Resurrection of Jesus - Part 3

SERMON TOPIC: Resurrection of Jesus - Part 3

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 13 October 2013


Sermon synopsis: The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the belief that Jesus returned to life on a Sunday three days after he was crucified. A central tenet of Christian faith, it forms part of the early Nicene Creed: “On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures”.
Some of the attacks on Jesus’ resurrection by atheists, heretics or false religions include:
- Spiritual resurrection theory
- Swoon theory
- Hallucination Theory.
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The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the belief that Jesus returned to life on a Sunday three days after he was crucified. A central tenet of Christian faith, it forms part of the early Nicene Creed: “On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures”.

False religions and cults follow people who are dead, or who will be dead one day.

Communists revere and follow dead dictators who murdered millions when they were alive.

Animists pray to their dead ancestors for guidance.

Those who are involved in the occult ask mediums to consult dead relatives on their behalf to give them guidance.

But 1 Peter 1:3-4 tells us that because of the resurrection, we serve a living Saviour and thus have a “living hope”.


The resurrection of Jesus is the pivotal teaching of the Christian faith.

1 Cor 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

If Jesus had not been resurrected, he would have been just another failed Messiah and Christianity would have died with it’s founder. It would have been no different from other false religions and cults who venerate their dead prophets.

As such, it is one of the most attacked doctrines in the Christian faith, particularly by cults and false religions.


And so some of the attacks on Jesus’ resurrection by atheists, heretics or false religions include:

Attack on the historicity of Jesus

Stolen body theory

Wrong tomb theory

Spiritual resurrection theory

Swoon theory

Hallucination Theory

We looked at the first 3 points last time. Now we’ll cover the last 3.



According to the “Spiritual Resurrection” adherents, Jesus was not resurrected bodily, but as a spirit. And so they accept the resurrection, but they redefine it’s meaning.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines resurrection as “the act of causing something that had ended or been forgotten or lost to exist again, to be used again, etc.” 1

Thus the very definition of resurrection is to restore something to it’s prior state.

This “Spiritual Resurrection” view is held by some modern liberal Christians, cults and false religions. But it traces it’s roots to the early heretical Gnostic groups.

1 " dictionary/ resurrection"> dictionary/ resurrection


The “Gnostics” were not a single group, but “Gnosticism” is a broad term used to describe many early heretical groups whose views enjoyed some limited popularity in the 2nd to 4th century AD.

Due to the influence of Greek philosophy, the Gnostics viewed the physical world (and hence the body or flesh) as evil.

As such they generally disliked the idea of a bodily resurrection. According to Gnostic belief, Jesus was not raised bodily, and neither will we be.


Some Gnostics denied that Jesus came in flesh, but rather in a spiritual body. In the late 1st century the apostle John had already encountered this Gnostic heresy, propagated in Ephesus by Cerinthus. And so he writes:

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

1 John 4:2-3 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God…

2 John 7 Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world.


In “Adversus Omnes Haereses” (Against all Heresies) the 2nd century North African Church father, Tertullian, shows that the denial of the resurrection of the flesh was a common theme among 2nd century heretics:

Saturninus believed “that Christ had not existed in a bodily substance, and had endured a quasi-passion in a phantasmal shape merely; that a resurrection of the flesh there will by no means be.” 1

Basilides: “The resurrection of the flesh he strenuously impugns, affirming that salvation has not been promised to bodies.” 1

1 See " anf/ anf03/ anf03-46.htm"> anf/ anf03/ anf03-46.htm


Carpocrates: Jesus’ “soul alone was received in heaven as having been more firm and hardy than all others: whence he would infer, retaining only the salvation of souls, that there are no resurrections of the body.” 1

Valentinus: “The resurrection of our present flesh he denies…” 1

Marcus and Colarbasus: “they say there is to be no resurrection of the flesh.” 1

Cerdo: “A resurrection of the soul merely does he approve, denying that of the body.” 1

Appelles: “This man denies the resurrection of the flesh.” 1

1 Ibid


All aspects of Gnosticism were thoroughly examined and repudiated by the early church fathers, including their denial of the resurrection of the flesh:

In his Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, Ignatius of Antioch writes, “For I know that after His resurrection also He was still possessed of flesh, and I believe that He is so now.” 2

1 "http:// ccel/ schaff/ anf01.v.vii.iii.html">http:// ccel/ schaff/ anf01.v.vii.iii.html


Ignatius (ca. 35 or 50 - c. 98 to 117)

Justin Martyr wrote:

