The gospels say that a miracle healing man called Jesus Christ lived. They say he died by crucifixion and three days later he rose again. The tomb he was placed in was found wide open with the stone that had been across the entrance moved back and the tomb was mysteriously empty. His body was gone. Certain witnesses claimed that Jesus appeared to them as a resurrected being.

The main thing in this study is to stick to the data and account for it with a possible scenario.  The fact is, Jesus being dead is not certain and survival is reasonably plausible.

According to the swoon theory, Jesus Christ went unconscious on the cross and seemed to be dead and was thought to have been dead. Here, it is necessary to outline it to discount a supernatural reason for the tomb being empty.

Christians call it stupid and too much of a stretch.  But they don't call the gospel claims that Jesus slept soundly through raging storms on a boat a stretch.  If Jesus had a condition that made him go unconscious that adds weight to the swoon theory.

The fact is that when you look at different explanations and try to make your list complete, eliminate as many as you can and the one that that is left standing as far-fetched as it is has to be treated as the truth.  Saying Jesus was cured by angels or magicians in the tomb and did not rise to life even if he thought he did is better than agreeing with the gospel argument that he was raised by God from death.

Jairus daughter story where the girl was declared dead when Jesus said she was not could be a clue that his own rising from the dead was not literal. The story says he raised her from the dead.  It is strange that when the disciples knew that people were saying Jesus was John raised from the dead and when Jesus said he would rise that they couldn’t recognise what rising from the dead meant.  That would only happen with a non-literal interpretation.  The gospels use the very literal sounding prediction that Elijah who went to heaven and didn't die would come back.  They use it to argue that it refers to John the Baptist who it is clear was not the literal Elijah.  That use of scripture could tell us that we must not take stuff too literally.

Some feel that Jesus could have been given a drug on the cross so that he seemed dead.  John took the story of Jesus getting vinegar to drink from Psalm 69:21.  But it also mentions the subjects food being poisoned!  John does not even mention that!  Do not forget that some think Jesus was poisoned on the cross to make him seem dead!  As the gospel says information about what must have happened to Jesus can be got from the "predictions" of the Old Testament it is unwittingly giving us the right to presume that Jesus got opium or something!  Cherry-picking prophecies is not an option!

The Gospels never prove that Jesus was dead or even nailed up. Many were simply tied to their crosses. The gospels only assume that Jesus was dead so there is no evidence that he was. If they had evidence it would have been based on Jesus seeming to have stopped breathing but that proves nothing. The centurion in Mark 15 saw how Jesus "died" and said he was the Son of God meaning he was taking it for granted that he was dead without checking any further. This was the boss and he would not have tolerated any of his underlings stabbing Jesus to test if he was dead so John’s gospel lied when it said Jesus was stabbed. The gospel itself says the people who nailed Jesus were careless. It is no use saying that they could have been put to death for failing to put Jesus to death and they would not have been careless for the gospel says they did something stupid and people do stupid things. There is no evidence that everybody who made mistakes with executions was really penalised with death.
The awful Handbook of Christian Apologetics says that if any Roman soldier let a capital criminal escape they were put to death (page 183). This is supposed to prove that the swoon theory must be false. But how do you know that nobody was put to death? If the soldiers made an understandable mistake they would have got off. The Handbook should be arguing that if Jesus rose from the dead making it appear that he had been allowed to escape the soldiers would have been executed.

It also says that the soldiers were sure Jesus was dead when they did not break his legs which was done to make sure crucifixion victims died and died fast. If Jesus had been expected to rise again and they did not want that they would have broken his legs to make double sure he would not rise.

The not breaking the legs could be taken as proof that the soldiers had been slack. These things happen. The Handbook seems to think everybody is very reasonable!

The soldiers, the New Testament wants us to believe, took time to examine Jesus to make sure he was dead.  That is hard to imagine.  Surely they just broke the legs of men that seemed dead in case they were in a coma or ready to die and so looked dead?  Is it true that Christ's legs were not broken?  Who knows? 

Plus the Handbook does not really believe that the soldiers were incapable of letting a capital criminal go free when it believes the Matthew story that the soldiers were willing to commit the capital offence of accepting bribes to lie about how Jesus vanished from the tomb.

A soldier allegedly cut Jesus’ side to see if he was dead. The flow of blood from the side indicates that Jesus was probably still alive after he was reckoned to be dead. When the soldier did not thrust him again it indicates that there was a plan afoot to save Jesus’ life. John, the sole record of the incident, indicates that there was a plan to save Jesus’ life. John, the sole record of the incident, would tell us if the wound was meant to be fatal but he doesn’t. At John’s time, some heretics denied that Jesus died. Then John hinted that the wound was just a test.

A person not breathing was assumed to prove that they were dead up to a few centuries ago (page 89, The Turin Shroud is Genuine). But it does not.
Val Grieve argues that Jesus could not have been buried alive for the Romans would have ensured with special care that this could not happen for he was their most important criminal for they would die for it if they didn’t (page 12, Verdict on the Empty Tomb). But what more could they do than go by the seeming cessation of breathing? And the Gospels say that Pilate did not even want Jesus dead. If true, then the soldiers would have taken less care. If the Romans could be bribed to lie about what they did at the tomb they could have been bribed to falsely certify that Jesus was dead.

