One day a resurrection would be scientifically possible

Resurrection and science : Did Jesus have an anesthetic?

Doctors should make sober diagnoses. Regardless of the person. But if possible after you have really looked at the person yourself. The fact that the Innsbruck internist Maximilian Ledochowski and his colleague, the biochemist Dietmar Fuchs, dare to do a historical remote diagnosis for the crucified Jesus, of all things, is already a strong piece. The two say that Jesus of Nazareth did not die, but rather fell into CO2 anesthesia. It was only supposedly dead that he was removed from the cross.

In her opinion, the lifeless man saved from death by the stab of a lance, with which a Roman soldier had tried to be on the safe side. "Unknowingly" he had "initiated the ideal therapy" by relieving the crucified Christ's lungs. "Accordingly, the resurrection would have been an awakening from deep unconsciousness."

A new book takes up the thesis

The two Austrians put forward this hypothesis as early as April 2014 in the journal "Biology in our time". At that time it was not really noticed in medical or theological circles, and certainly not in the wider public. Now that could change. Because the historian Johannes Fried, professor emeritus for history at the University of Frankfurt am Main and member of the Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz, has studied at the C.H. Beck Verlag publishes the book "No Death on Golgotha ​​- In Search of the Surviving Jesus". It builds on the thesis of the saving lance bite, which the historian heard about more by chance - and which made a lasting impression on him.

What the medieval expert has now presented, he himself modestly describes as a "little script". But it should cause a stir. "There is no doubt that I am setting myself on this question," he admits, "for there is hardly a subject that has been discussed more frequently, more extensively and more intensely in Christendom than the life of Jesus, than Christ's crucifixion and his death."

That this death could only have occurred decades after the crucifixion and far from Jerusalem was asserted again and again in the 19th and 20th centuries. Erich von Däniken was one of the proponents of this thesis, as was Holger Kersten with his esoteric novel "Jesus lived in India". "Many had doubts about Jesus' physical resurrection," summarizes Fried. And admits: "As a born Christian one can only raise questions about it with the greatest scruples and discuss them only with the greatest shyness."

Did Jesus have CO2 anesthesia?

In contrast, the physicians and biochemists reconstruct the possible course of action on Good Friday in Jerusalem very soberly and without recognizable scruples in their specialist article, on which Fried's book is based. You see the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus as a special case: The brutal scourging could have broken Jesus' ribs and injured his pleura. As a result of these injuries, wound water would then have formed and poured together with blood from injured vessels into the area of ​​the pleura, which envelops both lungs.

The pleura - in technical German pleura - consists of two leaves that are separated from one another by a wafer-thin film of liquid, which enables the lungs to move when breathing in and out. If there is an increased accumulation of fluid in this narrow gap, one speaks of a pleural effusion. The more pronounced it is, the more the development of the lungs is hindered and the gas exchange is restricted. If blood is involved in addition to water, which happens especially after accidents, it is a "hemorrhagic pleural effusion". Often several liters of fluid then compress one or both lungs. Shortness of breath is the result. In the case of Jesus, the fact that, according to the Bible, the still quite young, strong man was not able to carry the 50 kilogram cross bar to the place of execution speaks in favor of such a process.

Because of the pleural effusion, there was then probably a rapid lack of oxygen and a sharp rise in CO2 in the blood. Such "hypercapnia" can lead to CO2 anesthesia. The redistribution of considerable amounts of fluid within the body also explains the thirst of which Jesus complained. The acetic acid may have increased the acidity that had already occurred due to the reduced breathing, and thus also the respiratory drive. That is why Jesus probably continued to breathe shallowly and barely perceptibly even while he was unconscious. "Whether that is true or not, of course, is speculation," says the publication.

The lance stab as a saving therapy

And while they are at it, the authors continue to speculate: Since Jesus appeared dead to those around him, no one thought it necessary to break his legs. With this measure, the painful dying process of the crucified was usually accelerated because the muscle groups that support breathing then lack any support. Instead, the guards wanted to make sure Jesus was dead with a lance prick in the right side. The fact that blood and water flowed from the wound confirmed this from their point of view. "For a medical professional from our time it is only clear that Jesus Christ must have had a hemorrhagic pleural effusion."

Seen in this way, the injury with the lance could have been the saving therapy: quite brutal, but effective like a cannula. Since the fluid was drained off like a modern puncture, the lungs were able to unfold again and breathing began. Experience has shown that afterwards it takes some time until the brain is freed from the increased amounts of CO2 and the patient regains consciousness, emphasize Ledochowski and Fuchs. The relatives would have had time to apply to the authorities for the early removal of the body from the cross because of the upcoming Sabbath. The authors leave it open whether they might have noticed by then that Jesus was still alive.

Ledochowski and Fuchs present the rest of the story without the subjunctive: "What is certain is that Christ was prematurely removed from the cross and thus another exception to the usual crucifixion procedure was made, which may have favored his survival." Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus would have treated the body of Jesus with aloes and myrrh after it was removed from the cross. These are substances "which exert strong pharmacological effects on blood vessels and hemostasis". The cool burial chamber was "an optimal environment to accelerate a recovery process".

Critics call Fried's theses speculative

For its medical reconstruction, the Innsbruck team of authors relies on the Good Friday events in the Gospel of John. "John's physiological clues offer unique details, not pre-formed by any biblical tradition and therefore eminently meaningful," argues the historian Fried, who follows this account in every detail. The Catholic theologian and New Testament scholar Thomas Söding from the University of Bochum, on the other hand, criticized in an interview with the Catholic news agency that Fried relied selectively on this one source in order to create a "speculative chain of circumstantial evidence".

In fact, only the Gospel of John contains the account of the lance. The overwhelming part of theological research assumes, however, that the evangelists Mark, Luke and Matthew are significantly better historical sources, emphasizes Söding. Ultimately, Fried's speculations could not be proven or refuted. "The Gospels are testimonies of faith, not records of historical facts."

For Fried, reading the article from "Biology in Our Time" was definitely an aha experience. He is certain that Jesus could have awakened from anesthesia "without supernatural intervention". "He survived the cross and the grave alive!" After showing himself to some loyal followers, however, he urgently had to go into hiding in order not to fall into the hands of the Roman judiciary or his local enemies. "The assertion of his ascension hid the refuge." But even the historian Fried and those who find all of this plausible cannot know for sure. So you can't do without faith here either.

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