The four gospel
accounts do not describe the crucifixion of Jesus with much detail. Most
likely the Roman practice of crucifixion and scourging were so common during
their lifetimes, they didn’t considered a detailed description necessary.
For that reason we have only a brief summary of events recorded in the NT.
Mark 15:15 - Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released
Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed
him over to be crucified. NIV
We have all seen the crucifixion of Jesus
depicted on TV specials and movies. Our mission teams have shown the Jesus
Film so many times in so many nations that I have had plenty of
opportunities to watch a popular presentation of his suffering. However,
there has been exhaustive historical and scientific research examining the
brutality of crucifixion and cause of death.
What did Jesus actually endure
during those hours of torture?
DVD PRESENTATION OF
The physical suffering of Christ
began in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus and
his disciples had observed the Passover meal in an upper room in a home in
southwest Jerusalem. After dinner, discussion and prayer they traveled to
the Mount of Olives, northeast of the city. Jesus, knowing that the time of
his atoning death was near, suffered great mental anguish.
One of the unique physiological
aspects of his early agony was the bloody sweat. Luke, the physician, is the
only gospel writer to record the evidence of this immense trauma.
Luke 22:44 And being
in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood
falling to the ground. NIV
Under great emotional stress, tiny
capillaries in the sweat glands can break, mixing blood with sweat. The
phenomenon of bloody sweat, called hematidrosis, though very rare, is
nonetheless scientifically documented. The skin becomes fragile and tender
because of hemorrhaging into the sweat glands. This process alone could have
produced marked weakness and possible shock (adapted: Dr. Truman Davis.
New Wine Magazine, April 1982).
Jesus was arrested at the garden of Gethsemane
sometime about midnight and taken to Annas’ house for interrogation. Jesus
was struck in the face by an official. He was then taken to Caiaphas’ house
for further questioning (John 18:12-24).
Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish
officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to
Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.
14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if
one man died for the people.
FIRST TRIAL: BEFORE ANNAS
A soldier struck
Jesus across the face for remaining silent when questioned by Annas.
19 Meanwhile, the high priest
questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
"I have spoken openly to the world," Jesus replied. "I always taught in
synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said
nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they
know what I said."
When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face.
"Is this the way you answer the high priest?" he demanded.
"If I said something wrong," Jesus replied, "testify as to what is wrong.
But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?" 24 Then Annas sent
him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest. NIV
SECOND TRIAL: BEFORE CAIAPHAS
Between 1 a.m. and daybreak, Jesus was tried before Caiaphas, the high
priest, and the political Sanhedrin and was found guilty of blasphemy.
Caiaphas had assembled the entire Sanhedrin, teachers of the law and the
elders, in an emergency meeting to find a way to kill Jesus.
Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where
the had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to
the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to
see the outcome.
The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false
evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they
did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.
The Sanhedrin emotionally and physically
tormented Jesus. The palace
guards then blindfolded Jesus, mocked him to identify them as each passed by
to spit on him, and strike him in the face with their fists.
Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped
him 68 and said, "Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?" NIV
The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They
blindfolded him and demanded, "Prophesy! Who hit you?" 65 And they said many
other insulting things to him. NIV
THIRD TRAIL: BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN
Jesus was imprisoned overnight at a cell in
Caiaphas’ house. Early the next day the Sanhedrin met and reached a guilty
verdict of blasphemy. Permission for an execution had to come from the
governing Romans. Jesus was taken early in the morning by the temple
officials to the Fortress of Antonia, the residence and governmental seat of
Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea. Jesus was charged before Pilate as
a self-appointed king who would undermine the Roman authority.
Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of
the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death.
2 They bound him, led him away and handed him over to
Pilate, the governor. NIV
At daybreak the council of the elders of the
people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and
Jesus was led before them. NIV
FOURTH TRIAL: BEFORE PILATE
Pilate found no justifiable reason to impose the
death penalty. Instead, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of
Judea without filing any formal charges.
4 Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the
crowd, "I find no basis for a charge against this
But they insisted, "He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching.
He started in Galilee and has come all the way here."
