Did Jesus really die on the cross?

Being a firm beliver in Ockham’s Razor and this being the Easter Season and all, here’s an hypothesis that I can’t recall anyone ever proposing before:

a) Although with modern medicine it has become considerably less frequent, medical literature/history is repleat with instances where persons have been delcared dead, only to revive in the morgue (best-case scenario) or their coffin (bummer). Don’t ask me to provide references; I don’t want Google to get any ideas about subscription-based business models.

b) Jesus supposedly had suffered several flesh wounds that presumably caused a large blood loss.

c) Death by Crucifixion, even without additional blood loss is tremendously physically exhausting (or so I have heard) and that death actually results from the inability to continue breathing (asphyxic… hey, can we please get a spell check module here?)

Given the above, isn’t it entirely possible, or even probable, that the charismatic person known today as “Jesus” only passed out/lost consciousness/fainted/etc., and since Golgotha CSI wasn’t around to set the record straight, he was hastily and erroniously declared dead and whisked off by (the) Disciples or whomever, that had a vested interest in seeing him survive? Perhaps they even knew he was still alive (maybe he winked at Mary) and said things like, “Yeah, he was up there (how many?) hours, and nobody has ever made it that long before, he’s gotta be dead.” to distract the rest of the mob that would otherwise have finished the job. (The shock of the blood loss could also have caused his body to go into a “survival” mode, slowing bodily functions such as blood circulation and respiration, allowing him to “last longer” than those malfactors.) So, everyone in the know went along with the ruse and Jesus winds up on a slab in the tomb with perhaps some frankincense and a little ventilator shaft out the back. Saturday, they all work out the Resurrection script and Sunday Jesus cops a David Copperfield/ bin Laden maneuver.

Since I have been living in my own cave for many years and have not read the screenplay of M. Gibsons “TPOTC”, perhaps this theory has already been advanced/discussed/proved/disproved/whatever. Guess I should have checked Great Debates first, rats! Of course, the Bible says a lot of incredulous stuff about this (and other topics) but we all know how any verbal history can get distorted through the years and even written history has a way of reflecting the bias and agendae of the writer. Anyway, hoping this is not considered blasphemous, I put this forward as an intellectual topic for discussion (no hate mail please) and that the Creator will not take vengence on me for blowing the whistle on His clever litt

You can get copies of a 1986 report in the The Journal of the American Medical Association (March 21, 1986, Volume 256), titled “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ”.

Here is the abstract:

Although the question technically has a factual answer (either he did or he didn’t), you’re not going to find any agreement on the answer. Some people argue Jesus never even existed at all. So this thread may be in GD before I even finish my post.

The “Swooning Jesus” theory is not new by any means, and is almost as popular as the “the disciples stole the body” theory. But there are a few problems with it that have been pointed out:

  1. If someone has suffered enough physical torture and blood loss so as to have gone into (essentially) a coma: lying them on a cold stone slab in a cave for three days is not the best way to revive them. If he wasn’t dead before, lack of treatment and water would have done him in.

  2. The gospels indicate that before he was taken down from the cross, the Roman soldier stabbed him in the side with a spear and “blood and water flowed.” This is commonly cited as evidence of death (his blood had started to separate? massive cardial failure? I don’t remember the medical explanation).

  3. Apparently, he managed to roll away a some-ton stone from his tomb. If he had awoken from a coma, it’s unlikely he would have had that kind of strength.

  4. These Romans soldiers were very experienced at crucifixions. They knew when you were dead, and they made sure they weren’t mistaken.
    None of these arguments are proof that Jesus was dead, but it seems not too likely. Of course, you have to assume the Gospel accounts are pretty accurate. But if you don’t assume that to begin with, you can’t even start with the premise that he was crucified at all.

OK Mr. L., but since you are also a seeming proponent of Mr. Ockham, which hypothosis (of the Resurrection) do you consided more probably, the Bible’s (bolstered by the AMA report which, BTW, I swear I had not read)) or my conspiracy theory?

Also, forgot to mention earlier, can This Site possibly on the level. In the time I have been watching (about two months) the supposed stiff doesn’t seem to have changed by one pixel.

This didn’t come out right – I meant to say that it seems unlikely that he didn’t die, if you are going by the biblical accounts (which is all you have available to go by).

I’m not sure that this is the appropriate forum to express such opinions. I believe that the Bible has quite many contradictions and improbable events. But I think I can say that the Resurrection seems rather clear-cut to me, and the Bible’s accounts — even though they differ in trivial details — are less infested with unnecessary entities than any of the conspiracy theories out there, including yours.

I’m going from memory of Latin lessons 20 years ago here, but the ‘blood and water’ bit indicates that either a lymph node or his bladder was pierced as well as a blood vessel. As for crucifixion, IIRC they ensured the victim was dead by breaking his legs. This would cause massive shock and kill the victim if he wasn’t dead already.

I’m not sure why you’re relating your hypothesis with the Occam’s razor, since it seems amongst the most convoluted and unlikely explanations possibles. The fact that he would have survived to crucifixion, whiwh was assumed to be an efficient way to execute criminals, and that nobody would have noticed sounds quite unlikely to me.

The Occam’s razor would rather dictate a simpler explanation, like : he did die and that’s the end of it, the ressurection part being a tale (if you’re a non-believer and rule out ressurection as a possibility) or did die and was ressurected (if you’re a believer and make the assumption that ressurection is a possibility). Various other hypothesis have been proposed about Jesus in many arguments on this board, and most of them seem to me to fit better the Occam’s razor rule.