They who maintain the wrong opinion say that there is no resurrection of the flesh… And there are some who maintain that even Jesus Himself appeared only as spiritual, and not in flesh, but presented merely the appearance of flesh: these persons seek to rob the flesh of the promise. 2

1 Fragments of the Lost Work of Justin on the Resurrection, ch. 2 "http:// text/ justinmartyr-resurrection.html">http:// text/ justinmartyr-resurrection.html


Justin Martyr (c. 100 – 165 AD)

Chapter IX of Justin’s work is titled “The Resurrection Of Christ Proves That The Body Rises” and in this chapter he writes:

If He had no need of the flesh, why did He heal it? And what is most forcible of all, He raised the dead. Why? Was it not to show what the resurrection should be? How then did He raise the dead? Their souls or their bodies? Manifestly both. If the resurrection were only spiritual, it was requisite that He, in raising the dead, should show the body lying apart by itself, and the soul living apart by itself. But now He did not do so, but raised the body, confirming in it the promise of life. 1

1 Ibid


Justin continues:

Why did He rise in the flesh in which He suffered, unless to show the resurrection of the flesh? And wishing to confirm this, when His disciples did not know whether to believe He had truly risen in the body, and were looking upon Him and doubting, He said to them, “Ye have not yet faith, see that it is I;” and He let them handle Him, and showed them the prints of the nails in His hands. And when they were by every kind of proof persuaded that it was Himself, and in the body, they asked Him to eat with them, that they might thus still more accurately ascertain that He had in verity risen bodily; and He did eat honey-comb and fish.

1 Ibid


In his book “Against Heresies” Irenaeus (c. 130 -202 AD) argues against those who deny the physical nature of Christ and affirms the resurrection of the body.

And then the doctrine concerning the resurrection of bodies which we believe, will emerge true and certain [from their system]; since, [as we hold,] God, when He resuscitates our mortal bodies which preserved righteousness, will render them incorruptible and immortal. 1

In the same manner, therefore, as Christ did rise in the substance of flesh... 2

1 Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies) Book II, ch. 29 2 Ibid, Book V, ch. 7


Like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus highlights the fact that Jesus raised people’s bodies from the dead. He indicates that the 2nd century Gnostics misinterpreted Paul’s words in 1 Cor 15:50 (this same passage is still used by modern Gnostics):

... so is it with respect to that [favourite] expression of the heretics: “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God;” while taking two expressions of Paul’s, without having perceived the apostle’s meaning, or examined critically the force of the terms, but keeping fast hold of the mere expressions by themselves… 1

1 Ibid, Book V, ch. 13, 2.


Tertullian wrote “De Resurrectione Carnis” (Of the Resurrection of Flesh) where he “declares the reality of the resurrection of the body, against the ideas of the Gnostics who denied it, in favour of something more allegorical, from the texts of the Old and New Testament.” 1

1 " works/ %0Bde_resurrectione_carnis.htm"> works/ de_resurrectione_carnis.htm


Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225 AD)

And in his “rule of faith” Tertullian declares that the belief in a bodily resurrection is one of the factors which divided true believers from heretics:

[Jesus] will come with glory to take the saints to the enjoyment of everlasting life and of the heavenly promises, and to condemn the wicked to everlasting fire, after the resurrection of both these classes shall have happened, together with the restoration of their flesh. This rule, as it will be proved, was taught by Christ, and raises amongst ourselves no other questions than those which heresies introduce, and which make men heretics. 1

1 Tertullian, De Praescriptione Haereticorum (Prescription against Heretics) Chapter XIII


In fact even the Gnostic texts found at Nag Hammadi, which mention Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, display contradictory views. And so the resurrection is emphatically affirmed in the “Treatise on the Resurrection” (2nd to 3rd century AD):

“…do not think the resurrection is an illusion. It is no illusion, but it is truth! Indeed, it is more fitting to say the world is an illusion, rather than the resurrection which has come into being through our Lord the Saviour, Jesus Christ.” 1

1 James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library, revised edition. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990.


In contrast, other Gnostic texts claim that Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross, but rather created the illusion that he was being crucified.

In the 3rd century Gnostic book “The Second Treatise of the Great Seth” the claim is made that Jesus swapped places with Simon of Cyrene. Then from a distance this sadistic “Gnostic Jesus” laughs while Simon is crucified in his place.

