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The Crucifixion, by Simon Vouet, 1622, Genoa

The crucifixion of Jesus and his ensuing death is an event that occurred during the first century A.D.. Jesus was arrested, tried, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally executed on a cross. Collectively referred to as the Passion, Jesus' redemptive suffering and death by crucifixion represents a critical aspect of the doctrine of salvation in Christian theology. Christians regard Jesus as the Messiah, and understand his death as necessary for the forgiveness of sins, a doctrine generally known as atonement (and in some cases as substitutionary atonement).

Jesus' crucifixion is described in all four gospels, attested to by other contemporary sources, and regarded as a historical event.[1] Christians believe Jesus' suffering was foretold in Hebrew scripture, such as in Isaiah's songs of the suffering servant.[2] According to the New Testament, Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane following the Last Supper with the twelve Apostles, and forced to stand trial before the Sanhedrin, Pontius Pilate, and Herod Antipas, before being handed over for crucifixion. After being flogged, Jesus was mocked by Roman soldiers as the "King of the Jews", clothed in a purple robe, crowned with thorns, beaten and spat on. Jesus then had to make his way to the place of his crucifixion.

Once at Golgotha, Jesus was stripped and nailed to the beam and hung between two convicted thieves. According to Mark's Gospel, he endured the torment for some six hours, from the third hour[Mk. 15:25] until his death at the ninth hour.[15:34-37] The soldiers affixed a sign above his head stating "King of the Jews" in three languages, divided his garments and cast lots for his seamless robe, and offered him wine mixed with gall to drink, before eventually piercing his side with a spear to be certain that he had died. The gospels mention a total of seven statements that Jesus made while he was being crucified, as well as several supernatural events that occurred. Following his death, his body was removed from the cross by Joseph of Arimathea and buried in a rock-hewn tomb, with Nicodemus assisting.

Accounts of the crucifixion

That Jesus was crucified is a well-attested event of Roman history.[3] Early Christians are considered unlikely to have invented Jesus' crucifixion because it would have embarrassed them.[4] Although almost all ancient sources relating to crucifixion are literary, the 1968 archeological discovery just north east of Jerusalem of the body of a crucified man dated to the first century provided good confirmatory evidence of the gospel accounts of crucifixion.[5] The crucified man was identified as Yohan Ben Ha'galgol and probably died about 70AD, around the time of the Jewish revolt against Rome. The analyses at the Hadassah Medical School estimated that he died in his late 20s. These studies also showed that the man had been crucified in a manner resembling the Gospel accounts. Another relevant archaeological find, which also dates to the first century AD, is an unidentified heel bone with a spike discovered in a Jerusalem gravesite, and is now held by the Israel Antiquities Authority and displayed in the Israel Museum.[6][7]

Gospel narratives

Deposition by Rubens, Lille.

The earliest detailed historical narrative accounts of the death of Jesus are contained in the four canonical gospels.[8] There are other more implicit references in the New Testament epistles.

According to all four gospels, Jesus was brought to the "Place of a Skull"[9] and crucified with two thieves,[10] with the charge of claiming to be "King of the Jews",[11] and the soldiers dividing his clothes[12] before he bowed his head and died.[13] Following his death, Joseph of Arimathea requested the body from Pilate,[14] which he then placed in a new garden tomb.[15]

The three synoptic gospels also describe Simon of Cyrene bearing the cross,[16] the multitude mocking Jesus[17] along with the thieves,[18] darkness from the 6th to the 9th hour,[19] and the temple veil being torn from top to bottom.[20] The synoptics also mention several witnesses, including a centurion,[21] and several women who watched from a distance[22] two of whom were present during the burial.[23]

Luke is the only gospel writer to omit the detail of sour wine mix that was offered to Jesus on a reed,[24] while only Mark and John describe Joseph actually taking the body down off the cross.[25]

There are several details that are only found in one of the gospel accounts. For instance, only Matthew's gospel mentions the earthquake and resurrected saints and that Roman soldiers were assigned to guard the tomb,[26] while Mark is the only one to state the actual time of the crucifixion (the third hour, or 9 am) and the Centurion's report of Jesus' death.[27] The Gospel of Luke's unique contributions to the narrative include Jesus' words to the women who were mourning, one criminal's rebuke of the other, the reaction of the multitudes who left "beating their breasts", and the women preparing spices and ointments before resting on the Sabbath.[28] John is also the only one to refer to the request that the legs be broken and the soldier's subsequent piercing of Jesus' side (as fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy), as well as that Nicodemus assisted Joseph with burial.[29]

According to canonical Gospels, Jesus rose from the dead after three days and appeared to his Disciples on different occasions during a forty-day period before ascending to heaven.[30] However, the account given in Acts of the Apostles, which says Jesus remained with the apostles for forty days, contradicts the account in the Gospel of Luke, which implies that the Ascension happened on Easter Sunday.[31][32]