As I’ve been given to understand, death by crucifixion came by suffocation as the victim was unable to draw adequate breaths due to his position on the cross, and that in order to draw what breath he was able to draw, it was necessary to push down on his (nailed) feet in order to lift his body enough to get an adequate breath. As the victim suffocates his heart becomes enveloped in a clear liquid due to this suffocation. (I’m sure one of the doctors around here can give a reason for this.) This is what I’ve been told was the “water” that ran out.

The breaking of the legs supposedly occurred if the victim wasn’t dead by nightfall. After his legs were broken (with mallets, no less) he would be unable to push against the nails in his feet and would therefore suffocate more quickly. In Jesus’ case this was apparently accomplished by paralyzing his diaphragm with the spear thrust instead. Why they chose this more humane way to hasten his death I couldn’t say.

According to the gospels, it wasn’t a way to hasten his death, but it verify it “This one is already dead, don’t worry” “You sure?” “Yeah! I saw enough executions, I should know better. Look!” (thrusting spear). “See?”
That’s assuming you believe the content of the gospels to be accurate. But if they’re accurate enough to describe correctly what happened when they stabbed him, then they should be accurate enough for the reasons given for the stabbing to be correct too.

Actually, uncertainty has been present from ancient times and into modern history about precisely defining and, more importantly, recognizing the moment of death. This very interesting book talks about the persistent human fear of being buried alive, and the great measures taken by people to avoid such a horrific end. One of the author’s major throughlines, as you might expect, is recounting the fierce debates among medical men and theologians and others with a vested interest about how, exactly, one is to say that somebody is in fact irretrievably dead. So from that standpoint, it’s actually quite reasonable to allow some margin of error in discerning the comatose from the cadaverous, especially in ancient times.

Oh, and the story posited in the OP was published a number of years ago in this rather ridiculous conspiracy-minded volume, which serves as a major source for the impossible-to-recommend-with-a-straight-face pulpy pageturner The DaVinci Code.

Why they chose this more humane way to hasten his death I couldn’t say.

I can tellya why.

The Sabbath was coming and you can’t do any work on the Sabbath. Whoever was in charge of the burial needed to go ahead and get Him in the tomb before sundown.

He was already dead before they did the spear thing, though.

You’re saying that the Romans gave a hoot about the Sabbath?

Was he?

I’m clearly not a biblical scholar but I thought I remembered hearing or reading at some point that he gasped when the spear was thrust. I also thought the spear thrust was sometimes used to hasten death and its purpose was twofold: one, to pierce the heart; two, to paralyze the diaphragm in case the heart was missed.

The main purpose of my post, though, was to offer an explanation of the “water” that came out upon the thrusting of the spear.

The Romans gave a hoot about order. The Jewish Passover in Jerusalem was notoriously prone to disorder, particularly around this time. The Roman Procurator and the High Priest from the Sanhedrin worked together often to ensure order as part of a mutually benefical and politically expedient arrangement. Romans generally recognized and respected the customs of the very diverse population in their empire and even according limited self-governing authority whenever the conquered people had a stable government in place. It would not be at all unusual that Roman soldiers would hasten to take the body down at the request of a local authority, especially when it was on religious grounds.

My SO was watching a special on PBS about the Shroud of Turin. I wasn’t paying much attention at the time, busy with other things, but I did catch a bit about it being possible for the nails to have gone through a crucified person’s hands and still support him. I did a double take, but had missed so much of the program, I figured I’d just look it up, rather than annoy the SO by asking for him to fill in the past hour. What does this have to do with the OP? Well, I can’t provide a factual cite about Jesus, one way or the other, but I can post a link to some pretty interesting information I found. I’m not a scholar in this area at all, but the author appears to know what he is talking about. Most interesting to me, were these findings:

I’m with clairobscur in the OP’s use of Occam’s razor, in that it seems a pretty convoluted theory. I’d think it more likely the person died and interestingly, maybe from shock, rather than asphyxiation. I realize the Shroud is a controversial subject in itself, and I have no agenda one way or the other. I do think the findings from scholars, since the discovery of the Shroud, is still valuable regarding information involving crucifixion.

The concepts of blood circulation, oxygen exchange in the lungs, brain activity, and the significance of heartbeat did not exist in those days. Proof of death came down to two things. “Poke him and see if he groans,” and “Hold a blade up to his mouth and look for fogging.” Neither is reliable.

I won’t take a position on the main question; it’s a matter of faith, anyway. Most of the Yes posts so far are based on how long a typical human would last under those conditions. Typically, humans can’t run a four minute mile, but a rare few can.

Another book, originally published in the mid 1960s, is The Passover Plot by Hugh Schonfield. The premise is this: The “vinegar” on the sponge was secretly contrived – possibly prearranged by Jesus himself – to be a drug of some sort that would cause only the appearance of death. This plot was foiled by the Roman with the spear.

Interesting to speculate, facts impossible to confirm.

This is more of a debate than a question that can be answered factually, so I’ll move this thread to GD.

moderator GQ

Somewhere in scripture is the prophecy that not a bone in Jesus’ body would be broken during his suffering and death. Not sure what book this comes from, but it’s a not insignificant part of Catholicism. So strictly following Catholic tradition, this wouldn’t have been what killed him. Just thought I’d mention that, even if it won’t be taken as factual evidence.

Also, I’ve also always heard that asphyxiation is the cause of death in crucifixion. However, if it happened as Gibson’s movie portrayed it - with the victim’s feet braced and their forearms tied to the cross - would that prevent the weight of the body from suffocating the person?