“It was another, their father, who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. It was another upon Whom they placed the crown of thorns. But I was rejoicing … And I was laughing at their ignorance.” 1 1 Ibid


The Gnostic “Apocalypse of Peter” states:

… I saw him seemingly being seized by them. And I said “What do I see, O Lord, that it is you yourself whom they take, and that you are grasping me? Or who is this one, glad and laughing on the tree? And is it another one whose feet and hands they are striking?” The Saviour said to me, “He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshly part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness …Therefore he laughs at their lack of perception, knowing that they are born blind. So then the one susceptible to suffering shall come, since the body is the substitute. But what they released was my incorporeal body. But I am the intellectual Spirit filled with radiant light.”

Modern Gnostics interpret these type of passages to mean:

They foolishly thought they were killing him but in reality they were setting him free from the flesh. Only the human Jesus was being put to death… When the human body died, his non-corporeal spiritual body rose up from it (Refutation of Heresies 10:7, Apocalypse of Peter 83:6-8, cf. also Treatise on the Resurrection 45:14-17)…This body which he raised is not the material body, “for what is flesh and blood cannot share in God’s kingdom” (1 Corinthians 15:50)… The risen Saviour only took up those elements he wished to save, that is, the animate soul and the spiritual seed… 1

1 " library/ valentinus/ Jesus_Valentinianism.htm"> library/ valentinus/ Jesus_Valentinianism.htm


One of the most documented and damaging facts about the Quran is that Muhammad used heretical ‘Christian’ Gnostic gospels and their fables for material in the Quran. 1

Encyclopedia Britannica comments about Muhammad: “The gospel was known to him chiefly through apocryphal and heretical sources” (15:648). 1

This has been demonstrated many times by various scholars (Richard Bell, Tisdall and Pfander). 1

Everything the Quran says about the life of Jesus which is not found in the Bible can be traced to fables composed more than a hundred years after Jesus’ death. 2

1 " islam/ islam-koran-fairy-tales-dr-morey.htm"> islam/ islam-koran-fairy-tales-dr-morey.htm 2 " authors/ durie/ islamic_jesus.html"> authors/ durie/ islamic_jesus.html


And so Islam ignores the 1st century eye-witness accounts and instead borrows from later heretical sources by incorporating this 2nd century Gnostic heresy into the Quran, asserting that Jesus’ crucifixion was an illusion.

“And because of their saying, ‘We killed Messiah 'Îsa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,’ – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but it appeared so to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts.” (Surah 4:157)

The apostle Paul writes “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18).


The main problem with the “Spiritual Resurrection” theory is the fact that the body of Jesus was missing from the tomb. If he wasn’t raised bodily, what happened to the body?

Luke 24:2-3 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

And so proponents of these views come up with all sorts of complicated solutions about Jesus’ body either vanishing or being removed by God, while Jesus reappears in an eternal spiritual form.


The modern Watchtower cult (JW’s) also adapt a variant of the Gnostic heresy by asserting that Jesus rose as a spirit only. There is of course the problem of the empty tomb, but they claim that his material body was taken away by God the Father. They claim that Jehovah gave him a temporary fleshly body while dematerializing the one that he was crucified in.

What happened to the perfect fleshly body of Jesus after his death? Was it preserved so that in time men will look upon it in worship? or does Jesus still have this fleshly body in the heavens, “spiritualized” so that it can be seen and worshiped? Neither. The Scriptures answer: It was disposed of by Jehovah God, dissolved into its constituent elements or atoms. 1

1 1953 Watchtower September 1st - Pg. 518


But in Scripture, Jesus himself dismissed the notion that he was merely a spirit. In Luke 24:37-39 we read that the disciples “were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit.” (NASB)

See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.

This view of a spiritual resurrection is generally held by people who either claim to be Christians, or who at least accept the New Testament. But if you accept the Scriptures, you cannot assert that Jesus did not rise bodily. Jesus himself made this clear by prophesying that he would raise the temple (of his body) after three days. And so we read in John 2:18-22.

Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”


Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?

But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

So Jesus explicitly says the destroyed temple that he would raise in three days was “his body”. So he rose bodily, not just spiritually.

In fact, far from teaching that the body is evil, the NT affirms - as did Jesus - that our body is God’s temple.

1 Cor 6:19-20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.



The “swoon theory” adherents claim that Jesus did not actually die on the cross, but merely fell unconscious or ‘swooned’. After being placed in a damp tomb - bleeding and without food or water for three days he then revived. He somehow rolled away the two ton stone, overpowered the guards and went on to convince others that he had risen from the dead.

This hypothesis has not been widely held by scholars although an early proponent of this theory was the controversial German theologian Karl Friedrich Bahrdt.

