Swoon hypothesis  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
This is a sub-article of Death and resurrection of Jesus.

The Swoon Hypothesis refers to a number of theories that aim to explain the resurrection of Jesus, proposing that Jesus didn't die on the cross, but merely fell unconscious ("swooned"), and was later revived in the tomb in the same mortal body. Although this hypothesis has not been widely held by scholars, it has had noteworthy advocates for about two hundred years.

Contents

18th and 19th centuries

Early proponents of this theory include German Karl Friedrich Bahrdt, who 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. In this interpretation of the events described in the Gospels, 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.

Around 1800, Karl Venturini proposed that a group of supporters dressed in white — who were, with Jesus, members of a "secret society" — had not expected him to survive the crucifixion, but heard groaning from inside the tomb, where Jesus had regained consciousness in the cool, damp air. They then frightened away the guards and rescued him.

A third rationalist theologian, Heinrich Paulus, wrote in various works from 1802 onwards that he believed that Jesus had fallen into a temporary coma and somehow revived without help in the tomb. He was critical of the vision hypothesis, and argued that the disciples must have believed that God had resurrected Jesus. Friedrich Schleiermacher endorsed a form of Paulus' theory in the early 1830s.

A number of theories that suggest Jesus travelled to India also entail his survival of the crucifixion. In particular, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Movement, spelled out this theory in his 1899 book Jesus in India.

20th century

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. In 1992, Barbara Thiering explored the theory in depth in her book Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls. In 2006, Baigent published The Jesus Papers, a book that describes how Jesus may have survived the crucifixion. Other 20th-century proponents of various "swoon theories" include:

Islamic Perspective

Perhaps the biggest proponent of the Swoon Hypothesis over the past 20 years has been Muslim scholar Ahmed Deedat of South Africa whose book "Crucifixion or Cruci-fiction" has been widely printed and distributed all over the Muslim World. He takes a critical look at the events in the four Gospels and theorizes a scenario of events similar to the Swoon Hypothesis.

The Islamic position on the subject of crucifixion - which is a form of Docetism - is highlighted in verse Template:Quran-usc of the Qur'an;

"and for their unbelief, and their uttering against Mary a mighty calumny, and for their saying, 'We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of God' -- yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them". (AJ Arberry)

Ahmadiyya Islam Perspective

Template:See also

According to the late 19th Century writings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement, the theological basis of the Ahmadi belief is that Jesus was only “in a swoon”<ref name="Faruqi_1983_98">Template:Harvnb.</ref> when he was taken down from the cross. Ahmad argued that when Jesus was taken down from the cross, he had lapsed into a state similar to Jonah's state of "swoon" in the belly of a fish. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad interpreted the phrase in Deuteronomy 21:31: kī qilelat Elohim taluy, “… for a hanged man is the curse of God”, as suggesting that "God would never allow one of His true prophets to be brutally killed in such a degrading manner as crucifixion". Following his ordeal, Jesus was cured of his wounds with a special ointment known as the 'ointment of Jesus' (marham-i ʿIsā).”<ref name="SchaeferCohen">Template:Harvnb</ref>.

Criticism of the Swoon Hypothesis

Jesus' State of Health

The Swoon Hypothesis has been criticized by many, including medical experts who, based on the account given in the New Testament, conclude that Jesus was definitively dead when removed from the cross. Many others consider it unlikely that Jesus would be capable of inspiring faith in those who saw him after barely surviving a crucifixion, including the 19th century rationalist theologian David Strauss, who wrote:

"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." <ref>David Strauss, The Life of Jesus for the People, vol. 1, 2nd edition (London: Williams and Norgate, 1879), p. 412.</ref>

Medical Arguments

Using the work of the 19th century University of Dublin physiologist and ordained priest Samuel Haughton, Bible commentator Frederick Charles Cook and Christian evangelist author Josh McDowell argue that the death of Jesus in the Gospels could not have been fabricated, as the text displays medical knowledge not available at the time.Template:Dubious Haughton wrote that the description in the Gospel of John of the flowing of "blood and water" after the soldier pierced Jesus' side with a spear was extremely prescient:

"... With the foregoing cases most anatomists who have devoted their attention to this subject are familiar; but the two following cases, although readily explicable on physiological principles, are not recorded in the books (except by St. John). Nor have I been fortunate enough to meet with them." <ref>Jesus, a Fraud, a Lunatic or the Messiah? Resurrection: Hoax or History? Pre-Resurrection, part 1 @ answers2prayer.org</ref><ref>Christianity HOAX or HISTORY, Chapter 1, Back from the Grave @ greatcom.org (for more details see: Josh McDowell, New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, pages 223-225).</ref>

Medical authorities W. D. Edwards, W. J. Gabel and F. E. Hosmer offer the following analysis in regard to the New Testament Greek and the medical data:

"Jesus of Nazareth underwent Jewish and Roman trials, was flogged, and was sentenced to death by crucifixion. The scourging produced deep stripelike lacerations and appreciable blood loss, and it probably set the stage for hypovolemic shock, as evidenced by the fact that Jesus was too weakened to carry the crossbar (patibulum) to Golgotha. At the site of crucifixion, his wrists were nailed to the patibulum and, after the patibulum was lifted onto the upright post (stipes), his feet were nailed to the stipes. The major pathophysiologic effect of crucifixion was an interference with normal respirations. Accordingly, death resulted primarily from hypovolemic shock and exhaustion asphyxia. Jesus' death was ensured by the thrust of a soldier's spear into his side. Modern medical interpretation of the historical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead when taken down from the cross."<ref>On the physical death of Jesus Christ, by W. D. Edwards, W. J. Gabel and F. E. Hosmer, Abstract (JAMA, Vol. 255 No. 11, March 21, 1986, @ jama.ama-assn.org)</ref><ref>On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ, by

William D. Edwards, MD; Wesley J. Gabel, MDiv; Floyd E. Hosmer, MS, AMI (whole JAMA article in PDF file format).</ref>

Alexander Metherell concurs that, based on the gospel accounts, Jesus was dead when removed from the cross.

See also





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