling to accept the idea that Jesus rose from the dead because you find that dead people stay dead. Nevermind that the resurrection of Jesus would be evidence that dead people in fact do not stay dead.

      I find that I grow weary of this conversation. One last thing about the disciples’ belief in the resurrection. A resurrection was not a common belief in that time. The Jewish belief of the day was that the good people would all resurrect at the end of time and the other (roman, I think) belief was that the body was something shameful and not to be desired so neither the jewish or roman belief would immediately suggest a resurrection of one person in the middle of time.
      Secondly, when Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, he didn’t say “My betrothed is pregnant. She must have conceived by the holy spirit”. No, he thought she had cheated on him. Ancient people did not immediately jump to supernatural conclusions when there were obvious naturalistic alternatives. Note that Joseph loved Mary enough not to want to shame her by publicly divorcing her, which means he would have wanted it to be true that she did not commit adultery

      This counts against the idea that the disciples were so foolish as to jump to a resurrection in the presence of good naturalistic explanations. They could have believed they were seeing a ghost, or hallucinating or as you suggested, that Jesus did not really die.

      However, if the women, who the disciples knew, had seen Jesus die, if his mother had held her dead son in her arms, if Joseph and Nicodemus had embalmed him with that 75 pounds of spices, if the disciples knew how fatal crucifixion was in general, and then he showed up to them several days later, fully flesh, eating, touching them, being touched, appearing in locked rooms, disappearing in an instant, all as the gospels claim. If that did happen, it is extremely obvious why the disciples would have concluded that Jesus had resurrected. The Jesus they saw wasn’t weak or dying and in need of medical care. He was walking miles with them to Emmaus. He wasn’t a ghost or a hallucination, they had touched him.

      Of course, you can suggest that the writers of the gospel lied about Jesus’ state (another conspiracy) or forgot (which makes us wonder how they could have believed him risen in the first place) or succumbed to self suggestion, etc. I simply find those suggestions lacking in evidence as far as hard documents go, just like suggestions like perhaps “the spear stab at the side of Jesus saved his life.” or perhaps the soldiers after mocking Jesus lost interest in killing him”

      Even if we never agree on this, I hope you can see the emphasis I place on having some evidential basis for my beliefs.

      You have the last word.

      1. “The Jewish belief of the day was that the good people would all resurrect at the end of time and the other (Roman, I think) belief was that the body was something shameful and not to be desired”
        I believe that was a Platonic idea, though it would certainly have influenced the Romans who assimilated much of Greek art, culture and philosophy. Considering the Jewish situation, there’s also the Sadducees, who believed only in the Torah and didn’t accept resurrection at all (Acts 23:6).

        I think you’re wise to cut out there though. rautakyy insists that Jesus, though completely human, survived a fierce beating and whipping, hours hanging from a cross he’d collapsed under the weight of, a spear being plunged into him, and 3 days alone in a cold stone tomb and still had the strength to shift a massive rock and look like the victorious conqueror of death instead of a wasted zombie.

      2. I almost wrote platonic, but then I couldn’t remember whether I had my lectures mixed up – I’ve been listening to a lot of things lately.

        Actually, Rautakyy thinks that Jesus might not have been whipped, might have been saved by the spear thrust, might not have spent all 3 days in the tomb, the stone might have been light enough for him to move, and his disciples were stupid enough to believe he was risen over the idea that he had never actually died when he looked like death itself.

        He does not lack explanations for all those things, he merely lacks evidence for those ad hoc explanations.

  12. What is the historical evidence for the resurrection? The fact that the Gospel writers – all four of them – seem to sincerely believe it happened? But the counter evidence is, that it is an impossible event in the natural world and there is an abundance of possibilites how this all could have played out so, that a bunch of people thought something supernatural happened. They do not actively describe the state of Jesus, so we do not know how he looked like. They tell us that his wounds had not magically healed and disappeared, so he was a wounded person when they claim to have met him. We simply do not know how long he was in the tomb, if he ever was.