In Mark, Jesus is crucified along with two rebels, and the day goes dark for three hours.[33] Jesus calls out to God, then gives a shout and dies.[33] The curtain of the Temple is torn in two.[33] Matthew follows Mark, adding an earthquake and the resurrection of saints.[34] Luke also follows Mark, though he describes the rebels as common criminals, one of whom defends Jesus, who in turn promises that he and Jesus will be together in paradise.[35] Luke portrays Jesus as impassive in the face of his crucifixion.[36] John includes several of the same elements as those found in Mark, though they are treated differently.[37]

Other accounts

Part of a series on the
Death and resurrection of Jesus

Very few non-Christian sources refer to the crucifixion. The earliest non-Christian reference to the crucifixion is likely from Mara Bar-Serapion, a Syriac writer who refers only to a "wise King" executed by the Jews.[38] Roman historian Tacitus, in his Annals (c. A.D. 116), mentions only in passing that "Christus...suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators..."[39] Similarly, Greek satirist Lucian refers to Jesus only as "the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account."[40]

Additionally, first-century Jewish historian Josephus (in a disputed passage[41]) records:

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 the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

Another possible Jewish reference to the crucifixion ("hanging" cf. Luk 23:39; Gal 3:13) is found in the Babylonian Talmud:

On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed Israel to apostacy. Anyone who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.’ But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!
Soncino English Translation of the Babylonian Talmud , Sanhedrin 43a

Although the question of the equivalence of the identities of Yeshu and Jesus has at times been debated, many historians agree that the above passage is likely to be about Jesus.[42]

In opposition to the vast majority of Biblical and mainstream scholarship, Muslims maintain that Jesus was not crucified. They hold this belief based on various interpretations of the following verse in the Qur'an:

That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them [or it appeared so unto them], and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not: Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.

Date, place and people present

The exact time, date and place of the crucifixion, and the list of people present, have been the subject of a wide range of research and speculation.

Date of the crucifixion

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Although there is no final consensus regarding the specific year or day, it is generally agreed by biblical scholars that it occurred during the governorship of Pontius Pilate (between AD 26 and AD 36) on a Friday on or near Passover (Nisan 15). Several analyses based on astronomical data and computer simulations agree on the date Friday April 3, 33 AD.

Analysis of the Gospels

John's Gospel implies that at the time of the trial the Jewish leaders had not yet eaten the Passover meal[Jn. 18:28] and explicitly states just prior to his sentencing "Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour."[Jn. 19:14] This places the crucifixion on Nisan 14, since the law mandated the lamb had to be sacrificed between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm and eaten before midnight on Nissan 14.[43][44][45] This understanding fits well with Old Testament typology, in which Jesus entered Jerusalem to identify himself as the Paschal lamb on Nisan 10[Jn. Ex.] was crucified and died at 3:00 in the afternoon of Nisan 14, at the same time the High Priest would have sacrificed the Paschal lamb,[1 Cor. 5:7] [cf. Isa. 53:7-9] and rose before dawn the morning of Nisan 16, as a type of offering of the First Fruits.[1 Cor. 15:23] [cf. Lev. 23:9-14]

Matthias Stom's depiction of Jesus before Caiaphas

The chronology presented by John has been viewed as problematic in reconciling with the Synoptic passages and the tradition in that the Last Supper was a Passover meal,[46] placing the crucifixion instead on Nisan 15. However, the apparent contradiction may be resolved by postulating differences in how post-exilic Jews reckoned time.[47] For Jesus and his disciples, the Passover could have begun at dawn Thursday, while for traditional Jews (following Leviticus 23:5), it would not have begun until dusk that same day.[48][49] Another potential solution is that Jesus chose to celebrate the Passover meal a day early with his disciples.[Mt. 26:18] [Lk. 22:15] [50][51]

Thursday[52][53] or Wednesday[54] crucifixion scenarios have also been suggested. These scenarios are based upon Jesus's prophecy that he was to be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights (Matthew 12:40). Also, these scenarios take into account that not all Sabbaths were on Saturday. Some, like Passover, were on set days of the month. They were rarely on Saturday but they still were still considered Sabbath days. These scenarios propose that the Sabbath after Jesus was crucified was not Saturday, but the two day Sabbath of the day of Preparation and the day of Passover. Then He, Jesus, rose from the dead three days and three nights later on the first day of the week, Sunday. Other dates are also suggested. Author Geza Vermes argue for a date of April 7, 30 AD and E.P Sanders also for a date about 30 AD.[55][56]

Death certificate

In November 2009 Vatican scholar Barbara Frale stated that she had discovered and succeeded in reading the burial certificate of "Jesus of Nazareth" on the Shroud of Turin, and that the date was in accord with the Gospel records.