A professor at Leipsic, Bahrdt was dismissed in 1768 for immoral life. At the same time he abandoned the orthodox standpoint, which he probably never had held seriously. 1


1 "http:// ccel/ schaff/ encyc01.html?term=Bahrdt,%20Karl%20Friedrich">http:// ccel/ schaff/ encyc01.html?term=Bahrdt,%20Karl%20Friedrich

With reckless brutality he later attacked every kind of belief in revealed religion. 1

Bahrdt suggested in around 1780, that Jesus deliberately feigned his death, using drugs provided by the physician Luke to appear as a spiritual messiah and get Israel to abandon the idea of a political messiah… Jesus was resuscitated by Joseph of Arimathea, with whom he shared a connection through a secret order of the Essenes—a group that appear in many of the ‘swoon’ theories. 2

1 Ibid 2 "http:// wiki/ Swoon_hypothesis">http:// wiki/ Swoon_hypothesis


Karl Friedrich Bahrdt (1741–1792)

This argument attributes incompetence or even stupidity to quite a few people. The Romans, for example, failed to make sure that Jesus Christ actually died; the Romans and Jews both failed to discover the deception. And the disciples were stupid enough to believe that Jesus had raised Himself from the dead. 1

The Roman soldiers were the most knowledgeable military men in the ancient world and were experts at “killing people”. How can you believe that an entire squad of Roman executioners couldn’t tell whether their prisoner was really dead?

1 "http:// perspectives/ the-swoon-theory-did-jesus-die-on-the-cross/ ">http:// perspectives/ the-swoon-theory-did-jesus-die-on-the-cross/


Pilate would only release the body of Jesus to Joseph of Arimathea once the centurion in charge had certified that Jesus was in fact dead.


Mark 15:43-45 Joseph of Arimathea… went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.

The Swoon Theory has been criticized by some medical experts who, based on the NT eye-witness accounts, conclude that Jesus was definitively dead when removed from the cross. 1 A number of articles have been written on the topic by medical doctors, including:

Dr. C. Truman Davis 2

Dr. Dan Bowden 3

Let’s briefly consider Jesus’ medical state on the cross.

1 http:// physician.html 2 A Physician’s View of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ: http:// focus/ news/ 1115727/ posts 3 A Medical Doctor’s View Of The Crucifixion: http:// 2011/ 11/ 29/ a-medical-doctors-view-of-the-crucifixion/ 4 Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ: http:// jesus/ medical.html 5 Medical Aspects of The Crucifixion: http:// articles/ 1998/ 113


Dr. David Terasaka 4

Dr. Mark Eastman 5

At the Sanhedrin they “spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him…” (Mt 26:67) and “the guards took him and beat him” (Mk 14:65).

Pilate “had Jesus flogged” (Mt 27:26).

According to Dr. Mark Eastman, the flogging Jesus received “typically involved a whip with numerous leather thongs, 18-24 inches long, with bits of metal, bone or glass embedded in the leather. At times they would use an iron rod to beat the prisoner. According to Jewish custom, a prisoner was usually flogged 39 times… The skin on the victim’s back was usually shredded, thus exposing the underlying muscle and skeletal structures… Many victims died from such scourging.” 1

Those who were flogged would often go into hypovolemic shock, a term that refers to low blood volume. In other words, the person would have lost so much blood he would go into shock. 2

1 "http:// articles/ 1998/ 113/ ">http:// articles/ 1998/ 113/ 2 http:// blood-water-Jesus.html


The Roman soldiers “twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head” (Mt 27:29) and “took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.” (Mt 27:30)

John 19:16-17 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull…

We know from the Synoptic gospels that Simon of Cyrene was commandeered to carry the cross later, so some have speculated that Jesus may have collapsed due to exhaustion.

The word ‘excruciate’ comes from the Latin for “from, or out of, the cross” (Websters).

The patibulum was put on the ground and the victim laid upon it. Nails, about 7 inches long and with a diameter of 1 cm (roughly 3/ 8 of an inch) were driven in the wrists. The points would go into the vicinity of the median nerve, causing shocks of pain to radiate through the arms. 1

1 "http:// jesus/ medical.html">http:// jesus/ medical.html


People who were crucified would push themselves up with their legs to prevent suffocation. (This is why their legs were broken to hasten death.) However, if the person fell unconscious they would die in around 20 minutes from the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. So if Jesus did only swoon, he could have only lasted on the cross for about 20 minutes without the support of his legs.


