One of the more popular objections that unbelievers have regarding Jesus’ resurrection is called The Swoon Theory. It’s primarily used by Muslims but I have also seen it used by atheists. It’s an idea that Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross, and that it was just made to appear as if he died. Some will say right before Jesus died his body was replaced with Judas. Others also say that Jesus never actually died on the cross and that he escaped to a far off land where he lived out his days. People can object to Christianity but can’t negate the historical facts.
Below are 4 reasons that proves The Swoon Theory cannot be true.
1.) This theory appeared late in history.
The records indicate it was mentioned around 1780 by Karl Friedrich Bahrdt. That means that this theory is just over 200 years old. If it really was a possibility that Jesus didn’t die on the cross then we should have found some written record that mentions this. Eye witness testimony provides evidence for the biblical account that Jesus died on the cross. Also, there isn’t a record of these people recanting their statements.
“In 56 A.D. Paul wrote that over 500 people had seen the risen Jesus and that most of them were still alive. It passes the bounds of credibility that the early Christians could have manufactured such a tale and then preached it among those who might easily have refuted it simply by producing the body of Jesus.”
-John Warwick Montgomery
2.) Roman soldiers were loyal to Rome.
They were ordered to crucify Jesus and they wouldn’t of allowed Jesus to switch with another man. What would they gain by doing that? They would of had to conspire together without telling anyone of their plan, another impossibility. This is because we would of had eye witnesses that spoke up in some way. Men would not be willing to die for a lie or a man sentenced to crucifixion. We have no records that Jesus didn’t die on the cross because all records point to the fact that he was tortured and was crucified. Further, Roman soldiers idolized their titles and they wouldn’t have done anything to go against that power.
”Justin (Martyr) later concedes that demons have caused stories to be told about miraculous powers of the ‘sons of Zeus’ and of their ascensions to heaven, ‘but in no case . . . is there any imitation of the crucifixion’. It is the crucifixion that distinguishes the new message from the mythologies of all other peoples.” (Martin Hengel, Crucifixion, p. 1)
3.) The theory doesn’t explain the empty tomb.
Even if Jesus were to have survived or was replaced with another person, it doesn’t account for the empty tomb. If another person did take Jesus’ place we should have some evidence of it. Since crucifixion was reserved for serious crimes the soldiers wouldn’t have wanted a body they just crucified to be missing. The heavy stone rolled across the tomb’s entrance took multiple men to move. It’s not feasible to assume that these soldiers would have slept through the tomb being moved if it took many strong men to move it.
4.) There are no records of anyone surviving a Roman crucifixion.
The point of a crucifixion was a slow, painful death as it was reserved for the most heinous criminals. I was recently reminded by an unbeliever that Josephus mentions how Paul saved 2 men from enduring a crucifixion and 1 man survived. However, I’m not talking about men being saved from being crucified. Instead, I’m referring to people who have endured a traditional Roman crucifixion. It was designed to kill the criminal in the slowest and most painful way. Another variable to this issue is that crucifixions took place in the most public of places. They used this as a deterrent so that citizens would see the punishment for criminals.
“Whenever we crucify the guilty, the most crowded roads are chosen, where the most people can see and be moved by this fear.” (Martin Hengel, Crucifixion, p. 50).
There isn’t a reasonable explanation for The Swoon Theory because as I’ve stated above there are too many holes. It’s a claim without evidence. We should hold non believers to the same standard that they hold us to…provide evidence to back up the claim. Otherwise, such claims as these should not be seriously considered.