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The gospels say that a miracle healing man called Jesus Christ lived. They say he died by crucifixion and three days later he rose again. The tomb he was placed in was found wide open with the stone that had been across the entrance moved back and the tomb was mysteriously empty. His body was gone. Certain witnesses claimed that Jesus appeared to them as a resurrected being.

Let us see how Jesus’ position on the cross gives us grounds for suspicion.


Jesus could have been nailed facing the cross which would have made him harder to recognise for his face would have been covered by the vertical post and the crossbeam and maybe by the strange sign that Pilate put up. It could have been somebody else.


The remains of a crucifixion victim seem to show us that a seat or sedile was used for the victim to sit on. This took the form of a board to sit on or it could have been a bar jutting out that the groin rested on. If Jesus had had a seat, if his feet were fastened to the cross by being crossed with a board with a nail in it which did not touch the feet or which did them no serious damage he could have survived the crucifixion easily. The board crossing the feet would have ground down his flesh leaving a slash perhaps down to the bone on the top of the feet. Jesus’ marks in the feet might have been minor which would satisfy the prophecy in Psalm 22 where someone seems to say the subject will have his hands and feet wounded . Psalm 22 pictures its subject as walking and praying with the people later without any hint of a resurrection so his feet were relatively fine. It was not a nailing then it had in mind.


The first representation and description of the crucifixion, a picture drawn on a pillar in Rome from 193 to 235 AD mocking Jesus, shows Jesus with a donkey’s head standing on a shelf while on the cross. Some say his hands must be nailed for no ropes were drawn but it was a quick drawing and the details about nails and ropes would have been left out. A Roman would know how Jesus had been crucified. The earliest description comes first. If his feet were nailed to a shelf they would not have been seriously harmed for the victim would not be pushing up and down on the hand wounds making them worse and unbearably painful. So if Jesus’ hands were nailed they would have been fine apart from being very painful. However, there no cause to assume that any nailing at all took place in regard to Jesus.


The Jehovah’s Witnesses think that Jesus was nailed to a post without a crossbar. Their reason is that the cross was a religious symbol even in pre-Christian times. It is just prejudice. The Bible says that Jesus was nailed to a tree (Acts 13:29) but a crossbar could still have been used. If the tree was alive its leaves would have been a good cover for the victim if he was impersonating Jesus or any other form of trickery.


Is the picture we have of a Jesus who was nailed hand and feet to the cross accurate or another unwarranted legend?


Only the John Gospel seems to say that Jesus had nail marks in his hands and was nailed. The other gospels only say he was crucified and most victims were simply tied to the cross. Jesus was probably tied if the modern scholars who think that Pilate was in a catch-22 situation (that he wanted to save Jesus but was forced to decree his crucifixion) are right. Pilate may have wished to prevent Jesus dying quickly so that he could be taken down if his fans came out in force. The gospel reports that Thomas said he would have to see the wounds and Jesus showed him his hands. This seems to make it probable that John means that Jesus showed him the nail marks unless Jesus was sure Thomas would not want to see any more or be cruel. It seems unlikely that John would be simply reporting that Thomas thought there were nail marks not knowing that the only marks Jesus could show him were rope-marks but maybe John did not know what kind of marks Thomas meant. Jesus was a carpenter since childhood and one would expect him to have nail-marks from accidents. These could have been the wounds Thomas was looking for. They probably were for John never mentions a nailing to the cross which is strange since he details the stabbing of Jesus on the cross. Anyway if I am wrong, only Thomas bears witness to the hand wounds and he was an unreliable witness for he had previously scoffed at the apostles’ testimony and we have in John’s gospel what could be a second hand or third hand or even hundredth hand testimony that Thomas saw the wounds. And it is not said that Thomas ever said he saw the wounds. This story is full of the hallmarks of fraud and deceit for it has no concern for real evidence or honesty nor can it refer to anything that is verifiably a document from Thomas. You will see the same pattern in the entire New Testament which suggests strongly that Jesus never existed for the evidence had to be fabricated and had to blatantly break the rules for what evidence should be so it should not count as evidence at all.


The remains of a crucified man show that he was probably nailed by the ankles to the cross and his arms were tied (page 49, 68 The Jesus Inquest).


John only says that Thomas said that he could put his finger in the nail marks (John 20:25, RSV, Catholic Edition) which does not mean he thought he could push the finger right through the hands.  The soft flesh of the finger would press a tiny bit into the mark. Touching the mark firmly would be described by many as putting your finger into the mark and it is in a sense.


The feet were probably just tied to the cross for the gospels would not be able to resist telling us about the nailed feet. They knew nailed feet would make it a bit more likely that Jesus really died.


