Search and find articles and topics quickly and accurately!  See different advanced ways to search for articles on this site.

Further Topic Research:
Syntax help

Jesus Survived the Cross

Written by Abdullah Kareem



The Quran rejects the swoon theory (3:55) and says Jesus was saved by the Power of God and replaced with another in his likeness (4:157). According to Gnostic doctrine, Simon took on Jesus’ form and died in his place, while Jesus stood laughing. Some believed Jesus’ phantom body was only crucified, and he wasn’t flesh. The Marcionites believed Jesus never “rose from the dead” because spiritual bodies do not resurrect (Luke 20:36). Paul, the founder of Christianity, denied the physical resurrection.

The earliest attested form of the belief in Jesus' resurrection occurs in 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul compares the  general resurrection to that of Jesus and thus implies his conception of the latter. The risen Jesus "became a ... Spirit" (v. 45). His was a spiritual, not a natural body (v. 44) and did not have flesh, since such is entirely unsuited to immortality (v. 50). (Robert Price, The Resurrection, [1]

The ultra-conservatives keep insisting on a “physical” resurrection of Jesus. Paul, whose work pre-dates the first Gospel, insists on the exact opposite. His fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians could not possibly be clearer. I invite you to read to reread that passage for yourself. This passage is almost pure Platonism. Paul knows only a spiritual resurrection.  (Tom Harper, The Pagan Christ, p. 174)

That the original Christians believed in a spiritual resurrection is hinted at in many strange features of the Gospel accounts of the appearances of Jesus after death, which may be survivals of an original mystical tradition later corrupted by the growing legend of a bodily resurrection, such as a Jesus that they do not recognize, or who vanishes into thin air.[24] But more importantly, it is also suggested by the letters of Paul, our earliest source of information on any of the details of the original Christian beliefs. For Paul never mentions or quotes any of the Gospels, so it seems clear that they were not written in his lifetime. This is supported by internal evidence that suggests all the Gospels were written around or after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., well after Paul's last surviving letter, which was written around the year 58.[25]

Yet Paul never mentions Jesus having been resurrected in the flesh. He never mentions empty tombs, physical appearances, or the ascension of Jesus into heaven afterward (i.e. when Paul mentions the ascension, he never ties it to appearances in this way, and never distinguishes it from the resurrection event itself). [2]

Jesus was placed on the cross and did not die; he survived the crucifixion. The evidence proves Jesus was deliberately drugged to make him appear dead (John 19:30), so the Roman soldiers wouldn’t break his legs to expedite his death. The Jews already knew Jesus was accursed (Deu 21:23), executed on false charges (Luke 23:22). The body had to be removed before the Sabbath so the land won’t be defiled.

Historical Errors in the Gospels:

Now is it not strange that the crucifixion should take place during the Passover? Among the Jews, this was a most sacred occasion. For them to crucify anyone at this time, they would have to break at least seven of their religious laws. Why then did they profane it with murder? (Lloyd Graham, Deceptions and Myths of the Bible, p. 345)


According to the Gospels, the Jews did not mind committing murder during the Passover, but they were greatly worried about profaning their Sabbath, and so they requested Pilate to have the legs of the three broken that they may die sooner. (ibid, p. 351)

The story of Barabbas being freed in exchange for Jesus is pure fiction. Two Gospels describe a Roman custom of freeing a prisoner during Passover festival, but no such policy ever existed on the part of the Romans. A Roman procurator, especially someone as ruthless as Pilate, would likewise never consent to the pressure of a mob. [1]

Pontius Pilate, as he is depicted in the Gospels, appears to be a decent person who consents only reluctantly to the crucifixion of Jesus. History paints a different picture of him. He was a procurator of Judea from A.D. 26 to 36, and he was a cruel and corrupt man. Why is there no criticism of him in the Gospels? [2]


The Pilate was bribed to keep Jesus alive, that’s why he executed Jesus on the Passover knowing he would survive the cross. It took several days to die from crucifixion, he allowed Jesus to be drugged and taken down from the cross. Apparently, the Jews knew it takes several days, so why did they want Jesus crucified on the Passover knowing he would survive? The Sabbath begins at evening, and the first day of the week is Sunday.