    A person who thinks any supernatural explanation is possible at all is far more supcetible to assume a convinient supernatural explanation, than an inconvinient natural explanation. As in the case of Joseph and Mary’s pregnancy. Resurrection of a son of god, was a common concept of folklore in Egypt, where alledgedly the Family of Jesus had been while he was a kid.

    The Gospels do not claim that Jesus walked to Emmaus and back again. Only one Gospel suggests anything in the fashion that Jesus was embalmed before he was put to the grave and even that could just as well be interpreted, that he was not. For some reason you picked that one as evidence, when it is nothing like evidence.

    As sources the Gospels are very contradictionary. They disagree on such a number of accounts (especially about what happened at the tomb), that we can not merely say, that it must be true when they agree on something. Especially if that something is a matter the writers could not have verified, like the death of Jesus on a cross and to implications of wich they later, but before writing this all down, had invested their entire lives on. It is quite possible, that all these four persons actually believed he had died, but that is a very weak peace of evidence. It was propably unthinkable for them that anyone could survive crucifixion, especially if they had half waited for that person to present divine power to drive the Romans away, or at very least to step down from the corss. The Gospels indicate that there was an interrest for the writers to compell their readers about certain key events, like the death of Jesus on the cross, but that is exactly why we should be wary not to take their word at face value.

    Outside historians like Josephus and Tacitus do not even claim Jesus was resurrected. They only say, that there were people who thought he was. Even if they did, it would not confirm such an extraordinary event, because for them it would have been natural to assume something miraculous was possible (like the dogheaded people beyond Sarmatia). Neither of them would propably have opted that the one and only god did it, though one was a Jew. Tacitus would most likely have thought that some local god or spirit had caused it, and to Josephus it would propably have been a result of demons at work. How can you tell the difference? By taking a blind leap of faith.

    The Gospels are not an historical account. They do not even claim to be. They form a story wich is ethnographically very interresting, because they have been a basis for a number of religions for 20 centuries and still are. Even thought the Gospels agree that Jesus said he would be back soon and restore the “Kingdom of Heaven” on earth. No such thing has ever happened. As he was addressing humans, why was that “soon” not presented in human terms? As all good stories, thisone also has to have a spark of truth in it to make it plausible and to compell and influence such a number of people. How do you know wich parts of the Gospels are true and wich are false?

    How many angels were there at the tomb and what did they do? All the Gospels disagree on that. The eyewitnesses on that event were the same people who alledgedly witnessed the death of Jesus on the cross and his body being put to the tomb.

    You would want the supernatural explanation the Gospel writers are offering to be true, because you have emotionally invested in it. I do not see their contradicting description of events as enough of evidence for such a very unlikely story to be entirely true.

    Peace, love and all good things to you all.

  13. I really love your blog.. Great colors & theme. Did you build this web site yourself?
    Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my own site and would like to learn where you got this from or what the theme is called. Thank you!

  14. Having read through the output of the neoteinian ‘Rautakyy’, I am drawn to the obvious conclusion that he sits squarely as a pataphysic. As such, no amount of reasoned arguing could sway such a mindset initially.
    He does, unfortunately place his faith in science erroneously, as did I once. The eloquent ‘laws of nature’ he insists on promoting, do not in fact, exist. They are merely hypotheses made by man to try and explain what we see. And they are constantly updated to areas which were once thought of as impossible, so, the ‘laws’ are constantly being broken. It should be obvious that these ‘laws’ are not immutable to every one by now, and, as such, cannot be relied on.
    If he were to really research history, properly, in all its subjugation, then subject the gospels to this adeptive research, his low base of knowledge would fully reveal his psilanthropism. And from there, he can expand his knowledge and see the true power and majesty of God.
    Ade

    1. Ummm…
      I almost understand what you said. Can you help me define the following words:
      1. neoteinian
      2. pataphysic
      3. adeptive
      4. psilanthropism

      Both google and my spell checker are having trouble with them.