6 On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7
When he learned that Jesus was under Herod's
jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
FIFTH TRIAL BEFORE: HEROD
Pilate discovered that Jesus was from Galilee so
he was sent to Herod for another trial. Herod, his soldiers and the
Sanhedrin viciously mocked and ridiculed Jesus.
When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time
he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped
to see him perform some miracle. 9 He plied him with many questions, but
Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the teachers of the
law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his
soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they
sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became
friends-before this they had been enemies. NIV
SIXTH TRIAL: BEFORE PILATE
Herod made no official charges against Jesus and
sent him back to Pilate. The Jews were adamant that Jesus should be put to
death. Pilate had no legal basis for imposing the death penalty against
Jesus, but the people persistently demanded crucifixion. Pilate finally
caved before their demands and handed Jesus over to be flogged and
15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to
them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to
be crucified. NIV
During the sleepless night, Jesus had suffered
tremendous emotional stress as evidenced by hematidrosis. His closest
friends had abandoned him, he was beaten, mocked, emotionally abused and
unfairly tried. He had been forced to walk more than 2.5 miles (4.0km) 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” (Edwards. The Death of Jesus
Christ. JAMA 1986 1457).
Edwards, William D. MD; Wesley J. Gabel,
Mdiv.; Floyd E. Hosmer, MS, AMI. “On The Physical Death of Jesus
Christ,” Jama 1986; 255:1455-1463
Flogging was a legal preliminary to
every Roman execution, and only women and Roman
senators or soldiers (except in cases of desertion) were exempt. 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
were also used.
For scourging, the man was stripped of
his clothing, and his hands were tied to an upright post (Fig. 2). The back,
buttocks, and legs were flogged either by two soldiers (lectors) or by one
who alternated positions. The severity of
the scourging depended on the disposition of the lectors and was
intended to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse or death.
After the scourging, the soldiers often taunted their victim.
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. Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would
tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of
bleeding flesh. Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory
shock. The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim
would survive on the cross.
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 – 1Peter 2:24). A detailed
word study of the ancient Greek text for this verse indicates that the
scourging of Jesus was particularly harsh.) It is not known whether the
number of lashes was limited to 39, in accordance with Jewish law. 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. Next, they spat on Jesus
and struck him on the head with the wooden staff. Moreover, when the
soldiers tore the robe from Jesus’ back, they probably reopened the
The severe scourging, with its intense
pain and appreciable blood loss, most probably left Jesus in a pre-shock
state. Moreover, hematidrosis had rendered his skin particularly tender. The
physical and mental abuse meted out by the Jews and the Romans, as well as
the lack of food, water and sleep, also contributed to his generally
weakened state. Therefore, even before the actual crucifixion, Jesus’
physical condition was at least serious and possibly critical.
Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and
gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him
and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of
thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and
knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said.
30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again
and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his
own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. NIV
Jesus was stripped completely of his garments
for flogging. He was tied to a post and beaten. The image on the Shroud of
Turin has 160 lash wounds covering the entire back, buttocks and legs. The
160 figure would represent forty lashes with a whip of 4 leather thongs.
They put his clothes back on and took him to the Praetorium. The Praetorians
were the governor’s body guards and known for their corruption and cruelty.
They placed a robe on him and a crown of thorns. The staff was forced into
his hand to resemble a king’s scepter. The robe, crown and the scepter were
a mockery to ridicule his claim to be king. They repeatedly pounded the
thorns into his head, spit on him and mocked him.
They spit on him is plural. The
soldiers knelt down in front of him, mocked him and spit in his face. How
many times did they spit on him? They placed a crown of thorns on his head.
The Greek word for struck (NT: 5180 tupto toop'-to) means to thump,
pummel, to strike or beat with a stick, a staff, a whip or the fist by
repeated blows (Thayer's Greek Lexicon). The staff would be a heavy walking
stick. The words again and again are added to the text by the NIV
translators as commentary to assist the reader. They repeatedly beat the
crown of thorns into his head. The force of the staff would press the thorns
into his head and injure him as well. How many times did the soldiers hammer
the thorns into Jesus’ head? The Shroud of Turin shows that the actual crown
of thorns may have covered the entire scalp. The thorns may have been 1 to 2
inches long. The blows would drive the thorns into the scalp (one of the
most vascular areas of the body) and forehead, causing severe bleeding. The
crown was intended to punish Jesus and to render him a pathetic and bloody
of fluid-carrying vessels:
relating to, involving, typical of, or having fluid-carrying vessels, for
example, blood vessels in animals or the sap-carrying vessels in plants
(Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2003. © 1993-2002 Microsoft
"Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil
you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and
thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field."
