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Jesus' Crucifixion

Page history last edited by pinkhamc@... 8 years, 10 months ago

During Holy Week I received the following email and responded to it


Subject: The (Scientific) Death of Jesus

At the age of 33, Jesus was condemned to the death


At the time crucifixion was the "worst" death. Only the worst criminals were condemned to be crucified. Yet it was even more dreadful for Jesus, unlike other criminals condemned to death by crucifixion Jesus was to be nailed to the cross by His hands and feet.


Each nail was 6 to 8 inches long.  The nails were driven into His wrist. Not into His palms as is commonly portrayed. There's a tendon in the wrist that extends to the shoulder. The Roman guards knew that when the nails were being hammered into the wrist that tendon would tear and break, forcing Jesus to use His back muscles to support himself so that He could breath.


Both of His feet were nailed together. Thus He was forced to support Himself on the single nail that impaled His feet to the cross. Jesus could not support himself with His legs because of the pain so He was forced to alternate between arching His back then using his legs just to continue to breath. Imagine the struggle, the pain, the suffering, the courage.


Jesus endured this reality for over 3 hours.  Yes, over 3 hours! Can you imagine this kind of suffering? A few minutes before He died, Jesus stopped bleeding. He was simply pouring water from his wounds.


From common images we see wounds to His hands and feet and even the spear wound to His side... But do we realize His wounds were actually made in his body. A hammer driving large nails through the wrist, the feet overlapped and an even large nail hammered through the arches, then a Roman guard piercing His side with a spear. But before the nails and the spear Jesus was whipped and beaten. The whipping was so severe that it tore the flesh from His body. The beating so horrific that His face was torn and his beard ripped from His face. The crown of thorns cut deeply into His scalp. Most men would not have survived this torture.  He had no more blood to bleed out, only water poured from His wounds.


The human adult body contains about 3.5 liters (just less than a gallon) of blood.  Jesus poured all 3.5 liters of his blood; He had three nails hammered into His members; a crown of thorns on His head and, beyond that, a Roman soldier who stabbed a spear into His chest..  All these without mentioning the humiliation He suffered after carrying His own cross for almost 2 kilometers, while the crowd spat in his face and threw stones (the cross was almost 30 kg of weight, only for its higher part, where His hands were nailed).     Jesus had to endure this experience, to open the gates of Heaven so that you can have free access to God.   So that your sins could be "washed" away. All of them, with no exception! Don't ignore this situation.  JESUS CHRIST DIED FOR YOU!


My reply:

There are many factual errors in this piece based upon solid archaeological, anatomical, and physiological evidence and scientific experiments with cadavers and human volunteers.  I will address the most important ones. As you will see, the truth is even more remarkable. 


There's a tendon in the wrist that extends to the shoulder.”  No tendon in our body extends beyond one major joint.  However, the nail WAS driven through the wrist as stated.   If it were driven through the hand, it could eventually have torn Jesus’ flesh in a line between His metacarpals (the longer bones in our palm) and ripped out between His fingers.  His arms would not stay nailed to the cross if that were to happen.  Although this is not likely based upon experiments with cadavers, there is a certain alternative.  In the wrist is a series of eight bones.  Between two of them (almost right where the crease between your palm and your hand makes a little finger-ward curve) is a space just large enough for a nail to pass through.  In fact, from the wrist side the bones are beveled such that if you get the tip of the nail close to its location, they will guide it through the gap.  These bones are held together ACROSS the wrist by a strong, fibrous sheet.  Between the action of the bones and the sheet, the nail stays put once it is inserted.  What does go from the hand, through the shoulder to the neck, is the median nerve.  This nerve passes along the edge of this gap.  When the nail is driven through, it creases the nerve on the side with nerve fibers running to the muscles of the thumb, forcing the thumb to curl inward over the palm.  It is interesting to me that the Shroud of Turin shows the thumbs curled in this way, in spite of the fact this apparently wasn’t known until the 20th century.  It is also interesting to me that the Shroud has been discredited by carbon dating as not being old enough to be his burial shroud, but in turn that carbon dating has been discredited by a world expert on biofilms and carbon dating who found it to, indeed, be of the correct age for Jesus’ burial shroud (too long and technical to go into here) and we hear nothing about his work.


“The Roman guards knew that when the nails were being hammered into the wrist that tendon would tear and break, forcing Jesus to use His back muscles to support himself so that He could breath.”  It turns out this is close to being correct but still contains some factual errors.  Obviously the first is the reference to the tendon.  It was most certainly true that the Roman guards knew what they were doing and found that “sweet spot” in the wrist.  They also knew what crucifixion did to breathing.  By having the arms nailed to the transverse bar of the cross, they would have made breathing more and more difficult and painful with time.  I am not sure about arching of the back, but in order to obtain relief from the pain, the person would straighten his legs, a painful move in itself.  I suspect that the back may have arched during this maneuver.


“Both of His feet were nailed together.” Based upon a spike found still impaled in a heel bone of a crucifixion victim in an archaeological dig published in 1968, it is more reasonable to suspect that the left foot was nailed to the left side of the cross and the right to the right side.  None of that, of course, changes the agony of the ordeal and perhaps even heightens it.


“The human adult body contains about 3.5 liters (just less than a gallon) of blood.”  Although 3.5 liters is just less than a gallon (3.8 liters per gallon), the human body contains 5 liters of blood.  About 2.5 liters of that is water.  His extreme scourging, as stated, must have caused Him to lose some of that 5 liters.  Blood loss and further dehydration most certainly must have contributed to His early death through hypovolemic shock.  But we still must recognize that He died on His terms, not his tormentor’s.  He did what He had to do, and He said what He had to say, including “It is finished” and then He gave up His Spirit. (John 19:30).


In spite of the above errors, the point of this article is dead on.  Our Lord took the cup given Him by the Father, a cup that was full of sheer and prolonged agony, a cup that none of us would honestly be willing to take on, had we known what lay ahead as Jesus did.  He did this by the power of Love, the same Love that brought about his bodily resurrection three days later and through which we, as receivers of His Gift of salvation from sin, are assured of Life now and eternal, a life bathed in His Love and Light.  And that is why we will joyously celebrate this Sunday.


Agape, Carl


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