Rather than re-invent the wheel so to speak, I have decided to address the questions which many people have concerning the evidence which supports both Jesus’ existence as a man, and His resurrection, by presenting a series of articles written by respected Christian researchers. 

     The first article in our study is a concise, logical and well-written summary of reasons various believers have given for why they believe in the reality of Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection. I have placed it at this point in this treatise because the reasoning used therein, while compelling, does not rely upon external non-Christian sources. What this demonstrates is both the internal logic and sufficiency of the Christian faith. External references will come a little later in our study. This summary was prepared by Campus Crusade for Christ International and can be found on their web site at: http://www.ccci.org/whoisjesus/reasons.html 

Reasons for Belief

FORETOLD: First, Jesus Himself foretold His death and resurrection - and His death and resurrection came about exactly as He had predicted (see Luke 18:31-33). 

THE EMPTY GRAVE: Second, the resurrection is the only plausible explanation for His empty grave. A careful reading of the Biblical story shows that the grave where they laid the body of Jesus was closely guarded by Roman soldiers and sealed with an enormous boulder (Matthew 27:62-66). If, as some have claimed, Jesus was not dead, but only weakened, the guards and the stone would have stopped his escape - or any rescue attempt by His followers. Jesus' enemies would never have taken the body since His body missing from the grave would only serve to encourage belief in His resurrection. 

PERSONAL ENCOUNTERS: Third, the resurrection is the only explanation for the appearances of Jesus Christ to His disciples. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared at least ten times to those who had known Him and to as many as 500 people at one time. The Lord proved that these appearances were not hallucinations: He ate and talked with them and they touched Him. (see I John 1:1 ff) 

BIRTH OF THE CHURCH: Fourth, the resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for the beginning of the Christian church. The Christian church is by far the largest institution that exists or has ever existed in the history of the world. More than half of the first sermon ever preached had to do with the resurrection (Acts 2:14-36). Obviously, the early church knew that this was the basis of its message. The enemies of Jesus and His followers could have stopped them at any time by simply producing Jesus' body. 

TRANSFORMED LIVES: Fifth, the resurrection is the only logical explanation for the transformed lives of the disciples. They deserted Him before His resurrection; after His death they were discouraged and fearful. They did not expect Jesus to rise from the dead (Luke 24:1-11). Yet after His resurrection and their experience at Pentacost, these same discouraged, disappointed men and women were transformed  by the mighty power of the risen Christ. In His name, they turned the world upside down. Many lost their lives for their faith; others were terribly persecuted. Their courageous behavior does not make sense apart from their conviction that Jesus Christ was truly raised from the dead - a fact worth dying for.


This next article by Josh McDowell, while presenting some additional points to consider, goes into each of the aforementioned concepts in greater detail. This article can be found in its’ entirety at:  http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh.html

By Josh McDowell

…F. F. Bruce, Rylands professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at the University of Manchester, says concerning the value of the New Testament records as primary sources: "Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further corrective."

By the end of the 1 9th century… archaeological discoveries had confirmed the accuracy of the New Testament manuscripts. Discoveries of early papyri bridged the gap between the time of Christ and existing manuscripts from a later date.

Those findings increased scholarly confidence in the reliability of the Bible. William F. Albright, who in his day was the world's foremost biblical archaeologist, said: "We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today."

Coinciding with the papyri discoveries, an abundance of other manuscripts came to light (over 24,000 copies of early New Testament manuscripts are known to be in existence today). The historian Luke wrote of "authentic evidence" concerning the resurrection. Sir William Ramsay, who spent 15 years attempting to undermine Luke credentials as a historian, and to refute the reliability of the New Testament, finally concluded: "Luke is a historian of the first rank . . . This author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians. "


The New Testament witnesses were fully aware of the background against which the resurrection took place. The body of Jesus, in accordance with Jewish burial custom, was wrapped in a linen cloth. About 100 pounds of aromatic spices, mixed together to form a gummy substance, were applied to the wrappings of cloth about the body. After the body was placed in a solid rock tomb, an extremely large stone was rolled against the entrance of the tomb. Large stones weighing approximately two tons were normally rolled (by means of levers) against a tomb entrance. 

A Roman guard of strictly disciplined fighting men was stationed to guard the tomb. This guard affixed on the tomb the Roman seal, which was meant to "prevent any attempt at vandalizing the sepulcher. Anyone trying to move the stone from the tomb's entrance would have broken the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman law.

But three days later the tomb was empty. The followers of Jesus said He had risen from the dead. They reported that He appeared to them during a period of 40 days, showing Himself to them by many "infallible proofs." Paul the apostle recounted that Jesus appeared to more than 500 of His followers at one time, the majority of whom were still alive and who could confirm what Paul wrote. So many security precautions were taken with the trial, crucifixion, burial, entombment, sealing, and guarding of Christ's tomb that it becomes very difficult for critics to defend their position that Christ did not rise from the dead.

Consider these facts:


As we have said, the first obvious fact was the breaking of the seal that stood for the power and authority of the Roman Empire. The consequences of breaking the seal were extremely severe. The FBI and CIA of the Roman Empire were called into action to find the man or men who were responsible. If they were apprehended, it meant automatic execution by crucifixion upside down. People feared the breaking of the seal. Jesus' disciples displayed signs of cowardice when they hid themselves. Peter, one of these disciples, went out and denied Christ three times.


As we have already discussed, another obvious fact after the resurrection was the empty tomb. The disciples of Christ did not go off to Athens or Rome to preach that Christ was raised from the dead. Rather, they went right back to the city of Jerusalem, where, if what they were teaching was false, the falsity would be evident. The empty tomb was "too notorious to be denied." Paul Althaus states that the resurrection "could have not been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned."

Both Jewish and Roman sources and traditions admit an empty tomb. Those resources range from Josephus to a compilation of fifth-century Jewish writings called the "Toledoth Jeshu." Dr. Paul Maier calls this "positive evidence from a hostile source, which is the strongest kind of  historical evidence. In essence, this means that if a source admits a fact decidedly not in its favor, then that fact is genuine."

Gamaliel, who was a member of the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, put forth the suggestion that the rise of the Christian movement was God's doing; he could not have done that if the tomb were still occupied, or if the Sanhedrin knew the whereabouts of Christ's body.

Paul Maier observes that " . . . if all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would disprove this statement."


On that Sunday morning the first thing that impressed the people who approached the tomb was the unusual position of the one and a half to two ton stone that had been lodged in front of the doorway. All the Gospel writers mention it.  Those who observed the stone after the resurrection describe its position as having been rolled up a slope away not just from the entrance of the tomb, but from the entire massive sepulcher. It was in such a position that  it looked as if it had been picked up and carried away. Now, I ask you, if the disciples had wanted to come in, tiptoe around the sleeping guards, and then roll the stone over and steal Jesus' body, how could they have done that without the guards' awareness?


             The Roman guards fled. They left their place of responsibility. How can their attrition he explained, when Roman military discipline was so exceptional? Justin, in Digest #49, mentions all the offenses that required the death penalty. The fear of their superiors' wrath and the possibility of death meant that they paid close attention to the minutest details of their jobs. One way a guard was put to death was by being stripped of his clothes and then burned alive in a fire started with his garments. If it was not apparent which soldier had failed in his duty, then lots were drawn to see which one wand be punished with death for the guard unit's f ailure. Certainly the entire unit would not have fallen asleep with that kind of threat over their heads. Dr. George Currie, a student of Roman military  discipline, wrote that fear of punishment "produced flawless attention to duty, especially in the night watches."


In a literal sense, against all statements to the contrary, the tomb was not totally empty--because of an amazing phenomenon. John, a disciple of Jesus, looked over to the place where the body of Jesus had lain, and there were the grave clothes, in the form of the body, slightly caved in and empty--like the empty chrysalis of a caterpillar's cocoon. That's enough to make a believer out of anybody. John never did get over it. The first thing that stuck in the minds of the disciples was not the empty tomb, but rather the empty grave clothes--undisturbed in form and position.


Christ appeared alive on several occasions after the cataclysmic events of that first Easter . When studying an event in history, it is important to know whether enough people who were participants or eyewitnesses to the event were alive when the facts about the event were published. To know this is obviously helpful in ascertaining the accuracy of the published report. If the number of eyewitnesses is substantial, the event can he regarded as fairly well established. For instance, if we all witness a murder, and a later police report turns out to he a fabrication of lies, we as eyewitnesses can refute it.


A theory propounded by Kirsopp Lake assumes that the women who reported that the body was missing had mistakenly gone to the wrong tomb. If so, then the disciples who went to check up on the women's statement must have also gone to the wrong tomb. We may be certain, however, that Jewish authorities, who asked for a Roman guard to be stationed at the tomb to prevent Jesus' body from being stolen, would not have been mistaken about the location. Nor would the Roman guards, for they were there! If the resurrection-claim was merely because of a geographical mistake, the Jewish authorities would have lost no time in producing the body from the proper tomb, thus effectively quenching for all time any rumor resurrection.


Another attempted explanation claims that the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection were either illusions or hallucinations. Unsupported by the psychological principles governing the appearances of hallucinations, this theory also does not coincide with the historical situation. Again, where was the actual body, and why wasn't it produced?


Another theory, popularized by Venturini several centuries ago, is often quoted  today. This is the swoon theory, which says that Jesus didn't die; he merely fainted from exhaustion and loss of blood. Everyone thought Him dead, but later He resuscitated and the disciples thought it to be a resurrection. Skeptic David Friedrich Strauss--certainly no believer in the resurrection--gave the deathblow to any thought that Jesus revived from a swoon: "It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to His sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that He was a Conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life, an impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry. Such a  resuscitation could only have weakened the impression which He had made upon them in life and in death, at the most could only have given it an elegiac voice, but could by no possibility have changed their sorrow into enthusiasm, have elevated their reverence into worship."


Then consider the theory that the body was stolen by the disciples while the guards slept. The depression and cowardice of the disciples provide a hard-hitting argument against their suddenly becoming so brave and daring as to face a detachment of soldiers at the tomb and steal the body. They were in no mood to attempt anything like that.

The theory that the Jewish or Roman authorities moved Christ's body is no more reasonable an explanation for the empty tomb than theft by the disciples. If the authorities had the body in their possession or knew where it was, why, when the disciples were preaching the resurrection in Jerusalem, didn't they explain: "Wait! We moved the body, see, He didn't rise from the grave"?

And if such a rebuttal failed, why didn't they explain exactly where Jesus' body lay? If this failed, why didn't they recover the corpse, put it on a cart, and wheel it through the center of Jerusalem? Such an action would have destroyed Christianity--not in the cradle, but in the womb!

“For the New Testament of Acts, the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Any attempt to reject its basic historicity, even in matters of detail, must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.” A. N. Sherwin-White  Classical Roman Historian

“There exists no document from the ancient world, witnessed by so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies . . . Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based upon an irrational bias.”  Clark Pinnock  Mcmaster University


     What follows next is a short excerpt on the impact of the empty grave from an article by William Craig. It expands upon the information found in the ‘Empty Grave’ section of the preceding ‘Reasons for Belief’ article. This article can be found at:  http://leaderu.com/truth/1truth22.html
Source: "Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ," Truth 1 (1985): 89-95. 

Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
William Lane Craig

…Once regarded as an offense to modern intelligence and an embarrassment to Christian theology, the empty tomb of Jesus has come to assume its place among the generally accepted facts concerning the historical Jesus. Allow me to review briefly some of the evidence under girding this connection.

The historical reliability of the burial story supports the empty tomb. If the burial account is accurate, then the site of Jesus' grave was known to Jew and Christian alike. In that case, it is a very short inference to historicity of the empty tomb. For if Jesus had not risen and the burial site were known:

(a) the disciples could never have believed in the resurrection of Jesus. For a first century Jew the idea that a man might be raised from the dead while his body remained in the tomb was simply a contradiction in terms. In the words of  E. E. Ellis, "It is very unlikely that the earliest Palestinian Christians could conceive of any distinction between resurrection and physical, 'grave emptying' resurrection. To them an anastasis without an empty grave would have been about as meaningful as a square circle."
(b) Even if the disciples had believed in the resurrection of Jesus, it is doubtful they would have generated any following. So long as the body was interred in the tomb, a Christian movement founded on belief in the resurrection of the dead man would have been an impossible folly.

