Defending the Swoon Theory – Part 10: The “Blood and Water” Objection

Defending the Swoon Theory – Part 10: The “Blood and Water” Objection August 25, 2019

WHERE WE ARE AT

In Part #6 through Part #9, I have argued that Peter Kreeft’s “Break their Legs” objection, Objection #2 against The Survival Theory (TST),  is a complete FAILURE.

Objection #2 has two main components, and can be summarized like this:

1. A Roman soldier decided to NOT break Jesus’ legs while Jesus was hanging on the cross because the soldier was firmly convinced that Jesus was already dead.

2. IF a Roman soldier decided to NOT break Jesus’ legs while Jesus was hanging on the cross because the soldier was firmly convinced that Jesus was already dead, THEN it is virtually certain that Jesus died on the cross.

THEREFORE:

3. It is virtually certain that Jesus died on the cross.

Premise (1) is probably FALSE because it rests on two questionable assumptions: (a) that the story in the 4th Gospel of the Roman soldier deciding to NOT break Jesus’ legs while Jesus was on the cross is a reliable and accurate account of historical events, and (b) that this story shows that the Roman soldier was firmly convinced that Jesus was already dead.

Premise (2) is FALSE, because Roman soldiers were NOT modern medical doctors; they did NOT have modern medical knowledge, and they did not have modern medical technology, and they did not receive modern medical training.  So, Roman soldiers were quite capable of making an incorrect diagnosis of death.

Because premise (1) is probably FALSE, and because premise (2) is clearly FALSE, Objection #2 is based on an UNSOUND argument, and thus is a complete FAILURE.

In this current post, I will move on to consider Kreeft’s “Blood and Water” objection, Objection #3.

 

OBJECTION #3: THE “BLOOD AND WATER” OBJECTION

The piercing of Jesus’s side by the Holy Lance of Longinus, fresco by Fra Angelico

 

Here is Kreeft’s third objection against TST:

John, an eyewitness, certified that he saw blood and water come from Jesus’ pierced heart (Jn 19:34-35). This shows that Jesus’ lungs had collapsed and he had died of asphyxiation. Any medical expert can vouch for this. (Handbook of Christian Apologetics, p.183)

 

 

 

 As with Objection #2, there are two primary claims involved in Objection #3:

4. Blood and water came from Jesus’ pierced heart while Jesus was still hanging on the cross.

5. IF blood and water came from Jesus’ pierced heart while Jesus was still hanging on the cross, THEN it is virtually certain that Jesus had already died of asphyxiation while he was hanging on the cross.

THEREFORE:

6. It is virtually certain that Jesus had already died of asphyxiation while he was hanging on the cross.

 

EVALUATION OF PREMISE (4) OF THE “BLOOD AND WATER” OBJECTION

Kreeft’s Objection #3 rests upon a claim about the crucifixion of Jesus:

4. Blood and water came from Jesus’ pierced heart while Jesus was still hanging on the cross.

This premise is in turn based upon a number of other assumptions:

A1. A Roman soldier stabbed Jesus with a spear while Jesus was still hanging on the cross.

A2. Blood and water came from the spear wound while Jesus was still hanging on the cross.

A3. This was not merely a poke to see if Jesus would react with pain, but was a forceful thrust of the spear into Jesus’ side.

A4. The spear pierced Jesus’ heart.

A5. The blood and water coming out of the wound were from Jesus’ heart.

The first two assumptions, (A1) and (A2) is are claims based directly on the following passage from the 4th Gospel:

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. 
32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. 
33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 
34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. 
35 (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) 
36 These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” 
37 And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”
(John 19:31-37, New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)

But this passage only says that the soldier “pierced his side with a spear“.  It does NOT say that the soldier “pierced Jesus’ heart with a spear”.  The passage also does NOT say that the soldier forcefully thrust the spear into Jesus’ side (as opposed to just poking Jesus lightly with his spear).  The passage also does NOT indicate that the blood and water flowed from Jesus’ heart.  Thus the assumptions (A3), (A4), and (A5) are NOT directly asserted by this passage from the 4th Gospel.

