Resurrection or Resuscitation?

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“Where I am going, you cannot come.”

John 8:21

Critical scholars have long understood that while some events recorded in scripture have their basis in history, the writers used these facts to support their own narrative. The Gospel writers, after all, were evangelists, not historians. As such, their purpose for writing was to advance the narrative of the early church rather than produce an accurate account of historical events. John, for example, has Jesus cleansing the temple in the beginning of his ministry while the other three Gospels place the event in the last week of his life. Historically speaking, both accounts cannot be true. An event like this may indeed have occurred, but each writer uses it to bolster the story they want to tell.  

My research into the near-death experience has prompted me to raise some interesting questions about the resurrection story of Jesus. For example, death by crucifixion normally took from between two days to two weeks. The victim would succumb to suffocation or exposure to the elements. Jesus was pronounced dead only six hours after he was crucified. When Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for his body, Pilate, an experienced executioner, wondered how Jesus could be dead so quickly. He summoned the centurion who made the death pronouncement to confirm it. The centurion, who believed Jesus was an innocent man, assured Pilate that he was dead.

What if Jesus had slipped into a coma and revived or spontaneously resuscitated prior to being entombed? This could certainly explain appearances after his “death” and serve as a factual basis for the rumors that he had been raised from the dead. When he told his disciples that he was going away, and “…where I am going, you cannot come” (John 8:21), he could have been telling them he was fleeing the country and they could not go with him. Perhaps Joseph of Arimathea arranged to have him smuggled from the port city of Caesarea to another Mediterranean country safer from the long arm of Roman law.

For me, this is an intriguing possibility that can provide a factual basis for the resurrection. After all, resurrection and resuscitation both carry the same meaning of bringing one back from the dead.

3 thoughts on “Resurrection or Resuscitation?

  1. A long time ago, I read a claim that Jesus had been given something to make him appear to be dead–possibly in the vinegar that was offered to him when he said, “I thirst.” Soon afterward, he “died.” The story went on to state that Essenes of the time knew how to make a person appear to be dead, so that as long as the soldiers did not break the legs of the executed man, he could be revived later.
    The “shining ” or bright” men who had rolled the stone away could have been “enlightened.” As for going away to a place where the disciples could not follow, Jesus certainly would have needed to “disappear” in order to go on living, as an agreement that he made. Rather like our witness protection plan?

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