The Swoon Theory 


The ”Swoon” Theory of the resurrection of Jesus is the theory that although Jesus was crucified he did not die on the cross. Instead he seemed to die, was taken down from the cross and placed in the tomb, where he revived. He then went out of the tomb and showed himself to his disciples who jumped to the conclusion that he had been raised from the dead by God. This theory is espoused by only a small number of Moslems, but as it appears in the works of the main Islamic polemicists it is likely to be met with fairly frequently in the future.

This theory hangs on the question of whether Jesus could have survived the crucifixion and then escaped the tomb in which he had been laid. In fact it is impossible that Jesus could have survived the crucifixion. It is possible for a victim to survive a crucifixion for six hours, provided that they remain conscious throughout and are prepared to support themselves on their legs. However, once anyone lapses into unconsciousness they will die in about 20 minutes from the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. Jesus is reported as having died at about the ninth hour (Mt. 27:50). He must at least have slipped into unconsciousness at this point. However, he was not brought down from the cross immediately. Instead there was time for Joseph of Arimathea to go to Pilate and beg the body of Jesus from him (Mk. 15:43; Jn. 19:38). There was then a further delay while Pilate sent someone out to make certain that the body was dead. (Mk. 15:44,45) Even then Jesus was not removed immediately; Joseph first went to buy some fine linen to act as grave clothes (Mk. 15:46). It is highly unlikely that this set of events could been completed in the twenty minutes that would be needed for Jesus to remain alive on the cross.

A further problem for the swoon theory is the spear thrust. This brought forth blood and water. The water can only have been from the lungs or pericardium. Thus the spear thrust was a deep one. As Jesus was lifted up on a cross at the time this thrust must have come from below as well as to the side. Because of this it would need to pass through the diaphragm to reach the lungs, and through either the spleen or the liver. This would have been enough to ensure the death of Jesus even if he had been in full health. If the spear pierced the pericardium then this would also have killed Jesus. Incidentally both the spleen and the liver bleed after death (look in any butcher‘s shop).

Supposing that by some miracle (and it would need to be a real miracle) Jesus had managed to survive this. He would be dying from his wounds. Being shut up in a cold tomb without food or water for 48 hours or more would certainly kill him. Apart from the loss of blood caused by his scourging, the wounds in his hands and feet and the spear thrust in his side would almost certainly become infected. He would be unable to move until death took him.

The swoon theory now requires Jesus to remain immobile from the Friday evening to early Sunday morning and then to suddenly get up and feel better. He managed to open the stone from the wrong side. The stone would have been large, at least two tonnes, and it was sealed. The women going to the tomb felt unable to move it without help (Mk. 16:3). In spite of Jesus‘ wounds (which would have been severe) he manages to push the stone aside and then tackles a guard of the most efficient soldiers in the ancient world. This isn‘t a real person: this is superman! For an encore he walks seven miles on feet pierced with nails to Emmaus (Lk. 24:13). Here he manages to convince two disciples that he has been supernaturally raised from the dead and now enjoys eternal life.

This is not within the realms of possibility. Even more problematical is what happened to Jesus afterwards. Was an ordinary man raised up to heaven? If he died on earth, where is the tomb? There is a Moslem sect which believes that Jesus is now buried in Kashmir, but the tomb they show is not nearly old enough to be genuine. [There is friend of mine in Guyana whose brother journeyed specially to Kashmir to investigate. He says that there is a large crater which is claimed to be a footprint of Jesus- although all Biblical evidence is that He was a man of normal size. More information about this is available from the author. If Muhammed was indeed “the comforter” who Jesus prophesied would lead into all Truth, it is significant that Muslim groups have such major differences of agreement; and Muslim nations fight each other to this day].