These additional assumptions require some medical knowledge and justification.  However, Kreeft provides ZERO JUSTIFICATION for these additional medical assumptions; he makes no effort whatsoever to prove that these three other questionable assumptions are true.  Premise (4) is therefore dubious, because three of the assumptions it is based on are questionable and Kreeft has made no attempt to justify those questionable medical assumptions.

Also, assumption (A2) is NOT strictly an historical claim; it too requires some medical knowledge and justification, because blood and water cannot be identified purely on the basis of simple visual observation.  There are liquids that look like blood that are NOT blood, and there are liquids that look like water that are NOT water.  In order to stick with historical claims that could be confirmed by an ordinary eyewitness and simple visual observation, as opposed to claims that would require medical expertise or medical justification, assumption (A2) should be re-stated in purely phenomenological terms (in terms that an ordinary witness could confirm by simple visual observation of the event):

A2′. Liquid that looked like blood and liquid that looked like water came from the spear wound while Jesus was still hanging on the cross.

A similar adjustment needs to be made to assumption (A5):

A5′. The liquid that looked like blood and the liquid that looked like water coming out of Jesus’ wound was from Jesus’ heart.

At best, the relevant passage from the 4th Gospel can be used to justify assumptions (A1) and (A2′):

A1. A Roman soldier stabbed Jesus with a spear while Jesus was still hanging on the cross.

A2′. Liquid that looked like blood and liquid that looked like water came from the spear wound while Jesus was still hanging on the cross.

The remaining three assumptions are NOT assumptions that the relevant passage from the 4th Gospel directly asserts or justifies, and thus these assumptions require some additional justification:

A3. This was not merely a poke to see if Jesus would react with pain, but was a forceful thrust of the spear into Jesus’ side.

A4. The spear pierced Jesus’ heart.

A5′. The liquid that looked like blood and the liquid that looked like water coming out of Jesus’ wound was from Jesus’ heart.

Because premise (4) as it stands involves these additional questionable assumptions that Kreeft has made NO ATTEMPT to support or to justify, we can dismiss premise (4) as a dubious and insufficiently supported claim.

However, we can also revise the basic argument behind Objection #3, in order to separate out the various questionable assumptions and to focus the main premise on a strictly historical claim, which could potentially be confirmed by an ordinary witness on the basis of simple visual observation.  This would require shifting the content of the above questionable and unjustified assumptions to the second premise of the argument.

 

REVISED VERSION OF KREEFT’S ARGUMENT FOR OBJECTION #3

Here is such a modified version of Kreeft’s argument for Objection #3:

4A. Liquid that looked like blood and liquid that looked like water came from the wound in Jesus’ side while Jesus was hanging on the cross.

5A. IF liquid that looked like blood and liquid that looked like water came from the wound in Jesus’ side while Jesus was hanging on the cross, THEN it is virtually certain that Jesus had already died of asphyxiation while he was hanging on the cross.

THEREFORE:

6. It is virtually certain that Jesus had already died of asphyxiation while he was hanging on the cross.

 

EVALUATION OF PREMISE (5A) OF THE REVISED ARGUMENT FOR OBJECTION #3

This revised version of Kreeft’s argument improves the plausibility of the initial premise (4A), but does so at the cost of damage to the plausibility of the other premise (5A).  The justification of premise (5A) would require justification of each of the three assumptions mentioned above (A3), (A4), and (A5′), and it would also require justification of a further questionable medical assumption:

A6. The flow of liquid that looks like blood and liquid that looks like water from a pierced heart seen coming out of the exterior wound clearly indicates that the person had previously died of asphyxiation.