      1. Of course my dear, the curse of a language with millions of words contained with in it, is that not every one knows them. I shall try to explain them simply for you:

        Neoteinia – to be in an age related state of prolonged immaturity, whereby the individual does not gain a state where he is able to converse and debate at at level contemporary with his peers. The ability to be objective and concise is thereby stunted.

        Pataphysics – is an odd word now becoming more prolific in scientific parlance. It is the science of imaginary solutions or in layman’s terms,of nonsensical philosophy, whence a person constantly throws small snippets of supposed ‘scientific data’ as a proof of their beliefs, which are usually groundless.

        Adeptive – Is a term whereby a researcher enters into high state of inquiry, looking for the truth of a matter, regardless of whether this inquiry empowers or refutes his espoused belief. Something I tried to enforce in my students mindset from an outset.

        psilanthropism – Is quite simply the belief that Jesus was not a God, but merely a man. It is hard to shake such a firm held belief, but with constant reasoning and proofs, this can be overcome, as it did in my case. It will, however, require an adeptive outlook.

        I do hope that helps in some small way, if you have other questions, I am quite happy to assist you in whichever way required.

        I stumbled upon your page quite by accident, or so I thought? You have answered truly and with good use of reasoning, I would have been most happy to have had you in one of my classes. Where did you study by the way, I am most intrigued?
        Ade.

      2. I have a rule on this blog that you can’t make negative or down-putting comments about a person unless you can establish that the comment is true with a reasonable amount of certainty. Your description of Rautakyy as ‘neoteinian’ falls into that category. You did not attempt to defend it and it is not obviously true. On the contrary, he seems to exemplify the tendency of the majority of humans to defend their beliefs no matter how indefensible they are. If you wish to stand by your comment, you have to justify it.

        I’m a sophomore studying Software Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. That’s about as much training as I’ve had in anything.

  15. Ade throws some very refined insults, but I do agree with him/her about the fact that science is formed of hypothesis (and ultimately of theory) and that those are ever changing. As I did say abowe science does not offer absolutes as religions do. That being said, it should be remembered, science is the best way to determine reality. It may not give us absolute facts, but it certainly gets us closer to objective truths, than mere faith. Unless a religious belief happens to be the truth by coincidence, but even then, we need to verify it through science before we know it to be so as the most likeliest truth aka fact. Otherwise we only have faith for it to be so.

    The world is full of unverified religious beliefs you would not subscribe to. Correct? Why would the unverifiable beliefs of a nother culture not be as real to you as the unverifiable beliefs of your own culture?

    To my knowledge no such scientific researh has been done, that would show us even a remote chance, that cells in decompostion state (in other words dead) could be in any way resurrected. If there is new evidence in this field I would be intterested to hear. A divine intervention by supernatural powers is a metaphysical explanation, but still as long as there are perfectly natural explanations to any incident claimed to have been caused by the supernatural, I am unable to find the supernatural causes plausible for any of those events.

    Now, if science would find a natural explanation to the actual alledged resurrection phenomenon of Jesus and the pharaos, that would show us how in nature it is possible for the dead humans to live again, it would make the supernatural explanation totally obsolete and unplausible. However, these stories do not need any supernatural explanations in the first place. There are a number of quite possible natural explanations to all of these resurrection stories.

    On these grounds I propably am what Ade calls a “psilantrophist”. I would be very interrested to hear what “constant reasoning and proofs” changed Ades mind about this. I think it is the most important aspect of science, that it is formed by the evidence research yields, and that our presuppositions do not determine the end result about truth. That is why I think theology is not actual science, because in it the absolute truth is based on faith, and all the research is done merely to prove the preassumption of some particular form of the supernatural.

  16. Great post Tracy, there is really no point of arguing with something that happen such long ago and it’s not like it will change what happen. I believe that Jesus did die on the cross, even if technology could prove that Jesus did really die on the cross some people still will doubt it, how can you prove he died on the cross when God revived his body? Even if we had the Technology today, there still wouldn’t be a way to prove it! What are you gonna start with? You either believe it or you don’t!

