Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Blood and Water From Jesus' side

Image result for crucifixion

Bradly Bowen is at it again. Another in his multi-volume continuing crusade to prove that he can out argue  famous Christian apologist  Peter Kreeft. Kreeft makes mention of the fact that John's observation that  blood and water from the side of  Christ and that this is an indication that Jesus must have been dead. Kreeft makes of this the observation that to indicate  that Jesus' lungs had collapsed.[1] This one point constitutes the argumemt I make in this essay, That the blood and water do indicate that Jesus died. For reason  too complex to go into  Kreeft is wrong  about the specific cause since if his lungs collapsed he could not cry out. Nevertheless the water and blood form Jesus' side are indicative of his being dead.

Bowen is defending the swoon theory the idea that Jesus did not die thus faked the resurrection. This is the substance of all of his assertions that Kreeft's arguments are invalid. Yet when I try to argue the swoon theory he repairs to the notion that  he is only concerned not with the swoon theory but only with proving Kreeft is a bad debater. Why? Presumably he has ultimate intentions relating to the  issues of apologetic and is using this to hide behind. Otherwise why would it matter?

In any case I don;t care,I will just use the augments as a reference to defend the resurrection and I don't care weather Bowen answers me or not. He has three general answers to the blood and water argument:

(1) The soldier would have to have thrust the spear into Jesus heart in order to get the liquid that looked like water.but there is no indication he did that.

(2) He denies the historicity of the fourth Gospel because that allows him to call into Question   the blood and water.

(3) Other gospels fail to corroborate the wound in the side.

My answers 

(1) The soldier would have to have thrust the spear into Jesus heart in order to get the liquid that looked like water.but there is no indication he did that.

The blood and and water might be indicative of several different causes all related to heart and causing death,
To confirm that a victim was dead, the Romans inflicted a spear wound through the right side of the heart. The medical significance of the blood and water has been a matter of debate. One theory (Bergsma) states that Jesus died of a massive myocardial infarction, in which the heart ruptured which may have resulted from His falling while carrying the cross. Davis suggested that Jesus' heart was surrounded by fluid in the pericardium, which caused pericardial tamponade. Another theory that I have often heard is that in a sick man (Our Lord was badly beaten) after death the blood will separate into clot and serum. We do know that death of the cross occurs from exhaustion and inability to support the weight of the body and to breathe. Once the legs have collapsed, the arms hold the body up and breathing becomes far harder. Some have suggested that that exhaustion along with the immobilization of the arms breathe will lead to the build up of pulmonary oedema and pleural effusion, with perhaps pericardial effusion too. So a spear to the heart will bring forth blood and water which is diagnostic of death. But in fact none of this is certain. I have asked three (21st Century) cardiologists what they know about death from crucifixion and none have been able to help me. While cadaveric experiments were possible in the 20th Century, there is no recent experience of crucifixion itself. 
The stated order of "blood and water" may not necessarily indicate the order of appearance, but rather the relative prominence of each fluid. In this case, a spear through the right side of the heart would allow the pleural fluid (fluid built up in the lungs) to escape first, followed by a flow of blood from the wall of the right ventricle.  The important fact is that the medical evidence supports that Jesus did die a physical death. Even more importantly, St John was absolutely clear that blood and water meant death.[2]

The water-like liquid was not lemon-aid it has to have something to do with the heart since people don't just bleed water all the time. It is unlikely they would make up this idea without knowing it's importance and  they would not have known it. No reason to think they made it up, they were reporting what they saw without understanding it. We can rule out asphyxiation if he did call out, So that narrows down the causes, “'"And immediately there came out blood and water." Thus there was an escape of watery fluid from the sac surrounding the heart and the blood of the interior of the heart. This is rather conclusive post-mortem evidence that Jesus died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium. "[3] "Because of the increasing physiological demands on Jesus’ heart, and the advanced state of Haemopericardium, Jesus probably eventually sustained Cardiac Rupture. His heart literally burst. This was probably the cause of His death."[4]   

The most medically reliable source I have found on the subject is a study (bu Mathew Maslen and Piers Mitchell) published originally by the Royal Society of Medicine then e by the National Institute of Health.[5] They conclude that there were several means by which  a Crucifixion victim, could have died."The Postulated causes include cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, and psychological pathology."[6] The  methodology of one study (Zugibe) the article discusses  included live modern subjects but of course they tied rater than nailed them. 

The study discusses the general state of crucifixion victims: Flavius Josephus (37-c.100CE) wrote of the hundreds of Jewish prisoners crucified at Jerusalem in 70 CE, during an uprising against the Romans.
`They were first whipped and then tormented with all sorts of tortures, before they died, and were crucified before the wall of the city... the soldiers, out of wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught to the crosses in different postures, by way of jest.' [7]
This gives us an indication that Jesus would have been in very bad shape just going into the crucifixion, That explains why he  died sooner than usual. I am assuming they tortured Jesus more than most. The study is inconclusive in establishing exactly how he died but they do not disprove the notion that the water would be a sign he was dead, any of the causes they discuss could produce a water-like liquid. This means the issues revolves around how much of the Gospel narrative can we assume? 

As for this first objection we can logically infer the nature of the spear thrust Since the author had no idea of the medical realities and thus no reason for making it up. The spear thrust had to go to the heart to produce the fluid. No reason   for making up the fluid because he would not have known what it meant. 

(2) He denies the historicity of the fourth Gospel because that allows him to call into Question   the blood and water.