There are many historical errors in Jesus’ trial and crucifixion

When Jesus expired after drinking the vinegar, the Pilate gave permission to Joseph to remove the body and wrap in healing spices.

Interestingly, there is also the possibility that Pilate was bribed.  This would account for the crucifiction taking place at the Garden of Gethsemane (private land), and for the body being taken down so quickly.  In short the evidence is overwhelming that the Cruci- fixion was instead a Cruci- fiction. [1]

Another explanation is provided by a strong tradition that Pilate was “got at” with a sizable bribe amounting to the equivalent of 30,000. If what is described in the Gospels is true, then it is obvious that Pilate did have a vested interest in the drama enacted that day in Jerusalem…Finally, there is another significant fact. In the calendars of the Saints of the Coptic Church, both in Egypt and in Ethiopia, Pilate and his wife appear as “saints”. This could be possible only if we accept that Pilate, knowing full well that his soldiers had made a wrong arrest, knowingly condemned Judas in place of Jesus, and allowed the latter to escape. (Muhammad Ataur-Raheem, Jesus Prophet of Islam, p. 37)

Let us quote the passage Luke 23:51-56

(The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment. (Luke 23:51-56)


Apparently, the women knew Jesus was alive, that’s why they prepared spices to anoint Jesus’ body.

No one knows the exact date on which the crucifixion occurred. The synoptic Gospels and the fourth Gospel locate it near the time of Passover. I see no reason to doubt that. There is, however, too much agenda in both the synoptic’s attempt to identify the Last Supper with the Passover feast, and the fourth Gospel’s attempt to identify the day of crucifixion with the day on which the Paschal Lamb was slain, for me to take either assertion literally.

How long was Jesus on the cross before he died? I do not think anyone knows. Remember, those who might have noticed and relayed that information had all forsaken him and fled. The appearance of Joseph of Arimathea, the darkness over the land, the split in the temple veil, the ecstatic cry of faith from the centurion—all were elements of the developing legend. The hasty burial before the Sabbath was but a part of the burial legend. Thus no one knows how long Jesus lived on the cross, how he died, when he was taken down, or where he was buried, “for they all forsook him and fled”. That means there was no first-day-of-the-week visit to the tomb by the women to anoint him, since there was no tomb and no sense of when he died or of where he was buried. (John Shelby Spong, Resurrection: Myth or Reality, p. 241)

The apostles were not eye-witnesses to the crucifixion (Mark 14:50). The Bible says “they all forsook him and fled”.

It seems very likely that none of Jesus' disciples were witnesses to the events following his arrest. [a] This is firmly supported by the fact that it is in these episodes that the evangelists had to rely on Old Testament passages to reconstruct the events as they thought it might have happened during the crucifixion. [1]

It is important that one examines closely extra-biblical sources regarding Palestine and Rome of biblical times in order to make sense of what took place and ultimately understand what really led to the development of Xianity as we have come to know it. It cannot be said too often that the Gospels are not reliable as historical documents. They are riddled with inconsistencies, forgeries and historical inaccuracies and are not even eyewitness accounts. [2]

 “There is hardly any record of his code of behavior. The books in the New Testament do not even contain eye-witness accounts of his sayings and actions. They were written by people who derived their knowledge second-hand. These records are not comprehensive. Everything which Jesus said and did which has not been recorded has been lost forever”. (Muhammad Ataur-Raheem, Jesus Prophet of Islam, p. 195)

Jesus survived the cross so Christians are not saved. Now if Christians reject the Quranic version, they must accept the Biblical evidence that Jesus was kept alive, only to be resusciated on the third day before sunrise. The Gospels say the stone was “rolled away” and the tomb was empty. Obviously, Jesus did not stagger out by himself; his body was taken by the Essenes who restored him back to life.

The scholar Ahmed Deedat answers the question: Who Moved the Stone?  But it doesn’t matter who moved the stone, the crucifixion was a conspiracy to keep Jesus alive. The Essenes were the followers of Jesus:

The name of the Essenes had been changed previously from Hassidim to Essenes. Philo calls them Therapeutae, and Eusebins says the Therapentae were Christians. [1]

The Essenes followed Jesus after John was beheaded, they were strict adherents to the Law (Matt 5:17-20) which solved the problem of lawlessness. They supported Jesus when he favored the Jewish Law and denounced Pharisaism. 

