Did Jesus die?
"Marley was as dead as a stone, and there was no doubt about that." Thus begins A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, the author did not want to deceive anyone about the supernatural character of what would follow. In the same way, before we start an investigation along the lines of the CSI series and gather the evidence of the resurrection, we will have to check if, in fact, there was a corpse. It is clear that, occasionally, news appears in the press about some “corpse” in the morgue that moves and lives again. Could something like this have happened to Jesus?
Some have suggested that Jesus survived the crucifixion and was revived by the cold, damp air in the tomb— “Oops! How long did I stay out? ” But this theory is not very compatible with medical evidence. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association explains why the so-called “fainting theory” is untenable: “It is undeniable that the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus died. … The spear, pierced between His ribs on the right side, probably pierced not only the right lung, but also the pericardium and the heart, ensuring His death. ” But this verdict may face skeptical opinions, since the if it was stopped for 2,000 years. At least we need a second opinion.
We can find these opinions in reports by non-Christian historians, the time close to the time Jesus lived. Three of these historians mentioned the death of Jesus.
• Luciano (ca. 120-180) refers to Jesus as a crucified sophist (philosopher).
• Josephus (around AD 37 to 100) wrote: “At that time Jesus, a wise man and author of great deeds, appeared. When Pilate condemned Him to death on the cross, our leaders accused Him, and those who loved Him did not fail to do so. ”
• Tacitus (around 56 to 120 A.D.) wrote: “Christ, whom the name had its origin, suffered the maximum punishment… at the hands of the prosecutor Pontius Pilate.”
This is like searching the archives and discovering that, on a spring day of the first century, The Jerusalem Journal had on its front page the highlight of Jesus' crucifixion and death. Not bad for detective work, and completely conclusive.
In fact, there are no historical accounts of Christians, Romans or Jews, which contradict Jesus' death or burial. Even Crossan, a resurrection skeptic, believes that Jesus lived and died. "That He was crucified, it is certain as any other historical fact can be." In light of such evidence, we are well-grounded to reject the first of our five options. Jesus clearly died, "of that there was no doubt".
The question of the empty tomb
No serious historian doubts that Jesus was dead at the time he was removed the cross. However, many questioned how Jesus' body disappeared the tomb. English journalist Dr. Frank Morison initially thought that the resurrection was a myth or a hoax, and began his research to write a book that would refute it. The book became known, but for reasons other than its original purpose, as we shall see.
Morison started by trying to solve the empty tomb case. The tomb belonged to a member of the council of the Sanhedrin, José de Arimateia. At that time, in Israel, being on the board was like having the status of a rock star. Everyone knew who was on the board. José de Arimateia must have been a real person. Otherwise, Jewish leaders would expose the story as a fraud in their attempt to refute the resurrection. In addition, José de Arimateia's tomb must have been in a well-known and easily located location, so any idea that leads one to believe that Jesus was “lost in the cemetery” has to be discarded.
Morison questioned why Jesus' enemies would allow the “myth of the empty tomb” to continue if it were not true. It would be enough to discover the body of Jesus to end doubts.
What is known historically about Jesus' enemies tells us that they accused His disciples of stealing the body, an accusation that corroborates the belief of the empty tomb
Dr. Paul L. Maier, professor of ancient history at the University of Michigan, similarly stated that “If all the evidence is weighed in a careful and impartial manner, it is fully justified… to conclude that the tomb in which Jesus was placed, it was empty the first Easter morning. And no trace of evidence has been discovered ... that refutes that statement. ”
The Jewish leaders were amazed and accused the disciples of stealing Jesus' body. But the Romans climbed a trained guard (4 to 12 soldiers) 24 hours a day into the grave. Morison asks, "How could these professionals allow Jesus' body to be vandalized?" It would have been impossible for anyone to get rid of the Roman soldiers and move a two-ton stone. However, the stone was moved and Jesus' body was gone.
Had Jesus' body been found it could be located, his enemies would have quickly exposed the resurrection as a fraud. Tom Anderson, former president of the California Bar Association, sums up the strength of this argument:
“With such a widespread event, wouldn't it be reasonable for a historian, a witness or an antagonist to have registered for all times that they had seen the body of Christ? … The silence of the story is deafening when someone tries to testify against the resurrection. ”
Thus, without a body as evidence, and with a clearly empty tomb, Morison had to accept the solid evidence that Jesus' body had somehow disappeared the tomb.