          (c) The Jewish authorities would have exposed the whole affair. 
          The quickest and surest answer to the proclamation of the 
           resurrection of Jesus would have been simply to point to his 
          grave on the hillside.

For these three reasons, the accuracy of the burial story supports the historicity of the empty tomb. Unfortunately for those who wish to deny the empty tomb, however, the burial story is one of the most historically certain traditions we have concerning Jesus. Several factors under gird this judgment. To mention only a few.

    (i) The burial is mentioned in the third line of the old Christian formula quoted by Paul in 1 Cor.15.4.

   (ii) It is part of the ancient pre-Markan passion story which Mark 
used as a source for his gospel. 

   (iii) The story itself lacks any traces of legendary development.

   (iv) The story comports with archeological evidence concerning the 
types and location of tombs extant in Jesus' day.

   (v) No other competing burial traditions exist.

  (vi)The tomb was probably discovered empty by women. To understand this point one has to recall two facts about the role of women in Jewish society. 

        (a) Woman occupied a low rung on the Jewish social ladder. This is evident in such rabbinic expressions as "Sooner let the words of the law be burnt than delivered to women" and "Happy is he whose children are male, but woe to him whose children are female."

        (b) The testimony of women was regarded as so worthless that they were not even permitted to serve as legal witnesses in a court of law. In light of these facts, how remarkable must it seem that it is women who are the discoverers of Jesus' empty tomb. Any later legend would certainly have made the male disciples to discover the empty tomb. The fact that women, whose testimony was worthless, rather than men, are the chief witnesses to the empty tomb is most plausibly accounted for by the fact that, like it or not, they were the discoverers of the empty tomb and the gospels accurately record this.

The earliest Jewish polemic presupposes the empty tomb. In Matthew 28, we find the Christian attempt to refute the earliest Jewish polemic against the resurrection. That polemic asserted that the disciples stole away the body. The Christians responded to this by reciting the story of the guard at the tomb, and the polemic in turn charged that the guard fell asleep. Now the noteworthy feature of this whole dispute is not the historicity of the guards but rather the presupposition of both parties that the body was missing. The earliest Jewish response to the proclamation of the resurrection was an attempt to explain away the empty tomb. Thus, the evidence of the adversaries of the disciples provides  evidence in support of the empty tomb.


     Let us now begin looking at extra Biblical historical evidence for the existence of Christ. To begin this part of our study I would like to begin with a segment of an article by Christopher Lang… It can be found at: http://www.xenos.org/classes/papers/doubt.htm

Historical Evidence Outside of the Bible
by Christopher Louis Lang

Often people are uncertain about the existence of Christ, but few scholars would disagree that a man named Jesus lived roughly between 2 BC and about 33 AD. History documents that this man was not a myth but a real person and the historical evidence for this is excellent. For instance, the Roman historian Tacitus, writing in about 115 A.D., records the events surrounding Emperor Nero in July of A.D. 64. After the fire that destroyed much of Rome, Nero was blamed for being responsible:

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus [Christ], from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition [Christ's resurrection] thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. (Bettenson, p. 2)

In about 112 A.D. the Roman governor of what is now northern Turkey wrote to Emperor Trajan regarding the Christians in his district:

     "I was never present at any trial of Christians; therefore I do not know  what are the customary penalties or investigations, and what limits are observed. . . whether those who recant should be pardoned. . . whether the name itself, even if innocent of crime, should be punished, or only the crimes attaching to that name. . . . Meanwhile, this is the course that I have adopted in the case of those brought before me as Christians. I ask them if they are Christians. If they admit it I repeat the question a second and a third time, threatening capital punishment; if they persist I sentence them to death. For I do not doubt that, whatever kind of crime it may be to which they have confessed, their pertinacity and inflexible obstinacy should certainly be punished. . . the very fact of my dealing with the question led to a wider spread of the charge, and a great variety of cases were brought before me. An anonymous pamphlet was issued, containing many names. All who denied that they were or had been Christians I considered should be discharged, because they called upon the gods at my dictation and did reverence. . .and especially because they cursed Christ, a thing which it is said, genuine Christians cannot be induced to do." (Bettenson, p. 3)

These passages indicate that Christianity was wide spread in the Roman empire within 80 years of Christ's death. Again, these are eyewitness accounts, not historians looking back years later.

The popular historian Will Durant, himself not a Christian, wrote concerning Christ's historical validity, "The denial of that existence seems never to have occurred even to the bitterest gentile or Jewish opponents of nascent Christianity" (Durant, The Story of Civilization, vol. 3, p. 555). And again, "That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels" (Ibid., p. 557). 

It is a substantial thing that an historian who spends his life considering historical facts should affirm the reality of Christ's existence as well as the rapid growth of the early movement.

The Jewish historian Josephus,writing for the Roman government in the 70's A.D. records some incidental things regarding Christ and the church. He confirms that John the Baptist died at the hand of Herod (this same incident is recorded in the gospels) as well as the death of, "The brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James. . . he delivered them to be stoned" (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, ch. V, p. 20; Book XX, ch. IX, p. 140 ). Again we have sources external to the Bible that demonstrate the historical reliability of the text. Josephus, who was probably alive during the time of Christ, is attesting to the reality of his existence. What this also tells us is that within 40 years of Christ's death, the knowledge of who he was was widespread enough that Josephus could reference him and expect his readers to know exactly who he was talking about.

Bettenson, Henry, Documents of the Christian Church, Oxford Press, London, 1943.
Durant, Will, The Story of Civilization, Simon and Schuster, New York, NY, 1944.
Josephus, Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1974.


     The following article is presented here because it goes to the heart of the issue of Jesus’ existence and resurrection. After all, why would 1st Century Jews feel compelled to denounce, or ridicule a man who never existed, or never made the type of divine claims Jesus did?.

Ancient Jewish Accounts of Jesus
Prepared by Alan Humm

 Feb. 17, 1997
[email protected]

I  Celsus on Jesus

Celsus lived in during the 2nd century, CE. Origen is refuting him in the 3rd century. Celsus' writings no longer survive in tact, but we have access to some of his work when Origen quotes passages for the purpose of refutation. The following is one such passage. [AH]

                                       Origen, Contra Celsum 1.28
                                      Translation, quoted from Mead. 

“Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a soldier named Panth&eacutera (i.32)]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god. “

II   Tertullian Mocks Jewish 'Slanders'

 Tertullian wrote this passage late in the 2nd century, CE. In the context he is imagining himself, after Jesus' triumphant return, mocking  the now damned Jews for their perversions of of the truth about Jesus (from his point of view). Much of what he accuses the Jews of saying/doing is straight out of the canonical gospels, but some, especially the last phrase, seems to reflect some of the traditions that will  later be brought together in the Toledoth Yeshu. [AH]

                                       Tertullian, De Spetaculis 100.30
                                     Translation, quoted from Mead, p. 133. 

“This is your carpenter's son, your harlot's son;[1] your Sabbath- breaker, your Samaritan[2], your demon-possessed! This is he whom you bought from Judas. This is he who was struck with reeds and fists, dishonored with spittle, and given a draught of gall and vinegar! This is he whom his disciples have stolen secretly, that it may be said, 'He has risen', or the gardener abstracted that his lettuces might not be damaged by the crowds of visitors![3]” 

[1] The 'harlot's son' accusation is doubtless a commonplace. It is directly connected with Christian claims of virgin birth, but there is something of a chicken-egg problem. It is easy to imagine such a rebuttal to Christian claims, but it is also quite conceivable that the Christian version is a response to Jewish slanders about his origins. I am inclined toward the former explanation, but arguments can be made for either.

[2] Samaritan. Thanks to Mike Sassanian for reminding me of John 8:48 where Jesus is called a Samaritan and accused of being demon posessed. 

[3] Presumably, in this version a gardener who grows cabbages near the grounds of the sepulcher is irritated by the large numbers of disciples who are trampling his crops when they come to visit the tomb. He solves the problem by moving the body, which gives rise to Christian claims of resurrection. The gardener parallel to the Toledoth tradition is clear enough, although not identical, particularly in motive. What is interesting is the peculiar detail of the cabbage. I am not aware of the Toledoth stories mentioning this, but they do often have Jesus being crucified on a cabbage. While the context is different, the wild improbability of the recurring vegetable seems too peculiar to be coincidence. There may also be a connection between this gardener and the story in John 20.14-16 where Mary Magdalene, on seeing the resurrected Jesus, fails to recognize him, taking him to be the gardener. 

III Josephus on Jesus

 The so called Testimonium Flavianum. This is the only direct discussion of Jesus to be found in the writings of Josephus. Unfortunately,  the text as we have it in extant copies of Josephus' Antiquities appears to have been dramatically re-written from a Christian point of view.  (The writings of Josephus were brought down to us from antiquity not by the Jewish community, but by the Christians). The second column contains an Arabic quotation of the Josephus passage that has a much less Christian flavor. Some scholars have argued that the Arabic version has a more likely claim to originality. 

 Although that is a strong possibility, it should be noted that even the Arabic version is a good deal kinder to Jesus than Josephus usually is  to messianic claimants. In addition it is harder to see why the Christian scribe would feel so compelled to change it. It is possible that the  original may have been much more insulting, in keeping with Josephus' normal pattern, and that the Greek and Arabic versions are simply  two different recensions of a Christian rewrite. R. Eisler has made an effort to reconstruct an 'original' that might have, given Christian  revision, served as a base for the version that survives in Greek. It is, of course, entirely hypothetical, and no textual evidence exists to  support it, but it does fit in better with Josephus' usual pattern and language, as well as the general context of the passage. 

 On the other hand, it may be possible to 'save' the Arabic version. Particularly if we remove the last sentence (accordingly ...wonders) as a  pious expansion, we are left with a non-committal report on the martyrdom at Roman hands of a pious Jew. This would not be at all inconsistent with Josephus' style, particularly if he discounted as later followers' embellishments the claims made by Christians that Jesus  was the Messiah. This last suggestion is to some extent crippled by the less controversial reference in Antiquities 20 if it is genuine (see  below).

 Josephus, Antiquities 18.63, probably in a Christian redaction   Tr. I. H.
 Feldman,  Loeb Classical Library, vol. 9, pp. 49ff.

  About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man if indeed one ought to
  call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was 
  a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many
  Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate,
  upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us,
  had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place 
 come to love him did not cease. On the third day he appeared to them 
 restored to life.  For the prophets of God had prophesied these and 
 myriads of other marvellous things about him. And the tribe of the 
 Christians, so called after him, has still up to now, not disappeared. 

Arabic Version

 Arabic summary, presumably of Antiquities  18.63. From Agapios' Kitab al-'Unwan ("Book of   the Title," 10th c.). The translation belongs to Shlomo Pines. See also James H. Charlesworth, Jesus Within Judaism. 

Similarly Josephus the Hebrew. For he says in the treatises that he has  written on the governance of the Jews:  At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and he was  known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and  the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And  those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the  prophets have recounted  wonders. 

R. Eisler's Reconstruction

 Same text, in a less complementary modern scholarly reconstruction.
 R. Eisler, The Messiah Jesus, (tr. A. H. Krappe), 1931, p. 61.
 Quoted from the Loeb Classical Library , vol. 9, p. 48.

 Now about this time arose an occasion for new disturbances, a certain Jesus, a wizard of a man, if indeed he may be called a man, who was the most monstrous of men, whom his disciples call a son of God, as having done wonders such as no man has ever done.... He was in fact a teacher of astonishing tricks to such men as accept the abnormal with delight.... And he seduced many Jews and many also of the Greek  nation, and was regarded by them as the Messiah.... And when, on the indictment of the principal men among us, Pilate had sentenced him to the cross, still those who before had admired him did not cease to rave. For it seemed to them that having been dead for three days, he had appeared to them alive again, as the divinely-inspired prophets had foretold – these and ten thousand other wonderful things -- concerning him. And even now the race of those  who are called 'Messianists' after him is not extinct.