The man dressed in white at the tomb was Essene.

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. (Mark 16:5)

And they despise wealth, and do not turn away from sharing their goods with those that are destitute. No one amongst them, however, enjoys a greater amount of riches than another. For a regulation with them is, that an individual coming forward to join the sect must sell his possessions, and present the price of them to the community. And on receiving the money, the head of the order distributes it to all according to their necessities. Thus there is no one among them in distress. And they do not use oil, regarding it as a defilement to be anointed. And there are appointed overseers, who take care of all things that belong to them in common, and they all appear always in white clothing. (Hippolytus of Rome, Tenets of the Essene, [1]

Let us expose the undeniable facts:

1. The Roman soldiers were bribed. (*)

2. The body of Jesus was stolen. (*)

3. The story of the empty tomb is mythical. (*) (*)

4. The resurrection of Jesus was symbolic. (*)

5. Paul contradicts the Gospels (*) (*) (*)

6. There are no crucifixion prophecies in the Old Testament. (*)

Here is the pathetic solution to the problem.

The solution runs - Paul never mentions the gospel stories because the people he was writing to were so familiar with them that they went without saying. I think this is a silly solution. Have you ever heard a preacher decide not to mention a story about Jesus because his audience were familiar with it? 1 Corinthians 15 was written because the Corinthians doubted the Resurrection. Were the people who doubted the Resurrection also the people who knew the gospel stories off by heart? In Galatians 1:6-9, Paul chides the Galatians for following different gospels. Were the people who followed different gospels also the people who knew the gospel stories off by heart?

Nobody has ever even provided any evidence that the Romans and Colossians and Galatians etc were so familiar with the Gospel stories that Paul could take knowledge of them for granted. Indeed, the third Bishop of Rome , Clement, shows a very poor knowledge of the Gospel stories when he wrote 1 Clement.

If stories need not be mentioned because audiences are already familiar with them, why does Paul mention so many stories from the Old Testament? His audience must have already been familiar with them as, as for example in 1 Corinthians 10, he mentions many details from Old Testament stories in passing, expecting his audience to pick up the references. He does not allow the fact that his audience knew the stories to stop him mentioning them. Why does he allow the 'fact' that his audience knew the Gospel stories to stop him mentioning them? [1]

The Gospels have no chain of transmission because Paul did not know the Gospel stories. This means the Gospel story did not exist in 50-64 CE when Paul wrote his epistles. It is clear that Paul did not know the Historical Jesus and regarded him as mythological.

Jesus was not the founder of Christianity as we know it today. Most of the New Testament doesn't even concern the historical Jesus while the main influence is the Apostle Paul and through the church he founded at Ephesus a Greek convert named John. Paul never met Jesus in the flesh, he only claimed some strange vision and proceeded to paganize the teachings of Jesus (who preached an enlightened form of Judaism), until he created Pauline Christianity. Because there are no known writings from Jesus, the actual Apostles, or anyone that actually knew Him in the flesh (other then perhaps James), most of what He taught is lost forever. [2]

Albert Schweitzer, in his book Paul and His Interpreters, says that “Paul never appealed to the sayings and commands of the Master”.  Where did the sayings come from? Paul never mentions the Gospels, where did the stories come from? My argument does not “destroy Islam” because Muslims only believe the Quranic stories about Jesus: He was a Prophet who preached Islam, he was never crucified for the “sins of mankind” (4:157) and he never claimed divinity. 

The “crucifixion” story was invented during oral tradition:

The story of Judas is clearly an urban legend and the stories surrounding the crucifixion are also clearly urban legends and composites of various myths, tales and stories that were circulating in churches in later years when the gospels were actually composed. [1]

By the time Mark wrote his Gospel, however (ca. 70 C.E.), a tradition about how Jesus was buried began to evolve. No part of Jesus’ life was exempt from legendary accretions. In its earliest Gospel version, this burial tradition starred a man named Josephus of Arimathea. He was described in Mark’s text as “a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God” (15:43). Prior to this mention in Mark’s story, Joseph or Arimathea had not, to our knowledge, ever achieved notice in Christian writing. Yet once he made this brief cameo appearance as a bit player in the critical week of Jesus’ life, he immediately entered the developing Christian mythology. (John Shelby Spong, Resurrection: Myth or Reality, p. 222)

The writer Steve Carr analyses the passage 1 Corinthians 15:3-9

These famous words are the earliest words we have describing the Resurrection. Let me pick this apart into tiny pieces. Notice that this evidence never mentions the time or place of any of these appearances. The most basic documentation is missing.

