Defending the Swoon Theory – Part 5: Evaluation of Objection #8

Defending the Swoon Theory – Part 5: Evaluation of Objection #8 July 3, 2019

OBJECTION #8: THE WHERE DID JESUS GO? OBJECTION

As I pointed out in Part 4  of this series, Peter Kreeft’s argument constituting Objection #8 against the Survival Theory (TST) is UNSOUND, because a key premise of that argument is clearly and obviously FALSE:

1. It is NOT the case that there is some historical data about Jesus’ life after his crucifixion.

However, because this premise is so obviously false, we need to make an effort to find an interpretation (or minor revision) of this premise that is NOT obviously false and that would still work in an argument for Kreeft’s conclusion.

In Part 4, I suggested adding a qualification to the above key premise and revising the second premise with the same qualification.  Here is the revised version of Kreeft’s argument that constitutes Objection #8 against TST (the blue font represents the added qualification):

1a. It is NOT the case that there is some historical data about Jesus’ life on Earth after the alleged forty days of his post-crucifixion appearances to his apostles.

A1. IF Jesus survived his crucifixion (i.e. Jesus was still alive when removed from the cross and lived for at least a few days or weeks after being removed from the cross), THEN there would be some historical data about Jesus’ life on Earth after the alleged forty days of his post-crucifixion appearances to his apostles.

THEREFORE:

B. It is NOT the case that Jesus survived his crucifixion (i.e. it is NOT the case that Jesus was still alive when removed from the cross and lived for at least a few days or weeks after being removed from the cross).

The logic of this argument is fine; it is a standard deductive argument form (modus tollens).  So, the only question is whether the meanings of the premises are clear and whether the premises are true.

 

IS PREMISE (1a) TRUE?

Premise (1a) appears to be true.  It is at least plausible; it is NOT obviously false, like Kreeft’s original statement of this premise.

There are a couple of possible counterexamples to premise (1a) that I will briefly mention.

First, there is a founder of a Muslim sect who claimed that Jesus died in Kashmir at the age of one hundred and twenty and that Jesus was a holy man known in India as Yuz Asaf:

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, 1899

According to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the further sayings of Muhammad say that Jesus died in Kashmir at the age of one hundred and twenty years. They identify the holy man Yuz Asaf buried at the Roza Balshrine in Srinagar, India as Jesus on the basis of an account in the History of Kashmir by the Sufi poet Khwaja Muhammad Azam Didamari (1747) that the holy man Yuz Asaf buried there was a prophet and a foreign prince. Paul C. Pappas states that from a historical perspective, the Ahmadi identification of Yuzasaf with Jesus relies on legends and documents which include clear historical errors (e.g., Gondophares’ reign) and that “it is almost impossible to identify Yuz Asaf with Jesus”. 

( “Unknown years of Jesus” in Wikipedia)

The “historical data” here is extremely dubious and extremely late, so this would make a lousy counterexample, even though Kreeft did indicate that there was NO historical data of ANY sort on this subject.

I should also mention that the Book of Mormon claims that Jesus visited the Americas after his crucifixion in Palestine:

Mormonism and claims of Jesus in the Americas

According to the Book of Mormon, Jesus visited an Israelite people (led to the Americas around 600 BC to avoid the Babylonian conquest) after his resurrection. Evidences of Christ in America are claimed in the legends of Viracocha in South America, and Quetzalcoatl in Central America. While some Mormon scholars have interpreted Quetzalcoatl legends to represent Jesus, other historians and archaeologists believe that the story of Quetzalcoatl dates back at least 900 years before the time of Christ, with some signs pointing to 3000 or even 5,000 BC.

 ( “Unknown years of Jesus” in Wikipedia)

I certainly don’t take the Book of Mormon to be an authentic historical document; it is a third-rate work of fiction.  But Mormons take a different view and would argue that the Book of Mormon is an historical document that contains some accurate historical data.  Because it is highly questionable that the Book of Mormon is an actual historical document, it would make a lousy counterexample to premise (1a).

The potential counterexamples to premise (1a) are so dubious and so late that they make lousy counterexamples, so I’m not going to challenge (1a).   If there is a significant problem with this revised version of Objection #8, it is with premise (A1), not premise (1a).

 

IS PREMISE (A1) TRUE?