    I have gotten my answer directly from the Lord himself so i don’t doubt anything the Lord tells me, i think it’s pretty easy to figure out these days that Jesus is probably the most hated person that ever lived on the face of this earth, now just ask yourself why people on T.V. keep saying his name in vain? Why is there so much sin being promoted everywhere? It’s because Jesus did more damage to the Devil then any other human on this earth and the Devil has had it out for him since!

    Seeing this on a daily basis should be enough proof that Jesus must have done something great for people to still blaspheme him and God nearly 6,000 years later! You can believe what you want but that is all the proof i need! Great post Tracy, keep up the good work and God Bless you.

  17. I have not read all of the above posts but I was struck by the amount of detail that you all use to support your arguments. You all, on whichever side of the argument you may be, seem to be reasoned and intelligent people. I myself am inclined to believe more in the swoon theory. There are more arguments to support it than Rautakky outlined. Firstly: the drink that Jesus took whilst on the cross. It seems that Jesus was offered a strange concoction on arriving at the place of crucifixion. From Mattthew:

    34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.

    But after some time on the cross he does take a drink (the last thing he does). From John:

    28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

    Or, from Mark:

    23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

    And later:

    36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

    37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

    What exactly was this drink? Why would anyone carry a quantity of wine vinegar (or more bizarrely, wine mixed with gall or myrrh) to Golgotha? Why did ‘they’ (whoever ‘they’ are) offer it to him? Is it not possible that this strange drink was some kind of drugged drink, designed to knock him out, perhaps to ease his suffering? This would explain why he seems to pass out within moments of taking it.

    The other piece of evidence for the swoon theory is the things taken to the tomb by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. From John:

    38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.[e] 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.

    If you look up ‘aloe’ in Wikipedia you will see the following:
    Aloe vera is used both internally and externally on humans, and is claimed to have some medicinal effects…
    The Ancient Greeks and Romans used Aloe vera to treat wounds.

    If you look up myrrh:
    In pharmacy, myrrh is used as an antiseptic…
    Myrrh is currently used in some liniments and healing salves that may be applied to abrasions and other minor skin ailments.
    Myrrh has also been recommended as an analgesic…

    So, it seems that Joseph and Nicodemus took huge quantities of medicines, antiseptics, painkillers and bandages (‘strips of linen’) to Jesus’ tomb. If Jesus was already dead, this seems a little pointless. It says: ‘This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs’. I am no expert on first century Jewish burial customs, but as far as I know, this statement is without foundation. The Egyptians did embalming etc; but the Jews did nothing of the kind, and to this day prefer to avoid embalming. They wash the body, wrap it in a shroud, and then bury it.

    I would be interested in your response to these points, both of which I consider point to swoon theory as being a very plausible explanation for what occurred at the crucifixion.

    1. Alexis, I got this off the Jewish encyclopaedia:

      Embalming, practised in Egypt and in the case of Aristobulus in Rome, was unknown, or at least exceedingly rare, in Judea. But—undoubtedly with the view of removing the odor—spices were put on the coffin or otherwise used at funerals (Ber. viii. 6; John xii. 7, xix. 39), and myrtles and aloes (in liquid state) were carried in the procession. In honor of dead kings “sweet odors and diverse kinds of spices” were burned, together with the bier and the armor, or carried along in the procession. Onkelos (Aquila), the proselyte, burned 80 manehs of balsam in honor of R. Gamaliel the Elder. Later practise added an infusion of the spices to the water with which the dead was washed (see Ṭaharah).

      The source is here: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/3842-burial

      As for your other speculation that the wine mixture given to Jesus was supposed to knock him out, it’s just that: speculation. I’m no expert on Jewish history either, but all my research has turned up is that myrrh was used as an antiseptic, flavoring, and in embalming. If you want to say this mixture somehow produced an apparent death in Jesus, you’ll have to do more than just say so. You’ll have to support it.