Jesus is reported as having died at about the ninth hour (Mt. 27:50). He must at least have slipped into unconsciousness at this point. However, he was not brought down from the cross immediately. Instead there was time for Joseph of Arimathea to go to Pilate and beg the body of Jesus from him (Mk. 15:43; Jn. 19:38). There was then a further delay while Pilate sent someone out to make certain that the body was dead. (Mk. 15:44,45) Even then Jesus was not removed immediately; Joseph first went to buy some fine linen to act as grave clothes (Mk. 15:46). It is highly unlikely that this set of events could been completed in the twenty minutes that would be needed for Jesus to remain alive on the cross. 1

1 " dbb/ 4-3-4-1swoon_theory.htm"> dbb/ 4-3-4-1swoon_theory.htm


Earlier the soldiers on duty at the cross had certified Jesus as dead, and as such did not break his legs:

John 19:32-33 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.


On finding him dead, a Roman soldier stabbed Jesus’ side with a spear to further confirm death. (John 19:34)


Dr. C. Truman Davis writes:

Apparently to make sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance through the fifth interspace between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. John 19:34 states, “And immediately there came out blood and water.” Thus there was an escape of watery fluid from the sac surrounding the heart and blood from the interior of the heart. We, therefore, have rather conclusive post-mortem evidence that our Lord died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium. 1

1 “The Passion of Christ from a Medical Point of View” by C. Truman Davis, M.D., M.S. Mesa, Arizona - " ray/ godsword/ crucmed.htm"> ray/ godsword/ crucmed.htm


The spear thrust resulted in blood and water flowing from Jesus’ body.

The water can only have been from the lungs or pericardium. Thus the spear thrust was a deep one. As Jesus was lifted up on a cross at the time this thrust must have come from below as well as to the side. Because of this it would need to pass through the diaphragm to reach the lungs, and through either the spleen or the liver. This would have been enough to ensure the death of Jesus even if he had been in full health. If the spear pierced the pericardium then this would also have killed Jesus. Incidentally both the spleen and the liver bleed after death… 1

1 " dbb/ 4-3-4-1swoon_theory.htm"> dbb/ 4-3-4-1swoon_theory.htm


Problem: With the blood loss from the flogging and the further loss from the stab wound, Jesus would have gone into hypovolemic shock (shock from extremely low blood pressure caused by bleeding). Without a transfusion and with nothing to stop the internal haemorrhaging he would have died within minutes. Prior to the stab wound, the blood loss alone would have killed him in a few hours. 1

Problem: With the internal bleeding and build-up of fluids Jesus would have died from congestive heart failure. Pathologists generally agree that this was a contributing cause of Jesus’ death. 1

1 "http:// perspectives/ the-swoon-theory-did-jesus-die-on-the-cross/ ">http:// perspectives/ the-swoon-theory-did-jesus-die-on-the-cross/


Problem: Even if Jesus didn’t die of asphyxiation and even if he didn’t die of congestive heart failure and even if he didn’t die of hypovolemic shock and even if he didn’t die from the internal haemorrhaging itself, he had a large, deep, open chest wound through at least one lung and probably the heart, with internal bleeding. This would have caused internal infection and in a few days he would have died of sepsis, i.e., infection. 1

1 Ibid


John 19:38-40 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus… With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus...

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.

So we see that Jesus’ body had been wrapped in linen grave clothes mixed with an additional 75 pounds of spices by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.

How would Jesus get out of the wrappings wound tightly about the body with 75 pounds of spices in the wrappings without someone helping unwrap him, as in the case of Lazarus (John 11)?


In fact the linen wrappings seemed to be undisturbed, as if Jesus’ body had passed through them. This accounts for the fact that Peter and John “saw and believed” when they looked inside the tomb. 1

1 Luke 24:12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. John 20:5-8 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.


The swoon theory now requires Jesus to remain immobile from the Friday evening to early Sunday morning and then to suddenly get up and feel better. He managed to open the stone from the wrong side. The stone would have been large, at least two tons, and it was sealed. The women going to the tomb felt unable to move it without help (Mk. 16:3). In spite of Jesus’ wounds (which would have been severe) he manages to push the stone aside and then tackles a guard of the most efficient soldiers in the ancient world… 1

1 http:// dbb/ 4-3-4-1swoon_theory.htm

For an encore he walks seven miles on feet pierced with nails to Emmaus (Lk. 24:13). Here he manages to convince two disciples that he has been supernaturally raised from the dead and now enjoys eternal life. 1 1 Ibid

If Jesus survived the cross what happened to him?

