Did Jesus really die on the cross?

Neither theory is terribly popular anywhere except in the minds of armchair scholars whose background consists of some Baigent and Leigh, and the Davinci Code.

If Jesus was buried at all, which is unlikely, nobody knew where–if they had, they would have worshipped at the tomb. They didn’t worship at the tomb. It seems reasonable to conclude that this is because there wasn’t one–it’s an apologetic.

See Peter Kirby’s article from the Journal of Higher Criticism The Case Against the Empty Tomb

The more common idea on the empty tomb is expressed by John Crossan, cited in Kirby’s article–“It is most probable that Jesus was buried by the same inimical forces that had crucified him and that on Easter Sunday Morning those who knew the site did not care and those who cared did not know the site.”

Crossan allows as long as three years before the resurrection experiences, whatever they may have been, occurred, much less the development of a tomb narrative. Many (i.e. Sanders and Fredriksen) have condemned this as too much time. I’d tend the other direction–it’s not nearly enough.


How is a piece of artwork from the 14th century valuable for information about crucifixion?

True, but I have to imagine that few, if any, people have survived getting nails pushed through their wrists(isn’t cutting the wrists a method of sucide?), being stabbed by a spear and then lying a sealed tomb for a day or so.

If we’re really going to apply Occam’s Razor then a fictional account of a resurrection is infinitely more likely than the physical recussitaion of a dead body.

The passion accounts were written decades after the fact by people who weren’t there and probably didn’t know anybody who was there. They also contain a number of factual errors as well a multiple contradictions. The fact they are clearly religious in nature, that they assert plainly impossible events and that they are completely unreliable and ahistorical in almost every significant way is more than enogh grounds to dismiss any necessary speculation as to natural explanations of a risen Jesus. There was no risen Jesus. Period. At least not in the literal, physical sense. There is nothing to explain. Asking how Jesus could have survived the crucifixion is like trying to determine the exact construction of Icarus’ wings. It’s a freaking myth, man. Take whatever allegorical meaning you want from it but I see no rational basis to believe any part of it as fact.

BTW, Lib, while there is some indication from Philo that Romans occasionally allowed crucifixion victims to be taken down and buried during Passover (as opposed to being left on the cross to rot, as was the usual procedure) but this exception was not extended to those convicted of sedition, insurrection or treason. Jesus was executed basically for insurrection, i.e. claiming to be the “King of the Jews” (the “blasphemy” conviction by the Sanhedrin is most likely ahistorical but even if taken as fact, those sentenced to death by the Sanhedrin were also forbidden an “honorable burial” under Jewish law). What all this means is that it seems extremely unlikely that Jesus was taken down and buried at all. His followers probably scattered and the Passion narratives were constructed from Hebrew Scripture years later.

The origin of the “resurrection” tradition is not known, of course. The first mention of it is Paul, who says nothing of an empty tomb or anything else from the passions and speaks only in terms of mystical visions. Some have speculated for this and other reasons that Paul’s visons of a cosmic Christ came first and that the character of “Jesus of Nazareth” came later ( see Earl Dougherty’s Jesus Puzzle site, or better yet read his novel of the same name…the whole book is available online. It makes a better case than you might expect, but I don’t quite agree with his conclusions). Some other scholars have speculated that some of the apostles had visionary experiences that were literalized later. I really haven’t been able to come to a firm conclusion myself, but I have to say that any natural origin of the story is far more likely than any supernatural origin if we’re really applying the Razor.

Crucifixion was performed by the Romans (and others like Cartheginians, Persians and Macedonians), for +1000 years of recorded (but admittedly spottily recorded) History. It was performed on multi-thousand individuals. AFAIK* nobody was ever been taken down, (in the OP’s scenario by passing out or earlier by say a just too late call from the Governor or by a minutes too late 50B.C. equivalent of a decsion that the glove didn’t fit) and survived. In fact, if blood loss didn’t get you I imagine infection would.

(*really am saying AFAIK – if I am wrong … well I like to learn stuff )

Only if the resuscitation was a purely natural event. According to the Gospel accounts, it was not.

