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Indeed, even Schonfield admits that much of his account "is an imaginative reconstruction."(8) Later he explains that "We are nowhere claiming for our reconstruction that it represents what actually happened."(9) According to John A. Robinson, The Passover Plot is an example of a popularistic book which is factually groundless enough that, if the public were not so interested in virtually anyone who writes on Christianity, it "would be laughed out of court."(10) Therefore, we assert that there is a very high improbability against Schonfield's reconstruction of Jesus' life. Templeton, Act of God; Irving Wallace, The Word (New York: Pocket Books, 1973); Og Mandino, The Christ Commission (New York: Bantam Books, Inc., 1981). Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one mans cruelty, that they were being destroyed.(3) From this report we can learn several facts, both explicit and implicit, concerning Christ and the Christians who lived in Rome in the 60s A. Chronologically, we may ascertain the following information.
One other example of the swoon theory in popular literature is Donovan Joyce's The Jesus Scroll.(11) The thesis of this book, which contains an even more incredible string of improbabilities than Schonfield's, will be left for a later section of this chapter. Louis Cassels, Debunkers of Jesus Still Trying, The Detroit News, June 23, 1973, p. (1) Christians were named for their founder, Christus (from the Latin), (2) who was put to death by the Roman procurator Pontius Pilatus (also Latin), (3) during the reign of emperor Tiberius (14 37 A. (4) His death ended the superstition for a short time, (5) but it broke out again, (6) especially in Judaea, where the teaching had its origin. (8) When the great fire destroyed a large part of the city during the reign of Nero (54 68 A.
Accordingly, he was drugged and the Roman soldiers did not examine Jesus too closely, perhaps because they had been bribed. (10) These Christians were arrested after pleading guilty, (11) and many were convicted for hatred for mankind. (12) They were mocked and (13) then tortured, including being nailed to crosses or burnt to death.
Neither did they stab him in the side with a spear in order to insure his death. Rather, he was resuscitated in the tomb, apparently by a doctor who had been concealed inside ahead of time.(12) This account of Jesus' swoon likewise smacks of fictitious aspects, similar to both Schonfield and the eighteenth and nineteenth century attempts. (14) Because of these actions, the people had compassion on the Christians. Bruce has noted, Tacitus had to receive his information from some source and this may have been an official record. Anderson sees implications in Tacitus quote concerning Jesus resurrection.
The unidentified man at the cross who administered the drug is the key figure in this reconstruction.
He helped carry Jesus to the tomb, then returned on Saturday to rescue him.
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.
The entire plot closely parallels the fictitious lives of Jesus which are now so outdated and ignored by serious scholars. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car.
During Jesus' brief period of consciousness, Jesus asked this man to convey to his disciples that he had risen from the dead. D.) was a Roman historian who lived through the reigns of over a half dozen Roman emperors.
However, Jesus died shortly after and this person helped bury him. Continuing our historical investigation into the early sources for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we turn next to the ancient non Christian sources. He has been called the greatest historian of ancient Rome, an individual generally acknowledged among scholars for his moral integrity and essential goodness.(1) Tacitus is best known for two works the Annals and the Histories. D., while the Histories begin after Neros death and proceed to that of Domitian in 96 A. Tacitus recorded at least one reference to Christ and two to early Christianity, one in each of his major works.
In his extremely weakened physical condition, could he move an object which even a healthy man would have a great problem with (according to tradition)? Besides burning, a number were crucified by being nailed to crosses. Not only is this the method used with Jesus, but tradition reports that Nero was responsible for crucifying Peter as well, but upside down.
This would be even more difficult when it is remembered that the stone would have to be rolled uphill out of its gully. The compassion aroused in the Roman people is also noteworthy.
As a result, Jesus slipped quickly into a state of unconsciousness, which made him appear dead.