      Finally, even if we accept those two contentions, your theory would still be far from the best explanation. It lacks plausibility. To repeat the account:

      Josephus told of how he had three of his companions who had been crucified removed from their crosses and given the best medical care but two of the three died anyway and the other one died later from his wounds. They didn’t survive. But Jesus went through the whole process, was stabbed in the side and declared dead, and he magically appears completely healed and able to convince his disciples that he resurrected.

      No, the disciples would have had to be in on it. And the roman guards, too, since they gave Jesus the drink. It’s the conspiracy theory all over again. It lacks explanatory scope (it doesn’t explain the disciples sightings of Jesus), explanatory power (it is a weak explanation in that it requires the implausibility that the roman guards would risk their life to save Jesus), simplicity (it mixes both the swoon and conspiracy theories), and plausibility.

      I’m sorry I didn’t have time to tidy this up. I hope it makes sense. Remember: don’t tell me what is possible. Tell me what is likely; what you have evidence for. It is possible that aliens beamed Jesus up from the tomb. That doesn’t make it a good explanation.

      1. Tracy, you are right, of course – I do accept that a lot of what I posted was pure speculation, but it seems to me that it falls well within the bounds of possibility. We know that the last thing Jesus did before he passed out was to take a strange drink. It’s not unreasonable to suppose the drink may have played a part in that. I can’t help but feel suspicious about the huge quantities of aloes and myrrh that were taken to the tomb. The Roman soldiers, and perhaps Pilate himself, could have been bribed – Joseph of Arimathea, and probably Nicodemus too, were wealthy men.

        I have to concede that the disciples’ sightings of Jesus mean that Jesus could not have been nailed through his feet. It would be impossible for someone to travel on foot to Galilee within weeks of being nailed through his feet or ankles, but it is only the gospel of John that says Jesus was nailed through his hands and feet. It may be that he could have been simply nailed through his hands, and simply had his legs tied to the cross with a rope. That would be consistent with the sightings, which only mention the wounds to his hands and side in reference to doubting Thomas. There is no mention of wounds to his feet.

        I quite agree that it seems extraordinary that anyone could survive crucifixion, but that’s the thing that we both, I think agree on – something truly extraordinary must have occurred during those three days in Jerusalem. I just cannot convince myself that he died and then came back to life, when a reasonable alternative theory exists.

      2. I find that interesting. I agree that the swoon theory is possible, but unless the evidence supports it, we can only believe it because we want to. My problem with the theory isn’t that it seems extra-ordinary. I am a theist, afterall. My problem with the theory is that the evidence does not support it. It requires us to say that maybe Jesus wasn’t nailed through his feet even though the record says so, and that maybe Jesus wasn’t dead even though his death was confirmed by a number of people who had high stakes in the matter. That maybe Jesus’ disciples were high on something when they though they saw Jesus appear and disappear inside a closed room, etc.

        It seems to me that in order to buy that theory, you must be strongly opposed to the idea of the resurrection. Can I find out why?

  18. I suppose I cannot believe in the resurrection because I find it hard to believe that Jesus truly was the son of God. I believe in the historical Jesus – there was such a man, and an extraordinary and visionary and charismatic man he must have been, but divine? It’s too much for me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those who seeks to sneer and mock those people of faith. Part of me envies those with strong religious convictions. It must be a great source of strength to people as well as providing them with an admirable moral framework with which to live their lives. It’s just something I cannot share. I think my heart wants to believe that Jesus was the son of God, but my head tells me otherwise.

    1. Alexis, have you ever read C.S. Lewis and his Trilemma? Jesus didn’t give us the choice to say that He was just a man, albeit a visionary and extraordinary one. He claimed that He was God. Either He was a liar, knowing He wasn’t God, but attempted to deceive people…there is no reason to believe this based simply on the way He talked and the responses of His followers. He was a lunatic, seriously mentally insane…there’s no reason to believe this either. Finally, what He could be is telling the truth and be Lord….The one thing he cannot be is just another moral leader like Confucius or Plato…He claimed to be much more and that claim separates Him from every other man.

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