Frale stated that the certificate was imprinted in fragments of Greek, Hebrew and Latin writing on the cloth. The letters, not obvious to the human eyes, were first noticed in the examination of the shroud in 1978 and like the image on the shroud only become readable in negative photographs. Frale stated that her reconstruction of the text reads:

"In the year 16 of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius Jesus the Nazarene, taken down in the early evening after having been condemned to death by a Roman judge because he was found guilty by a Hebrew authority, is hereby sent for burial with the obligation of being consigned to his family only after one full year".

Frale stated that the use of three languages was in accord with the multi-lingual practices of Greek-speaking Jews in a Roman colony.[57][58] Since Tiberius became emperor after the death of Octavian Augustus in AD 14, the 16th year of his reign would be within the span of the years AD 30 to AD 31.

Scientific analysis

Isaac Newton was one of the first scientists to estimate the date of the crucifixion by calculating the relative visibility of the crescent of the new moon between the Hebrew and Julian calendars. Newton suggested the date as Friday, April 23, 34 AD. He based his arguments on several presuppositions, including: "I take it for granted that the passion was on friday the 14th day of the month Nisan".[59] Writing in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1991, John Pratt argued that Newton's reasoning was effectively sound, but included a minor error at the end. Pratt suggested the year 33 AD as the accurate answer.[60] Using similar computations, in 1990 astronomer Bradley Schaefer arrived at the same date, Friday, April 3, 33 AD.[61] Thus it can be concluded that Newton's argument favors the April 3, 33 AD date.

This date was further supported in 2003. Using a computer program, astronomers Liviu Mircea and Tiberiu Oproiu again estimated that Jesus died at 3 pm on Friday, April 3, 33 AD, and rose on Sunday, April 5, dates that agree with Schaefer.[62][63] Another computer calculation suggests somewhat different dates.[64]

Using the completely different approach of a lunar eclipse model, Humphreys and Waddington of Oxford University also arrived at the conclusion that Friday, April 3, 33 AD was the date of the Crucifixion.[65][66]

Path to the crucifixion

The three Synoptic Gospels refer to a man called Simon of Cyrene who is made to carry the cross,[67] while in the Gospel of John, Jesus is said to "bear" his own cross.[Jn. 19:17]

Jesus helped by Simon of Cyrene, 19th century Brazilian depiction.

Luke's gospel also describes an interaction between Jesus and the women among the crowd of mourners following him, quoting Jesus as saying "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!' Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us,' and to the hills, 'Cover us.' For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?"[Lk. 23:28-31]

Traditionally, the path that Jesus took is called Via Dolorosa (Latin for "Way of Grief" or "Way of Suffering") and is a street in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is marked by nine of the fourteen Stations of the Cross. It passes the Ecce Homo Church and the last five stations are inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

There is no reference to the legendary[68] Veronica in the Gospels, but sources such as Acta Sanctorum describe her as a pious woman of Jerusalem who, moved with pity as Jesus carried his cross to Golgotha, gave him her veil that he might wipe his forehead.[69][70][71][72]

Place of the crucifixion

A diagram of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the historical site based on a German documentary.

The precise location of the crucifixion remains a matter of conjecture, but the biblical accounts indicate that it was outside the city walls,[Jn. 19:20] [Heb. 13:12] accessible to passers-by[Mt. 27:39] [Mk. 15:21,29-30] and observable from some distance away.[Mk. 15:40] Eusebius identified its location only as being north of Mount Zion,[73] which is consistent with the two most popularly suggested sites of modern times.

Calvary is an English name derived from the Latin word for skull (calvaria), which is how Jerome translated the Aramaic word Gûlgaltâ which identifies the place where Jesus was crucified. Although the text does not indicate why it was so designated, several theories have been put forward. One is that as a place of public execution, Calvary may have been strewn with the skulls of abandoned victims (which would be contrary to Jewish burial traditions, but not Roman). Another is that Calvary is named after a nearby cemetery (which is consistent with both of the proposed modern sites). A third is that the name was derived from the physical contour, which would be more consistent with the singular use of the word, i.e., the place called "a skull". While often referred to as "Mount Calvary", it was more likely a small hill or rocky knoll.[74]

The traditional site, inside what is now occupied by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Christian Quarter of the Old City, has been attested since the 4th century. A second site (commonly referred to as Gordon's Calvary), located further north of the Old City near a place popularly called the Garden Tomb, has been promoted since the 19th century, mostly by Protestants.

People present at the crucifixion

The Gospel of Luke[23:28-31] states that on the way to Calvary Jesus spoke to a number of women within the crowd of mourners following him, addressing them as "Daughters of Jerusalem". Biblical scholars have produced various theories about the identity of these women, and those actually present during the Crucifixion itself, including among them Mary (Jesus' mother) and Mary Magdalene.[75][76]

Luke's Gospel does not mention that Jesus' mother was present during crucifixion. However, the Gospel of John[19:26-27] does place her at the Crucifixion and states that while on the Cross: Jesus saw his own mother, and the disciple standing near whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son".