It seems that Iscariot beat me to almost every point I made.

jimmmy, Taking victims from the cross was not unheard of (I believe that Josephus mentions a victim who was not only taken down but survived), but it was exceedingly rare that they would be given over to familes for burial. If they weren’t left on the cross for scavangers they were burned or dumped into lime pits or otherwise destroyed. Actual burial is so rare that the remains of only one crucifixion victim have ever been recovered from the thousands who were so executed.

Yes, Jesus really did die and His body was lifted off the earth, nowhere to be found on earth on buried in it.

I’ve read that back then, they couldn’t have known about the fact that blood and water came out of the spear wound, menat He wass obviously dead.


in the Bible, it says when they thrust a spear throuhg His side, blood AND WATER came out.
Medically this happens when ones heart has given out, I think.
Someone else will come here and explain.
(not exactly water, but a bodily fluid)

Sorry. I didn’t understand your original sentence. (Btw, I posted earlier about the fluid build-up that occurs during suffocation. If I’ve been told correctly, such slow suffocation also causes congestive heart failure and the clear fluid is a result of that.)

Thank you for your answer.

Where is David “Street Magician” Blaine when you really need him?
I’m sure he could give us a reasonable facsimile and re-creation of what really happened. He could prove once and for all, that surviving a Roman crucifixion during the first century, is not only possible…but quite probable; and it happened all the time. It was quite ordinary as a matter of fact.

I mean…these are the first century Romans we’re talking about…what do they know about domination, torture, killing and death?
I’m sure they had no idea what caused a human body to suffer, bleed, and die.
No medical knowledge whatsoever. No knowledge of sanitation, organized government, education…and the Jews…whew! …uneducated Barbarians really!
Death was a complete anomaly to them, all of them; theologians, politicians, scientists, doctors, lawyers, governers, policemen, firemen, farmers, grocers, pharmacists, laborers, …just common men…what could they possibly know about death?
They had absolutely no idea what a dead body even looked like, acted like, responded like!
How could they?
A Death from a Roman crucifixion in the first century A.D.? —Preposterous!

I’m not sure why you used a quote from me in your post. I wasn’t trying to say that crucifixion was an iffy way to kill a person, or that the Romans were inexperienced enough in the matter to inadvertantly let a person survive the ordeal; I was just curious to know whether suffocation would be the cause of death in a situation such as in The Passion.

I didn’t mean to insinuate that I accept unquestioningly what the movie portrayed, either, but the situation Gibson set up raised the question in my mind.

To answer your earlier question…no, nailing the feet would not prevent asphyxiation. It was done so that the feet would not slip from the foot rest but the victim still had to raise himself up to draw breath. This prolonged the suffering as the victim repeatedly pulled himself up to breathe until he was too exhausted to continue. One the victim was too exhausted to pull himself up, he suffocated whether his feet were nailed or not.

Breaking the legs was an act of mercy which hastened death by preventing the victim from being able to lift himself up anymore.

My appologies. I wasn’t attacking you, or your question. I was making a distinction, albeit sarcastically, that he died. He was dead; killed by folks who were good at it, practiced at it, professionals at it…this is what they were trained to do, and they did it. They did it for a living, these folks.
They were executioners on that day, for many years before that day, and for many years after.
He was dead. He died. They made sure of it, it was their job, it was what they did, and they did it well.

Thanks for your reply…I just didn’t know if you were trying to criticize me or not. Just use very small words and I won’t get confused. :slight_smile:

Diogenes, thanks for the info. Love your sig, by the way.

I appreciated Libertarian’s comment that getting the body off the cross before the Sabbath began would be a concession to the local mores made in an attempt to keep order, but I still wonder – wouldn’t the Romans’ inclination be to leave the crucified to hang around for a couple of days as a warning, rather than taking it down so fast? Is there any record (other than in the New Testament) indicating that crucified bodies were routinely removed as soon as they were deemed to be dead?

With all due respect, Tenar, I don’t think your objection has much merit. You can speculate that the Romans might have wanted to leave the corpses hanging as a public warning, but that is mere empty speculation. Unless you can show that the Romans DID make a habit of treating the crucified corpses in that manner, then this speculation doesn’t shed any light on the issue at hand.

Besides, one could posit any number of reasons why the Romans would not have gone that far. Perhaps they simply did not abide the smell of rotting human flesh, for example. Or perhaps such behavior went beyond what the Romans deemed necessary. (Note that Roman punishment could be severe, but it was hardly unrestrained.) Whatever the case, there’s no point in casting doubt on Jesus’ death, based on the mere vain possibility that the Roman authorities might conceivably have been inclined to leave his corpse hanging on the cross.

In point of fact, the Romans did make it a point to leave the bodies on the crosses. If they took them down at all they disposed of them by burning or dumped them in lime pits. What they did not do was hand them over for a proper burial.

In the case of perceived insurgents such as Jesus, there was no way they would allow any family or others to claim the body for burial. To do so was a tacit admission that the victim wasn’t guilty. Part of the whole point of crucifixion was that it robbed the victim of an honorable burial. Shameful dispositions of bodily remains were meted out to criminals. To allow a proper burial was to say that the victim was not a criminal. It didn’t happen.

I highly suggest reading Iscariot’s link about the empty tomb tradition.

Really, the answer to the OP’s question is of course Jesus died on the cross. The dubious part is whether the empty tomb tradition or any of the appearances to the apostles have any historicity. By far the most likely scenario is that the whereabouts of Jesus’ body were simply unknon to the evangelists and that the empty tomb story was an invention of Mark’s.

I think you’re overestimating the contemporary influence of Jesus. He wasn’t a tremendously notable figure to the Romans at the time - he was, to borrow a term from Monty Python, a wabble wouser. From the Roman point of view, there is some guy with a relatively decent following. Not unimportant, but hardly top headlines of the day, and hardly unprecedented.

The reasoning for them noticing him (as I understand it) was wabble wousing at the temple around Passover and having some followers in town - it wasn’t like Pilate was intimately familiar with Jesus. He was just reacting to a potential riot that some guy named Jesus might have been starting. Around Passover, they certainly wouldn’t want to string him up for a few extra days as a warning to anyone, any more than they would want to keep up a thief.

As for the Romans not knowing anything about medicine… they may have had a primitive grasp on it, and there probably wasn’t what passed for a doctor on scene, but I would go out on a limb and hypothesize that they knew that blood coming out was bad (or good, depending on your perspective). :-p

Someone mentioned something about the wrist damage… well, in a situation where one would be cutting a wrist, you cut along the veins, not across them. If you cut across, it is easier for it to clot, and you have a less likely chance to die. If you cut along them, you open a great deal more tubing to the air, and virtually nothing can help you. I’m not a doctor, but getting a nail shoved through your wrist falls into the former category. Also, with puncture wounds, you have a much greater chance to live if the object remains in the wound (which is why it is funny to see in movies when people just yank stuff out of them), as is the case with the nail - it blocks the bloodflow and lets it clot more easily. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it hurts like all hell to have a nail go through your wrist and then support your body weight from it, but you won’t bleed to death in seconds.

As for surviving the entire process - OK, I can see surviving most of the individual parts of the experience, but added together, and throwing in shock (considering that the upright, arms stretched, naked, and in the air would be the absolute worst position to experience shock), dehydration, and other factors, there is very, very little chance. Additionally, if he had simply passed out (which is quite likely), he would have died rather quickly from asphyxiation…

While there is evidence that people have been buried alive, the usual causes for this are diseases or brain damage. Specifically, there are a number of ailments that put you in a coma-like situation - almost no breathing, low blood pressure, all that. In the ancient times and middle ages, when diseases spread like wildfire and people generally didn’t want bodies laying around, they would indeed be buried rather quickly whenever possible. The odds of this are fairly low, though. I’ve never heard of this kind of situation resulting from massive body trauma.

OK, so the process isn’t more thorough than decapitation, but all of it together will get you pretty dead.

Them whacky Romans!