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Copyright 1986, Journal of the American Medical Association

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 stripelike lacerations were usually associated with considerable blood loss. Center right, View from above, showing position of lictors. Right, Inferomedial direction of wounds.

Scourging Practices

 Flogging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution, 28 and only women and Roman senators or soldiers (except in eases of desertion) were exempt.11 The usual instrument was a short whip (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 (Fig 2).5,7,11 Occasionally, staves also were used. 8, 12 For scourging, the man was stripped of his clothing, and his hands were tied to an upright post (Fig 2). 11 The back, buttocks, and legs were flogged either by two soldiers (lictors) or by one who alternated positions.5,7,11,28 The severity of the scourging depended on the disposition of the lictors and was intended to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse or death. 8 After the scourging, the soldiers often taunted their victim.11

Medical Aspects of Scourging

 As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim's back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and Subcutaneous tissues.7 Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.2, 7, 25 Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock.12The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim would survive on the cross.8

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.33) It is not known whether the number of lashes was limited to 39, in accordance with Jewish law.5 The Roman soldiers, amused that this weakened man had claimed to be a king, began to mock him by placing a robe on his shoulders, a crown of thorns on his head, and a wooden staff as a scepter in his right hand.1 Next, they spat on Jesus and struck him on the head with the wooden staff.1 Moreover, when the soldiers tore the robe from Jesus' back, they probably reopened the scourging wounds.7

 The severe scourging, with its intense pain and appreciable blood loss, most probably left Jesus in a 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.

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A Physician Analyzes The Crucifixion, by Dr. C. Truman Davis
Medical Aspects Of The Crucifixion Of Jesus Christ, Compiled by David Terasaka, M.D.
If Dr. Seuss wrote the Crucifixion in the Bible

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REFERENCES

1. Matthew 26:17-27:61, Mark 14:12-15:47, Luke 22:7-23:56, John 13:1-19:42, in The Holy Bible (New International Version). Grand Rapids, Mieh, Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1978. 18. Allen AC: The Skin: A Clinicopathological Treatise, ed 2 New York, Grune & Stratton Inc. 1967, pp 745-747- 35. Arndt WF, Gingrich FW: A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. University of Chicago Press, 1957, p 673
2. Lumpkin R: The physical suffering of Christ. J Med. Assoc Ala 1978,47:8-10,47. 19. Sutton RL Jr: Diseases of the Skin, ed 11. st Louis, CV Mosby Co. 1956, pp 1393-1394. 36. Brown F. Driver SR, Briggs CA: A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament With an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic. Oxford, England, Clarendon Press, 1953, pp 841, 854.
3 Johnson CD: Medical and cardiological aspects of the passion and crucifixion of Jesus, the Christ. Bol Assoc. Med. PR 1978;70:97-102. 20. Scott CT: A case of haematidrosis. Br Med. J 1918;1:532-533. 37. Robertson AT: A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research. Nashville, Tenn, Broadman Press, 1931, pp 417-427.
4. Barb AA: The wound in Christ's side. J Warburg Courtauld Inst. 1971;34:320-321. 21. Klauder JV: Stigmatization. Arch DermatoI Syphilol 1938;37:650-659. .38. Jackson SM (ed): The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. New York, Funk & Wagnalls, 1909, pp 312-314..
5. Bucklin R The legal and medical aspects of the trial and death of Christ. Sci Law 1970; 10:14-26. 22. Weaver KF: The mystery of the shroud. Natl Geogr 1980;157:730-753. 39. Kim H-S, Suzuki M, Lie JT, et al: Nonbacterial thrombotic endocarditis (NBTE) and dis-seminated intravascular coagulation (DIC): Autopsy study of 36 patients. Arch Pathol Lab Med 1977;101:65-68.
6. Mikulicz-Radeeki FV: The chest wound in the crucified Christ. Med News 1966;14:30-40. 23. Tzaferis V: Jewish tombs at and near Giv'at ha-Mivtar, Jerusalem. Israel Explor J 1970;20:18-32. 40. Becker AE, van Mantgem J-P: Cardiac tamponade: A study of 50 hearts. Eur J Cardiol 1975;3:349-358.
7. Davis CT: The crucifixion of Jesus: The passion of Christ from a medical point of view. Ariz Med 1965;22:183-187. 24. Haas N: Anthropological observations on the skeletal remains from Giv'at ha-Mivtar. Israel Explor J 1970;20:38-59.
8. Tenney SM: On death by crucifixion Am Heart J 1964;68:286-287. 25. McDowell J: The Resurrection Factor. San Bernardino, Calif, Here's Life Publishers, 1981 pp 20-53, 75-103.
9. Bloomquist ER: A doctor looks at crucifixion. Christian Herald, March 1964, pp 35, 46-48. 26. McDowell J: Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Historical Evidences for the Chnstian Faith. San Bernardino, Calif, Here's Life Publishers, 1979, pp 39-87, 141-263.
10. DePasquale NP, Burch GE: Death by crucifixion. Am Heart J 1963;66:434-435. 27. McDowell J: More Than a Carpenter. Wheaton, III, Tyndale House Publishers, 1977 pp 36-71, 89-100.
11. Barbet P: A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Out Lold 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. 28. Hengel M: Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross Bowden J (trans). Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1977, pp 22-45, 86-90.
12. Primrose WB: A surgeon looks at the crucifixion. Hibbert J. 1949, pp 382-388.

 

29. Ricciotti G: The Life of Christ, Zizzamia AI (trans). Milwaukee, Bruce Publishing Co 1947, pp 29-57, 78-153, 161-167, 586-647.
13. Bergsma S: Did Jesus die of a broken heart? Calvin Forum 1948;14:163-167. 30. Pfeiffer CF, Vos HF, Rea J (eds): Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia. Chicago, Moody Press, 1975 pp 149-152, 404-405, 713-723, 1173-1174, 1520-1523.
14. Whitaker JR: The physical cause of the death of our Lord. Cath Manchester Guard 1937;15:83-91 . 31. Greenleaf S: An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. Grand Rapids, Mich, Baker Book House, 1965, p29.
15. Clark CCP: What was the physical cause of the death of Jesus Christ? Med Rec 1890;38:543. 32. Hatch E, Redpath HA: A Concordance to the Septuagint and the Other Greek Versions of the Old Testament (Including the Apocryphal Books). Graz, Austria, Akademische Druce U Verlagsanstalt, 1975, p 1142.
16. Cooper HC: The agony of death by crucifixion. NY Med J 1883;38:150-153. 33. Wuest KS: Wuest Word Studies From the Greek New Testament for the English Reader Grand Rapids, Mich, WB Eerdmans Publisher 1973, vol 1, p 280.
17 Stroud W: Treatise on the Physical Cause of the Death of Chlist and Its Relation to the Principles and Practice of Christianity, ed 2. London, Hamilton & Adams, 1871, pp 28-156, 489-494. 34. Friedrich G: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Bremiley G (ed-trans). Grand Rapids, Mich, WB Eerdmans Publisher, 1971, vol 7, pp 572, 573, 632