The earliest gospel, the Gospel of Mark has Joseph of Arimathea wanting to bury Jesus so while Jesus is "dead" on the cross he goes to Pilate and asks for Jesus's soma.  Soma means a body that is alive.  Pilate though surprised to hear Jesus is dead takes him as saying he is dead and replies using the word ptoma which is the word for corpse.  If Joseph was implying Jesus was not really dead as in resurrected on some other level of reality then that makes him the first to say Jesus is alive.  The context probably is how Pilate knew this man had found that Jesus was dead which is why he didn't contradict him when he used the word for a living body not a dead one.  It would be very serious if people are saying Jesus is alive as a man even when he is dead on the cross.  The Gnostics said that Jesus did not die for he was alive in some other sense.  Some interpreted that to mean that his death was an illusion.  Do we find in Mark then that Joseph was the first to suggest that Jesus was resurrected and this resurrection had little or nothing to do with the corpse on the cross?
Pilate is surprised when told that that Jesus died so soon. Obviously, Pilate despite having had thousands crucified never encountered anybody dying that fast. This would indicate that despite the lies in Catholic books, Jesus was not treated harshly enough for it to kill him that fast.
We do not know if Jesus was nailed. If he was he might not have been nailed in the feet. The gospel evidence indicates that Jesus could have went into a coma on the cross or even simulated death.
There is no need to believe that Jesus’ crucifixion was fatal even if you pretend that the gospels are inerrant.

Jesus could have been rescued from the tomb for people were going in after he was buried there.  The tomb was left open to cause a theft scenario to cover up the real story.  Also, the empty tomb had to be discovered at some point.

The apostle Paul held to a doctrine where the resurrected are transformed marvelously and went as far as to say you don't need to die for this to happen. He spoke of those who will be alive when Jesus comes back and they will be swept up to meet him and instantly transformed. This implies sins and all. There is no need for a purging, God just cleans the person.  The main point is you don't have to die to resurrect.  Resurrection means transformation more than anything else in early Christianity.  The resurrection of Jesus then if true fails to prove that he died.
Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible, John W Haley, Whitaker House, Pennsylvania, undated
Conspiracies and the Cross, Timothy Paul Jones, Front Line, A Strang Company, Florida, 2008
Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Vol 1, Josh McDowell, Alpha Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1995
Handbook of Christian Apologetics, Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, Monarch, East Sussex, 1995
In Defence of the Faith, Dave Hunt, Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon, 1996
In Search of Certainty, John Guest Regal Books, Ventura, California, 1983
Jesus and the Four Gospels, John Drane,ion Books, Herts, 1984
Jesus Lived in India, Holger Kersten, Element, Dorset, 1994
Jesus the Evidence, Ian Wilson Pan, London 1985
Mind Out of Time, Ian Wilson, Gollanez, London, 1981
Mother of Nations, Joan Ashton, Veritas, Dublin, 1988
The Bible Fact or Fantasy? John Drane, Lion Books, Oxford, 1989
The Encyclopaedia of Bible Difficulties, Gleason W Archer, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1982
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh & Henry Lincoln, Corgi, London, 1982
The Jesus Conspiracy, Holger Kersten and Elmar R Gruber, Element, Dorset, 1995
The Jesus Inquest, Charles Foster, Monarch Books, Oxford, 2006
The Messianic Legacy, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh & Henry Lincoln, Corgi, London, 1987
The Metaphor of God Incarnate, John Hick, SCM Press Ltd, London, 1993
The Passover Plot, Hugh Schonfield, Element Books, Dorset, 1996
The Resurrection Factor, Josh McDowell, Alpha Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1993
The Resurrection of Jesus, Pinchas Lapide, SPCK, London, 1984
The Truth of Christianity, WH Turton, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co Ltd, London, 1905
The Turin Shroud is Genuine, Rodney Hoare, Souvenir Press, London, 1998HoarHo
The Unauthorised Version, Robin Lane Fox, Penguin, Middlesex, 1992
The Vatican Papers, Nino Lo Bello, New English Library, Sevenoaks, Kent, 1982
The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Raymond E Brown Paulist Press, New York, 1973
The Womb and the Tomb, Hugh Montefiore, Fount – HarperCollins, London, 1992
Verdict on the Empty Tomb, Val Grieve, Falcon, London, 1976
Who Moved the Stone? Frank Morison, OM Publishing Cumbria, 1997
Why People believe Weird Things, Michael Shermer, Freeman, New York, 1997

The Amplified Bible
Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? Dan Barker debates Mike Horner.

A Naturalistic Account of the Resurrection

Earliest Christianity, G A Wells, Internet Infidels

A Resurrection Debate by G A Wells,

Still Standing on Sinking Sand, Farrell Till,

Why I Don’t Buy the Resurrection Story, by Richard Carrier

The Resurrection by Steven Carr
The Evangelical Apologists: Are They Reliable? Robert Price

Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? Dan Barker versus Mike Horner
Jesus Slept! This page asks if Jesus could have been doped on the cross meaning that the explanation for the resurrection was that he was never dead.
Beyond Born Again
Did Early Christians use Hallucinogenic Mushrooms? Archaeological Evidence. Franco Fabbro.
Blessed Easter
Craig’s Empty Tomb and Habermas on the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus
The Case For Christianity Examined: Truth or Lies?
Challenging the Verdict
A Cross-Examination of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ  

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