Centre for History and Philosophy of Science seminar - Professor Gowan Dawson (Department of English, University of Leicester)

‘The Cross-Examination of the Physiologist’: Huxley, Darwin and the Resurrection of Jesus

Accounts of Jesus’s apparent recovery from non-fatal injuries sustained during the crucifixion, the so-called ‘swoon theory’, had been a familiar feature of German biblical criticism since the early nineteenth century, but it was only in the 1870s that the issue of whether Jesus actually died on the cross became a subject of controversy in Victorian Britain.

 Both Thomas Henry Huxley and Charles Darwin, as this paper will show, became involved in this debate, lending both scientific and financial support to the case for Jesus’s putative resurrection being merely a naturalistic recovery rather than a supernatural miracle, and thus helping to undermine the most fundamental tenet of Christian belief.

Location: Baines Wing G.36