The only usually undisputed allusion to Jesus in Josephus is actually only a passing reference in the context of the trial of James. James is  identified, not as James son of ???? as one would normally expect but as brother of Jesus. While this passage is more likely to be authentic than the one above, it is not without problems. Origen knows and cites this passage, and is unaware of the 'Testimonium Flavianum' above, providing some evidence for its presence in the Antiquities before its Christian reworking. On the other hand, Origen's version contains the unlikely addition in which Josephus also says that it is as punishment for the execution of James that Jerusalem and the temple are  destroyed. The possibility suggests itself that even Origen's Josephus has undergone Christian reworking, simply of a different variety, in  which, perhaps, the insulting Testimonium has been expunged, and James has been introduced as a pious Jewish hero. 

                                         Josephus, Antiquities 20.9.1

“Since Ananus was that kind of person, and because he perceived an opportunity with Festus having died and Albinus not yet   arrived, he called a meeting of the Sanhedrin and brought James, the brother of Jesus (who is called 'Messiah') along with   some others. He accused them of transgressing the law, and handed them over for stoning.” 

IV  Toledoth Yeshu

 This is a derogatory version of the life of Jesus, growing out of the response of the Jewish community to Christianity. The tradition  presented here is most commonly dated to approximately the 6th century CE. The text it self is closer to the 14th c. There is no scholarly consensus on to what extent the text might be a direct parody of a now lost gospel. H.J. Schonfield argued that it was so closely connected to
 the Gospel of the Hebrews that he attempted to reconstruct that lost work from the Toledoth.

Text from Goldstein, Jesus in the Jewish Tradition, pp. 148-154. Most of the notes are mine, but they are clearly marked ([G] = Goldstein, [AH] = me)

In the year 3671[1] in the days of King Jannaeus, a great misfortune befell Israel, when there arose a certain disreputable man of the tribe of Judah, whose name was Joseph Pandera. He lived at Bethlehem, in Judah.

Near his house dwelt a widow and her lovely and chaste daughter named Miriam. Miriam was betrothed to Yohanan, of the royal house of David, a man learned in the Torah and God-fearing.

At the close of a certain Sabbath, Joseph Pandera, attractive and like a warrior in appearance, having gazed lustfully upon Miriam, knocked upon the door of her room and betrayed her by pretending that he was her betrothed husband, Yohanan. Even so, she was amazed at this improper conduct and submitted only against her will.

Thereafter, when Yohanan came to her, Miriam expressed astonishment at behavior so foreign to his character. It was thus that they both came to know the crime of Joseph Pandera and the terrible mistake on the part of Miriam. Whereupon Yohanan went to Rabban Shimeon ben Shetah and related to him the tragic seduction. Lacking witnesses required for the punishment of Joseph Pandera, and Miriam being with child, Yohanan left for Babylonia.[2]

Miriam gave birth to a son and named him Yehoshua, after her brother. This name later deteriorated to Yeshu. On the eighth day he was circumcised. When he was old  enough the lad was taken by Miriam to the house of study to be instructed in the Jewish tradition. 

One day Yeshu walked in front of the Sages with his head uncovered, showing shameful disrespect. At this, the discussion arose as to whether this behavior did not truly indicate that Yeshu was an illegitimate child and the son of a niddah[3]. Moreover, the story tells that while the rabbis were discussing the Tractate Nezikin, he gave his own impudent interpretation of the law and in an ensuing debate  he held that Moses could not be the greatest of the prophets if he had  to receive counsel from Jethro. This led to further inquiry as to the antecedents of Yeshu, and it was discovered through Rabban Shimeon ben Shetah that he was the illegitimate son of Joseph Pandera. Miriam admitted it.[4] After this became known, it was necessary for Yeshu to flee to Upper Galilee.

After King Jannaeus, his wife Helene[5] ruled over all Israel. In the Temple was to be found the Foundation Stone on which were engraven the letters of God's Ineffable Name. Whoever learned the secret of the Name and its use would be able to do whatever he wished. Therefore, the Sages took measures so that no one should gain this knowledge. Lions of brass were bound to two iron pillars at the gate of the place of burnt offerings. Should anyone enter and learn the Name, when he left the lions would roar at him and immediately the valuable secret would be forgotten.

Yeshu came and learned the letters of the Name; he wrote them upon the parchment which he placed in an open cut on his thigh and then drew the flesh over the parchment. As he left, the lions roared and he forgot the secret. But when he came to his house he reopened the cut in his flesh with a knife an lifted out the writing. Then he remembered and obtained the use of the letters.[6]

He gathered about himself three hundred and ten young men of Israel and accused those who spoke ill of his birth of being people who desired greatness and power for themselves. Yeshu proclaimed, "I am the Messiah; and concerning me Isaiah prophesied and said, 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.'" He quoted other messianic texts, insisting, "David my ancestor prophesied concerning me: 'The Lord said to me, thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.'"

The insurgents with him replied that if Yeshu was the Messiah he should give them a convincing sign. They therefore, brought to him a lame man, who had never walked. Yeshu spoke over the man the letters of the Ineffable Name, and the leper was healed. Thereupon, they worshipped him as the Messiah, Son of the Highest.

When word of these happenings came to Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin decided to bring about the capture of Yeshu. They sent messengers, Annanui and Ahaziah, who, pretending to be his disciples, said that they brought him an invitation from the leaders of Jerusalem to visit them. Yeshu consented on condition the members of the Sanhedrin receive him as a lord. He started out toward Jerusalem and, arriving at Knob, acquired an ass on which he rode into Jerusalem, as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah. 

The Sages bound him and led him before Queen Helene, with the
accusation: "This man is a sorcerer and entices everyone." Yeshu 
replied, "The prophets long ago prophesied my coming: 'And there
 shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse,'  and I am he; but
 as for them, Scripture says 'Blessed is the man that walketh not in the
 counsel of the ungodly.'"

Queen Helene asked the Sages: "What he says, is it in your Torah?" They replied: "It is in our Torah, but it is not applicable to him, for it is in Scripture: 'And that prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.' He has not fulfilled the signs and conditions of the Messiah."

Yeshu spoke up: "Madam, I am the Messiah and I revive the dead." A dead body was brought in; he pronounced the letters of the Ineffable Name and the corpse came to life. The Queen was greatly moved and said: "This is a true sign." She reprimanded the Sages and sent them humiliated from her presence. Yeshu's dissident followers increased and there was controversy in Israel.

Yeshu went to Upper Galilee. the Sages came before the Queen, complaining that Yeshu practiced sorcery and was leading everyone astray. Therefore she sent Annanui and Ahaziah to fetch him.

The found him in Upper Galilee, proclaiming himself the Son of God. When they tried to take him there was a struggle, but Yeshu said to the men of Upper Galilee: "Wage no battle." He would prove himself by the power which came to him from his Father in heaven. He spoke the Ineffable Name over the birds of clay and they flew into the air. He spoke the same letters over a millstone that had been placed upon the waters. He sat in it and it floated like a boat. When they saw this the people marveled. At the behest of Yeshu, the emissaries departed and reported these wonders to the Queen. She trembled with

Then the Sages selected a man named Judah Iskarioto and brought him to the Sanctuary where he learned the letters of the Ineffable Name as Yeshu had done.

When Yeshu was summoned before the queen, this time there were present also the Sages and Judah Iskarioto. Yeshu said: "It is spoken of me, 'I will ascend into heaven.'" He lifted his arms like the wings of an eagle and he flew between heaven and earth, to the amazement of everyone. 

The elders asked Iskarioto to do likewise. He did, and flew toward heaven. Iskarioto attempted to force Yeshu down to earth but neither one of the two could prevail against the other for both had the use of the Ineffable Name. However, Iskarioto defiled Yeshu, so that they both lost their power and fell down to the earth, and in their condition of defilement the letters of the Ineffable Name escaped from them. Because of this deed of Judah they weep on the eve of the birth of Yeshu.

Yeshu was seized. His head was covered with a garment and he was 
smitten with pomegranate staves; but he could do nothing, for he no
longer had the Ineffable Name.

Yeshu was taken prisoner to the synagogue of Tiberias, and they bound him to a pillar. To allay his thirst they gave him vinegar to drink. On his head they set a crown of thorns. There was strife and wrangling between the elders and the unrestrained followers of Yeshu, as a result of which the followers escaped with Yeshu to the region of Antioch[7]; there Yeshu remained until the eve of the Passover.

[8] Yeshu then resolved to go the Temple to acquire again the secret of the Name. That year the Passover came on a Sabbath day. On the eve of the Passover, Yeshu, accompanied by his disciples, came to Jerusalem riding upon an ass. Many bowed down before him. He entered the Temple with his three hundred and ten followers. One of them, Judah Iskarioto[9] apprised the Sages that Yeshu was to be found in the Temple, that the disciples had taken a vow by the Ten Commandments not to reveal his identity but that he would point him out by bowing to him. So it was done and Yeshu was seized. Asked his name, he replied to the question by several times giving the names Mattai, Nakki, Buni, Netzer, each time with a verse quoted by him and a counter-verse by the Sages.

Yeshu was put to death on the sixth hour on the eve of the Passover and of the Sabbath. When they tried to hang him on a tree it broke, for when he had possessed the power he had pronounced by the Ineffable Name that no tree should hold him. He had failed to pronounce the prohibition over the carob-stalk[10], for it was a plant more than a tree, and on it he was hanged until the hour for afternoon prayer, for it is written in Scripture, "His body shall not remain all night upon the tree." They buried him outside the city.

On the first day of the week his bold followers came to Queen Helene with the report that he who was slain was truly the Messiah and that he was not in his grave; he had ascended to heaven as he  prophesied. Diligent search was made and he was not found in the grave where he had been buried. A gardener had taken him from the grave and had brought him into his garden and buried him in the sand over which the waters flowed into the garden.

Queen Helene demanded, on threat of a severe penalty, that the body of Yeshu be shown to her within a period of three days. There was a great distress. When the keeper of the garden saw Rabbi Tanhuma walking in the field and lamenting over the ultimatum of the Queen, the gardener related what he had done, in order that Yeshu's followers should not steal the body and then claim that he had ascended into heaven. The Sages removed the body, tied it to the tail of a horse and transported it to the Queen, with the words, "This is Yeshu who is said to have ascended to heaven." Realizing that Yeshu  was a false prophet who enticed the people and led them astray, she mocked the followers but praised the Sages.

The disciples went out among the nations--three went to the mountains of Ararat, three to Armenia, three to Rome and three to the kingdoms buy the sea, They deluded the people, but ultimately they were slain.

The erring followers amongst Israel said: "You have slain the Messiah of the Lord." The Israelites answered: "You have believed in a false prophet." There was endless strife and discord for thirty years.

The Sages desired to separate from Israel those who continued to claim Yeshu as the Messiah, and they called upon a greatly learned man, Simeon Kepha, for help. Simeon went to Antioch, main city of the Nazarenes and proclaimed toe them: "I am the disciple of Yeshu. He has sent me to show you the way. I will give you a sign as Yeshu has done."

Simeon, having gained the secret of the Ineffable Name, healed a leper and a lame man by means of it and thus found acceptance as a true disciple. He told them that Yeshu was in heaven, at the right hand of his Father, in fulfillment of Psalm 110:1. He added that Yeshu desired that they separate themselves from the Jews and no longer follow their practices, as Isaiah had said, "Your new moons and your feasts my soul abhorreth." They were now to observe the first day of the week instead of the seventh, the Resurrection instead of the Passover, the Ascension into Heaven instead of the Feast of Weeks, the finding of the Cross instead of the New Year, the Feast of the Circumcision instead of the Day of Atonement, the New Year instead of Chanukah; they were to be indifferent with regard to circumcision and the dietary laws. Also they were to follow the teaching of turning the right if smitten on the left and the meek acceptance of suffering. All these new ordinances which Simeon Kepha (or Paul, as he was known to the Nazarenes) taught them were really meant to separate these Nazarenes from the people of Israel and to bring the internal strife to an end. 

