I’ve said several times on this blog that the idea of hanging theology off Jesus’s death seems weak to me. There are things that are significant about death (compared to someone, say, being in a coma for a while, or asleep, or just not seeing them for as few days). And those things are no longer significant if the person in question is ‘resurrected’ shortly after their death. For all that is meaningful about death, Jesus, in orthodox Christian theology, didn’t die.
Today I came across the word for this. Or rather a word for the kind of death where, even in principle, nothing about the mind or thoughts of the deceased can be recovered. This is beyond breath death (the ancient and medieval criterion), beyond heart death, beyond brain death. It is Information-theoretic Death.
So, according to Christian theology, one might say Jesus underwent breath, heart and maybe even brain death. But not information-theoretic death. Nowadays we don’t think of breath death as being ‘real’ death, because we often restart people’s breathing, similarly their hearts (but note that, to a medieval doctor, what we are actually doing is resurrection). Brain death is beyond the limits of medical resurrection now, but if we found a way to restart interrupted brain function, that wouldn’t be ‘real’ death either. Information-theoretic death is real death. Theology teaches that Jesus didn’t die that kind of death. Perhaps it teaches that nobody ever dies that kind of death. That’s another question. In terms of Jesus, you can’t build a sane theology of Jesus’s death if he didn’t die for real.