The Gospels are adamant that Jesus was buried in a tomb near or in Jerusalem , that there was a guard at a tomb, that women visited the tomb early, that there were earthquakes, angels, burial shrouds left behind , that Jesus was touched and ate bread etc etc.

Paul, in a letter saying what was of first importance to people who doubted that the resurrection had happened, could not be bothered to mention any of the proofs that the Gospels , 20 or 30 years later, would give. Perhaps he didn't know of them. Perhaps he didn't think that the Gospel stories were important.

In turn the Gospel writers leave out such convincing evidences as an appearance to 500 brethren or an appearance to James, the leader of the Christian Church in Jerusalem. The appearances described by Paul clash head-on with the appearances in the Gospels. Remember that Jesus could not have appeared to the 'twelve' as Paul said, as Judas was dead. [1]

Justin Martyr debated a Jew named Trypho who claimed Jesus’ body was stolen.

"And though all the men of your nation knew the incidents in the life of Jonah, and though Christ said amongst you that He would give the sign of Jonah, exhorting you to repent of your wicked deeds at least after He rose again from the dead, and to mourn before God as did the Ninevites, in order that your nation and city might not be taken and destroyed, as they have been destroyed; yet you not only have not repented, after you learned that He rose from the dead, but, as I said before you have sent chosen and ordained men throughout all the world to proclaim that a godless and lawless heresy had sprung from one Jesus, a Galilaean deceiver, whom we crucified, but his disciples stole him by night from the tomb, where he was laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that he has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven. [2]


In reality, the Essenes took Jesus’ body before sunrise and “restored him to life”. 

Here are excerpts from Richard Carrier’s article Why I Don’t Buy the Resurrection Story on the guards at the tomb.

At best, neither the story of an accusation of theft nor that of guards is more likely to be true than the other.  But even if we assume a guard, the gospel also depicts these guards as accepting a bribe to lie about theft, and thus it follows that the guards would be just as likely to accept a bribe to allow Jesus to escape. Indeed, they would probably have no qualms about accepting both bribes, being twice the richer for it. And since Jesus was placed in the tomb of his rich and influential supporter, Joseph of Arimathea, there is an irrefutable possibility of bribery…

First of all, the Greek says the Jews only tell Pilate "order the tomb to be secured" (keleuson oun asphalisthênai ton taphon, Matt. 27:64), which permits but does not entail providing a guard, for it could also mean only allowing one to be set. Pilate responds "you have a guard" or "have a guard" (echete koustôdian, 27.65), and the verb here may be indicative or imperative: the former actually denies that he meant them to take one of his men, and the latter only allows but does not entail this. But then he tells them to make the tomb secure as they know how (i.e. he does not give these orders to the guards, but the Jews), and then the Jews themselves "secure the tomb with the guard" (êsphalisanto ton taphon...meta tês koustôdias, 27.66), and they, not the guard, place the seal (therefore it could not have been a Roman seal). In other words, the passage as written does not entail sending a guard, but more likely means allowing the Jews to arrange their own guard. They had temple guards of their own, or could have simply appointed anyone to the task. As members of the city council, that was their job.

This interpretation has further support in Matthew: when legionaries or Pilate's men are meant, this author usually says so (cf. Matt. 27.27, 27.54), and the word for "guard" used by Pilate (koustôdia) does not mean an actual person (that would be koustos) but the general idea of "a guarding." So when Matthew writes Pilate as saying "have a guard" he means "set a watch," not "take some guards." Moreover, Matthew 28:11-15 reports that these guards go immediately to the Jews after the discovery of a missing body, not to Pilate or any superior officer, yet this would be even stranger behavior for a Roman soldier than accepting bribes. That the Jews promise to keep Pilate from punishing them offers no proof that they were Roman, since the governor could punish anyone tasked with failing to prevent a theft, and it would be strange for Jews to claim influence over a Roman military court unless legionaries, who formed the jury, could be bribed after all. For Roman legionaries were citizens and thus had the right to a trial, and in the military trial juries were comprised of fellow legionaries--who, by the way, would have no interest in condemning their comrades to death for what was nothing more than a disgrace to mere Jews, and there was no death penalty for being overpowered while standing watch anyway. The guards, after all, did not abondon their watch but were overcome by superior force--if Pilate would not have believed the supernatural truth, a suitable lie about armed men would have sufficed. But even this is moot. Whether legionary or auxiliary, Roman or Jew, we have ample grounds for believing a bribery possible. (Read the entire article here)

Basically, we have three choices: (1) The Roman guards were bribed on the empty tomb. (2) The guards at the tomb were Jews. (3) There were no guards at the tomb, it’s all legend.

There is reliable evidence to prove Jesus was drugged to keep him alive.

Hugh Schonfield, in his The Passover Plot, suggests that Jesus was drugged—sedated on the cross such that he appeared dead but could be revived later, after he had been taken down. This is by no means such a wild idea, and it has received a sympathetic hearing. For example, in a television program on the crucifixion broadcast by the BBC in 2004 called Did Jesus Die? Elaine Pagels referred to Schonfield's book, which, she noted, suggested that Jesus "had been sedated on the cross; that he was removed quite early and therefore could well have survived." And, she concluded, "that's certainly a possibility." [1]

Jesus's political pretensions were cut short at a crucial stage in his career when he entered Jerusalem in preparation for a coup against the Herodians, only to be betrayed by one of his own followers. Jesus was arrested and crucified, but to the dismay of the Roman/Herodian authorities, Jesus survived the crucifixion (possibly with the connivance of the commander of the Roman troops handling the crucifixion, who later became a Christian bishop in Cappodocia), and after his resuscitation was seen leaving the tomb-chamber assisted by two other Nazarenes. As the startling news of Jesus's resuscitation spread, his brother James announced that Jesus had been miraculously resurrected and that he had been personally deputized by Jesus to lead the Nazarenes as their "bishop of bishops" until Jesus's return (which was supposed to take place within a single generation of his original ministry). [2]


The Church father Irenaeus said Jesus was crucified at age fifty! 

But, besides this, those very Jews who then disputed with the Lord Jesus Christ have most clearly indicated the same thing. For when the Lord said to them, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad," they answered Him, "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?" Now, such language is fittingly applied to one who has already passed the age of forty, without having as yet reached his fiftieth year, yet is not far from this latter period. But to one who is only thirty years old it would unquestionably be said, "Thou art not yet forty years old." For those who wished to convict Him of falsehood would certainly not extend the number of His years far beyond the age which they saw He had attained; but they mentioned a period near His real age, whether they had truly ascertained this out of the entry in the public register, or simply made a conjecture from what they observed that He was above forty years old, and that He certainly was not one of only thirty years of age. For it is altogether unreasonable to suppose that they were mistaken by twenty years, when they wished to prove Him younger than the times of Abraham. For what they saw, that they also expressed; and He whom they beheld was not a mere phantasm, but an actual being of flesh and blood. (Against Heresies, Book II, Chapter 22, online Source)

"The Thirty aeons are not typified by the fact that Christ was baptized in his 30th year: He did NOT suffer in the twelfth month after his baptism, but was MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS OLD WHEN HE DIED."[1]

Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years, and that this extends onwards to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher. [2]


Logically, if Jesus was crucified at age fifty (33 A.D), this means he was born in 20 BCE.

1. The Pilate’s wife had a dream that Jesus should be kept alive.

While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him." (Matthew 27:19)

2. The Pilate expressed doubt that Jesus was dead.

And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. (Mark 14:44)

3. Pilate gave permission to Joseph to remove the body (he was respected by the Romans).

All that remained then was for Jesus to be taken down from the cross, apparently lifeless but in reality unconscious, and taken to private tomb where medicines could be used to revive him. He would then be whisked away from the scene. And this is precisely what is described in the Gospels: Luke (23:53) and Mark (15:46) report that Jesus was placed in a new tomb nearby. Matthew (27:6) adds that the tomb was owned by the wealthy and influential Joseph of Arimathea. John (19:41-42), who generally gives us so many extra details, adds that there was a garden around this tomb, implying that the grounds were privately owned, perhaps also by Joseph of Arimathea.

John also stresses that Jesus was taken down quickly and put in this new tomb. Then, in a very curious addition, he reports that Joseph of Arimathea and a colleague, Nicodemus, visited the tomb during the night and brought with them a very large amount of spices: myrrh and aloes (John 19:39). These, it is true, could be used simply as a perfume, but there could be another equally plausible explanation. Both substances have a medicinal use—most notably, myrrh has been used as an aid to stop bleeding. Neither drug is known to have a role in embalming dead bodies. Mark (16:1) and Luke (23:56) touch obliquely on this theme as well, adding to their story of the tomb the women—Mary Magdalene and Mary, "mother of James”—brought spices and ointments with them when they came to the tomb after the Sabbath had ended. (Michael Baigent, Could Jesus Have Survived the Crucifixion? [1]


The Pilate knew it takes several days to die from crucifixion. Jesus merely expired in three hours!

Josephus tells a story of the Romans crucifying people along the walls of Jerusalem. He also says that the Roman soldiers would amuse themselves by crucifying criminals in different positions. In Roman-style crucifixion, the victim took days to die slowly from suffocation — caused by the victim's blood-supply slowly draining away, to a quantity insufficient to supply the required oxygen to vital organs. The dead body was left up for vultures and other birds to consume. [2]

Crucifixion was a slow death. It usually lasted several days.   Death  followed  from   exhaustion,  inability  to respire

property as a result  of  being  in  an  upright position or attacks by wild  animals. Why did Jesus, who was a fit and healthy man used to walking the countryside for long distances, die so quickly in only a matter of a few hours? [3]


Crucifixion was resorted to in order to provide a cruel and lingering punishment, the victim sometimes not dying for several days. There was considerable sentiment against crucifixion in Jerusalem, and there existed a society of Jewish women who always sent a representative to crucifixions for the purpose of offering drugged wine to the victim in order to lessen his suffering. But when Jesus tasted this narcotized wine, as thirsty as he was, he refused to drink it. [4]

Jesus was drugged to keep him alive; he fell unconscious before the Roman soldiers could break his legs.

Within the canonical texts certain clues may be found that shows that the biblical crucifixion was a less then transparent affair. In the Fourth Gospel Jesus, hanging on the cross, says that he thirsts and is given a sponge allegedly soaked in vinegar. Tradition has it that this act was an act of derision, but in actuality vinegar - or soured wine - was a temporary stimulant with effects similar to smelling salts. It was often used to resuscitate exhausted galley slaves. For an exhausted man, a sniff or taste of vinegar would induce a restorative, rejuvenating effect. Surprisingly, in Jesus' case the effect is exactly the opposite. As soon as he tastes or inhales the sponge he expires. This is physiologically inexplicable, if indeed it was vinegar. On the other hand if it were a sponge soaked in a soporific drug - a mixture of opium and/or belladonna, for instance, commonly used in Palestine at that time - unconsciousness would occur, giving the impression of sudden death. [1]

There is a curious incident recorded in the Gospels that may be explained by this hypothesis: while on the cross, Jesus complained that he was thirsty. A sponge soaked in vinegar was placed on the end of a long reed and held up to him. But far from reviving Jesus, the drink from this sponge apparently caused him to die. This is a curious reaction and suggests that the sponge was soaked not in vinegar, a substance that would have revived Jesus, but rather in something that would have caused him to lose consciousness—some sort of drug, for example. And there was just this type of drug available in the Middle East.

It was known that a sponge soaked in a mixture of opium and other compounds such as belladonna and hashish served as a good anesthetic. Such sponges would be soaked in the mixture, then dried for storage or transport. When it was necessary to induce unconsciousness—for surgery, for example—the sponge would be soaked in water to activate the drugs and then placed over the nose and mouth of the subject, who would promptly lose consciousness. Given the description of the events on the cross and the rapid apparent "death" of Jesus, it is a plausible suggestion that this use of a drugged sponge was the cause. No matter how carefully a "staged" crucifixion might have been carried out (one intended for Jesus to survive), there was no way to anticipate the effect that shock might have had upon him. Crucifixion was, after all, a traumatic experience, both physically and mentally. To be rendered unconscious would reduce the effect of the trauma and thus increase the chance of survival, so the drug would have been a further benefit in that regard too. (Michael Baigent, Could Jesus Have Survived the Crucifixion? [2]