[1] About 90, BC. [G]

[2] Some traditions say 'Egypt'. [AH]

[3] Sexual impurity (incest, adultery, prostitution, etc.). [AH]

[4] In one version of this admission, she confesses that not only is Yeshu the product of an illicit union, but she was ritually unclean from menstruation at the time as well (Sexual contact even with a woman's husband is not lawful during, or, in Rabbinic law, for some time after, menstruation). [AH]

[5] Salome Alexandra. [G]

[6] Consistent, apparently, with the general tenor of Jewish criticism of Jesus' miracles going at least as far back as Celsus (2nd c.) this tradition does not deny Jesus' ability to perform miracles, accusing him instead of practicing magic. This version even accepts the divine origin of the miracles, attributing them to his misuse of the divine name, with its inherent powers. In the Alphabet of Ben Sira, Lilith is
accused of the same crime, using the power of the name to escape from the Garden of Eden. [AH]

[7] Some traditions say 'Egypt'. [G]

[8] In a variation on the story, Judah is able to out-miracle Yeshu in the sign contest without defiling him. Yeshu is discredited and arrested, and, as in this story, his followers are able to break him free, but he still remembers the Ineffable Name. He escapes to Egypt in hopes of learning Egyptian magic as well (regarded as the best magic in the world). Judah comes to Egypt and infiltrates the disciples, posing as one himself. It is from this vantage point that he is able to cause Yeshu to forget the magical Name, resulting in the later's desire to return to Jerusalem and relearn it. Judah sends warning to the Sages, along with his plan to arrest him. [AH]

[9] Aramaic: Ga'isa. [G]

[10] Or cabbage stalk. [AH]

Ancient Jewish Views of Jesus Bibliography

 This is hardly a bibliography in any proper sense. It does, however, contain the full references for the sources for translations I have used in the preparation of these pages. [AH] 

Goldstein, Morris, Jesus in the Jewish Tradition, New York Macmillan Co., 1950. 

Eisler, Robert. The Messiah Jesus, (tr. A. H. Krappe). 

Feldman, I. H., tr. Josephus, vol. 9. In the Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963. 

Mead, R.S. Did Jesus Live 100 B.C.?. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1903. 

Pines, Shlomo. An Arabic version of the Testimonium Flavianum and its implications. Jerusalem, Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1971. 


     At this point it is now fair to ask, ‘What impact has the foregoing evidence had upon the world’s willingness to at least acknowledge the existence of Jesus Christ and the reality of His physical resurrection from the grave?’  While there can be no doubt that skeptics still abound, the reality is that it is no longer considered intellectually inferior to at least acknowledge the fact that a man names Jesus once walked the earth, and that in so doing he impacted history in way no other individual, living or dead, ever has, or in all likelihood, ever will.

WEDESDAY, 11 APRIL 2001 18:57 (ET)

Faith: Historians say Resurrection a reality

By UWE SIEMON-NETTO, UPI Religion correspondent

  WASHINGTON, April 11 (UPI) - "If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and our faith is also empty," the Apostle Paul wrote only a few years after the Crucifixion (1 Corinthians 15:14).

  The Resurrection narrative in all four gospels is the one story on which  all Christian hope is fixed. Is it a ruse? Was it the figment of the scared disciples' hysterical imagination that Jesus appeared to them after his  execution?

  The late Pinchas Lapide, a Jewish New Testament scholar, considers this suggestion of 19th and early 20th-century liberal theologians preposterous: "This band of disciples was beaten and weary. Yet almost overnight it  transformed itself into a victorious faith movement," he wrote.   "If this had occurred simply on the basis of auto-suggestion and self-deceit, it would have been a much greater miracle than the Resurrection  itself."

  In a dramatic turnaround from post-Enlightenment skepticism, historians are now inclined to give much more credence to the New Testament accounts of  the Resurrection than their predecessors.   "There is so much evidence pointing to its veracity," wrote professor  Juergen Spiess of Marburg University in IDEA, a German Protestant news service. According to Spiess and several other historians, Christ was probably crucified on April 7 of the year 30. If this is so, the Resurrection occurred on April 9, a Sunday.

  There have always been doubters claiming that Jesus never died on the cross. Mohammed denied it. But the Biblical passion stories are backed up by at least one irreproachable secular source:

  The Roman historian Tacitus (55-120 A.D.) wrote that the "founder of this sect (the Christians) was executed during the reign of (emperor) Tiberius by the Governor Pontius Pilate" (Tacitus, annals XV). "This corroborates Scripture," Spiess explained.  "Historians work like lawyers," he continued, "They reconstruct past events on the basis of sources, evidence and eyewitness accounts."

  Helga Botermann, a professor at Goettingen University, has shown that in researching the Good Friday and Easter events, the evangelist Luke followed the same methodology used by modern historians. Luke, a Greek physician, "endeavored to present the facts as they had happened. He used eyewitness accounts and -- in the Book of Acts -- his own  recollections."

  Botermann went on to state, "Luke wrote for his contemporaries, who were capable of judging his account of these facts with which they were familiar either from their own experience or the reports of others. "Thus there is no justifiable reason to approach his rendering of history with prejudicial skepticism ... Luke's sources were also his critics. This makes it very unlikely that he embellished his story willfully with his own prejudices or intentions."

  Spiess sees Christ's empty grave as a key piece of evidence for the veracity of the Resurrection story. Here he agrees with William Lane Craig, arguably one of America's finest Christian apologists.

  In an article published in Truth Journal, Lane pointed out that even "the earliest Jewish polemic presupposed the empty tomb." It simply interpreted this phenomenon differently. "In Matthew 28, we find the Christian attempt to refute (this)," Craig wrote. "That polemic asserted that the disciples stole away the body. The Christians responded ... by reciting the story of a guard at the tomb, and the polemic in turn charged that the guard fell asleep."

  The long and the short of this dispute is, though, that both sides provided evidence for the empty tomb, Craig said.  Pinchas Lapide, the Jewish scholar, added another point favoring the Resurrection account. The first people to find the grave empty and encounter the risen Christ were women.  But women had such a low standing in Hebrew society at that time that their testimony would not have even been considered in court. Hence, Lapide reasoned that anybody trying to fake a story in 1st-century Palestine would hardly have presented women as his prime witnesses.

  Another argument against the Resurrection narrative survived in multiple variations for almost 2,000 years and was eagerly picked up by rationalist German scholars of the late 18th and 19th centuries.   Christ, they averred, did not actually die on the cross, but was taken down and placed alive in the tomb. He escaped to convince his disciples that He had risen from the dead.

Even Friedrich D. E. Schleiermacher, the father of modern theology, embraced this theory no serious scholar believes anymore. Craig fields two arguments against it:

  "1. It would have been virtually impossible medically for Jesus to have survived the rigors of his torture and crucifixion, much less not to have died of exposure in the tomb.

  "2. A half-dead Jesus desperately in need of medical attention would not have elicited in his disciples worship of him as the exalted Risen Lord and Conqueror of death."

Apart from that, the Risen Christ had too many eyewitnesses for the Resurrection story to have been invented. Many saw him between his Resurrection and his Ascension. All four gospels, the Book of Acts and Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians relate their stories. "Can one invent this," asked Spiess, the Marburg historian.

Half a century ago, liberal theology's attacks on the veracity of the Resurrection story began to die down. This occurred at Marburg University where theologian Ernst Kaesemann took issue with the historical skepticism against Jesus, a skepticism ardently promoted by his own teacher, Rudolf  Bultmann.

Kaesemann's new approach was much later echoed by the late New Testament scholar Norman Perrin of the University of Chicago: "The more we study the tradition with regards to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based."

"If one wants to have assurance, one must read the New Testament," Marburg University's Juergen Spiess wrote.

Commented William Lane Craig: "The resurrection of Jesus is the best explanation for the origin of the Christian faith."

 Copyright 2001 by United Press International.
 All rights reserved.


     I do not believe that any human being can understand what it meant for Jesus to accept sin upon His person. We will probably never be able to comprehend how the eternal creator of the universe could endure even one moment of rejection by the Most High. Because of His love for us, He did just that.

     On a different plane however, I believe that the following article will give the reader a little insight into just how excruciating the physical pain was that Jesus endured for us. This article can be found at: http://www.intermirifica.org/lent/passion1.htm 


William D. Edwards, MD; Wesley J. Gabel, MDiv; Floyd E Hosmer, MS, AMI

From the Departments of Pathology (Dr. Edwards) and Medical Graphics (Mr. Hoamer), Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.; and the Homestead United Methodist Church, Rochester, Minn., and the West Bethel United Methodist Church, Bethel, Minn. (Pastor Gabel). 

Jesus of Nazareth underwent Jewish and Roman trials, was flogged, and was sentenced to death by crucifixion. The scourging produced deep stripe-like lacerations and appreciable blood loss,  and it probably set the stage for hypovolemic shock, as evidenced by the fact that Jesus was too weakened to carry the crossbar (patibulum) to Golgotha. At the site of crucifixion, his wrists were nailed to the patibulum and, after the patibulum was lifted onto the upright post (stipes), his feet were nailed to the stipes. The major pathophysiologic effect of crucifixion was an interference with normal respirations. Accordingly death resulted primarily from hypovolemic shock and exhaustion asphyxia. Jesus' death was ensured by the thrust of a soldier's spear into his side. Modern medical interpretation of the historical evidence indicate that Jesus was dead when taken down from the cross.        (JAMA 1986;255:1455-1463) 

The life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth have formed the basis for a major world religion (Christianity), have appreciably influenced the course of human history, and, by virtue of a compassionate attitude towards the sick, also have contributed to the development of modern medicine. The eminence of Jesus as a historical figure and the suffering and controversy associated with his death have stimulated us to investigate, in an interdisciplinary manner, the circumstances surrounding his crucifixion. Accordingly, it is our intent to present not a theological treatise but rather a medically and historically accurate account of the physical death of the one called Jesus Christ. 


The source material concerning Christ's death comprises a body of literature and not a physical body or its skeletal remains. Accordingly, the credibility of any discussion of Jesus' death will be determined primarily by the credibility of one's sources. For this review, the source material includes the writings of ancient Christian and non-Christian authors, the writings of modern authors, and the Shroud of Turin. (1-40) Using the legal-historical method of scientific investigation, (27) scholars have established the reliability and accuracy of the ancient manuscripts. (26,27,29,31) 

The most extensive and detailed descriptions of the life and death of  Jesus are to be found in the New Testament gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. (1) The other 23 books of the New Testament support but do not expand on the details recorded in the gospels. Contemporary Christian, Jewish, and Roman authors provide additional insight concerning the first-century Jewish and Roman legal systems and the details of scourging and crucifixion. (5) Seneca, Livy, Plutarch, and others refer to crucifixion practices in their works. (8,28) Specifically, Jesus (or his crucifixion) is mentioned by the Roman historians Cornelius Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and Suetonius, by non-Roman historians Thallus and Phlegon, by the satirist Lucian of Samosata, by the Jewish Talmud, and by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, although the authenticity of portions of the latter is problematic. (26) The Shroud of Turin is considered by many to represent the actual burial cloth of Jesus, (22) and several publications concerning the medical aspects of his death draw conclusions from this assumption. (5,11) The Shroud of Turin and recent archaeological findings provide valuable information concerning Roman crucifixion practices. (22-24) The interpretations of modern writers, based on a knowledge of science and medicine not available in the first century, may offer additional insight concerning the possible mechanisms of Jesus' death. (2,17) When taken in concert, certain facts -- the extensive and early testimony of both Christian proponents and opponents, and their universal acceptance of Jesus as a true historical figure; the ethic of the gospel writers, and the shortness of the time interval between the events and the extant manuscripts; and the confirmation of the gospel accounts by historians and archaeological findings (26,27) -- ensure a reliable testimony from which a modern medical interpretation of Jesus' death may be made. 

Map of Jerusalem at time of Christ. 