There is no evidence that Jesus had feet with nail holes apart from a passage in Psalm 22 that the Bible never says means Jesus. The Bible uses bits of the Psalms as alleged prophecies and discards unsuitable bits even when they refer to the same person so the fact that some bits of the Psalm were taken to be about Jesus does not mean that the whole lot was. People on a diet like Jesus’ could surprise you with what they can do despite serious wounds (The Turin Shroud is Genuine, page 139). Luke says Jesus showed his friends his hands and his feet but here could have been rope marks or anything on them. The ropes would cut into the flesh with the endless pushing up and down on the cross to relieve the lungs and the muscles. Luke never says that the Lord was nailed which is a strange omission for a gospel that endeavours to prove that Jesus rose. Luke is probably inferring that he was not nailed. And many were often just tied to the cross. The apostles had nothing to do with any gospel that fails to prove that Jesus was dead for that was their job to prove that and to verify the resurrection.


The women who grabbed the risen Christ by the feet in Matthew 28 would not have done so had there been nail wounds in them. This would mean that the man was an impostor or an illusion if Jesus had been nailed in the feet.


Even if he had been nailed hand and foot these injuries should not have killed him. He could not have bled to death. It was asphyxiation and not the loss of blood that crucified people died from. The suggestion that Jesus would have died of bleeding or of cold on the cross or in the tomb is mere conjecture.
Though nothing in the accounts say it, Christian defenders like to say that if Jesus had been alive on the cross when he was pierced in the side and blood and water came out according to John then that would have killed him.


Most scholars approaching the story from the viewpoint of professional historical analysis conclude that the piercing story is unhistorical. It never happened.


According to the testimony of John, Jesus was pierced on the cross by a spear in the side after he was accepted to be dead. Blood and water came out. John alone reports this. He is not enough on his own as a witness as even his own gospel said when Jesus said that the law is right to require at least two independent witnesses. John had to make do with one witness when he believed that only at least two were any good. It certainly indicated that he dishonestly wanted people to forget about the rule and wanted to trick them into believing what he wrote. The side wound story just isn’t reliable.


John applied Zechariah’s prophecy that the people would look on the one they have thrust through and mourn for him to Jesus. This infers a distance of time for they thrust and look and then realise their mistake which would take time. It implies that Jesus died long after he was pierced. Did Jesus live for years after this time?


The way John abused prophecy makes him unreliable and shows that he probably invented the spearing and the leg breaking of the thieves to force his story to seem to have been prefigured in the scriptures. Neither the Psalm or Zechariah really prophesied about Jesus. Why spear Jesus instead of breaking his legs like the rest? It makes no sense.


John gives the impression that the blood and water came out separately alongside one another which would be a sure sign that he or his witness was never there at all for he or his witness was fibbing. He says there is only his witness’s word for it. Why didn’t Mary write a statement that it was true? She was there so she must not have seen it which would imply it never happened. John was heretical in demanding that we accept this testimony of his for the Old Testament Law of God said that there had to be two independent and thoroughly checked witnesses to a crime or anything before it could be believed. He did not even tell us who he was so we know nothing about him and so he made a virtue out of credulity which says enough about him.


The witness emphasised that it was true about the blood and water so that we might believe (John 19:35). Believe what? In Jesus as a messenger of God for he then mentions prophecies that no bones would be broken and that he would be pierced. He could not have meant that the blood and water proved that Jesus was dead because a person is more certainly dead when nothing comes out unless he meant he was alive. He practically shouted at us that he did not take the stab as proof that Jesus was dead. The piercing prophecy is very ambiguous. If the stabbing was never mentioned in the gospels the Christians would be saying the prophecy means the nailing of Christ to the cross.


It was deceptive of the witness to say we should believe him when he could not even give his name and when he said stupid things like Pilate declaring that Jesus was innocent of any crime after Jesus confessed to the crime of claming to be a king to his face!


And stabbing is so rare that one questions if Jesus was stabbed at all. In 290 AD, two godly crucifixion victims Marcellus and Marcellinus were stabbed because they irritated the soldiers by praising God. But never was it known for anybody to be stabbed to ensure they were dead.

John says that it was accepted that Jesus was dead before he was pierced. This makes it improbable that Jesus was stabbed at all. When they did not break his legs to make extra sure they would have hardly stabbed him through the heart. The cut in the side could have been for checking if Jesus was alive to see if he would react to get him off the cross before it was too late.


It may be that there was no stabbing when only John mentions it. The older gospels wanted to present the resurrection as a miracle and if a man is crucified and then thrust through after death it is more of a miracle. But just as easily, this might be a clue that the wound was fairly superficial and bore no relevance. Thomas said he wanted to put his hand in the side of Jesus and Jesus asked him to do it so it might have been a centimetre in depth or just a wide gash but not that deep.


Let us pretend that we can believe in the wounding story.


It is thought that if this piercing was incapable of killing Jesus it would have been done again through the heart for the Romans wanted to ensure Jesus was dead so it did kill Jesus if he was not dead.


We would have been eagerly told if the lance alone could have killed Jesus or if there was a second thrust through the heart if the first was not deep enough but we are not. If the Shroud is genuine then they never intended to kill him for the cut would not have touched the heart (The Turin Shroud is Genuine, page 68).


If Jesus was pierced, then it was done to see if he would react to the pain for people thought then that dead men could bleed. When he didn’t react they were more certain that he was dead.


The wound need not have been deep.


The Roman executioners thought a dead man could bleed so they might not have made another thrust through the heart when the blood came out. Blood can come out of wounds by means of gravity soon after death (page 83, The Turin Shroud is Genuine) and that misled them.


Perhaps the piercing was not near the heart but done lower down and pierced the bladder.


Maybe this was the water that was seen coming out . Jesus might have drank a lot of water during his trial after being weakened during his ordeal in the garden of Gethsemane.


Some say that the bladder would have been accidentally emptied due to the trauma and abuse Jesus had got. But perhaps the wound is a sign that it was not that bad after all. The bladder would have been hard to strike from an upward angle for the bone would protect it but maybe Jesus was crucified on ground level. They chose a safe place to go through the motions of making sure he was dead. The John gospel did not try to shut up those who would have used that explanation which suggests either that since the author had just made the stab story up which was why it didn’t occur to him that his Jesus might have been stabbed in the bladder – lies are improved over time as criticisms are taken into account – or that he wanted to hint that Jesus was pierced in the bladder.


The wound could have been made in the large intestine indicating that when water came out that Jesus had some kind of sickness for that is very abnormal. It is thought that Jesus could have lived up to a week after receiving this wound. I prefer the bladder hypothesis.


The witness could have been mistaken about the water for he saw something terrible and which was traumatic for him.


Christians argue that Jesus emitted blood but did not bleed. The water was blood serum which separates from the blood during decomposition and it and some blood came out. But blood serum is not called water any more than tea is water. The liquid could have been saliva from Jesus’ mouth or the drink he took that might look like water from a bit of a distance which came out just as the wound emitted blood. It could have been a trickle of sweat.


Jesus was not dead long enough for the blood to separate from the plasma or did they nail a dead man and say the reason he was motionless was because he was drugged? The disagreements between what Jesus said on the cross in the gospels and the improbabilities could be taken as evidence that his actions during the crucifixion were made up.


Anyway, the fluid could have gathered between his lungs and ribs because of the scourging so it does not prove that Jesus was dead (The Turin Shroud is Genuine, page 116). This would mean the wound need not have been serious.


There is nothing about the side wound to make us confident that Jesus was really dead.




If Jesus died on the cross that would have been a miracle for unless he was poisoned there was nothing done to him that need have killed him.


Jesus said that he was sorrowful even unto death in the garden prior to his arrest (Matthew 28:38). He meant that the sorrow could kill him. But he does not say it would kill him. If cancer could kill you and you do something about it, it could and couldn’t kill you at the same time. The agony in the garden gives us no reason to suppose that it led to Jesus’ premature death on the cross. The scholars who suppose that Jesus had had a heart attack in the Garden under the pressure are merely assuming. Jesus recovered well enough to endure his scourging and the mocking and to carry the cross a bit, his health was fine.


The scourging at the pillar need not have made Jesus die faster on the cross for it was part of the standard procedure and many lasted for several days on a cross after it. Pilate probably would have made the men go easy on Jesus if the gospels are right to say that Pilate wished him no harm. Some say that the scourging could have been worse than that that was usually meted out for Pilate hoped to make the Jews pity Jesus and relent. The gospels would tell us if it was for they liked to present the Jews as monsters and anyway it was not hard to make a scourging look worse than it did especially when the people would have seen Jesus on a balcony at a distance. Jesus was scourged and Pilate sought to release him after it. Pilate who knew that the Jews who believed in stoning people to death would not have been that easily manipulated. They had made up their minds that they wanted Jesus to die a cruel death.


If Simon of Cyrene really helped carry Jesus’ cross for him then that would have made Jesus strong enough to survive the crucifixion.


We have no evidence that Jesus took a heart attack or was poisoned or nailed or seriously injured and that that was why he died. These possibilities have to be ignored for they are only speculation. We have to work on the records.


