“Swoon” resurrection theory (Part 1)

Some people contend that Jesus did not rise from the dead. Skeptics continue to develop explanations on what really happened, even though they lived mant years after Christ. Karl Venturini, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, suggested the “swoon theory.” The swoon theory says that Jesus swooned, or fainted, on the cross, but did not die. He revived in the cool air of the tomb, escaped from it, and appeared “alive” to people, even though He had actually never died. While notable scholars have debunked this theory, it remains alive in literature and stories today.

What have these notable scholars used to debunk this theory? Many arguments can be listed, but pastor and author John R. W. Stott asks us to consider these facts: “After the rigours and pains of trial, mockery, flogging, and crucifixion, He could survive thirty-six hours in a stone sepulcher with neither warmth nor food nor medical care? That He could then rally sufficiently to perform the superhuman feat of shifting the boulder which secured the mouth of the tomb, and this without disturbing the Roman guard? That then, weak and sickly and hungry, He could appear to the disciples in such a way as to give them the impression that He had vanquished death?”

Another question to ask is how could Jesus escape His grave clothes? John 19:38-41 says, “He (Joseph of Arimathea) was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. 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.”

Professor Merrill Tenney explains the details of the Jewish burial custom. His body would have been washed, straightened, and then wrapped tightly in bandages a foot wide from armpits to ankles. “Aromatic spices, often of a gummy consistency, were placed between the wrappings or folds. They served partially as a cement to glue the cloth wrappings into a solid covering…How was the corpse extricated from the wrappings since they would not slip over the curves of the body when tightly wound around it?” Remember when Jesus raised His friend Lazarus from the dead, He told people to help Lazarus get out of the grave clothes. John 11:44 says, “The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’” How could Jesus escape His own grave clothes alone after all the physical punishment He had endured?

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