Jesus left Upper room and walked with disciples to Mount of Olives and Garden of Gethsemane (1), where he was arrested and taken first to Annas and then to Caiaphas (2). After first trial before political Sanhedrin at Caiaphas' residence, Jesus was tried again before religious Sanhedrin, probably at Temple (3). next, he was taken to Pontius Pilate (4), who sent him to Herod Antipas (5). Herod returned Jesus to Pilate (6), and Pilate finally handed over Jesus for scourging at Fortress of Antonia and for crucifixion at Golgotha (7). 


After Jesus and his disciples had observed the Passover meal in an upper room in a home in southwest Jerusalem, they traveled to the Mount of Olives, northeast of the city. (Owing to various                   adjustments in the calendar, the years of Jesus' birth and death remain controversial. (29) However, it is likely that Jesus was born in either 4 or 6 BC and died in 30 AD. (11,29) During the Passover observance in 30 AD, the last Supper would have been observed on Thursday, April 6 [Nisan 13], and would have been crucified on Friday, April 7 [Nisan 14]. (29) ) At nearby Gethsemane, Jesus, apparently knowing that the time of his death was near, suffered great mental anguish, and, as described by the physician Luke, his sweat became like blood. (1)  Although this is a very rare phenomenon, bloody sweat (hematidrosis or hemohidrosis) may occur in highly emotional states or in persons with bleeding disorders. (18,20) As a result of hemorrhage into the sweat glands, the skin becomes fragile and tender. (2,11) Luke's descriptions supports the diagnosis of hematidrosis rather than eccrine                   chromidrosis (brown or yellow-green sweat) or stigmatization (blood oozing from the palms or  elsewhere). (18,21)  Although some authors have suggested that hematidrosis produced hypovolemia, we agree with Bucklin (5) that Jesus' actual blood loss probably was minimal. However, in the cold night air, (1) it may have produced chills. 

Jewish Trials

Soon after midnight, Jesus was arrested at Gethsemane by the temple officials and was taken first to Annas and then to Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest for that year.  (1) Between 1 AM and daybreak Jesus was tried before Caiaphas and the political Sanhedrin and was found guilty of blasphemy. (1) The guards then blindfolded Jesus, spat on him, and struck him in the face with their fists. (1) Soon after daybreak, presumably at the temple, Jesus was tried before the religious Sanhedrin (with the Pharisees and the Sadducees) and again was found guilty of blasphemy, a crime punishable by death. (1,5) 

Roman Trials

 Since permission for an execution had to come from the governing Romans, (1) Jesus was taken early in the morning by the temple officials to the Praetorium of the Fortress of Antonia, the residence and governmental seat of Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea. However, Jesus was presented to Pilate not as a blasphemer but rather as a self-appointed king who would undermine the Roman authority. (1)         Pilate made no charges against Jesus and sent him to Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Judea. (1) Herod  likewise made no official charges and then returned Jesus to Pilate. (1) Again, Pilate could find no basis for a legal charge against Jesus, but the people persistently demanded crucifixion. Pilate finally granted their demand and handed over Jesus to be flogged (scourged) and crucified. (McDowell (25) has reviewed the prevailing political, religious, and economic climates in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus' death, and Bucklin (5) has described the various illegalities of the Jewish and Roman trials.) 

Health of Jesus

       The rigors of Jesus' ministry (that is, traveling by foot throughout Palestine) would have precluded any major physical illness or a weak general constitution. Accordingly, it is reasonable to assume that Jesus was in good physical condition before his walk to Gethsemane. However, during the 12 hours between 9 PM Thursday and 9 AM Friday, he had suffered great emotional stress (as evidenced by hematidrosis), abandonment by his closest friends (the disciples), and a physical beating (after the first Jewish trial). Also, in the setting of a traumatic and sleepless night, had been forced to walk more than 2.5 miles (4.0 km) to and from the sites of the various trials. These physical and emotional factors may have rendered Jesus particularly vulnerable to the adverse hemodynamic effects of the scourging. 


 Left, Short whip (flagrum) with lead balls and sheep bones tied into leather thongs. Center left, Naked victim tied to flog-ging post. Deep stripe-like lacerations were usually associated with considerable blood loss.  Center right, View from above, showing position of lictors. 
Right, inferomedial direction of wounds.


Scourging Practices

Flogging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution, (28) and only women and Roman senators or soldiers (except in cases of desertion) were exempt. (11) The usual instrument was a short whip (flagrum or flagellum) with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals. Occasionally, staves also were used (8,12) For scourging, the man was stripped of his clothing, and his hands were tied to an upright post. (11) The back, buttocks, and legs were flogged either by two soldiers (lictors) or by one who alternated positions. (5,7,11,28) The severity of the scourging depended on the disposition of the lictors and was intended to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse or death. (8) After the scourging, the soldiers oten taunted their victim. (11) 

Medical Aspects of Scourging

As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim's back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous  tissues. (7) Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. (27,25) Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock. (12) The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim would survive on the cross. (3) 

Scourging of Jesus

At the Praetorium, Jesus was severely whipped. (Although the severity of the scourging is not discussed in the four gospel accounts, it is implied in one of the epistles (1 Peter 2:24). A detailed word study of the ancient Greek text for this verse indicates that the scourging of Jesus was particularly harsh. (33) ) It is not known whether the number of lashes was limited to 39, in accordance with Jewish law. (5) The Roman soldiers, amused that this weakened man had claimed to be a king, began to mock him by placing a robe on his shoulders, a crown of thorns on his head, and a wooden staff as a scepter in his right hand. (1) Next, they spat on Jesus and struck him on the head with the wooden staff. (1) Moreover, when the soldiers tore the robe from Jesus' back, they probably reopened the scourging  wounds. (7) 

The severe scourging, with its intense pain and appreciable blood loss, most probably left Jesus in a preshock state. Moreover, hematidrosis had rendered his skin particularly tender. The physical and mental abuse meted out by the Jews and the Romans, as well as the lack of food, water, and sleep, also contributed to his generally weakened state. Therefore, even before the actual crucifixion, Jesus' physical condition was at least serious and possibly critical. 

Cross and titulus.

Left, Victim carrying crossbar (patibulum) to site of upright post (stipes). Center, Low Tau cross (crux commissa), commonly used by Romans at time of Christ. 

Upper right, rendition of Jesus' titulus, with name and crime--Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews--written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. 

Lower right, Possible methods for attaching titulus to Tau cross (left) and latin cross (right). 

Crucifixion Practices

  Crucifixion probably first began among the Persians. (34)  Alexander the Great introduced the practice to Egypt and Carthage, and the Romans appear to have learned of it from theCarthaginans. (11)            Although the Romans did not invent crucifixion, they perfected it as a form of torture and capital punishment that was designed to produce a slow death with maximum pain and suffering. (10,17) It was one of the most disgraceful and cruel methods of execution and usually was reserved only for slaves, foreigners, revolutionaries, and the vilest of criminals. (3,25,28) Roman law usually protected Roman citizens from crucifixion, (5) except perhaps in the case of desertion by soldiers. 

In its earliest form in Persia, the victim was either tied to a tree or was tied to or impaled on an upright post, usually to keep the guilty victim's feet from touching holy ground. (3,11,30,34,38). Only later was a true cross used; it was characterized by an upright post (stipes) and a horizontal crossbar (patibulum), and it had several variations (11). Although archaeological and historical evidence strongly indicates that the low Tau cross was preferred by the Romans in Palestine at the time of Christ,  (2,7,11) crucifixion practices often varied in a given geographic region and in accordance with the imagination of the executioners, and the Latin cross and other forms also may have been used. (26) 

It was customary for the condemned man to carry his own cross from the flogging post to the site of crucifixion outside the city walls. (8,11,30) He was usually naked, unless this was prohibited by local customs. (11) Since the weight of the entire cross was probably well over 300 lb. (136 kg), only the crossbar was carried.  (11) The patibulum, weighing 75 to 125 lb. (34 to 57 kg), (11,30) was placed across the nape of the victim's neck and balanced along both shoulders. Usually, the outsetched arms then were tied to the crossbar.  (7,11) The processional to the site of crucifixion was led by a complete Roman military guard, headed by a centurion. (3,11) One of the soldiers carried a sign (titulus) on which the condemned man's name and crime were displayed. (3,11) Later, the titulus would be attached to the top of the cross. (11) The Roman guard would not leave the victim until they were sure of his death. (9,11)

                                                                                                                 Nailing of wrists.

 Left, Size of iron nail, Center,  Location of nail in wrist, between carpals and radius. Right, Cross section of wrist, at level of plane indicated at left, showing path of nail, with probable transection of median nerve and impalement of flexor pollicis longus, but without injury to major arterial trunks and without fractures of bones.

Outside the city walls was permanently located the heavy upright wooden stipes, on which the patibulum would be secured. In the case of the Tau cross, this was accomplished by means of a mortise and tenon joint, with or without reinforcement by ropes. (10,11,30) To prolong the crucifixion process, a horizontal wooden block or plank, serving as a crude seat (sedile or sedulum), often was attached midway down the stipes. (3,11,16) Only very rarely, and probably later than the time of Christ, was an additional block (suppedaneum) employed for transfixion of the feet. (9,11) 

At the site of execution, by law, the victim was given a bitter drink of wine mixed with myrrh (gall) as a mild analgesic. (7,17) The criminal was then thrown to the ground on his back, with his arms outstretched along the patibulum. (11) the hands could be nailed or tied to the crossbar, but nailing apparently was preferred by the Romans. (8,11) The archaeological remains of a crucified body, found in an ossuary near Jerusalem  and dating from the time of Christ, indicate that the nails were tapered iron spikes approximately 5 to 7 in (13 to 18 cm) long with a square shaft 3/8 in (1 cm) across. (23,24,30)  Furthermore, ossuary findings and the Shroud of Turin have documented that the nails commonly were driven through the wrists rather than the palms. (22-24,30) 

After both arms were fixed to the crossbar, the patibulum and the victim, together, were lifted onto the stipes. (11) On the low cross, four soldiers could accomplish this relatively easily. However, on the tall cross, the soldiers used either wooden forks or ladders. (11) 

Next, the feet were fixed to the cross, either by nails or ropes. Ossuary findings and the Shroud of Turin suggest that nailing was the preferred Roman practice. (23,24,30) Although the feet could be fixed to the sides of the stipes or to a wooden footrest (suppedaneum), they usually were nailed directly to the front of the stipes. (11) To accomplish this, flexion of the knees may have been quite prominent,  and the bent legs may have been rotated laterally (23-25,30) 

When the nailing was completed, the titulus was attached to the cross, by nails or cords, just above the victim's head. (11) The soldiers and the civilian crowd often taunted and jeered the condemned man, and the soldiers customarily divided up his clothes among themselves. (11,25) The length of survival generally ranged from three or four hours to three or four days and appears to have been inversely related to the severity of the scourging. (3,11) However, even if the scourging had        been relatively mild, the Roman soldiers could hasten death by breaking the legs below the knees (crurifragium or skelokopia). (3,11) 

Nailing of feet.

 Left, Position of feet atop one another and against stipes.

 Upper right, Location of nail in second intermetatarsal space. Lower right, Cross section of foot, at plane indicated at left, showing path of nail.

Not uncommonly, insects would light upon or burrow into the open wounds or the eyes, ears, and nose of the dying and helpless victim, and birds of prey would tear at these sites. (16) Moreover, it was customary to leave the corpse on the cross to be devoured by predatory animals. (3,11,12,28) 

However, by Roman law, the family of the condemned could take the body for burial, after obtaining permission from the Roman judge. (11) Since no one was intended to survive crucifixion, the body was not released to the family until the soldiers were sure that the victim was dead. By custom, one of the Roman guards would pierce the body with a sword or lance. (3,11) Traditionally, this had been considered a spear wound to the heart through the right side of the chest -- a fatal wound probably taught to most Roman  soldiers. (11) The Shroud of Turin documents this form of injury. (5,11,22)  Moreover, the standard infantry spear, which was 5 to 6 ft (1.5 to 1.8 m) long (30) could easily have reached the chest of a man crucified on the customary low cross. (11) 

Medical Aspects of Crucifixion

With a knowledge of both anatomy and ancient crucifixion practices, one may reconstruct the probably medical aspects of this form of slow execution. Each wound apparently was intended to produce intense agony, and the contributing causes of death were numerous. 