The Bible records that thorns first appeared
after the fall as a sign of the curse. The crown of thorns is a painful
symbol to show that Jesus took the curse and the sins of the world upon
himself (adapted: Terasaka).
Isaiah 50:6: "I offered my
back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did
not hide my face from mocking and spitting."
Isaiah 52:14: "..... Just as
there were many who were appalled at him -- his appearance was so disfigured
beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness--"
Understand that the crucifixion was only one
part of his suffering. Jesus consented to be ridiculed, tortured and abused
with incredible patience. He loved us to death. He was willing to endure
such mockery because he could see the grand results that would come from his
Then they removed the robe and marched him out
of town to be executed.
When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they
took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them,
with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one
piece from top to bottom. NIV
the beating, Jesus was lead down a narrow street known today as the Via
Dolorosa or the "way of suffering." Just like today in Jerusalem the
street was probably surrounded by markets and vendors. The total distance to
Golgotha has been estimated at 650 yards. (Edwards). He was led through the
crowded streets carrying the crossbar of the cross (called a patibulum)
tied on his shoulders. The crossbar probably weighed between 80 to 110
pounds. A guard of Roman soldiers surrounded him. One of the soldiers
carried a titulus, a sign that announced his crime of being "the
King of the Jews" in three languages: Hebrew, Latin and Greek. He was
unable to carry the heavy wooden beam. Some theorize that he may have fallen
while going down the steps of the Antonio Fortress. The Shroud of Turin has
scrape marks on the knees and nose, which means he fell down on his face.
Simon of Cyrene (currently North Africa: Tripoli), was conscripted to help
carry the crossbeam.
Via Dolorosa was charted in the 16th century as the route over which Christ
was led to his crucifixion. The true location of the Via Dolorosa is
disputed as is the location of Calvary. Today there are 14 Stations of the
Cross remembering the events that occurred on the Via Dolorosa. The Stations
of the Cross were established in the 1800's. There is one section of the
path where one can walk on the stones, which were used during Jesus time.
(Adapted from David Terasaka, M.D. ©1996. Medical Aspects of the
Crucifixion of Jesus Christ).
Crucifixion was one of the most cruel and
humiliating forms of punishment in the ancient world. Josephus, the Jewish
historian described it following the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD
66-70 as "the most wretched of deaths"
(Josephus, Jewish War 7.203).
Seneca, in an Epistle 101 to Lucilius, argued that suicide was preferable to
the cruelty of being put death on the cross.
The Romans did not invent
crucifixion but they perfected it as a form of torture and capital
punishment. Crucifixion was designed to produce a slow death with maximum
pain and suffering.
Crucifixion Practices (Figure 3)
Crucifixion practices often varied in a given
geographic region and in accordance with the imagination of the
executioners. The Latin cross and other forms also may have been used.
Peter was crucified upside down on an X-shaped cross (McBirnie, W.S. The
Search For The Twelve Apostles. Wheaton. IL: Tyndale House Publishers,
Inc., 1987 66). Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross. He was flogged
but only tied to the cross in order prolong his suffering. For two days
Andrew proclaimed the gospel and prayed until he died (McBirnie 83). Philip
was tied to a cross in Asia Minor and stoned to death (McBirnie 123).
Outside the walls of Jerusalem were located the
heavy upright wooden posts/stipes. The crossbeam/patibulum
would be fastened by a mortise and tenon joint.
At the execution site
the criminal was thrown to the ground on his back, with his arms
outstretched along the crossbeam/patibulum. The hands could be nailed or
tied to the crossbar, but nailing was apparently preferred by the Romans
nailing was completed, the titulus was attached to the cross,
by nails or cords, just above the victim’s head. The soldiers and the
civilian crowd often taunted and jeered the condemned man, and the soldiers
customarily divided up his clothes among themselves.
NAILING THE HANDS
The Shroud of Turin has
documented that the nails were driven through the wrists rather than the
palms. It has been shown scientifically that the ligaments and bones of the
wrist can support the hanging weight of a body but the palms cannot.
The iron spikes
probably were driven between the radius and the
carpals or between the two rows of carpal bones, either
proximal to or through the strong band-like flexor retinaculum and the
various intercarpal ligaments (Fig. 4). 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 crust or sever the rather large
sensorimotor median nerve.The stimulated nerve would
produce excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms. 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 claw-like grasp.
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 inches (13 to 18 cm) long with
a square shaft 3/8 inch (1 cm) across.
Both arms were nailed to the crossbeam/patibulum.
The victim together with the beam were lifted onto the post/stipes. On the
low cross, four soldiers could accomplish this relatively easily. However,
on the tall cross, the soldiers used either wooden forks or ladders.
NAILING THE FEET (Figure
Next, the feet were fixed to the cross by either
nails or ropes. The Shroud of Turin shows that the feet were nailed directly
to the front of the post/stipes. Ossuary findings show that the feet could
be nailed to the sides of the post/stipes or to a wooden footrest (suppedaneum).
On a short cross the feet were pushed up and nailed, flexing and rotated the
Most commonly, the
feet were fixed to the front of the stipes by means of an iron spike driven
through the first or second inter-metatarsal space, just distal to the
tarsometatarsal joint. (Edwards 1461) It is likely that the deep
peroneal nerve and branches of the medial and lateral plantar nerves,
would have been injured by the nails (Fig. 5). 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
CAUSE OF DEATH (Figure 6)
The major pathophysiologic effect of
crucifixion, beyond the excruciating pain, was a marked interference with
normal respiration, particularly exhalation (Fig. 6). The weight of the
body, pulling down on the outstretched arms and shoulders, would hold the
chest/intercostals muscles in an inhalation position and hinder exhalation.
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
titanic contractions, due to fatigue and hypercarbia, would hinder
respiration even further.
Adequate exhalation required lifting
the body by pushing up on the feet and by flexing the elbows and pulling the
shoulders (Fig. 6). However, this maneuver would place the
entire weight of the body on the nerves in the feet/tarsals and would
produce searing pain. Furthermore, flexing the elbows would cause
rotation of the wrists around the iron nails and cause fiery pain along the
damaged median nerves. Lifting of the body would also painfully scrape the
scourged back against the rough wooden post/stipes. Muscle cramps and
paresthesias of the outstretched and uplifted arms would add to the
discomfort. As a result, every struggle for air
would become agonizing and tiring and lead eventually to asphyxia.
In order to breath Jesus was forced to raise his
body transferring the weight of the body to the feet. Breathing became
easier, but the weight of the body on the feet, increased the pain in the
feet and legs. When the pain became unbearable on the feet, Jesus again
slumped down with the weight of the body pulling on the wrists and again
stretching the chest muscles. Jesus alternated between lifting his body off
the in order to breathe and slumping down on the to relieve pain in the
feet. Eventually the respiratory muscles essentially paralyzed, Jesus
suffocated and died.
(Edwards 1460) 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. 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).
Not uncommonly, insects would light upon or
burrow into open wounds of the eyes, ears and nose of the dying and helpless
victim, and birds of prey would tear at these sites. Moreover, it was
customary to leave the corpse on the cross to be devoured by predatory
animals. However, by Roman law, the family of the condemned could take
the body for burial, after obtaining permission from the Roman judge.
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. 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. The Shroud of Turin documents this
form of injury. Moreover, the standard infantry spear, which was 5 to 6
ft (1.5 to 1.8 m) long, could easily have reached the chest of a man
crucified on the customary low cross.
The actual cause of death by crucifixion varied
according to the factors of each case. The two most prominent causes for
Jesus were hypovolemic shock and exhaustion, asphyxia.
Hypovolemic Shock: A condition characterized by
low blood pressure and reduced blood flow to the cells and tissues which
leads to irreversible cell and organ injury and eventually death.
Other contributing factors included dehydration, stress-induced arrhythmias,
and congestive heart failure with the rapid accumulation of pericardial and
perhaps pleural effusions. Crucifracture (breaking the legs below the
knees), if performed, led to an asphyxic death within minutes. Death by
crucifixion was, in every sense of the word, excruciating (Latin,
excruciatus, or “out of the cross”) (Edwards).
JESUS LAID DOWN HIS LIFE
John 10:17-18 "The reason my
Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own accord. I have
authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I
received from my Father."
Luke 23:46 "Jesus called out
with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit'." When
he had said this, he breathed his last.
The average time of suffering before death by
crucifixion is stated to be about 2-4 days (Tenney), although there
are reported cases where the victims lived for 9 days. (Lipsius) The actual
causes of death by crucifixion were multifactorial, one of the most
significant would have been the severity of the scourging. (Edwards) Jesus
died a quick physical death. Pilate was surprised that He had died so soon
(Mark 15:44)). While many of the physical signs preceding death were
present, one possibility is that Jesus did not die by physical factors alone
but that He gave up His life of His own accord. His last statement,
"Into your hands I commit my Spirit" shows that Jesus' death occurred
by giving Himself up. In John 10, He states that only He has the power to
lay down His life. He proved His power over death by His resurrection.
Truly, God is the one who has power over life and death (adapted: Terasaka).
DEATH BY CRUCIFIXION
by the breaking of the legs, so that the victim could not push up to take a
John 19:32-33: The soldiers
therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified
with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and
found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
by a spear thrust into the right side of the heart.
John 19:34: Instead, one of
the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of
blood and water. Death in crucifixion was hastened by the breaking of
the legs of the victim. This procedure, called crurifracture,
prevented the ability of the victim to take in a good breath. Death would
quickly occur from suffocation. In Jesus' case, He died quickly and did not
have His legs broken. Jesus fulfills one of the prophetic requirements of
the Passover Lamb, that not a bone shall be broken. (Exodus
To confirm that a victim was dead, the Romans inflicted a
spear wound through the right side of the heart. When pierced, a sudden flow
of blood and water came Jesus' body . The medical
significance of the blood and water has been a matter of debate. One theory
states that Jesus died of a massive myocardial infarction, in which the
heart ruptured (Bergsma) which may have resulted from His falling while
carrying the cross. (Ball) Another theory states that Jesus' heart was
surrounded by fluid in the pericardium, which constricted the heart
and caused death.(Davis) The physical stresses of crucifixion may have
produced a fatal cardiac arrhythmia. (Johnson)
Clearly, the weight of
historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the
wound to his side was inflicted. The Shroud of Turin 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 (Fig. 7). Any assertions based on the assumption
that Jesus did not die on the cross are at odds with modern medical
knowledge and the Bible (adapted: Edwards).
The Roman guard would not leave the victim
until they were sure of his death.
DETAILS OF ILLUSTRATIONS /
FIGURES 1 – 7
Fig. 1 -
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 Jesus over for scourging at Fortress of Antonia and for
crucifixion at Golgotha (7). (Modified from Pfeiffer et al.)
Fig. 2 -
Scourging. Left - Short whip
(flagrum) with lead balls and sheep bones tied into leather thongs. Center
left - Naked victim tied to flogging post. Deep stripe-like lacerations were
usually associated with considerable blood loss. Center right – View from
above, showing position of lectors. Right – Inferomedial direction of
Fig. 3 -
Cross and titulus. Left –
Victim carrying crossbar (patibulum) to site of upright post (stipes).
Center – Low Tau cross (crux commissa), commonly used by Romans at time of
Christ. Upper right – Rendition of Jesus’ titulus, with name and crime
“Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek.
Lower right – Possible methods for attaching titulus to Tau cross (left) and
Latin cross (right).
- Nailing of wrists. Left –
Size of iron nail. Center – Location of 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 fracture of bones.
Fig. 5 -
Nailing of feet. Left –
Position of feet atop one another and against stipes. Upper right – Location
of nail in second intermetatarsal space. Lower right – Cross section of
foot, at plane indicated at left, showing path of nail.
Fig. 6 -
crucifixion. Left – Inhalation. With elbows extended and shoulders adducted,
respiratory muscles of inhalation are passively stretched and thorax is
expanded. Right – Exhalation. With elbows flexed and shoulders adducted 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 would soon result in
Fig. 7 -
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.