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Movement, proposed a theory in his 1899 book Jesus in India that Jesus travelled to India after surviving the crucifixion. 1

Claiming that Jesus had died in Kashmir, he said the notion of Jesus’ return was therefore erroneous. He further declared that he had been divinely appointed as the mahdi, in the spirit and power of Jesus. 2


Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908)

1 "http:// wiki/ Swoon_hypothesis#cite_note-7">http:// wiki/ Swoon_hypothesis #cite_note-7 2 SOURCE: "http:// %0Bwiki/ Mirza_Ghulam_Ahmad">http:// / wiki/ Mirza_Ghulam_Ahmad

The late South African Muslim, Ahmed Deedat, wrote a book entitled “Crucifixion or Cruci–fiction”, in which he also claims that Jesus did not die upon the cross, but survived the crucifixion. Strangely Deedat uses an argument held, not by mainstream Muslims, but by the Ahmadiyya sect.

The sect’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, had claimed to be the Mahdi (the second messiah) but he is regarded as heretical by mainstream Muslims. 1

1 Ibid


Ahmed Deedat (1918-2005)

If Jesus survived the cross and died somewhere else, where is the tomb?

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Movement believe that Jesus is now buried in Kashmir, but the tomb they show is not nearly old enough to be genuine. 1

The Ahmadiyyas identify the holy man Yuz Asaf buried at the Roza Bal shrine in Srinagar, India as Jesus on the basis of an account in the History of Kashmir by the Sufi poet Khwaja Muhammad Azam Didamari (1747) that the holy man Yuz Asaf buried there was a prophet and a foreign prince. 2

1 " dbb/ 4-3-4-1swoon_theory.htm"> dbb/ 4-3-4-1swoon_theory.htm 2 Günter Grönbold Jesus In Indien – Das Ende einer Legende. Kösel, München, 1985


Paul C. Pappas (professor of history at West Virginia Institute of Technology) states that from a historical perspective, the Ahmadi identification of Yuzasaf with Jesus relies on legends and documents which include clear historical errors (e.g. Gondophares’ reign) and that “it is almost impossible to identify Yuz Asaf with Jesus”. 1

1 "http:// wiki/ Unknown_years_of_Jesus">http:// wiki/ Unknown_years_of_Jesus Jesus’ Tomb in India: The Debate on His Death and Resurrection by Paul C. Pappas 1991; page 155: “Al-Haj Nazir Ahmad’s work Jesus in Heaven on Earth, which constitutes the Ahmadi’s best historical defense of Jesus’ presence in Kashmir as Yuz Asaf, appears to be full of flaws, especially concerning Gondophares’ reign”, page 100: “The Ahmadi thesis can rest only on eastern legends recorded in oriental works, which for the most part are not reliable, not only because they were written long after the facts, but also because their stories of Yuz Asaf are different and in contradiction”


Former Professor of Caucasian Studies (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London), David Marshall Lang, presented evidence of how confusion in diacritical markings in Arabic texts transformed Budhasaf (Buddha-to-be) into Yudasaf, Iodasaph, and then Yuzasaf, and resulted in the Ahmadiyya assertions; also confusing Kashmir and Kushinara, the place of Buddha’s death. 1

1 Ibid: In The Journal of Ecclesiastical History Vol 18, Issue 02, Oct 1967, pp 247-248, John Rippon summarizes the work of David Marshall Lang on the subject as follows: “In The Wisdom of Balahvar Professor Lang assembled the evidence for the Buddhist origins of the legends of the Christian saints Barlaam and Josephat. He suggested the importance of Arabic intermediaries, showing that confusion of diacritical markings turned Budhasaf (Bodhisattva, the Buddha-to-be) into Yudasaf, Iodasaph, Yuzasaf and Josaphat. By a curious roundabout journey this error reappears in once Buddhist Kashmir where the modern Ahmadiyya Muslims, well known for their Woking mosque, claim that a tomb of Yus Asad was the tomb of Jesus who died in Kashmir, after having been taken down live from the cross; though the Bombay Arabic edition of the book Balahvar makes its hero die in Kashmir, by confusion with Kushinara the traditional place of the Buddha’s death.”

And in yet another twist on the swoon theory:

Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, in their 1982 book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, speculated that Pontius Pilate was bribed to allow Jesus to be taken down from the cross before he was dead. 1

But that’s exactly what this theory is as well – speculation. It ignores all the eye witness evidence and the written record, while offering no credible counter evidence – substituting it with guesswork.

As such the authors admit, “We could not—and still cannot—prove the accuracy of our conclusion. It remains, to some extent at least, an hypothesis.”

