Alternative Naturalistic Theories #3: Passover Plot  
Alternative Naturalistic Theories to the Resurrection

The Passover Plot


This is my personal favorite! It is quite clever, although again, after pondering this extensively I had to put this one aside because it strains credulity.

The Passover Plot is a variation of the Swoon Theory, and was put forward by Dr. Hugh Schonfield in 1963; the book was recently rereleased. Schonfield says that Jesus believed he was messiah and engineered events so that he would appear to be resurrected. He had helpers, including Joseph of Arimathea, at the crucifixion who gave him a drug with the wine on the cross to make him unconscious. After the crucifixion they took Jesus to the tomb and attempted to revive him, but had not anticipated the Roman sword thrust that caused Jesus’ death within a day or two. They then secretly buried his body. (Schonfield, H. The Passover Plot 40th Anniversary Edition,  Disinformation Company, 2005).




1. Although the morality of Jesus’ teachings has been acknowledged through the centuries, Jesus in this scenario is depicted as a scheming manipulator who wants to grasp the reins of power.


2. Scourging and crucifixion were serious situations from which a man could not count on surviving, even if removed early. In the first century the realities of these tortures were well known. Josephus writes, “And when I was sent by Titus Caesar with Cerealins, and a thousand horsemen, to a certain village called Thecoa, in order to know whether it were a place fit for a camp, as I came back, I saw many captives crucified, and remembered three of them as my former acquaintance. I was very sorry at this in my mind, and went with tears in my eyes to Titus, and told him of them; so he immediately commanded them to be taken down, and to have the greatest care taken of them, in order to their recovery; yet two of them died under the physician’s hand, while the third recovered.” (Life 76)


3. The dosing of the drug on the cross, given by mouth, is extremely doubtful – how could the dose be controlled to not give a fatal overdose? The drug would also undoubtedly further depress respiration.


4. This theory does nothing to explain how the tomb was opened on Sunday morning, the multiple eyewitness appearances of Jesus, the unshaken faith of the apostles, or the conversion of the zealous Pharisee Paul on the road to Tarsus.



© 2011 Amy Deardon |