According to John, Jesus from the cross complains of thirst.  In reply, he is given a sponge allegedly soaked in vinegar.  Rather than another act of cruelty, vinegar -- or soured wine -- is a temporary stimulant with the effects similar to smelling salts.  As such, it was often used to resuscitate flagging slaves on galleys.  For a wounded and exhausted man a sniff or taste of vinegar produces a restorative effect, a momentary surge of energy.  And yet in Jesus' case, his reaction is to utter his last words and "give up the ghost", all of which is physiologically inexplicable.   

On the other hand, his reaction would have been entirely consistent with a sponge soaked in something other than vinegar, such as belladonna or a soporific drug.  Such drugs were common in the Middle East at the time, and would have constituted a stratagem designed to produce a semblance of death, and in the process save Jesus' life…       

Perhaps the vinegar was not vinegar, but a drug to cause Jesus to appear dead.  Concocted by an Essene herbalist-physician, the drug would be sufficiently powerful to induce almost total paralysis -- and in particular, near extinction of respiration and heartbeat.  With Jesus apparently dead, there would be no reason to break his legs (an act which might have been imminent in order to allow the corpse to be taken down before Passover Sabbath, as required by Jewish Law).  Simultaneously, one of Jesus' friends in high places could approach the authorities for permission to remove the body for burial to a nearby, spacious tomb (where in the coolness and privacy, hidden Essene physicians, armed with the appropriate antidote, could treat and revive their patient).  [3]

The blood from Jesus’ side was a sign of life

There are some further points that are striking: John's Gospel mentions that a spear was thrust into Jesus' side and that blood came out. Taken at face value, we can conclude two things from this observation: first, that the spear was not thrust into the brain or heart and so was not necessarily immediately life-threatening. And second, that the flow of blood would seem to indicate that Jesus was still alive.

All that remained then was for Jesus to be taken down from the cross, apparently lifeless but in reality unconscious, and taken to private tomb where medicines could be used to revive him. [1]


The crucifixion took place on private ground, and the witnesses were far away.

There is also the consistent agreement of modern scholars that the Crucifiction was more likely held at the Garden of Gethsemane -- which would leave considerable room for a mock crucifixion, a skillfully stage-managed ritual.  Only a few eyewitnesses would have been immediately present, with the general populace constrained to witness from a distance, the latter fact confirmed by the Synoptic Gospels.  [2]

It is also curious that Jesus just happens to have been crucified next to a garden and a tomb, the latter at least owned by Joseph of Arimathea. This is all rather convenient to say the least. Could it be that the crucifixion itself was private? Perhaps in order to control witnesses to what was occurring? Luke (23:49) informs us that the crowds watching were standing at a distance. Perhaps they were kept at a distance? In fact, the description of the events of Golgotha suggests that the site of the crucifixion was actually in the Kidron valley, where there are many rock-cut tombs to this day and where is also located the Garden of Gethsemane, which may well have been the private garden involved and one with which Jesus was familiar. [3]

It’s obvious Joseph knew Jesus was alive, so he anointed Jesus’ body with healing spices. Jesus was revived before sunrise on the first day of the week. 

John also stresses that Jesus was taken down quickly and put in this new tomb. Then, in a very curious addition, he reports that Joseph of Arimathea and a colleague, Nicodemus, visited the tomb during the night and brought with them a very large amount of spices: myrrh and aloes (John 19:39). These, it is true, could be used simply as a perfume, but there could be another equally plausible explanation. Both substances have a medicinal use—most notably, myrrh has been used as an aid to stop bleeding. Neither drug is known to have a role in embalming dead bodies. Mark (16:1) and Luke (23:56) touch obliquely on this theme as well, adding to their story of the tomb the women—Mary Magdalene and Mary, "mother of James”—brought spices and ointments with them when they came to the tomb after the Sabbath had ended. [4]

We recommend the following article: * *  *

Back to Contradictions and Errors in the Bible.

The Disciples' original writings declare that Jesus never got crucified.

Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) section.

Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) in Islam.

Articles by Abdullah Smith.

Send your comments.

Back to Main Page.