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While such works are given virtually no attention by careful scholars, these attempts are sometimes very popular with those who are unfamiliar with the data behind such questions.Many are bothered by nonfactual or illogical presentations, but are not quite able to locate the problems involved.The Rise of the Swoon Theory Each of the fictitious lives of Jesus surveyed in Chapter 1 taught that Jesus survived death on the cross and was later revived.His "appearances" to his disciples were not miraculous, of course, for he had never died in the first place.
Very few would doubt that he would be in sad physical shape, limping badly, bleeding, pale and clutching his side. Granted, the facts that Tacitus (and most other extra biblical sources) report about Jesus are well known in our present culture.
As a result, Jesus slipped quickly into a state of unconsciousness, which made him appear dead.
Nonetheless, Jesus was in a very serious condition when he was removed from the cross, especially complicated by John's report of the spear wound in his chest.(5) On Saturday, Jesus' body was removed from the tomb, after which he regained consciousness briefly, but died shortly thereafter and was reburied.(6) At this point, Schonfield turns to his proposed reconstruction of events that account for the disciples' belief in Jesus' resurrection.
The Fall of the Swoon Theory The swoon theory was perhaps the most popular naturalistic theory against the historicity of Jesus resurrection in the early nineteenth century. (15) Tacitus therefore concluded that such punishments were not for the public good but were simply to glut one mans cruelty.(4) Several facts here are of interest. It may even have been contained in one of Pilates reports to the emperor, to which Tacitus would probably have had access because of his standing with the government.(5) Of course, we cannot be sure at this point, but a couple of early writers do claim to know the contents of such a report, as we will perceive later. It is scarcely fanciful to suggest that when he adds that A most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out he is bearing indirect and unconscious testimony to the conviction of the early church that the Christ who had been crucified had rise from the grave.(6) Although we must be careful not to press this implication too far, the possibility remains that Tacitus may have indirectly referred to the Christians belief in Jesus resurrection, since his teachings again broke out after his death.
But David Strauss, himself a liberal theologian, disproved this theory to the satisfaction of his fellow scholars. Even if it was imagined that Jesus was able to survive Roman crucifixion, what could he do about the heavy stone in the entrance to the tomb? Also of interest is the historical context for Jesus death, as he is linked with both Pilate and Tiberius. Also interesting is the mode of torture employed against the early Christians.