The scourging prior to crucifixion served to weaken the condemned man and, if blood loss was considerable, to produce orthostatic hypotension and even hypovolemic shock. (8, 12) When the victim was thrown to the ground on his back, in preparation for transfixion of his hands, his scourging wounds most likely would become torn open again and contaminated with dirt. (2,14) Furthermore, with each respiration, the painful scourging wounds would be scraped against the rough wood of the stipes. (7) As a result, blood loss from the back probably would continue throughout the crucifixion ordeal. 

With arms outstretched but not taut, the wrists were nailed to the patibulum. (7,11) It has been shown that the ligaments and bones of the wrist can support the weight of a body hanging from them, but the palms cannot. (11) Accordingly, the iron spikes probably were driven between the radius and the carpals or between the two rows of carpal bones, (2,10,11,30) either proximal to or through the strong bandlike flexor retinaculum and the various intercarpal ligaments. Although a nail in either location in the wrist might pass between the bony elements and thereby produce no fractures, the likelihood of painful periosteal injury would seem great. Furthermore, the driven nail would crush or sever the rather large sensorimotor median nerve. (2,7,11) The stimulated nerve would produce excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms. (7,9) Although the severed median nerve would result in paralysis of a portion of the hand, ischemic contractures and impalement of various ligaments by the iron spike might produce a clawlike grasp. 

Respirations during crucifixion

 Left, Inhalation. With elbows extended and shoulders abducted, respiratory muscles of inhalation are passively stretched and thorax is expanded.
 Right, Exhalation. With elbows flexed and shoulders abducted and with weight of body on nailed feet, exhalation is accomplished as active, rather than passive, process. Breaking legs below knees would place burden of exhalation on shoulder and arm    muscles alone and soon would result in exhaustion asphyxia.

Most commonly, the feet were fixed to the front of the stipes by means of an iron spike driven through the first or second intermetatarsal space, just distal to the tarsometatarssal joint. (2,5,8,11,30) It is likely that the deep peroneal nerve and branches of the medial and lateral plantar nerves would have been injured by the nails. Although scourging may have resulted in considerable blood loss, crucifixion per se was a relatively bloodless procedure, since no major arteries, other than perhaps the deep plantar arch, pass through the favored anatomic sites of transfixion. (2,10,11) 

The major pathophysiologic effect of crucifixion, beyond the excruciating pain, was a marked interference with normal respiration, particularly exhalation. The weight of the body, pulling down on the outstretched arms and shoulders, would tend to fix the intercostal muscles in an inhalation state and thereby hinder passive exhalation. (2,10,11) Accordingly, exhalation was primarily diaphragmatic, and breathing was shallow. It is likely that this form of respiration would not suffice and that hypercarbia would soon result. The onset of muscle cramps or tetaniccontractions, due to fatigue and hypercarbia, would hinder respiration even further. (11) 

Adequate exhalation required lifting the body by pushing up on the feet and by flexing the elbows and adducting the shoulders. (2) However, this maneuver would place the entire weight of the body on the tarsals and would produce searing pain. (7) Furthermore, flexion of the elbows would cause rotation of the wrists about the iron nails and cause fiery pain along the damaged median nerves. (7) Lifting of the body would also painfully scrape the scourged back against the rough wooden stipes. (2,7) Muscle cramps and paresthesias of the outstretched and uplifted arms would add to the discomfort. (7) As a result, each respiratory effort would become agonizing and tiring and lead eventually to asphyxia. (2,3,7,10) 

The actual cause of death by crucifixion was multifactorial and varied somewhat with each case, but the two most prominent causes probably were hypovolemic shock and exhaustion asphyxia. 2,3,7,10)  Other possible contributing factors included dehydration, (7,16) stress-induced arrhythmias, (3) and congestive heart failure with the rapid accumulation of pericardial and perhaps pleural effusions. (2,7,11) Crucifracture (breaking the legs below the knees), if performed, led to an asphyxic death within minutes.  (11) Death by crucifixion was, in every sense of the word, excruciating (Latin, excruciatus, or "out of the cross"). 


After the scourging and the mocking, at about 9 AM, the Roman soldiers put Jesus' clothes back on him and then led him and two thieves to be crucified. (1) Jesus apparently was so weakened by the severe flogging that he could not carry the patibulum from the Praetorium to the site of the crucifixion one third of a mile (600 to 650 m) away (1,3,5,7) Simon of Cyrene was summoned to carry Christ's cross, and the processional then made its way to Golgotha (or Calvary), an established crucifixion site. 

    Here, Jesus' clothes, except for a linen loincloth, again were removed, thereby probably reopening the scourging wounds. He then was offered a drink of wine mixed with myrrh (gall) but, after tasting it, refused the drink. (1) Finally,  Jesus and the two thieves were crucified. Although scriptural references are made to nails in the hands (1), these are not at odds with the archaeologicalevidence of wrist wounds, since the ancients customarily considered the wrist to be a part of the hand. (7,11)  The titulus was attached above Jesus' head. It is unclear whether Jesus was crucified on the Tau cross or the Latin cross; archaeological findings favor the former (11) and early tradition the latter. (38) The fact that Jesus later was offered a drink of wine vinegar from a sponge placed on the stalk of the hssop plant (1) (approximately 20 in, or 50 cm long) strongly supports the belief that Jesus was crucified on the  short cross. 

The soldiers and the civilian crowd taunted Jesus throughout the crucifixion ordeal, and the soldiers cast lots for his clothing. (1) Christ spoke seven times from the cross. (1) Since speech occurs during exhalation, these short, terse utterances must have been particularly difficult and painful. At about 3 PM that Friday, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, bowed his head, and died. (1) The  Roman soldiers and onlookers recognized his moment of death. (1) 

Since the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the crosses after sunset, the beginning of the Sabbath, they asked Pontius Pilate to order crucifracture to hasten the deaths of the three crucified men. (1) The soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves, but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. (1) Rather, one of the soldiers pierced his side, probably with an infantry spear, and produced a sudden flow of  blood and water. (1) Later that day, Jesus' body was taken down from  the cross and placed in a tomb. (1) 

Spear wound to chest.

Left, Probable path of spear. Right, Cross section of thorax, at level of plane indicated at left, showing structures perforated by spear. LA indicates left atrium; LV, left ventricle; RA, right atrium; RV, right ventricle.


Two aspects of Jesus' death have been the source of great controversy, namely, the nature of  the wound in his side (4,6) and the cause of his death after only several hours on the cross. (13-17). The gospel of John describes the piercing of Jesus' side and emphasizes the sudden flow of blood and water. (1) Some authors have interpreted the flow of water to be ascites (12) or urine, from an abdominal midline perforation of the bladder. (15) However, the Greek word (pleura (32,35,,36) used by          John clearly denoted laterality and often implied the ribs. (6,32,36) 

Therefore, it seems probable that the wound was in the thorax and well away from the abdominal  midline. Although the side of the wound was not designated by John, it traditionally has been depicted on the right side. (4) Supporting this traditions is the fact that a large flow of blood would be more likely with a perforation of the distended and thin-walled right atrium or ventricle than the thick-walled and contracted left ventricle. Although the side of the wound may never be established with certainty, the right seems more probable than the left. 

Some of the skepticism in accepting John's description has arisen from the difficulty in explaining, with medical accuracy, the flow of both blood and water. Part of this difficulty has been based on the assumption that the blood appeared first, then the water. However, in the ancient Greek, the order of words generally denoted prominence and not necessarily a time sequence. (37) Therefore, it seems likely that John was emphasizing the prominence of blood rather than its appearance preceding the water. 

Therefore, the water probably represented serous pleural and pericardial fluid, (5-7,11) and would have preceded the flow of blood and been smaller in volume than the blood. Perhaps in the setting of  hypovolemia and impending acute heart failure, pleural and pericardial effusions may have developed and would have added to the volume of apparent water. (5,11) The blood, in contrast, may have originated from the right atrium or the  right ventricle or perhaps from a hemopericardium. (5,7,11) 

Jesus' death after only three to six hours on the cross surprised even Pontius Pilate. (1) The fact that Jesus cried out in a loud voice and then bowed his head and died suggests the possibility of a catastrophic terminal event. One popular explanation has been that Jesus died of cardiac rupture. In the setting of the scourging and crucifixion, with associated hypovolemia, hypoxemia, and perhaps and altered poagulable state, friable non-infective thrombotic vegetations could have formed on the aortic or mitral valve. These then could have dislodged and embolized into the coronary circulation and thereby produced an acute transmural myocardial infarction. Thrombotic valvular vegetations have been reported to develop under analogous acute traumatic conditions. (39) Rupture of the left ventricular free wall may occur, though uncommonly, in the first few hours following infarction.  (40) 

However, another explanation may be more likely. Jesus' death may have been hastened simply by his state of exhaustion and by the severity of the scourging, with its resultant blood loss and preshock state. (7) The fact that he could not carry his patibulum supports this interpretation. The actual cause of  Jesus' death, like that of other crucified victims, may have been multifactorial and related primarily to hypovolemic shock, exhaustion asphyxia, and perhaps acute heart failure. (2,3,5-7,10,11) A fatal cardiac arrhythmia may have accounted for the apparent catastrophic terminal event. 

Thus, it remains unsettled whether Jesus died of cardiac rupture or of cardiorespiratory failure. However, the important feature may be not how he died but rather whether he died. Clearly, the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to his side was  inflicted and supports the traditional view that the spear, thrust between his right ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured his death. Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge. 


     1) Matthew 26:17-27:61, Mark 14:12-15:47, Luke 22:7-23:56, John 13:1-19:42, the "The Holy Bible"  (New International Version). Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1978. 

     2)  Lumpkin R: The physical suffering of Christ. "J Med Assoc Ala" 1978;47:8-10,47. 

     3) Johnson CD: Medical and cardiological aspects of the passion and crucifixion of Jesus, the Christ.” Bol Assoc Med PR" 1978;70:97-102. 

     4) Barb AA: The wound in Christ's side. "J Warbury Courtauld Inst" 1971;34:320-321. 

     5) Bucklin R: The legal and medical aspects of the trial and death of Christ. "Sci Law" 1970; 10:14-26. 

      6) Mikulicz-Radecki FV: The chest wound in the crucified Christ. "Med News" 1966;14:30-

     7) Davis CT: The crucifixion of Jesus: The passion of Christ from a medical point of view. "Ariz Med" 1965;22:183-187. 

      8)Tenney SM: On death by crucifixion. "Am Heart J" 1964;68:286-287. 

      9) Bloomquist ER: A doctor looks at crucifixion. "Christian Herald", March 1964, pp 35 46-48. 

     10) DePasquale NP, Burch GE: Death by crucifixion. "Am Heart J" 1963;6:434-435. 

     11) Barbet P: "A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ as Described by a Surgeon", Earl of Wicklow (trans). Garden City, NY, Doubleday Image Books, 1953, pp 12-18, 37-147, 159-175, 187-208. 

     12) Primrose WB: A surgeon looks at the crucifixion. "Hibbert J" 1949, pp 382-388. 

     13) Bergsma S: did Jesus die of a broken heart? "Calvin Forum" 1948;14:163-167. 

     14) Whitaker JR: The physical cause of the death of our Lord. "Cath Manchester Guard" 1937;15:83-91. 

     15) Clark CCP: What was the physical cause of the death of Jesus Christ? "Med Rec" 1890; 38:543. 

     16) Cooper HC: The agony of death by crucifixion. "NY Med J" 883:38:150-153. 

     17) Shroud W: "Treatise on the Physical Cause of the Death of Christ and Its Relation to the Principles and Practice of Christianity" ed 2. London, Hamilton & Adams, 1871, pp 28-156, 489-494. 

     18) Allen AC: "The Skin: A Clinicopathological Treatise", ed 2. New York, Grune & Stratton Inc,                    1967, pp 745-747. 