1 "http:// wiki/ Swoon_hypothesis#cite_note-7">http:// wiki/ Swoon_hypothesis#cite_note-7


David Strauss was a 19th century German theologian and writer who scandalized Christian Europe with his portrayal of the ‘historical Jesus,’ whose divine nature he denied. 1

1 http:// wiki/ David_Strauss - What made Das Leben Jesu, kritisch bearbeitet (The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined) so controversial was Strauss’s characterization of the miraculous elements in the gospels as being “mythical” in character.


David Strauss (1808-1874)

Surprisingly the death blow for the swoon theory comes from the rationalist theologian Strauss, who considered it unlikely that Jesus could inspire faith in people after barely surviving a crucifixion.

It is impossible that a being who had stolen half dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill and wanting medical treatment... could have given the disciples the impression that he was a conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of life: an impression that lay at the bottom of their future ministry.” 1

1 The Life of Jesus for the People, vol. 1, 2nd edition (London: Williams and Norgate, 1879), p. 412.


Strauss asserted that even if the swoon theory was conceivable, it still could not account for the disciples’ belief in the risen Jesus. Since they did proclaim him to be resurrected and glorified Lord, the swoon theory is not able to account for the facts. 1

After Strauss’ views were circulated, the liberal “lives of Jesus” usually shunned the swoon theory. 2 & 1 By the early twentieth century, other critical scholars proclaimed this theory to be nothing more than a historical curiosity of the past. Even critics no longer considered it to be a viable hypothesis. 3 & 1

1 books/ historicaljesus/ historicaljesus.htm 2 Schweitzer, pp. 161 166 with 166 179 3 Eduard Riggenbach, The resurrection of Jesus (New York: Eaton and Mains, 1907), pp. 48 49; James Orr, p. 92.


So there are multiple problems with the swoon hypothesis: (1) The medical state of Jesus, (2) the nature of death by asphyxiation on the cross, (3) the medical study of Jesus’ chest wound, (4) getting Jesus out of the embalming clothes, (5) moving the tombstone, (6) getting past the guard, (7) the disciples’ response on seeing Jesus and (8) the whereabouts of Jesus’ body or tomb.

Neither are these the only key problems. For example, this thesis cannot account for the conversions of James, the brother of Jesus, and especially Paul from their scepticism to Christianity. Therefore, it is no surprise that this hypothesis is rejected today by critics. 1

1 books/ historicaljesus/ historicaljesus.htm For examples, Barth, Church Dogmatics, vol. IV, p. 340 and Brown, p. 223.



The Hallucination theory holds that the resurrection only occurred in the minds of the disciples. The disciples had normal, grief-related hallucinations of the risen Jesus and thus were convinced that he was alive. There are many reasons why this position is untenable:

Even individual hallucinations are questionable for believers who felt despair at the unexpected death of Jesus just hours before. Their hopes and dreams had suddenly been dashed. Extreme grief, not exuberance, would have been their normal response. 1

1 " articles/ explaining-away-jesus-resurrection-hallucination/ "> articles/ explaining-away-jesus-resurrection-hallucination/


Apart from drug-induced hallucinations, only certain people are susceptible to hallucinations. They generally occur to certain types of people who have fantasy prone personalities (i.e. an overactive imagination).

The wide variety of times and places that Jesus appeared, along with the differing mindsets of the witnesses, is another formidable obstacle. The accounts of men and women, hard-headed and soft-hearted alike, all believing that they saw Jesus, both indoors and outdoors, provide an insurmountable barrier for hallucinations. The odds that each person would be in precisely the proper and same frame of mind to experience a hallucination, even individually, decrease exponentially. 1

1 Ibid


Most psychologists assert that hallucinations are private, subjective and individual events, then how could groups share exactly the same subjective visual perception. There is no such thing as a “mass hallucination”. No two people have the same experience, especially not simultaneously. In 1 Cor 15 we have over 500 people having the same experience. Most of Jesus’ appearances was to groups e.g. the appearances to the Eleven. Psychologist Thomas J. Thorburn wrote, “It is absolutely inconceivable that… five hundred persons, of average soundness of mind… should experience all kinds of sensuous impressions – visual, auditory, tactual – and that all these … experiences should rest entirely upon … hallucination.” 1

1 Thomas James Thorburn, The Resurrection Narratives and Modern Criticism (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1910.), 158, 159.


It has been suggested that hallucinations of this nature occur to those who intensely want to believe something and have a spirit of anticipation or hopeful expectation.

The historical record shows no such anticipation existed. The disciples were prone to disbelieve even after they were told of the resurrection.