Here is premise (A1) from the modified version of Kreeft’s argument constituting Objection #8:

A1. IF Jesus survived his crucifixion (i.e. Jesus was still alive when removed from the cross and lived for at least a few days or weeks after being removed from the cross), THEN there would be some historical data about Jesus’ life on Earth after the alleged forty days of his post-crucifixion appearances to his apostles.

There are a couple of possibilities that make this premise dubious or FALSE.  First of all, Jesus could have made some appearances to his apostles a few days after the crucifixion, and then died alone somewhere.  If so, then the antecedent of the above conditional claim would be TRUE:

Jesus survived his crucifixion (i.e. Jesus was still alive when removed from the cross and lived for at least a few days or weeks after being removed from the cross).

But the consequent of the conditional claim would, in that case, probably be FALSE:

There would be some historical data about Jesus’ life on Earth after the alleged forty days of his post-crucifixion appearances to his apostles.

Since Jesus life would have ended before the completion of the “alleged forty days of his post-crucifixion appearances to his apostles”, there would be no words or actions by Jesus after that period of time to be the cause or basis of “some historical data about Jesus’ life on Earth”.  Similarly, if Jesus stayed alive for a few weeks, and then died alone, then the antecedent of the conditional claim would be TRUE, but the consequent of the claim would probably be FALSE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are at least four potential causes for Jesus dying shortly after surviving his crucifixion:

  • Jesus might have died shortly after his crucifixion as a result of the injuries and wounds from beatings, scourging, and crucifixion.
  • Jesus might have been recognized by a Roman soldier and killed on the spot as an escaped condemned criminal.
  • Jesus might have been recognized by a member of the priesthood or ruling elite of Jerusalem and killed on the spot as a threat to the power and authority of the Jewish ruling elite of Jerusalem.
  • Jesus might have become very depressed because his expectation of divine intervention to immediately overthrow the corrupt Jewish ruling elite and the oppressive Roman government, and to establish the Kingdom of God (with Jesus as its just ruler) failed to materialize, and so he went off alone somewhere and killed himself.

Furthermore, since Jesus had been condemned to death by Pilate, if he was seen in public in Jerusalem, or even in Galilee, he might well have been hunted down and killed by Roman soldiers.  So, if Jesus did survive his crucifixion in an ordinary physical human body (as opposed to a miraculous and immortal resurrection body), then he would probably go into hiding to avoid being hunted down and killed by Roman soldiers.

So, if Jesus went into hiding after surviving his crucifixion, and only made a few brief visits to see his apostles, then the antecedent of the conditional claim (A1) would be TRUE, but the consequent might well be FALSE, because Jesus deliberately went into hiding to avoid being killed.  Under these circumstances, Jesus might even have left Palestine altogether in order to avoid being seen and recognized, reported to the Roman authorities, and then hunted down by Roman soldiers and killed.

Obviously,  I don’t KNOW that Jesus died a few days after surviving his crucifixion, and I also don’t KNOW that Jesus died a few weeks after surviving his crucifixion.  I also don’t KNOW that Jesus went into hiding a few days or weeks after surviving his crucifixion, nor do I KNOW that Jesus fled from Palestine a few days or weeks after surviving his crucifixion.

Nevertheless, all of these various scenarios are possible and somewhat plausible. Each scenario has a small but significant chance of being what actually happened, assuming that Jesus survived his crucifixion.  Kreeft has not even attempted to rule out ANY of these somewhat plausible scenarios.  Therefore, Kreeft is in no position to assert (A1) to be TRUE.  Furthermore, because there are MANY such potential scenarios, each of which has at least a small chance of being the case, we may reasonably conclude that (A1) is FALSE.

If (A1) is FALSE, then the revised version of Kreeft’s argument is UNSOUND, just like the original version was UNSOUND.  The original version was UNSOUND because premise (1) was clearly and obviously FALSE.  The first premise of the revised version of Kreeft’s argument constituting Objection #8, namely (1a) appears to be TRUE, but the second premise of the revised argument, namely (A1), appears to be FALSE.  We have good reason to conclude that premise (A1) is FALSE, and thus that the revised argument is UNSOUND.  Therefore, whether we consider the original version or the improved revised version, Kreeft’s Objection #8 FAILS.

Kreeft makes only two objections against TST that are NOT based on dubious Gospel passages: Objection #1 (about the deadliness of Roman crucifixion) and Objection #8 (the “Where Did Jesus Go?” objection), and we have seen that both of these objections against TST are FAILURES.

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