The Gospel of John also places other women (The Three Marys), at the Cross. It states that Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.[Jn. 19:25] It is uncertain whether the Gospel of John totally refers to three or four women at the Cross. References to the women are also made in Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40 (which also mentions Salome) and comparing these references they all seem to include Mary Magdalene.[77]

The Gospel of Mark states that Roman soldiers were also present at the Crucifixion: And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!".[Mk. 15:39]

Last words of Jesus

The gospel writers record seven statements uttered by Jesus while he was on the cross:

  1. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."[Lk. 23:34]
  2. "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."[Lk. 23:43]
  3. "Woman, behold, your son!" [Jn. 19:25-27]
  4. "E′li, E′li, la′ma sa‧bach‧tha′ni?" [Mt. 27:46] [Mk. 15:34] (Aramaic for "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?")
  5. "I thirst."[Jn. 19:28]
  6. "It is finished."[Jn. 19:30]
  7. "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!"[Lk. 23:46]

These are all short utterances. See the section below on the medical aspects of crucifixion, on how in the face of exhaustion asphyxia, obtaining enough air to utter any words on the cross can be very tiring and painful for the victim.[78][79]

The last words of Jesus have been the subject of a wide range of Christian teachings and sermons, and a number of authors have written books specifically devoted to the last sayings of Christ.[80][81][82][83][84] However, since the statements of the last words differ between the four canonical Gospels, some scholars have expressed doubt that any are genuine.[85][86][87][88]

Phenomena during the crucifixion

Mark mentions darkness in the daytime during Jesus' crucifixion and the Temple veil being torn in two when Jesus dies.[33] Matthew follows Mark, adding an earthquake and the resurrection of saints.[34] Luke also follows Mark.[35] In John, there are no such miraculous signs.[89] Instead, Jesus' triumph over death is the only sign revealing Jesus' divinity.[89]

Darkness and eclipse

In the synoptic narrative, the sky is "darkened for 3 hours," from the sixth to the ninth hour that Jesus was hanging on the cross (which would be 9 pm to midnight). Both Roman orator Julius Africanus and Christian theologian Origen refer to Greek historian Phlegon as having written "with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took place"[90] Julius Africanus further refers to the writings of historian Thallus when denying the possibility of a solar eclipse: "This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Saviour falls on the day before the passover; but an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun."[91] A solar eclipse concurrent with a full moon is a scientific impossibility. Christian apologist Tertullian wrote "In the same hour, too, the light of day was withdrawn, when the sun at the very time was in his meridian blaze. Those who were not aware that this had been predicted about Christ, no doubt thought it an eclipse. You yourselves have the account of the world-portent still in your archives."[92]

Humphreys and Waddington of Oxford University reconstructed the scenarios for a lunar eclipse on that day.[66] They concluded that:

"This eclipse was visible from Jerusalem at moonrise.... first visible from Jerusalem at about 6:20pm (the start of the Jewish Sabbath and also the start of Passover day in A.D. 33) with about 20% of its disc in the umbra of the earth's shadow .... The eclipse finished some thirty minutes later at 6:50pm."

Moreover, their calculations showed that the 20% umbra shadow was positioned close to the leading edge, the first visible portion at moonrise. Readily available astronomy programs can be used to verify these details. These authors note that the Apostle Peter's reference to a "moon of blood"[Acts 2:20] (a term commonly used for a lunar eclipse because of the reddish color of the light refracted onto the moon through the Earth's atmosphere) may be a reference to this eclipse.

Temple veil, earthquake and resurrection

The synoptic gospels state that the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom. According to Josephus, the curtain in Herod's temple would have been nearly 60 feet (18 m) high and 4 inches (100 mm) thick. According to Hebrews 9:1-10, this curtain was representative of the separation between God and man, beyond which only the High Priest was permitted to pass, and then only once each year[cf. Ex. 30:10] to enter into God's presence and make atonement for the sins of Israel. [Lev. 16] Bible expositors agree that the rending of the veil is symbolic of Jesus establishing a new and living way of access to God[Heb. 9:11-15], see New Covenant.

The Gospel of Matthew states that there were earthquakes, splitting rocks, and the graves of dead saints were opened (and subsequently resurrected after the resurrection of Jesus). The fate of these resurrected saints is never elaborated upon.[Mt. 27:51–53] Ambraseys verified the reality of the earthquake that had rocked Nicaea and other cities throughout Bythenia.[93]

In the synoptic accounts, the centurion in charge, witnessing these events, says: "Truly this was the Son of God!" [Mt. 27:54] or "Truly this man was the Son of God!"[Mk. 15:39] or "Certainly this man was innocent!"[Lk. 23:47]

Death of Jesus: Theological significance

The theological significance of death by crucifixion is at times discussed in terms of the cross being a curse. The Heidelberg Catechism suggests that the special meaning behind Jesus' death by crucifixion rather than some other method is that the believer is "assured that He took upon Himself the curse which lay on me, for a crucified one was cursed by God" (Q & A 39).

Similarly, Galatians 3:13 quotes Deuteronomy 21:23 in its assertion that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."


Bronzino's Deposition of Christ

Jesus' death and resurrection underpin a variety of theological interpretations as to how salvation is granted to humanity. A common feature of all these interpretations is that they place greater emphasis on the death and resurrection than on his words.[94]

To most Christians, Jesus willingly sacrificed himself as an act of perfect obedience as a substitutionary atonement, a sacrifice of love which pleased God.[95] Many modern branches of Christianity embrace substitutionary atonement as the central meaning of Jesus' death on the cross. These branches however have developed different theories of atonement. The Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics incorporates substitutionary atonement as one (relatively minor) element of a single doctrine of the Cross and Resurrection, the Roman Catholic church incorporates it into Aquinas' Satisfaction doctrine rooted in the idea of penance,[95] and Evangelical Protestants interpret it largely in terms of penal substitution.

In the Roman Catholic tradition this view of atonement is balanced by the duty of Roman Catholics to perform Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ[96] which in the encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor of Pope Pius XI were defined as "some sort of compensation to be rendered for the injury" with respect to the sufferings of Jesus.[97] Pope John Paul II referred to these Acts of Reparation as the "unceasing effort to stand beside the endless crosses on which the Son of God continues to be crucified."[98]

The Christus Victor view, which is more common among Eastern Orthodox Christians,[99] holds that Jesus was sent by God to defeat death and Satan. Because of his perfection, voluntary death, and Resurrection, Jesus defeated Satan and death, and arose victorious. Therefore, humanity was no longer bound in sin, but was free to rejoin God through faith in Jesus.[100]

Medical aspects of the crucifixion

A number of theories that attempt to explain the circumstances of the death of Jesus on the cross via medical knowledge of the 19th and 20th centuries have been proposed by a range of people, including physicians, historians and even mystics.

Most theories proposed by trained physicians (with specialties ranging from forensic medicine to ophthalmology) conclude that Jesus endured tremendous amounts of pain and suffering on the Cross before his death. In 2006, general practitioner John Scotson reviewed over 40 publications on the cause of death of Jesus and theories ranged from cardiac rupture to pulmonary embolism.[101]

As early as 1847, drawing on John 19:34, physician William Stroud proposed the ruptured heart theory of the cause of Christ's death and it influenced a number of other people.[102][103] The asphyxia theory has been the subject of several experiments that simulate crucifixion in healthy volunteers and many physicians agree that crucifixion causes a profound disruption of the victim's ability to breathe. A side effect of exhaustive asphyxia is that the crucifixion victim will gradually find it more and more challenging to obtain enough breath to speak. This provides a possible explanation that the last words of Christ were short utterances.[104]

The cardiovascular collapse theory is a prevalent modern explanation and suggests that Jesus died of profound shock. According to this theory, the scourging, the beatings, and the fixing to the cross would have left Jesus dehydrated, weak, and critically ill and that the stage was set for a complex interplay of simultaneous physiological insults: dehydration, massive trauma and soft tissue injury (especially from the prior scourging), inadequate respiration, and strenuous physical exertion, leading to cardiovascular collapse.[105][106]

In her 1944 book Poem of the Man God Italian writer and mystic Maria Valtorta (who had no medical education) provided a very detailed account of the death of Jesus that supports the cardiovascular collapse theory, compounded by partial asphyxiation, and she wrote that the account was dictated to her by Jesus himself in a vision.[107] Endocrinologist Nicholas Pende expressed agreement with Valtorta's account and expressed surprise at the level of detail in which Valtorta depicted Christ's spasms in Crucifixion.[108]

Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, physician William Edwards and his colleagues supported the combined cardiovascular collapse (via hypovolemic shock) and exhaustion asphyxia theories, assuming that the flow of water from the side of Jesus described in the Gospel of John[19:34] was pericardial fluid.[109] Some Christian Apologists seem to favor this theory and maintain that this medical anomaly would have been a fact that the author of the Gospel of John would have been tempted to leave out, had he not been interested in accurate reporting.[110]

In his book The Crucifixion of Jesus, physician and forensic pathologist Frederick Zugibe provides a set of theories that attempt to explain the nailing, pains and death of Jesus in great detail.[111][112] Zugibe carried out a number of experiments over several years to test his theories while he was a medical examiner.[113] These studies included experiments in which volunteers with specific weights were hanging at specific angles and the amount of pull on each hand was measured, in cases where the feet were also secured or not. In these cases the amount of pull and the corresponding pain was found to be significant.[114]

Pierre Barbet, a pharmacist and science fiction writer, advanced a set of detailed theories on the death of Jesus. He hypothesized that Jesus would have had to relax his muscles to obtain enough air to utter his last words, in the face of exhaustion asphyxia. Barbet hypothesized that a crucified person would have to use his pierced feet to lift his body in order to obtain enough breath to speak.[115] Some of Barbet's theories, e.g., location of nails, are disputed by Zugibe.