     19) Sutton RL Jr: "Diseases of the Skin", ed 11. St Louis, CV Mosby Co, 1956, pp 1393-1394. 

     20) Scott CT: A case of haematidrosis. "Br Med J" 1918;1:532-533. 

     21) Klauder JV: Stigmatization. "Arch Dermatol Syphilol" 1938;37:650-659. 

     22) Weaver KF: The mystery of the shroud. "Natl Geogr" 1980;157:730-753. 

     23) Tzaferis V: Jewish tombs at and near Giv'at ha-Mivtar, Jerusalem. "Israel Explor J" 1970;20:38-59. 

     24) Haas N: Anthropological observations on the skeletal remains from Giv'at ha-Mivtar. "Israel Explor J" 1970;20:38-59. 

       25) McDowell J: "The Resurrection Factor" San Bernardino, Calif, Here's Life Publishers, 1981, pp 20-53, 75-103. 

       26) McDowell J: "Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Historical Evidence for the Christian Faith."  San Bernardino, Calif, Here's Life Publishers, 1979, pp 39-87, 41-263. 

       27) McDowell J: "More Than a Carpenter" Wheaton, Ill, Tyndale House Publishers, 1977, pp 36-71, 89-100. 

       28) Hengel M: "Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the folly of the Message of the Cross" Bowden J (trans) Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1977, pp 22-45, 86-90. 

       29) Ricciotti G: "The Life of Christ" Zizzamia AI (trans). Milwaukee, Bruce Publishing Co, 1947, pp 29-57, 78-153, 161-167, 586-647. 

       30) Pfeiffer CF, Vos HF, Rea J (eda): "Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia." Chicago Moody Press, 1975, pp 149-152, 404-405, 713-723, 1173,1174, 150-1523. 

      31) Greenleaf S: "An Examination of the Testimony of the four Evangelists by the Rules of  Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice." Grand Rapids, Mich, Baker Book House, 1965,  p. 29. 

       32) Hatch E, Redpath HA: "A Concordance to the Septuagint and the Other Greek Versions of the Old Testament (Including the Apocryphal Books) Graz, Austria, Akademische Druce U                         Verlagsanstalt, 1975, p 1142. 

       33) Wuest KS: "Wuest Word Studies From the Greek New Testament for the English Reader."  Grand Rapids, Mich. WB Eerdmans Publisher, 1973, vol 1, p 280. 

       34) Friedrich G: "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament", Bremiley G (ed-trans). Grand  Rapids, Mich. WB Eerdmans Publisher, 1971, vol 7, pp 572,573,632. 

       35) Aradt WF, Gingrich FW: "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature." University of Chicago Press, 1057, p 673. 

       36) Brown F, Driver SR, Briggs CA: "A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament With  an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic." Oxford, England, Clarendon Press, 1953, pp 841, 854. 

        37) Robertson AT: "A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research." Nashville, Tenn, Broadman Press, 1931, pp 417-427. 

        38) Jackson SM (ed): "The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge." New York, Funk & Wagnalls, 1909, pp312-314. 

        39) Kim H-S, Suzuki M, Lie JT, et al: Nonbacterial thrombotic endocarditis (NBTE) and  disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC): Autopsy study of 36 patients. "Arch Pathol Lab Med" 1977;101:65-68. 

       40) Becker AE, van Mantgem J-P: Cardiac tamponade: A study of 50 hearts. "Eur J Cardiol" 1975;3:349-358. 

Reprint requests to Department of Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester,  MN 55905 (Dr. Edwards) 

                              Copyright 1986, American Medical Association 

                                   By Permission of Mayo Foundation 


     I have included the final few articles in this study because, if nothing else, they clearly demonstrate that as opposed to disproving the accounts of Jesus’ life death and resurrection, modern science, when honestly and objectively applied, appears to be confirming more and more of the Biblical account. As I stated at the outset of this study, a believer’s faith does not need to stand or fall upon the discoveries of modern science. However, as time goes by, it is interesting to note that science and archeology continue to substantiate the historical accuracy of Scripture.



The Man of the cloth

By Mary Jo Anderson
© 2001 WorldNetDaily.com

  The first thing you notice is that the linen is so ordinary. An eggshell-colored rectangle of coarse linen, now dirty and discolored with blood, lymph and sweat, it is nonetheless a remarkable testament of the passion of Jesus Christ. The Sudarium Domini is that other burial cloth described in the Gospel of John, "He saw the linen cloths lying there and the cloth which had been around Jesus' head. It was not lying with the linen cloths, but was rolled up by itself" (John 20:6-7). 

The Sudarium, say researchers, authenticates the more widely known Shroud of Turin, a 14-foot swath of fine linen believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. The Shroud of Turin is familiar to believers and non- believers alike, yet few know of the existence of this separate cloth that has lain for centuries in a tiny chapel in the principality of Asturias, in northern Spain. The linen has only recently captured the interest of the scientific world. Hidden from view for more than a thousand years, the Sudarium surfaces at the dawn of the third millennium, thrusting into the modern  world fresh testimony of the suffering and death of a crucified man. 

After journalistic investigations into the "Cloth of Oviedo," as the Sudarium is also known, I departed on Ash Wednesday for Oviedo, Spain, to personally view the cloth that few have ever  seen. Last summer I had traveled to Spain to interview the dean of the cathedral of San Salvador, Don Rafael Somoano, who explained how history and medical science have been unraveling the testimony of the Sudarium. On that occasion it was not possible to view the ancient cloth that contains the Blood of Christ. So profound was my disappointment that it seemed a physical blow.

Unexpectedly, in February I received an invitation to return to Oviedo to see the Sudarium.  During the Ash Wednesday flight, I re-read Mark Guscin's "The Oviedo Cloth," as well as material on the passion: "The Day Christ Died" and the essay from the Mayo Clinic, "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ." In particular, I noted all the injuries to the head and face, since the Sudarium had been wrapped around his head while Jesus was still upright on the cross. 

The mind recoils at the brutality inflicted on this victim -- whomever one believes him to be.  Blood first fell from his brow in the garden at Gethsemane. In deeply human distress, Christ experienced the rare phenomenon of hematidrosis, when capillaries burst and blood and sweat mix. During interrogation by Caiaphas, the high priest, Jesus was spat upon and repeatedly struck on the head and face. (Mark 15:65) 

The lacerations on the lower neck, back, buttocks and legs from the scourging left torn muscles gaping open and his flesh weeping blood. Medical evidence indicates two soldiers, standing on opposite sides of their victim, beat Christ. The patterns of the scourge marks are visible on the Shroud of Turin. The whips, a flagrum with lead balls or sheep bone tied to the tips of the leather thongs, slashed into the subcutaneous tissue. 

Crowning with thorns was not a typical practice -- it seems to have been reserved for this  singular victim -- as no record exists that reports its use before or after Christ. Descriptions of the crown of thorns -- more, a helmet of thorns -- cause one to cringe in sympathy with such agony. Spikes an inch or more in length were hammered into the scalp. 

In the hushed Camara Santa, a small chapel dating from the ninth century, the priest set the Sudarium on top of its silver reliquary. The pattern of reddish bloody stains and the pale sepia stains of mixed blood and lymph cover areas where scabbed blood is clearly visible. The eye is drawn to small dots off to one side. I recalled what Guscin had written: "Shortly after death, the Sudarium was wrapped round the head in the following way: It was positioned beginning at the back of the head, where wounds  were caused by sharp objects. …" Piercing thorns wounded his head; this cloth holds the very blood that oozed from that mocking crown. Centuries fall away and breathing ceases: I am gazing upon the Blood of Jesus Christ. 

Herodotus, historian of the ancient world, writes that crucifixion was a grisly practice employed by the Persian king, Darius. Alexander the Great crucified 2,000 victims at the siege of Tyre. From the 20th century discovery of the Qumran scrolls, we have the Pesher of Nahum (Qumran Cave 4) that reveals that the Essenes, a Jewish sect, also practiced crucifixion. Jewish law called for the penalty of "hanging on a tree" as punishment for blasphemy or idolatry. Cicero named crucifixion as the supreme punishment, and the public spectacle of such a cruel death was meant to subdue the people. Our English word "excruciating" is derived from the agony suffered during crucifixion. 

The second century A.D. Roman historian, Tacitus, recorded that "Nero fabricated scapegoats and punished ... Christians. Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius' reign by the governor of Judaea, Pontius Pilatus." The gospel relates that Pilate tried to release Jesus, asking, "What evil hath he done? I find him not guilty," but that the crowd shouted for the release of Barabbas. "Bar-abbas" means "son of a father." At the fulcrum of history, the Son of God is condemned and rejected while everyman's son, a convicted rebel and murderer, is preferred by the mob. The guilty man is unchained and the Son of God takes his place. 

The news of CNN founder Ted Turner's Ash Wednesday gaffe greeted my return. "What are  you, a bunch of Jesus freaks?" Turner accused his employees. The crowd is still urged to choose Barabbas instead of Christ. 

Today, as in the time of Jesus' passion, conflicting messages vie for the attention of the masses. Tuesday of Holy Week, the Dutch senate passed a bill legalizing euthanasia. But in France, a simple annual ceremony at Sainte Chappele, built by King Louis IX to protect a fragment of the crown of thorns, draws pilgrims from throughout Europe. The king brought the fragment to France from his journeys to the Holy Land during the crusades. The young are especially silent and reflective as they file pass this artifact of the crucifixion. 

In England, where human embryos are approved for scientific experiments, an Anglican minister sees the shadow of the fifth plague of Egypt in the bovine bonfires dotting his nation, now terrified by mad cow disease. Yet, an April 10 Church of England Newspaper article reports that a fragment of the titulus cruces (Latin for title board) that Pilate had affixed to the cross of Jesus, has been kept in the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome. It was discovered in 1492 during the restoration of a 5th century mosaic that depicts "the legendary discovery of the True Cross in Jerusalem by the          Empress Helena," mother of Emperor Constantine the Great (326 A.D.). 

Recently, that walnut board was studied by Carsten Thiede, a German New Testament scholar who believes the evidence supports dating the titulus at the time of Jesus' crucifixion. Thiede, who teaches at the Ben-Gurion University in Israel and British journalist, Matthew D'Ancona, wrote a book, "The Quest for the True Cross." The book details their study of the titulus. They wrote, "What is certain is that this relic is one of the most potentially important in the Christian world." The titulus has three lines written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin containing part of the phrase "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." 

Their book was the stimulus for an Icon Films documentary on the fragment aired in Britain on Palm Sunday. Icon was granted unprecedented access to the fragment; the Santa Croce monks removed the glass plates so that the TV crew could film the lettering at close range. Interestingly, the Greek and Latin lines are written backwards, perhaps by a Hebrew scribe who would think that to be correct, as it is in Hebrew language. Thiede claims that is not a mistake a fraudulent relic monger would make, since no patron would settle for such an obvious error. 

There is something providential about the re-examination of many of the artifacts of the crucifixion that have survived into the third millennium. The Scripture says, "They shall look upon Him whom they have pierced." Forensic scientists, historians, NASA experts, artists, medical specialists and others have laid before the contemporary world sufficient evidence of that "pierced one. " Our age is not  deprived of the evidence recorded in the gospels of the man who asked, "Who do you say that I am?" 

Josephus, the Jewish historian (A.D. 37-100), wrote of Jesus: "Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man: for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive truth with pleasure. … He was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, condemned him to the cross … he appeared alive again on the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold." 
Mary Jo Anderson is a contributing reporter to WorldNetDaily.     © 2001 WorldNetDaily.com, Inc. 




Scientists: Relic authenticates Shroud of Turin
Exhaustive tests show sacred cloth much older than carbon-14 date

By Mary Jo Anderson

© 2000 WorldNetDaily.com 

OVIEDO, Spain -- Scientists and forensic specialists gathered in Oviedo, Spain, this week to examine an obscure relic that many have claimed authenticates the Shroud of Turin -- believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. 

