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 You are in / Foolish Faith / Read Book Online / Chapter 7 / Resurrection Reasoning - Part 3
"The alleged bodily resurrection of Jesus, if true, was very consequential concerning mankind's most fearful and important questions."
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Chapter 7:
The Unrivaled Resurrection
What do some of the world's greatest lawyers say about the event that changed history from BC to AD?

Resurrection Reasoning - Part 3

It is interesting that the enemies of Christianity did not so much try to contradict the claims of the early Christians regarding Jesus’ missing body, as they tried instead to offer other explanations. The Jews first reacted by saying that Jesus’ followers (the Apostles) had stolen the corpse and were lying about His resurrection (Matt. 28:13).

However, the Apostles of the first century would have had no possible motive for such actions. Since they were tortured, flogged, imprisoned, beaten, and put to death for their testimony that they had seen the resurrected Jesus, they had nothing to gain and everything to lose by claiming what they did about Him.[15]

Generally, the reliability of eyewitness testimony can be strengthened if it can be shown that the witness has a vested interest in the opposite of what he testifies. One probably would not doubt a child who confessed to a misdeed which would certainly elicit a spanking from the parent. Since the child has a vested interest in the misdeed not occurring, if he admits to it and risks a spanking, then it is reasonable to believe that the child is telling the truth.

Likewise, the first century Apostles would have had a vested interest in the opposite of what they claimed. Far from a spanking, their punishment often resulted in serious persecution. (Scholars agree that serious Christian persecution started almost immediately following Jesus’ death.[16]) Thus it seems reasonable that the Apostles at least believed they had seen Jesus risen from the dead. It surely wasn’t their commitment to a lie, but rather what they believed to be the truth that brought about their martyrdom. Indeed, why would the Apostles want to deceive their own people (the Jews) into believing in a lie when they knew this deception would mean persecution for themselves and hundreds of their believing friends?

According to one of the world’s foremost experts on the Resurrection, critical scholars today have thus universally rejected this conspiracy theory that the Apostles had stolen Jesus’ corpse and were lying about His resurrection.[17]

On the other hand, could the opposing Jews or Romans themselves have stolen Jesus’ body? Highly doubtful, because if any of the opponents of Christianity knew the whereabouts of Jesus’ corpse, they would certainly have exposed the whole affair. As already explained, the quickest and surest answer to the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus would have been simply to produce His corpse. Thus, no one adheres to this theory today.

In the words of one famous journalist, in a historical sense it is the complete failure of anyone to produce the remains of Jesus, or to point to any tomb, official or otherwise, in which the body remained, which ultimately destroys every theory based on the human removal of the body.[18]

However, another theory that has been raised as an alternative explanation to the resurrection of Jesus is that He didn’t die on the cross, but merely fainted from exhaustion and loss of blood. He was then taken down and placed alive in the tomb, and after a couple of days, He escaped and convinced the disciples that He had risen from the dead. Today, however, this theory has been entirely given up by scholars: it would be virtually impossible medically for anyone to have survived the severity of torture and crucifixion, much less not to have escaped death by exposure in the tomb. One prominent physician, Dr. Alexander Metherell, who has extensively studied death by crucifixion, explains what is involved:

   Once a person is hanging in the vertical position, crucifixion is essentially an agonizingly slow death by asphyxiation [suffocation]. The reason is that the stresses on the muscles and diaphragm put the chest into the inhaled position; basically, in order to exhale, the individual must push up on his feet so the tension on the muscles would be eased for a moment. In doing so, the nail would tear through the foot, eventually locking up against the tarsal bones. After managing to exhale, the person would then be able to relax down and take another breath in. Again he’d have to push himself up to exhale. . . . This would go on and on until complete exhaustion would take over, and the person wouldn’t be able to push up and breathe anymore. . . . As the person slows down his breathing, he goes into what is called respiratory acidosis — the carbon dioxide in the blood is dissolved as carbonic acid, causing the acidity of the blood to increase. This eventually leads to an irregular heartbeat. . . . And then the victim dies of cardiac arrest. But even before he dies, the hypovolemic shock would cause a sustained rapid heart rate that would have contributed to heart failure, resulting in the collection of fluid in the membrane around the heart, called a pericardial effusion, as well as around the lungs, which is called a pleural effusion. This is significant because the New Testament records that the Roman soldier drove a spear into Jesus’ side, apparently through the right lung and into the heart, resulting in the outpouring of blood and water. This flow of blood and water would have actually been the pericardial effusion and the pleural effusion. The New Testament writer would have had no idea why he saw both blood and a clear fluid come out, yet his description is consistent with modern medical knowledge.[19]

If the soldiers wanted to speed up death, they would break the victim’s lower leg bones.[20] This would prevent him from pushing up with his legs so he could breathe, and death by asphyxiation would result in a matter of minutes. The Encyclopedia Britannica notes, “Death, apparently caused by exhaustion or by heart failure, could be hastened by shattering the legs with an iron club, so that shock and asphyxiation soon ended [the victim’s] life.”[21] Only after a victim was confirmed dead by the Roman soldiers would the body have been taken down from the cross.

An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association discussing the physical death of Jesus concluded, “Clearly, the weight of the historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead. . . . Interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge.”[22]


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