Jesus yelled before he apparently died. He should have died of suffocation if he should have died at all. Crucifixion killed its victims by the pressure it put on the chest and they kept having to rise up and down on the cross to relieve the pressure and eventually they got too exhausted to do that and asphyxiated. But back to Jesus, then he could not have yelled. This suggests that the death was merely a faint. It certainly suggests that he wasn’t nailed and or that he had a sedile to rest on for he would have died of suffocation then and been unable to shout.


The gospels never say the Romans who crucified him wanted him dead and it is admitted that Jesus had at least one ally among them who would certainly have wanted him to make it.

Resurrection is anastasis which means standing up.  It describes what happens when you have been raised and the word for that is egeiro.  So raising and resurrecting are not the same thing.  Please read Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment.  Other scholars notice a difference too.  The word translated resurrection or resurrected is anhistemi which means to wake up (page 201, Jesus Lived in India). You do not need to be dead to wake up so there was no inevitable death. The word anastasis for physical body coming back to life was not used at all in the New Testament which does not fare well for Christian theology (Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? from the www)


John records that Jesus crucified handed over his spirit to God praying, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” But the living do that too. It was a quote from the Psalms and this Psalm was written for a man offering his life to God WITHOUT any notion of dying. Is this a clue that Jesus never died? Jesus said he would lay down his life to take it up again (John 10:17) which could just mean he would do it on the last day.


John has Jesus telling the apostles that he will go away to prepare a place for them and come back for them. The Church interprets this as referring to preparing a place in Heaven for them after he goes away from the world by dying on the cross. But Jesus has no need to take time to prepare a place for God who empowers can make a place just with a snap of his fingers. Moreover, Heaven should be prepared already like a B&B that is ready for anybody who is suitable to avail of it. What Jesus is saying is that he will survive the cross and where he goes to hide after the apostles will follow. He will go to live far away and they will join him.

St Sebastian was tied to a post and shot with countless arrows by the experts and left for dead. Irene found he was in fact alive and rescued him and nursed him back to health.  He was met by his enemies when he was out for a walk and was battered to death and dumped in a sewer.  If Sebastian could survive worse than Jesus then Jesus could have survived the cross.




Theologian JP Holding argues that when assessing if Jesus was dead the Romans would have checked for an absence of body heat which is a sign that the heart has stopped working (algor mortis). They would have been looking for rigor mortis which appears in about two to four hours after death. The blood will settle at the lowest points of the body causing discolouration in about a half an hour or more.


All that is rubbish.  Holding knows nothing about the circumstances in which the soldiers worked.  And since when did they act like doctors?  All Holding's speculations do is show how the evidence that is critical for determining that Jesus was dead is just not there.


Worse, Jesus was supposed to be buried soon after he died!!  And John is clear that the spear thrust was the only test undertaken.  His gospel says the soldiers saw Jesus was dead before the other two.  The tests that Holding describes would imply Jesus had been dead virtually as soon as he was nailed.  For the tests that Holding wants to be valid, the soldiers must have nailed a corpse to the cross!

Conclusion: There is no evidence that Jesus really died on the Cross. It is possible that he was taken from the cross alive or was never in fact crucified. Or he may have been crucified but not nailed. No wonder he was able to show up again soon after! But it could be that Jesus did not die on the cross and was taken away while the appearances of him were just religious delusions.  We can assume any one of these without saying that there are errors in the Bible but just saying that its interpretation of what happened was right.


 Revelation 5:6 New International Version (NIV)  "Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits[a] of God sent out into all the earth."  As the eyes were obviously working our Lamb was very much alive!
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The Messianic Legacy, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh & Henry Lincoln, Corgi, London, 1987
The Metaphor of God Incarnate, John Hick, SCM Press Ltd, London, 1993
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The Truth of Christianity, WH Turton, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co Ltd, London, 1905
The Turin Shroud is Genuine, Rodney Hoare, Souvenir Press, London, 1998HoarHo
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The Amplified Bible
Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? Dan Barker debates Mike Horner.

A Naturalistic Account of the Resurrection

Earliest Christianity, G A Wells, Internet Infidels

A Resurrection Debate by G A Wells,

Still Standing on Sinking Sand, Farrell Till,

Why I Don’t Buy the Resurrection Story, by Richard Carrier

The Resurrection by Steven Carr
The Evangelical Apologists: Are They Reliable? Robert Price

Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? Dan Barker versus Mike Horner www.ffrf.org/debates/barker_horner.html
Jesus Slept! This page asks if Jesus could have been doped on the cross meaning that the explanation for the resurrection was that he was never dead.
Beyond Born Again
Did Early Christians use Hallucinogenic Mushrooms? Archaeological Evidence. Franco Fabbro.
Blessed Easter
Craig’s Empty Tomb and Habermas on the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus
The Case For Christianity Examined: Truth or Lies?
Challenging the Verdict
A Cross-Examination of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