The Sudarium of Oviedo is reportedly the other linen cloth found in the tomb of Christ, as described in the Gospel of John. The relic, whose dramatic history is intertwined with the Knights Templar, Moors, El Cid, saints and bishops, has been in Spain since 631 A.D. 

Meanwhile, in Turin, Italy, the last pilgrims of the Jubilee Year are winding their way past the Shroud of Turin before the exhibit closes on October 23. 

Verses 5-8 of the 20th chapter of "The Gospel According to St. John" records, "... he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths, but rolled up in a separate place." This head cloth, the sudarium, has become the focus of increasing debates over the validity of the carbon-14 tests on the Shroud of Turin. The carbon-dating tests set the age of the shroud in the 13th century, which would make the Shroud of Turin a pious icon at best, a clever fraud at worst. 

However, the scientific community is divided over the shroud dates because -- with the exception of the carbon dating tests -- medical, artistic, forensic and botanical evidence favors the authenticity of the shroud of Turin as the burial cloth of Jesus. 

One example of microscopic testing that supports the Shroud as authentic is the 1978 sample of dirt taken from the foot region of the burial linen. The dirt was analyzed at the Hercules Aerospace Laboratory in Salt Lake, Utah, where experts identified crystals of travertine argonite, a relatively rare form of calcite found near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. It is a stretch, say researchers, that a 13th century forger would have known to take the trouble to impregnate the linen with marble dust found near Golgotha in order to fool scientists six hundred years later. 

The debate over the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin is elevated by the new discoveries resulting from the studies on the Sudarium of Oviedo. Unlike the Shroud, the Sudarium, which covered the face of Christ for a short time before the body was wrapped in the longer burial cloth, does not carry an image of a man. Instead, the cloth, held against a face of a man who had been beaten about the head, shows a distinct facial impression and pattern of stains. The cloth is impregnated with blood and lymph stains that match the blood type on the Shroud of Turin. The pattern and measurements of stains indicate the placement of the cloth over the face. 

These patterns have been extensively mapped to enable researchers to compare the markings and measurements with those of the Shroud of Turin. These measurements and calculations, digitized videos and other forensic evidence indicate that the Sudarium of Oviedo covered the same head whose image is found on the Shroud of Turin. 

Part of Jewish burial custom was to cover the face of the dead, sparing the family further distress. The sudarium, from the Latin for "face cloth," would have been wrapped over the head of the crucified Christ awaiting permission from Pontius Pilate to remove the body. Stains made at that time indicate a vertical position with the head at an angle. There are stains from deep puncture wounds on the portion of the cloth covering the back of the head, consistent with those puncture marks found on the Shroud of Turin, theoretically made by the caplet of thorns. 

A separate set of stains, superimposed upon the first set, was made when the crucified man was laid horizontally and lymph flowed out from the nostrils. The composition of the stains, say the Investigation Team from the Spanish Centre for Sindology, who began the first sudarium studies in 1989, is one part blood -- type AB -- and six parts pulmonary oedema fluid. This fluid is significant, say researchers, because it indicates that the man died from asphyxiation, the cause of death for victims of crucifixion. 

Recently, Dr. Alan Whanger, professor emeritus of Duke University, employed his Polarized Image Overlay Technique to study correlations between the Shroud and the Sudarium. Dr. Whanger found 70 points of correlation on the front of the sudarium and 50 on the back. 

"The only reasonable conclusion," says Mark Guscin, author of "The Oviedo Cloth," "is that the Sudarium of Oviedo covered the same head as that found on the Shroud of Turin." Guscin, a British scholar whose study is the only English language book on the Sudarium, told WorldNetDaily, "This can be uncomfortable for scientists with a predetermined viewpoint; I mean, the evidence grows that this cloth and the Shroud covered the same tortured man." 

Guscin also points to pollen studies done by Max Frei of Switzerland. Specific pollens from Palestine are found in both relics, while the Sudarium has pollen from Egypt and Spain that is not found on the Shroud. Conversely, pollen grains from plant species indigenous to Turkey are imbedded in the Shroud, but not the Sudarium, supporting the theory of their different histories after leaving Jerusalem. 

The significance of the Sudarium to the Shroud, in addition to the forensic evidence, is that the history of the Sudarium is undisputed. While the history of the Shroud is veiled in the mists of the Middle Ages, the Sudarium was a revered relic preserved from the days of the crucifixion. 

A simple cloth of little value, other than that it contained the Blood of Christ, the Sudarium accompanied a presbyter named Philip and other Christians fleeing Palestine in 616 A.D. ahead of the Persian invasion. Passing through Alexandria, Egypt, and into Spain at Cartegena, the oak chest containing the Sudarium was entrusted to Leandro, bishop of Seville. In 657 it was moved to Toledo, then in 718 on to northern Spain to escape the advancing Moors. 

The Sudarium was hidden in the mountains of Asturias in a cave known as Montesacro until king Alfonso II, having battled back the Moors, built a chapel in Oviedo to house it in 840 AD. The most riveting date in the Sudarium's history is March 14, 1075. On this date, King Alfonso VI, his sister and Rodrigo Diaz Vivar (El Cid) opened the chest after days of fasting. This official act of the king was recorded and the document is preserved in the Capitular Archives at the Cathedral of San Salvador in Oviedo. The King had the oak chest covered in silver and an inscription added which reads, "The Sacred Sudarium of Our Lord Jesus Christ." 

Juan Ignacio Moreno, a Spanish magistrate based in Burgos, Spain, asks the critical question. "The scientific and medical studies on the Sudarium prove that it was the covering for the same man whose image is [on] the Shroud of Turin. We know that the Sudarium has been in Spain since the 600s. How, then, can the radio carbon dating claiming the Shroud is only from the 13th century be accurate?" 

Mary Jo Anderson is a contributing reporter to WorldNetDaily.




Evidence favors Shroud of Turin as real thing
Historic exhibition closes; carbon-14 confirms relics of St. Luke

By Mary Jo Anderson

© 2000 WorldNetDaily.com 

The Jubilee exhibition of the Shroud of Turin has closed after the longest public exhibition of the artifact in this century. During the 10 weeks that the ancient linen, carrying a mysterious image of a crucified man, hasbeen on display in Turin, Italy, millions of believers and skeptics alike have gazed on the tortured figure that some claim is Jesus of Nazareth. 

Scientific debate over the authenticity of the Shroud continues amid new reports of the carbon-14 confirmation on the relics of St. Luke the Evangelist in Padua, Italy. 

At the heart of the Shroud controversy is the validity of the carbon dating performed on three samples snipped from the Shroud in April 1988. The samples were taken from the front foot area of the14-foot-long linen, on which the faint image is laid out in a head to head, dorsal and frontal view. Three international laboratories were selected to run the newly refined accelerated mass spectrometry (AMS) method of carbon dating: Oxford University's Research Laboratory for Archeology and the History of Art, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the University of Arizona at Tucson. On Oct. 13,1988, the long-awaited press conference revealed that all three labs concurred: The Shroud was dated 1260-1390 AD. 

Many in the academic and scientific community were stunned. Earlier scientific examinations, medical and historical studies had placed the Shroud in the first century. Some called into question the integrity of the samples -- had they been cut from an area charred during a fire in 1532, thus compromising the carbon testing? Others even questioned whether there were hidden motives among the lab researchers -- after all, the dates were suspiciously close to the historical date when the revered linen was first discovered in Europe during the 1350s in the sleepy hamlet of Lirey, France. 

In the decade since that carbon dating threw Shroud research into a new whirl of studies, additional evidence now calls into question the process of carbon dating on certain materials -- textiles in particular. 

A fascinating finding comes from Dr. Leoncio A. Garza-Valdes of the University of Texas. The author of "The DNA of God," Garza-Valdes notes that a biopolymer coating manufactured by bacteria and fungus is notoriously difficult to clean. This calcium carbonate varnish-like substance compromises any accurate dating of the linen fibers that are coated with the material. Garza-Valdes claims the coating continues to be produced on the surface of the Shroud. Some scientists have objected to his findings, although the inventor of AMS, Dr. Harry Gove, concurs. 

Those researchers whose own disciplines point to the Shroud as an authentic artifact of the first century call into question a near religious fervor for the accuracy of carbon dating. Famous and often hilarious examples are cited that credibly argue that carbon dating may be among the least accurate methodologies for assessing the age of the Shroud. 

An example comes from the Swiss lab that participated in the carbon-14 dating on the Shroud. Dr. Wolfli, head of the lab, ran a C-14 test on his mother-in-law's 50-year-old tablecloth. The results of the C-14 test set the age of the textile at 350 years old! Dr. Wolfli theorizes that soaps were the compromising factor. The University of Arizona lab has had its own C-14 gaffs. It dated a Viking horn as a "back to the future" anomaly: 2006 AD. 

Dating debates aside, some that would debunk the Shroud as a medieval fraud claim that it is a painted image -- a claim that is quickly dispatched by simple investigations. The mystery of how the Shroud image was created lies elsewhere. The reddish oxide found on the Shroud is not paint, according to x-ray fluorescent analysis. Famous artists have attempted to paint in a manner that re-creates the 3-D effect seen on the Shroud, all to no avail. The linen has no brush strokes, no pigments. 

Furthermore, forensic evidence confirms that the red stains are blood, type AB, and that this blood has elevated levels of bilirubin, presumably caused by the trauma of scourging. Drs. John Heller of the New England Institute and Alan Adler of Western Connecticut State ran a series of blood studies. Pathologists employing immunochemistry confirmed their work. 

Another historical cloth, the Sudarium of Oviedo, known from the first century as being the face cloth of the entombed Christ also contains bloodstains -- type AB. 

Modern medical investigations yield a vast amount of physiological information that was unknown in the Middle Ages. The medical studies on the image of the "Man of the Shroud" reveal a bloody and brutal death. Careful review of the angles of the flow of blood from certain wounds indicates an impossible accuracy for a painted, flat image. Clearly, the image is derived from a real body. Enhanced magnifications of the wounds on the back uncover dumb-bell shaped pellet marks, consistent with the scourging whips used by Roman soldiers, wounds that fall in precise relationship to the contours of the body, over the shoulders and around the sides. 

Most startling for a layman is the anatomical accuracy of the "disappearing thumbs." On the Shroud image, the victim lies with his hands crossed over the lower abdomen. The natural position would expose at least one thumb. However, when a spike is driven through median nerve of the wrist the thumb jerks back into the palm. French surgeon Pierre Barbet, an early researcher, asks, "Could a forger have imagined this?" 

Some skeptics have argued from the scriptures that the Shroud cannot be that of Jesus of Nazareth because the linen is not typical of the burial cloths used in first century Jewish custom. The gospel of John, in describing Lazarus, says, "The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings ... " (John 11:44). However, the gospels indicate that Joseph of Arimathea "took the body down, wrapped it in a linen sheet ... the Sabbath was about to begin. ... The women ... went back home and prepared the spices for the body" (Luke 243: 53-56). Exegetes point out that because the Sabbath was upon them, the body of Jesus was not finished according to custom, which is why Mary Magdalene returned early on Sunday (Luke 24:1) -- to dress the body according to custom. 

Believers point to St.Luke himself, confirming from the grave as it were, that some mysteries of faith have been left to the modern secular era. The relics of the Greek physician, Luke, have been reposing in the Basilica of St. Justina in Padua, Italy. The body of the evangelist was taken to Constantinople during reign of the emperor Constantius in the fourth century. Crusaders are credited with moving the relics to Padua. 

Archbishop Antonio Malttiazzo of Padua commissioned a study of the remains of the skeleton two years ago. In a report released this week, scientists and historians, geneticists and biologists, assembled in Padua at an international congress on St. Luke to review their findings. 

"Science, of course, will not be able to tell us with absolute certainty about its credibility," the secretary-general of the congress, Father Gianandrea di Donna, remarked. "However, we can say that the results obtained, thanks to this scientific study, do not deny the secular tradition regarding the saint's
remains," he said. 

The scientists' carbon-14 testing dated the skeleton to the first century of the Christian era. 

Mary Jo Anderson is a contributing reporter to WorldNetDaily. 


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