Some sources, such as the Japanese legend cited here, assert that someone else died on the cross in place of Jesus. Other such claims include the Gnostic writing “The Second Treatise of the Great Seth” (55:15–20)^70 and the Muslim Koran(Surah
IV:156–159).^71 Whereas the Japanese tale claims that the crucified person was Jesus’ brother, the Gnostic source claims that Simon of Cyrene was killed while the glorified Jesus sat in the heavens and laughed at the error. A popular Muslim teaching is that it was Judas who died instead of Jesus.
Such strange “twists” to the swoon theory have been virtually ignored by scholars with good reason, for serious problems invalidate each of these theses.
68 Ibid., pp. 322–332, 347.
69 Ibid., see chapters 1–11, 13 for details. See p. 286 for the author’s statement concerning the need to have evidence of such a bloodline.
70 See James M. Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Library in English(San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1977), pp. 329–338.
71 The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, transl. by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall (New York: New American Library, n.d.), p. 93.
(1) The sources that report these theories are exceptionally late. While the date of the Gnostic writing is difficult to obtain, it was probably written two or more centuries after Jesus and definitely manifests theological rather than historical interests, since one Gnostic belief is that Jesus could not have died physically on the cross, hence a substitute would be needed. The Japanese legend was not known until about AD 500 when it was introduced in Japan by the Chinese. The Koranis a seventh century AD writing. Works of the third to seventh century are rather late to have much authoritative claim, while the Gnostic and Muslim sources plainly exhibit theological interests for their assertions. (2) Why would Jesus’ disciples, friends and relatives not recognize a substitute, especially when several were present at the crucifixion and burial? This is almost beyond credulity. (3) How could Jesus’ enemies have missed the oversight? Since they knew what his appearance was from his trips to Jerusalem and certainly had strong motives to kill him, including the desire to be present at the crucifixion to witness his death, such a mistake would be simply incredible. (4) Such theories would not be able to adequately explain the reported appearances of Jesus to eyewitnesses after his crucifixion, since such testimony concerned both his glorified body and his healed wounds.