So, premise (5A) is based on at least four different questionable assumptions for which Kreeft has provided NO JUSTIFICATION WHATSOEVER!  Given Kreeft’s apparent inability to construct a strong argument for ANY Christian belief, it is highly unlikely that he would be capable of producing a strong justification for all four of these questionable and unsupported assumptions.  Therefore, we are justified in rejecting this modified argument for Objection #3, simply on the basis that premise (5A) is very dubious, and it is unlikely that Kreeft would be able to come up with a solid justification for all of the various questionable assumptions upon which (5A) is based.

 

EVALUATION OF PREMISE (4A) OF THE REVISED ARGUMENT FOR OBJECTION #3

Nevertheless, setting aside the very dubious character of premise (5A), we have many very good reasons to doubt the truth of premise (4A).  Although premise (4A), unlike (5A), could potentially be supported by the testimony of an ordinary witness on the basis of simple visual observations, we have very good reasons to doubt that the relevant passage from the 4th Gospel provides us with reliable and accurate historical information.

This is the SAME PASSAGE (John 19: 31-37) that Kreeft relied on to support his Objection #2, and there are at least ten good reasons for doubting the reliability and historicity of that passage from the 4th Gospel:

POINT #1: The 4th Gospel was probably NOT written by an eyewitness of the life, ministry, or crucifixion of Jesus.  

POINT #2: The 4th Gospel is the least historically reliable of the four Gospels.  

I have previously covered Point#1 and Point#2 in Part 6 of this series of posts.

POINT #3: The account of the trial and crucifixion in the 4th Gospel conflicts with the trial and crucifixion accounts in other Gospels.

POINT #4: Internal conflicts in this passage cast doubt on the historicity and reliability of this passage.

POINT #5: This passage is reasonably viewed as “prophecy historicized’, thus there is a good chance that Kreeft’s two key historical claims are FICTIONAL.

I have previously covered Point#3, Point#4, and Point#5 in Part 8 of this series of posts.

POINT #6: Other gospels provide no corroboration of the two key historical claims that Kreeft derives from this passage in the 4th gospel.

POINT #7: Other gospels provide no corroboration of Jewish leaders asking Pilate to remove bodies from crosses before the Sabbath day began.

POINT #8: Other gospels provide no corroboration of a wound in Jesus’ side.

POINT #9: Other gospels provide no corroboration of the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross.

POINT #10: Other gospels provide no corroboration of stories about the beloved disciple.

I have previously covered the last five points in Part 9 of this series of posts.

 

CONCLUSION ABOUT OBJECTION #3

We have seen that premise (5A) is very dubious because it is based upon a number of questionable assumptions for which Kreeft makes NO EFFORT WHATSOEVER to justify.  So, we are reasonable in rejecting this premise as a highly questionable claim, completely lacking rational justification.

Furthermore, it is clear that the premise that appeared initially to be more plausible, namely premise (4A),  is also highly dubious, and probably FALSE, because it is based on the highly dubious assumption that a particular passage from the 4th Gospel provides an accurate and reliable account of historical events.  But there are many good reasons for doubting the reliability and historicity of that particular passage from the 4th Gospel.

Because premise (5A) is very dubious and completely lacking in rational justification, and because premise (4A) is probably FALSE because it rests on a very dubious passage from the 4th Gospel, it is very likely that the argument supporting Objection #3 is based on at least one, and possibly two, FALSE PREMISES, and thus is an UNSOUND ARGUMENT.

Kreeft has once again completely FAILED in his attempt to refute The Survival Theory.

"So are you saying something is possible when it can be brought about by nothing ..."

Defending the Swoon Theory – Part ..."
"Bradley's strategy makes sense. The probability of a miracle cannot be greater than the probability ..."

Defending the Swoon Theory – Part ..."
"See my other post. You have misunderstood what I am talking about: you have falsely ..."

Defending the Swoon Theory – Part ..."
"With respect to miracles being impossible by definition, I assume you mean physically impossible (though ..."

Defending the Swoon Theory – Part ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment