- Hardcover: 396 pages
- Publisher: M. Evans & Company; 2nd edition (April 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1590770706
- ISBN-13: 978-1590770702
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
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- Average Customer Review: 49 customer reviews
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The Crucifixion of Jesus, Completely Revised and Expanded: A Forensic Inquiry Hardcover – April 1, 2005
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In the first half of this book, Dr, Zugibe examines the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus Christ from a medical doctor's point of view. He examines Jesus' sweating drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, the effects of Jesus' scourging with a Roman flagellatio (flagrum), His crowning with thorns, Jesus carrying His cross beam to Calvary, and His crucifixion. Zugibe is most interested in determining the cause of Jesus' death. A secondary purpose is to respectfully offer some alternative theories to Dr. Pierre Babet's conclusions in his 1953 ground-breaking book, A Doctor at Calvary. Babet said that his experience as a battlefield surgeon in WWI led him to conclude that the Shroud of Turin was authentic.
Dr. Zugibe was also the President of the Association of Scientists and Scholars International for the Shroud of Turin for over 20 years. In the second half of the book, he examines the scientific evidence for the Shroud of Turin and compares these scientific results with his medical examination of Christ's suffering and crucifixion. The results are astounding.
THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE
"And Jesus withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, 'Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.' Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground." (Luke 22:39-44)
There is a genuine, but rare, condition called hematidrosis in which there is an excretion of blood or blood pigments in one's sweat. Most medical accounts of it record the presence of severe fear and anxiety. When a man knows his death is imminent ("My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death" Mark 14:34), his severe mental anxiety can trigger a full-scale "fight-or-flight" reaction. His sympathetic nervous system produces adrenaline-like chemicals called catecholamines which accelerate his heart rate, constrict the blood vessels to raise blood pressure, and divert blood away from the skin and send it to the brain and muscles of the arms and legs for greater strength and speed. When the person calms down, the opposite occurs. The blood is sent back to the skin and the blood vessels of the sweat glands. When an angel came and strengthened Jesus, calming Him, His blood rushed back to His skin so quickly that it ruptured the delicate capillaries that encircled the sweat glands. The blood mixed with sweat, which then extruded to the surface of the skin, exactly as Luke described.
The effects of hematidrosis, and the severe anxiety associated with it, are weakness, depression, mild to moderate dehydration, and mild hypovolemia (low blood and fluid volume) due to sweat and blood loss. This "low blood and fluid volume" is a theme which occurs at each stage of Dr. Zugibe's medical examination and provides the key to his conclusion of what caused the death of Jesus.
THE ROMAN FLADELLATIO (FLAGRUM) and the SCOURGING OF JESUS
Pontius Pilate did not want to crucify Jesus. He said, "I find no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him." Pilate intended to punish Jesus with Roman scourging, hoping this would satisfy the Jews, and then release Him. (Luke 26:13-22) After Jesus was scourged, Pilate again brought Him before the crowd, saying, "Behold, the Man!" (John 19:5) But the people believed Jesus had blasphemed when He "made Himself out to be the Son of God," so they called for His crucifixion. (John 19:7).
Roman scourging was done by stripping a victim of his clothes and securing his wrists to a low column, exposing his back and legs. The Shroud of Turin shows a criss-cross pattern of scourge marks, implying there were two soldiers, one on either side. Each soldier held a flagrum, a leather handle with three leather tails or thongs. At the ends of the tails were lead weights or pieces of sheep bone. Jewish law allowed for 39 lashes. Roman law had no limit, but executioners did not want their victims to die before being crucified.
Scourging left large black-and-blue marks, reddish purple bruises, lacerations (tears), scratches, welts, and swellings. Notably, 100 to 120 dumbbell-shaped marks can be seen on the man of the Shroud of Turin. It is deduced that these were the lead weights (plumbatae) attached to the tails of the flagrums used to whip Jesus. If each flagrum had 3 tails, then Jesus was given between 34 and 40 lashes. Dr. Zugibe believes these marks were made by the blood pooled within the breaks in the skin. He says that because so many wounds are visible, Jesus' body must have been washed prior to burial. On an unwashed body, the wounds would have clotted and not appeared on the Shroud of Turin. But when wounds are washed, they ooze blood and serum, both of which were stained onto the Shroud.
Marks on the front of the man of the Shroud meant that the flagrum's tails would sometimes come around to the front and deliver blows to his chest and ribs. This would produce severe rib pain, the hemorrhaging of the intercostal muscles (between the ribs and back and chest muscles), and the slow accumulation of fluid around His lungs (pleural effusion). Every breath would become severely painful and labored. Collapsed lungs often occurred. Bouts of vomiting, tremors, seizures, fainting fits, and severe sweating would occur. The victim would be reduced to an exhausted , mangled mass of flesh with a craving for water.
Scourging put Jesus in the early throes of traumatic or injury shock, especially due to the injuries to His chest wall and lungs. Hypovolemic shock (low blood and fluid volume) was developing from fluid accumulating in His lungs, His hematidrosis in Gethsemane, small blood losses from scourging, vomiting, and extreme sweating.
THE CROWN OF THORNS
After Jesus was scourged, the Roman soldiers proceeded to mock His being "King of the Jews" by crowning Him with a crown of thorns, putting a purple robe on Him (which kings wore after major victories), and giving Him a mock scepter made from reeds. An entire battalion of soldiers filed past Christ, spitting on Him and beating His head with a reed. (Mark 15:16-20) Prior to being scourged, Jesus had been sent to Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, where He was beaten with fists and slapped in His face (Mark 14:65). The Shroud of Turin shows blows on His forehead, brow, right upper lip and cheek, jaw, and nose. There is a separation of the nasal cartilage from the bone, but not a bone fracture, in keeping with the Old Testament prophecy that the Messiah's bones would not be broken (Psalm 34:20).
The crown of thorns, contrary to popular opinion, was not just a ring of thorns but a cap or bowl that covered the entire head of Jesus. This is because the Shroud of Turin shows thorn marks both on Jesus' forehead and the nape of His neck. Given the hundreds of blood vessels in the head, blood would have been everywhere on Jesus' face. The Shroud shows rivulets of bloodstains and seepage points saturating the hair and running down the forehead. His hair is so saturated with dried blood it is matted on both sides of His face.
What pain did Jesus suffer after this bowl of spikes was pressed into His head? Dr. Zugibe describes two major branches of nerves in the head region that register pain when irritated, the trigeminal nerve and the greater occipital branch. When the trigeminal nerve is irritated, major trigeminal neuralgia can occur. This causes bouts of stabbing, lancinating, and explosive pain to the right or left half of the face, lasting from seconds to minutes. The pain can be so severe the person is immobilized. A neurosurgeon who helped pioneer its treatment, said "Trigeminal neuralgia is said to be the worst pain that man is heir to. Devastating and unbearable."
JESUS CARRYING HIS CROSS
Most artists portray Jesus carrying His entire cross. But it would be almost impossible for a man to carry 175 to 200 pounds on His back after being heavily scourged. Most likely, Jesus carried only the cross piece (patibulum) which weighed about 50 to 60 pounds. Roman history confirms that the Romans had hundreds of wooden uprights (stipes) already standing outside the city walls. The cross-piece would then be lifted up onto a rectangular cavity at the top of the stipe. Two images on the back of the Shroud of Turin lead some scientists to conclude that Jesus carried the patibulum over His shoulders, perhaps tied to His wrists.
Around 12 noon, Jesus began the walk from Antonia to Golgotha (Calvary), just over 1/2 mile. He continued to suffer exhaustion from His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the brutal flogging, and the lancinating pain from His crown of thorns. Fluid continued to build up around and within His lungs from the scourging. He possibly had a collapsed lung (pneumothorax). The cross-piece dug into His shoulders, which had been shredded by the scourging, and kept banging into the back of His crown of thorns. He stumbled and fell at least three times, perhaps more. The sun, directly overhead, was hot on April 3, 33 A.D., and led to more dehydration.
Jesus was escorted by the exactor mortis, a Roman soldier who supervised the crucifixion, and his team of four soldiers (quaternio). Other soldiers controlled the crowd lining the streets. It was the duty of the exactor mortis to make sure his victim did not die before He was crucified. Jesus' condition must have been quite severe if the exactor mortis seized Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross for Him (Luke 23:26).
By the time Jesus arrived at Golgatha, His garment was glued to His body by clotted blood. A soldier yanked it off His body, ripping open His wounds. Jesus was extremely weak, fatigued, and in intense pain. He was exhausted to the point of fainting and losing His balance. Every breath He took was painful because of His scourging. He was now in a moderate state of hypovolemic shock (low blood and fluid volume). Dr. Zugibe said "As a forensic pathologist, I find it extraordinary that Jesus was able to make the trek to Calvary at all."
In the first century B.C., Cicero said that crucifixion was "the most cruel and atrocious of punishments." Josephus called it "the most pitiable of deaths."
After arriving at Calvary, Jesus was thrown to the ground and made to lie on His back with His shoulders and outstretched arms on the crosspiece. One of the executioners laid across His chest and another across His legs to hold Him down while a third soldier nailed His hands to the crosspiece. A large, square, spike-like, rusty nail made of iron and measuring about 12 centimeters (4 3/4 inches) was nailed into the palm of His hand just below the bulge at the base of the thumb and into the crosspiece. Then the other hand was nailed. Dr. Zugibe knows that the bloodied nail hole on the Shroud of Turin appears to be located at the wrist joint. But he accounts for this by saying that a nail that was nailed into the front of Jesus' palm at an angle would come out the back of His hand at the wrist area. He says that anatomically, a crucified person would not pull away from nails located in his palms, as many think.
The method by which the crosspiece with the nailed victim was placed onto the upright is not clear.
Various references in the historical literature to Latin phrases such as ascendre crucem (ascend the cross) and the patibulum suffixus (fasten the patibulum) would indicate that the exactor mortis and the quaterino must have had some technique for accomplishing the maneuver. Ralph Gordon in his book, The Last Hours of Jesus, suggests that two soldiers on either side of Jesus lifted up his crossbeam while a third soldier grabbed Jesus around the waist, getting him to His feet. They backed Him up to the upright onto a stair-like platform, and then two soldiers lifted the crosspiece into a mortice (rectangular notch) on top of the upright. They then bent His knees until His feet were flush to the cross and nailed His feet to the upright.
When Jesus' hands were nailed to the cross-beam (patibulum) and then His feet to the wooden upright (stipe) , He suffered injuries to the median nerves of both hands and the plantar nerves of both feet. This pain, called causalgia, is one of the worst pains known to man. It has been likened to lightening bolts traversing the arms and legs. The pain is so brutal that unless measures are taken quickly, the victim could go into profound shock.
Dr. Zugibe conducted many experiments with volunteers fastened to a cross. He tested the 3 main theories about the cause of Jesus' death: 1) Asphyxiation (suffocation), 2) Heart-attack, or 3) Shock.
He concludes that the asphyxiation theory is false because his volunteers had no trouble breathing while suspended from a cross. However, the reader should note that none of Zugibe's volunteers had been scourged and therefore had no fluid built up around their lungs! Also, none had sweat drops of blood, were crowned with thorns, were beaten, been up all night, or made to carry a crossbeam over half-a-mile. And none were nailed to the wood. They were suspended in specially made gloves. So comparison to what Jesus experienced was not really apples to apples! Zugibe also addressed the Roman practice of hastening death by breaking the crucified person's legs (skelokopia). It was NOT done so they could not push themselves up to take a breath of air, he says, but so hemorrhagic shock would be hastened, since breaking two legs resulted in internal bleeding of 4 liters of blood. I think Zugibe is giving the Romans too much credit here. How would they know breaking the legs caused internal bleeding? It seems that their practice of breaking the legs WAS to keep the crucified person from pushing up to obtain another breath. They certainly could have hastened death in quicker ways, such as piercing their sides with a spear!
Zugibe then quickly dismisses the "heart attack" theory by explaining that Jesus was too young and fit to have clogged arteries. He concludes that Jesus' heart stopped due to hypovolemic and traumatic shock. He explains hypovolemic shock as a significant drop in blood volume due to hemorrhage and loss of body fluids. Traumatic shock results from serious injury (crucifixion). Zugibe then walks the reader through each stage of Jesus' suffering, explaining His progressive blood and fluid loss, beginning with the Garden of Gethsemane and ending with Jesus hanging on the cross. He explains what happened when the soldier thrust a spear into Jesus' right side (John 19:24). The spear pierced the right atrium of the heart, the upper right chamber, and left blood on the spear tip. The water that came out was some of the massive pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs) that had slowly accumulated following Jesus' brutal scourging.
Because of the detailed examination of Christ's sufferings, this book is not for the casual reader. For believers in Christ who can endure these descriptions of violence, it can greatly supplement their devotion to Christ. For non-believers, this book offers a scientific and medical view of Christ's crucifixion. There are clear summaries at the end of each chapter to help the non-medical reader. This is a remarkable medical view of Christ's sufferings and crucifixion.
In the first half, to better understand the trauma of crucifixion, Zugibe takes us step by step through the agony in the garden to the death on the cross. He explains in painful detail what it would be like, having nails driven through nerves in the hand, thorn wounds in the head, etc. He also refutes common beliefs of the effects of crucifixion with scientific fact and testing. This part of the book reads very much like a medical report. He offers multiple hypotheses and refutes or proves his points. He lays out how he did his experiments so they could be clearly repeated.
The second half gives us history of the shroud of Turin, an in depth look at the research conducted over the past couple decades, as well as background into minute details such as the washing of a dead body for burial in first century Jewish custom. Zugibe takes us into the the very fine details of how the shroud would have been used and the body prepared.
The only criticism I would give this book (and I'm not sure it really is a criticism) is that it contains TOO much detail. I found myself inundated with information and it takes quite a bit of time to digest all of the details given to you. This is by no means a light read.
However, I have to give this book high praise. Zugibe was a medical examiner for 35+ years before he wrote this book. He clearly knows what he writing about and sets the record straight with his experience and with experimental proofs.
I highly enjoyed the book and learned a lot from my studies of it this Lent. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in more in depth study of the crucifixion, to the point of a "CSI" or court room detailed depiction of events.