Post about "Death Dying"

How Jesus Died

Jesus’ cause of death was crucifixion. However, the specific physiologic mechanism of how Jesus died has been the subject of controversy among physicians. The medical factors leading to death by crucifixion are not obvious, as with other forms of execution.The crucifixion of Jesus is the most well known and controversial execution in history due to the deeply held belief of Jesus’ early followers that he returned again to physical life after death by crucifixion. Some have suggested Jesus survived crucifixion, a proposition popularly referred to as the “swoon theory”. Whatever one’s viewpoint, it is a historical fact that Jesus’ early followers held staunch beliefs that Jesus died by crucifixion, and later returned to physical life again. To them, this verified Jesus was the Messiah of Hebrew prophetic literature. Many of Jesus’ early followers suffered violent deaths, even crucifixion themselves, rather than recanting this belief. Christianity rose to a major world religion from this small group of Jesus’ early disciples.The biblical account of Jesus’ execution provides clues that he may have been progressing in shock. He would have been deprived any fluids from his arrest on, most likely. He was beaten several time, and scourged (Matt 27:27-31, John 19:1). This would have caused blood loss, as well as extensive musculoskeletal and possible organ tissue damage. Hematidrosis, “sweating blood”, indicates the intense stress and anxiety he experienced, and it is likely he would have been sweating profusely as the night progressed contributing to dehydration (Luke 22:44). By the time Jesus’ was compelled to carry the patibulum, the short section of the cross (70-80 lbs), a short distance of about 500 meters to the execution site, he was not able to do so. A bystander was enlisted by soldiers to carry it for him (Matt 27:32). Jesus’ cried out in thirst on the cross (John 19:28), indicating dehydration and perhaps early shock.Finally, Jesus’ death occurred in about 6 hours, much shorter than the several days of crucifixion many victims experienced. The rapid demise of Jesus suggests a progressive underlying physiologic derangement, not directly obvious to observers and not typical of crucified victims. Pilate was surprised Jesus’ died so quickly, when release of his body was requested for burial (Mark 15:44-45). Shock was most likely a major factor, if not the primary mechanism, leading to Jesus’ death. One recognized complication of shock is losing the ability to stop bleeding. This is called trauma-induced coagulopathy.No matter what one’s opinion of him may be, Jesus was a historical figure of great significance. It is clear that he had a profound effect on his original followers, who would not recant their belief that Jesus was the Messiah/savior-king of Hebrew prophetic literature, even when faced with torture and threats of death themselves. The biblical descriptions of Jesus’ crucifixion, by medically uneducated observers, correlates with modern medical knowledge and experience. It is most medically logical that he died from the effects of traumatic shock, i.e. significant bodily injury with resultant critical blood volume depletion. The shock complication of an acute trauma-induced coagulopathy is reasonably likely.The hypothesis that trauma-induced coagulopathy was a contributing factor, and perhaps the primary mechanism, of Jesus’ death is based on a forensic reconstruction from the biblical record. Namely, the causative factors of trauma-induced coagulopathy appear to have been present. Furthermore, this hypothesis has merit due to explanatory power with respect to Jesus’ unusually rapid death, as well as the observation of blood flow from Jesus’ corpse. Traumatic shock, complicated by trauma-induced coagulopathy, would lead to rapid death from blood volume depletion and a progressive loss of Jesus’ capacity to stop bleeding. In common vernacular, he bled to death.Jesus’ death as a result of shock and trauma-induced coagulopathy, is consistent with orthodox Christian faith and practice. Thus, it is logical from both a medical science and theological standpoint.At Jesus’ last supper, the Passover meal prior to his crucifixion, he took the Passover cup and said, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt 26:28).