Do we have documented evidence of anyone surviving a Crucifixion in the 1st Century?

“I was sent by Titus Caesar with Ceralius and a thousand riders to acertain town by the name of Thecoa to find out whether a camp could be set up atthis place. On my return I saw many prisoners who had been crucified, andrecognized three of them as my former companions. I was inwardly very sad aboutthis and went with tears in my eyes to Titus and told him about them. He atonce gave the order that they should be taken down and given the best treatmentso they could get better. However two of them died while being attended toby the doctor; the third recovered.”(Flavius Josephus, Vita, IV, 75)

The above quote from the Jewish historian Josephus is very significant ; Crucifixion did not always result in death and it was possible for people in the 1st Century to survive Crucifixion.

But what happened to Jesus Christ? We are fortunate to live in modern times, when science and the field of medicine lend us powerful tools of analysis, as well as a language of medical and scientific terminology.

These things even allow us to determine what may have occurred physiologically to Jesus Christ during and, assuming he survived the crucifixion, even after his ordeal on the cross.

The Crucifixion – Pilate & the Centurion

“And now when the even [evening] was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathaea, an honorable counselor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marveled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.”

Pilate would have experience of many Crucifixions in his time and he was surprised how quickly Jesus seemed to die. The usual duration for a crucifixion would be several days and the victims would die from asphyxiation over an extended time. The punishment was designed to be long and drawn out.

Jesus’ Legs were not Broken

Crucially Jesus’ legs were not broken as he was deemed to have already been dead. Holger Kersten has shown that, based on the Greek text of these events, it seems likely that the test for if Jesus was alive or dead was the lance used to pierce his side. As he did not react to this it was assumed he was dead.

When Jesus side was pierced “blood and water” flowed out. Would this occur on a body that had been dead for some time?

Below are some clips from ‘Did Jesus Die?’

What Evidence Points to Jesus Having Survived the Crucifixion?

Below is a list of items that suggest Jesus survived the Crucifxion:

  1. The Sign of Jonah – Jesus’ prediction he would mirror Jonah. Jonah came close to death but was saved
  2. The Prayer in Gethsemane – Jesus prayed to be saved and for the ‘cup’ to be taken from him
  3. Pilate’s Wife’s Dream – Did Pilate’s wife receive a dream telling her to ensure that her husband had nothing to do with Jesus?
  4. Duration of the Crucifixion – Jesus’s Crucifixion lasted between 3 and 6 hours. Crucifixion usually lasted for several days. It was designed to be a drawn out punishment.
  5. Jesus’ Legs were Not Broken – Breaking of the legs would lead to a quick death. The Gospel records that Jesus’ legs were not broken. There was still a chance he was still alive.
  6. Blood and Water – When Jesus’ side was pierced, the Gospel of John records blood and water flowing out. This suggest an active heart and not a dead body.
  7. Joseph of Arimathea & Nicodemus – They obtained the body from Pilate and were able to take it to a private grave site that Joseph owned.
  8. Aloe and Myrhh – The herbs used on the body of Jesus were known for their healing power – full article here

The reader is recommended to examine each of these in more detail.

Dr James Tabor

Below is are clips from ‘Did Jesus Die?’. We have Dr James Tabor talking about the possibility of survival of Crucifixion. Dr Tabor goes on to talk about the reason for Jesus to travel to India.

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