Ophthalmologist and pastor C. Truman Davis also published a physician's view of the crucifixion, agreeing with Barbet, but his analysis is far less detailed than Zugibe.[116]

Orthopedic surgeon Keith Maxwell not only analyzed the medical aspects of the Crucifixion, but also looked backed at how Jesus could have carried the cross all the way along Via Dolorosa.[117][118]

In an article for the Catholic Medical Association, Phillip Bishop and physiologist Brian Church suggested a new theory based on suspension trauma.[119]

In 2003, historians FP Retief and L Cilliers reviewed the history and pathology of crucifixion as performed by the Romans and suggested that the cause of death was often a combination of factors. They also state that Roman guards were prohibited from leaving the scene until death had occurred.[120]

Crucifixion in art, symbolism and devotions

Since the crucifixion of Jesus, the cross has become a key element of Christian symbolism, and the crucifixion scene has been a key element of Christian art, giving rise to specific artistic themes such as Ecce Homo, The Raising of the Cross, Descent from the Cross and Entombment of Christ.

The symbolism of the cross which is today one of the most widely recognized Christian symbols was used from the earliest Christian times and Justin Martyr who died in 165 describes it in a way that already implies its use as a symbol, although the crucifix appeared later.[121][122] Masters such as Caravaggio, Rubens and Titian have all depicted the crucifixion scene in their works.

Devotions based on the process of crucifixion, and the sufferings of Jesus are followed by various Christians. The Stations of the Cross follows a number of stages based on the stages involved in the crucifixion of Jesus, while the Rosary of the Holy Wounds is used to meditate on the wounds of Jesus as part of the crucifixion.

The presence of the Virgin Mary under the Cross[Jn. 19:26-27] has in itself been the subject of Marian art, and well known Catholic symbolism such as the Miraculous Medal and Pope John Paul II's Coat of Arms bearing a Marian Cross. And a number of Marian devotions also involve the presence of the Virgin Mary in Calvary, e.g., Pope John Paul II stated that "Mary was united to Jesus on the Cross".[123][124] Well known works of Christian art by masters such as Raphael (e.g., the Mond Crucifixion), and Caravaggio (e.g., his Entombment) depict the Virgin Mary as part of the crucifixion scene.

Gallery of art

See also


  1. Funk, Robert W.; and the Jesus Seminar (1998). The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. San Francisco: Harper. 
  2. "Passion, the." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  3. Crossan, John Dominic (1995). Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. HarperOne. p. 145. ISBN 0060616628. "That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be, since both Josephus and Tacitus...agree with the Christian accounts on at least that basic fact." 
  4. "Jesus Christ." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005.
  5. David Freedman, 2000, Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, ISBN 9780802824004, page 299.
  6. Crucifixion Article
  7. Article on the Crucifixion of Jesus
  8. Matthew 27:33-44; Mark 15:22-32; Luke 23:33-43; John 19:17-30
  9. Matthew 27:33 - "place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull)"; Mark 15:22 (same as Matthew); Luke 23:32-33 - "place that is called The Skull"; John 19:17 - "place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha"
  10. Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27-28; Luke 23:33; John 19:18
  11. Matthew 27:37 - "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews."; Mark 15:26 - "The King of the Jews."; Luke 23:38 - "This is the King of the Jews." Some manuscripts add in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew; John 19:19-22 - "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." " was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek."
  12. Matthew 27:35-36; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:23-24
  13. Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; John 19:30
  14. Matthew 27:57-58; Mark 15:42-43; Luke 23:50-52; John 19:38
  15. Matthew 27:59-60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53; John 19:41-42
  16. Matthew 27:31-32; Mark 15:20-21; Luke 23:26
  17. Matthew 27:39-43; Mark 15:29-32; Luke 23:35-37
  18. Matthew 27:44; Mark 15:32; Luke 23:39
  19. Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44-45
  20. Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45
  21. Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47
  22. Matthew 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-41; Luke 23:49
  23. Matthew 27:61; Mark 15:47; Luke 23:54-55
  24. Matthew 27:34; 27:47-49; Mark 15:23; 15:35-36; John 19:29-30
  25. Mark 15:45; John 19:38
  26. Matthew 27:51; 27:62-66
  27. Mark 15:25; 15:44-45
  28. Luke 23:27-32; 23:40-41; 23:48; 23:56
  29. John 19:31-37; 19:39-40
  30. John 19:30–31; Mark 16:1; Mark 16:6
  31. Geza Vermes, The Resurrection, (Penguin, 2008) page 148.
  32. E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, (Penguin, 1993), page 276.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco. 1998. "Mark," p. 51-161
  34. 34.0 34.1 Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco. 1998. "Matthew," p. 129-270
  35. 35.0 35.1 Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco. 1998. "Luke," p. 267-364
  36. Ehrman, Bart D.. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 978-0-06-073817-4
  37. Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco. 1998. "John" pp. 365-440
  38. Bruce, F.F. (1981). The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. ISBN 0802822193. 
  39. Tacitus. "Annals, XXV.44". 
  40. Lucian. H. W. Fowler. ed. The Death of Peregrine, 11-13. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. 
  41. Louis Feldman counts 87 articles published during the period of 1937-1980, "the overwhelming majority of which question its authenticity in whole or in part". Feldman, Louis H (1989). Josephus, the Bible, and History. Leiden: E.J. Brill. p. 430. ISBN 9004089314. 
  42. Goldstein, Morris (1950). Jesus in the Jewish Tradition. New York: Macmillan Co.. 
  43. Philo. "De Specialibus Legibus 2.145". 
  44. Josephus. The War of the Jews 6.9.3
  45. Mishnah, Pesahim 5.1.
  46. Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-8
  47. Stroes, H. R. (October 1966). "Does the Day Begin in the Evening or Morning? Some Biblical Observations". Vetus Testamentum 16 (4): 460–475. doi:10.2307/1516711. 
  48. Ross, Allen. "Daily Life In The Time Of Jesus". 
  49. Hoener, Harold (1977). Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 
  50. Heawood, Percy J. (July 1951). "The Time of the Last Supper". The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series 42 (1): 37–44. 
  51. Schmidt, Nathaniel (1892). "The Character of Christ's Last Meal". Journal of Biblical Literature 11 (1): 1–21. doi:10.2307/3259075. 
  52. Rusk, Roger. "The Day He Died". 
  53. Langford, Jack. "Christ Our Passover". 
  54. Coulter, FR (2006). A Harmony of the Gospels in Modern English - The Life of Jesus Christ. Hollister, CA: York. pp. 1256–258. 
  55. Geza Vermes, The Passion, (Penguin, 2005) page 116.
  56. E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, (Penguin, 1993) page 290.
  57. "Death certificate is imprinted on the Shroud of Turin, says Vatican scholar", Times of London, Richard Owen, 21 November 2009 [1]
  58. Daily Telegraph: "Jesus Christ's 'death certificate' found on Turin Shroud" [2]
  59. Newton, Isaac (1733). "Of the Times of the Birth and Passion of Christ", in Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John
  60. Pratt, J. P. (1991). "Newton's Date for the Crucifixion". Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society 32 (3): 301–304. 
  61. Schaefer, B. E. (1990). "Lunar Visibility and the Crucifixion". Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society 31 (1): 53–67. 
  62. Astronomers on the Date of the Crucifixion
  63. Astronomers on Date of Christ's Death
  64. Goldstine, Hermman H. (1973). New and Full Moons, 1001 B.C. to A.D. 1651. Philadelphia. p. 86.  quoted by Hohener, Harold (1977). Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. p. 100. 
  65. Colin J. Humphreys and W. G. Waddington, "Dating the Crucifixion," Nature 306 (December 22/29, 1983), pp. 743-46. [3]
  66. 66.0 66.1 Colin J. Humphreys and W. G. Waddington, The Date of the Crucifixion Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 37 (March 1985)[4]
  67. Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26
  68. Lavinia Cohn-Sherbok, Who's who in Christianity, (Routledge 1998), page 303.
  69. Notes and Queries, Volume 6 July-December 1852, London, page 252
  70. The Archaeological journal (UK), Volume 7, 1850 page 413
  71. Saint Veronica at the Catholic encyclopedia [5]
  72. Alban Butler, 2000 Lives of the Saints ISBN 0860122565 page 84
  73. Eusebius of Caesarea. Onomasticon (Concerning the Place Names in Sacred Scripture). 
  74. Eucherius of Lyon. "Letter to the Presbyter Faustus". "The three more frequented exit gates are one on the west, another on the east, and a third on the north. As you enter the city from the northern side, the first of the holy places due to the condition of the directions of the streets is to the church which is called the Martyrium, which was by Constantine with great reverence not long ago built up. Next, to the west one visits the connecting places Golgotha and the Anastasis; indeed the Anastasis is in the place of the resurrection, and Golgotha is in the middle between the Anastasis and the Martyrium, the place of the Lord's passion, in which still appears that rock which once endured the very cross on which the Lord was. These are however separated places outside of Mount Sion, where the failing rise of the place extended itself to the north." 
  75. Jenny Schroedel, 2006, The Everything Mary Book ISBN 9781593377137 page 23
  76. Carol Meyers, 2001, Women in Scripture ISBN 9780802849625 page 119
  77. John Phillips, 2001, Exploring the Gospel of John ISBN 9780825434891 page 366
  78. Medical Analysis of Crucifixion
  79. Catholic Doctors on Crucifixion
  80. David Anderson-Berry, 1871 The Seven Sayings of Christ on the Cross, Glasgow: Pickering & Inglis Publishers
  81. Arthur Pink, 2005 The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross Baker Books ISBN 0801065739
  82. Simon Peter Long, 1966 The wounded Word: A brief meditation on the seven sayings of Christ on the cross Baker Books
  83. John Ross Macduff, 1857 The Words of Jesus New York: Thomas Stanford Publishers, page 76
  84. Alexander Watson, 1847 The seven sayings on the Cross John Masters Publishers, London, page 5
  85. James G. D. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, (Eerdmans, 2003) page 779.
  86. James G. D. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, (Eerdmans, 2003) page 780.
  87. James G. D. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, (Eerdmans, 2003) page 780-1.
  88. Rev. John Edmunds, 1855 The seven sayings of Christ on the cross Thomas Hatchford Publishers, London, page 26
  89. 89.0 89.1 Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. "John" p. 302-310
  90. Origen. "Contra Celsum (Against Celsus), Book 2, XXXIII". 
  91. Julius Africanus. The Extant Fragments of the Chronography, XVIII
  92. Tertullian. "Apologeticum". 
  93. Ambraseys, H. (2005). Historical earthquakes in Jerusalem – A methodological discussion. Journal of Seismology, 9, 329-340.
  94. For example, see Matthew 6:14–15). See also Sermon on the Mount
  95. 95.0 95.1 "Doctrine of the Atonement". Catholic Encyclopedia. 
  96. Ball, Ann (2003). Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices. Huntington, Ind.: Our Sunday Visitor. ISBN 087973910X. 
  97. "Miserentissimus Redemptor". Encyclical of Pope Pius XI. 
  98. "Vatican archives". 
  99. See Development of the Christus Victor view after Aulén
  100. Johnson, Alan F., and Robert E. Webber (1993). What Christians Believe: A Biblical and Historical Summary. Zondervan. pp. 261–263. 
  101. John Scotson Medical theories on the cause of death in crucifixion Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Aug 2006.[6]
  102. William Stroud, 1847, Treatise on the Physical Death of Jesus Christ London: Hamilton and Adams.
  103. William Seymour, 2003, The Cross in Tradition, History and Art ISBN 0766145271
  104. Columbia University page of Pierre Barbet on Crucifixion
  105. The Search for the Physical Cause of Christ's Death BYU Studies
  106. The Physical Death Of Jesus Christ, Study by The Mayo Clinic citing studies by Bucklin R (The legal and medical aspects of the trial and death of Christ. Sci Law 1970; 10:14-26), Mikulicz-Radeeki FV (The chest wound in the crucified Christ. Med News 1966;14:30-40), Davis CT (The crucifixion of Jesus: The passion of Christ from a medical point of view. Ariz Med 1965;22:183-187), and Barbet P (A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Out 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).
  107. Maria Valtorta 1944, The Poem of the Man God, Valtorta Publishing, ISBN 9992645571.
  108. Pende Quotes on Valtorta
  109. Edwards, William D.; Gabel, Wesley J.; Hosmer, Floyd E; On the Physical Death of Jesus, JAMA March 21, 1986, Vol 255, No. 11, pp 1455–1463 [7]
  110. Jesus Died on the Cross
  111. Frederick Zugibe, 2005, The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry Evans Publishing, ISBN 1590770706
  112. JW Hewitt, The Use of Nails in the Crucifixion Harvard Theological Review, 1932
  113. Crucifixion Shroud
  114. Crucifixion experiments
  115. Barbet, Pierre. Doctor at Calvary, New York: Image Books, 1963.
  116. C. Truman Davis A medical explanation of what Jesus endured
  117. Keith Maxwell MD on the Crucifixion of Christ
  118. Jesus' Suffering and Crucifixion from a Medical Point of View
  119. Catholic Medical Association, Linacre Quarterly, August 2006
  120. FP Retief and L Cilliers The history and pathology of crucifixion South African medical journal, 2003.[8]
  121. Catholic encyclopedia on Symbolism
  122. Catholic encyclopedia on Veneration of Images
  123. EWTN: Mary was United to Jesus on the Cross
  124. Vatican website on Behold Your Mother!

Further reading

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Crucifixion of Jesus. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.