A Raised or Resuscitated Jesus?

W. Terry Varner
April 5, 2015

Was the resurrection of Jesus an elaborate hoax? Did Jesus faint or pass out on the cross from the scourging and crucifixion and when placed in a cool tomb the dampness revived Him? If Jesus was resuscitated rather than raised, then we have what is called the Swoon Theory. The Swoon Theory is from conspiracy theorists who argue that something was in or on the sponge place to His lips (cf. Mark 15:36) which caused Him to quickly faint; therefore, leaving Pilate to marvel that one could die so quickly (cf. Mark 15:44).

The Swoon Theory reasons Jesus never died but fainted or fell into a comma only to be resuscitated in a cool tomb. The Swoon Theory creates a number of major objections.

The Swoon Theory fails to consider that in every New Testament book the death of Jesus is mentioned either directly or indirectly; i.e. all twenty-seven books.

The Swoon Theory fails to consider that the Roman soldiers who crucified Him also pronounced Him dead (John 19:33). They made certain of His death by piercing His side (John 19:34) and knowing He was dead, they omitted breaking His legs (John 19:32-33).

The Swoon Theory fails to consider the grave clothes in which His body was wrapped tightly. It would have been impossible for Him to have gotten out of the grace clothes in a weakened condition the Swoon Theory claims. Why were the grave clothes left behind?

The Swoon Theory fails to consider that if Jesus had not died, but was revived in the cool tomb as they claim, He could not have removed the stone in His weakened condition, much less slipped pass the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb’s entrance.

The Swoon Theory fails to consider the horrendous suffering He endured when He was scourged. The Jewish law limited scourging to 40 lashes, but the Pharisees limited the lashes to 39 just in case they miscounted. The Romans, who did the scourging, had no such limitations. The blows from the whip, known as the flagrum, would eventually, after repeated blows, cut deeply causing contusions and cutting into the subcutaneous tissues. McDowell quotes Eusebius say, “The sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were often exposed” (44). This was all done in preparation for the crucifixion.

Dr. William Stroud, a medical doctor, wrote the following on the physical cause of the death of Jesus:

That the immediate cause of the death of our blessed Savior was—speaking medically— laceration or rupture of the heart, is a doctrine in regard to which there can be absolute certainty; but, assuredly, in favor of it there is a very high amount of circumstantial probability . . . (1) His death was not the mere result of crucifixion; for the period was too short. A person in the prime of life, as Christ was . . . usually survived till the second or third day, or even longer. (2) The attendant phenomena, at the time of the actual death, were different from those of crucifixion. The crucified died, as is well known, under a lingering process of gradual exhaustion, weakness, and faintness . . . Christ died with a loud voice, and spoke once and again—all apparently within a few minutes of His dissolution. No known injury . . . could, I believe, account for such a sudden termination of His sufferings in death, except (a) arrestment of the action of the heart by fatal fainting or syncope; or (b) rupture of the walls of the heart, or larger blood-vessels issuing from it (7-8).

Certainly, the weight of the biblical, historical, and medical evidence argues that Jesus was dead before the soldiers inflicted the wound in His side with the spear. To argue that Jesus fainted rather than died is at odds with both the Bible and medical science.