From time to time someone will ask me a question that supposedly "disproves" Christianity. Here I have placed the questions asked and the best answers I can give. I base most of my answers on secular works if possible so that my viewpoint cannot be considered "untainted." Please remember that I am neither a scholar nor a pastor. My information may be wrong. You may wish to check my answers with a more qualified source, such asDr. James Dobson or Mr. Charles Swindoll. These two men have seminary schooling and can answer your questions better than I.
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(This question has not been posed to me via e-mail, however it has been asked frequently.)
Could Jesus' death have been faked and the disciples conjured up the death and resurrection story?
The answer is no. First, the way of crucifixion in Roman times was so thorough that there was no chance. Here is a breakdown of what happened before and during the crucifixion:
1. Jesus prayed at the Garden of Gethsemane. Here, it is recorded, he prayed so hard that he sweated blood. This is a medical condition known as hematidrosis, in which severe anxiety causes the release of chemicals that break down the capillaries in the sweat glands. As a result, the sweat would come out tinged with blood.
2. Jesus was flogged with a Roman whip. Because of the hematidrosis he had experienced the night before, his skin would be extremely sensitive. Whips at that time were made of braided leather thongs with metal balls inwoven. These would cause bruises or contusions. The whip also had pieces of sharp bone in the tip to cut into the back. He may have been whipped to the point that his spinal column was visible.
3. Jesus was nailed to a cross. In the time of the Romans, the most violent offenders were hung on a cross- sometimes with a rope, other times by nail. The nail would have been nailed into the wrist, which was part of the hand by the language of the day, and the feet. Had it been nailed through the palm as many paintings show, the flesh in his palm would have ripped and he would have fallen from the cross.
4. Jesus asphyxiated to death. As the condemned of the time hung on the cross, stresses would be put on the diaphragm. Therefore, the person (in this case, Jesus Christ) would have to relax their legs to be able to inhale. They would then have to press up on the feet to exhale. After a few cycles of this, the condemned would have lost so much blood and been so weak that they could no longer press up. That is also the reason that the other two criminals' legs were broken: to speed the time of death closer. By having broken legs, they could no longer press upwards and would die.
5. A Roman spear pierced Jesus' side. This is really the clincher. As the spear pierced his chest and penetrated his heart, it also passed through a membrane surrounding his heart, where a clear, water-like liquid would have collected after heart failure. This flowed from his side, followed by blood from his heart. The gospel writers could not have made this up; medical knowledge of the day knew nothing about this.
Following this, the subject would, without a doubt, be dead.
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