Mary Magdalene was looking for Jesus’ body and not a risen Saviour, saying, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him” (John 20:15)

The women who went to the tomb had gone prepared with spices to embalm a dead body, not to see a risen Jesus. Their main concern was who would move the stone away for them because of the weight. (Mark 16:3)


The sceptical Thomas was clearly not expecting a risen Jesus and insisted on physical contact to believe.

Jesus’ half brother James was sceptical regarding Jesus’ ministry even before the crucifixion.

In the case of Paul, he was hostile to the news of the resurrection, having dedicated his life to persecuting those who preached the resurrection.

The resurrection of a contemporary individual contradicted general Jewish theology, which held to a corporate resurrection at the end of time. So Jesus’ resurrection did not fit normal Jewish expectations, and most of the witnesses to Jesus’ bodily resurrection were Jewish. 1

1 " articles/ explaining-away-jesus-resurrection-hallucination/ "> articles/ explaining-away-jesus-resurrection-hallucination/


What about the natural human tendency to touch? Would not one of them ever discover, even in a single instance, that his or her best friend, seemingly standing perhaps just a few feet away, was not really there? 1 Jesus had to tell Mary Magdalene “Do not hold on to me” (John 20:17).

1 Ibid

The women at the tomb “came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him” (Matt 28:9).

Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.

My Lord and my God!

Jesus actively encourages Thomas to touch him. (Jn 20:27)

Jesus does the same with the other disciples when they “were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.” (Luke 24:37-39)

“Jesus appears to the disciples” by William Hole

Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.

Can a hallucination break bread and pass it to you? “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.” (Luke 24:30)

Can a hallucination eat food? “And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.” (Luke 24:41-43)

Can a hallucination cook breakfast?

John 21:9-12 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

Bring some of the fish you have just caught… Come and have breakfast.

Why would the hallucinations suddenly stop after 40 days?

But most importantly the main problem with the Hallucination Theory is that you still need to account for the empty tomb. If the apostles were simply guilty of hallucinating, all the Jewish or Roman authorities needed to do was produce the body and that would have ended Christianity before it started. Instead they kept on commanding the apostles to stop preaching the resurrection – to no effect - and were also considering executing them (see Acts 5:27-33).


The initial message of the resurrection was preached, not in a remote area where the account could not be verified, but in Jerusalem where all the events took place and where the story could have easily been refuted or verified. And yet the church in Jerusalem grew rapidly. On one occasion 3000 people are baptized in one day (Acts 2:41) and on another occasion 5000 people are converted (Acts 4:4).

Acts 6:7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Act 21:17-20 When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly… Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed…”


Josh McDowell was a former sceptic of both Christianity and the resurrection. He writes:

Everything that Jesus Christ taught, lived, and died for was based on His resurrection. All I had to do was prove that it never took place. But that, too, backfired on me, and in fact led to my writing The Resurrection Factor because of the evidence. 1

1 A sceptics quest "https:// viewer?a=v& resources/ toughquestions/ skepticsquest.pdf+&hl=en&gl=za&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESj1oa2JhNe9qIzKC8zTByiFLXmmKjl_lkHswye-jNruARRGpNUVcLkiV3fFA-tJw0D3l-3TcdvoCyGX0KMwrNr2Ly-l3cW9RBgzvZOpE-KeVArFxoiD7MXV-EXSOG3Lb0XzLv8g&sig=AHIEtbQeny4UYK-RgagYzkVdm1ybn8RJJQ">https://

Josh McDowell (1939-)


Professor Thomas Arnold, author of the famous “History of Rome” and Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford, was well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts.

Thomas Arnold (1795–1842)

He said: “I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” 1

1 d-resurrection-evidence-Josh-McDowell.htm

Brooke Foss Westcott, an English scholar and theologian, said: “raking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it.” 1

1 Ibid


Brooke Foss Westcott (1825–1901)

E. M. Blaiklock, Professor of Classics at Auckland University from 1947 to 1968 said, “I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history.” 1

1 Ibid


E. M. Blaiklock (1903–1983)

If you needed directions to get to the railway station and you meet two people in the street…


One is alive…

The other is dead…

Which one would you ask?

“What a hale of glory this simple belief sheds on human life. Our hope of resurrection and life everlasting is based, not on a philosophic guess about immortality, but an historic fact.” 1

Rom 1:4 … and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Pet 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

1 From Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1955 edition, p.497.


When Paul preached in Pisidian Antioch, he said:

Acts 13:29-33 “When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had travelled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people. We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’”


Acts 13:34-39 “The fact that God raised him from the dead, never to decay, is stated in these words: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’ So it is stated elsewhere: ‘You will not let your Holy One see decay.’ For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay. Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”



Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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