It also calls into question the swoon theory since the swoon theory is predicated upon the idea that Jesus died too early. Without that assumption there is no reason to make a swoon theory; it's the only real indication that he may not have been dead. There is another reason to accept the fourth Gospel in this debate that reason is very special Bowen himself.

A few years ago I had a 1x1 debate with Bowen on historical Jesus. He used Richard Bauckham  as a major soruice supportimg verious arguentsheade in that deate.[8]
Schoedel is not the only scholar who accepts the view of Eusebius. A N.T. scholar who has looked carefully into this issue has also concluded that Papias did not have direct contact with John the apostle. Richard Bauckham has examined this issue and provided a careful translation of the passage from Eusebius that quotes from the preface of Papias’ book:[9]
Bowen:Bauckham provides this footnote about the translation of this passage:

again "Based on Bauckham’s translation and interpretation of this passage, Papias implies that there are several layers between him and Jesus (click on the image below for a clearer view of the chart):

Chain of Tradition"

Bauckham accepts  the historicity of the fourth Gospel as one might gather from the title of his book:   Jesus and the Eye witnesses. Bowen respects his scholarship. As I said in that debate: 

Hinman: Bauckham is one of my favorite scholars, I read his book (Jesus and the Eyewitnesses) a long time ago I own a copy. Don't have access to it now but I used Google books. The problem for Bradley's view is that while Bauckham does think that there were two Johns it's far from saying that Papias did not have direct access to an eye witness to Jesus. His book is called Jesus and the Eyewitnesses and he believes that EJ is one of the eyewitnesses. Not only that but Baukham believes that Elder John wrote the Gospel of John.[pp 420-425][10]
Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses argues for the historicity of John based upon the notion that it is replete with eye witnesses:
He starts with what all scholars, liberal or conservative, acknowledge: the canonical Gospels were not written hundreds of years after the events they portray. Even the Gospel of John, which most think was written in the 90s A.D., fits within a relatively long life span of an eyewitness. “The Gospels were written within living memory of the events they recount” (7).From that premise, Bauckham argues that the eyewitnesses would have functioned as guarantors of the stories about Jesus that were circulating within the Christian communities. If someone had incorrectly told a story about Jesus, the eyewitnesses would have been present in the community to set the record straight. ..... Bauckham points out that Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:6 encourages the Corinthians to go and ask the eyewitnesses about what they saw. Paul assumes the accessibility of the eyewitnesses. In fact, “one reason the Gospels were written was to maintain this accessibility and function of the eyewitnesses beyond their lifetimes” (308).[11]

3) Other gospels fail to corroborate the wound in the side.

We don't have a second gospel that includes the wound in the side but we do have the next best thing: The historicity of the Gospel of John has been greatly enhanced. Bauckham's book has greatly increased the acceptance of  John as an authentic historical source:

Jesus and the Eyewitnesses is to a great extent based on a close reading of the Papias traditions found in Eusebius and elsewhere. Papias was Bishop of Hierapolis, in Turkey, and was one of those bridging figures in Christian history who lived during the end of the first century and the beginning of the second century A.D. and thus had occasional contact with eyewitnesses to events in the New Testament and with those who had heard the eyewitnesses. Though Papias was a literate man, like so many in his oral culture he preferred the viva voce, the living voice, of oral testimony.Bauckham believes very much in the importance of eyewitness testimony, including that of Papias, which suggests that there was a close connection between various of the canonical Gospels and eyewitnesses to the ministry of Jesus, with Mark connected to Peter, and John connected to at least John the Elder (otherwise known as John of Patmos, the author of Revelation but not of the other Johannine documents), whom Papias himself met and discoursed with.[12]
Bowen is throwing atheist assertions about the insufficiency of the Biblical text and that is not a valid debate position. He has still given me no reason to assume Jesus survived the crucifixion, the odds are quite small that he would have survived. The blood and water are indications that he was dead.If these liquid's were seen (whatever the water-like liquid was) than we can be sure he was dead. Can we trust that story to be historically  accurate? It is not a certainty but there is good reason to trust.

Several exchanges between Bowen and Myself on this topic, on Secular  outpost: the comment section of Secular outpost ("Defending the Swoon Theory--part 10: The Blood and water Objection." The Secular Outpost (August 25 2019))


[1] Peter Kreeft referenced in Bradley  Bowen, "Defending the Swoon Theory--part 10: The Blood and water Objection." The Secular Outpost (August 25 2019)
Bowen refereces Kreeft from Handbook of Christian Apologetics, .183

[2] Adrian Treloar FRCP, "Blood and Water," Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 63(1) (February  2013)

[3] Dr. C. Truman Davis "A Physician's Analyzes The Crucifixion."  Baptized.org
From New Wine Magazine, April 1982.Originally published in Arizona Medicine, March 1965 Arizona Medical Association.Davis is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. He is a practicing ophthalmologist, 

[4] Ibid,

[5] Matthew W Maslen and Piers D Mitchell"Medical theories on the cause of death in crucifixion," PMC, US National Library of Medicine ,National Institutes of Health, April, 2006

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] "Bowen-Hinman debate: Papias" no date listed

[9] Bowen, Ibid

[10] Hinman, Ibid

[11] Dan Waldschmidtm ""Jesus and the eye witnesses"  Review: Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary 2015

[12] Ben Witherington III, nook review: "Jesus and The Eyewitnesses," Bible History Daily, published by the Biblical Archaeological society. (December 31, 2011)

No comments: