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
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.
END OF ARTICLE
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
E V I D E N C E FOR THE RESURRECTION
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
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:
FACT #1: BROKEN ROMAN SEAL
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.
FACT #2: EMPTY TOMB
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."
FACT #3: LARGE STONE MOVED
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?
FACT #4: ROMAN GUARD GOES AWOL
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."
FACT #5: GRAVECLOTHES TELL A TALE
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.
FACT #6: JESUS' APPEARANCES CONFIRMED
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
THE WRONG TOMB?
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?
DID JESUS SWOON?
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."
THE BODY STOLEN?
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
END OF ARTICLE
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 by 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
(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
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
END OF ARTICLE
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,
Durant, Will, The Story of Civilization, Simon and Schuster, New York,
Josephus, Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids,
END OF ARTICLE
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
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 Panthéra (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; your Sabbath-breaker,
your Samaritan, 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!”
 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.
 Samaritan. Thanks to Mike Sassanian for reminding me of John 8:48 where
Jesus is called a Samaritan and accused of being demon posessed.
 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,
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] =
In the year 3671 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.
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. 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. After this became known, it was necessary for Yeshu to flee
to Upper Galilee.
After King Jannaeus, his wife Helene 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.
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
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; there Yeshu
remained until the eve of the Passover.
 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 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
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,
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.
 About 90, BC. [G]
 Some traditions say 'Egypt'. [AH]
 Sexual impurity (incest, adultery, prostitution, etc.). [AH]
 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]
 Salome Alexandra. [G]
 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]
 Some traditions say 'Egypt'. [G]
 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.
 Aramaic: Ga'isa. [G]
 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.,
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,
Pines, Shlomo. An Arabic version of the Testimonium Flavianum and its implications.
Jerusalem, Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1971.
END OF ARTICLE
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
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
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
"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.
END OF ARTICLE
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
ON THE PHYSICAL DEATH OF JESUS
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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 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 the Carthaginans. (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
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 outstretched 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.
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
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").
CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS
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
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.
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.
DEATH OF JESUS
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.
Thererefore, 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.
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
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"
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"
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,
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
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,
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
35) Aradt WF, Gingrich FW: "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
and Other Early Christian Literature." University of Chicago Press, 1057,
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
END OF ARTICLE
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.
FRIDAY APRIL 13 2001
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
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
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.
END OF ARTICLE
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2000
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
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
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
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.
END OF ARTICLE
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2000
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:
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
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
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.
END OF ARTICLE