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Women who answer God's call provide valuable local ministries (1/11/04)

Pastors predict bleak future if local casinos open (12/28/03)

Soap, figurines, candles keep books company in Christian stores (12/21/03)

In order to form a more perfect union (11/30/03)

Federal Marriage Amendment receives Fellowship’s endorsement (11/23/03)

Drug czar congratulates Teen Challenge (11/16/03)

Christian fiction no long back-shelf item (10/19/03)

DREAM3 benefits churches (10/19/03)

Youth rise to DC03 challenge (10/12/03)

Ministry uses drama, music to touch city for Christ (9/28/03)

Displeased viewers protest raunchy programs (9/21/03)

Grit, determination key to cities blocking cable pornography (8/31/03)

Economic slump doesn't always derail giving (8/24/03)

Ruling threatens family, Christian leaders say (8/17/03)

Anti-aging options require balanced approach to health, beauty (8/10/03)

Convoy of Hope reaches out to inner-city neighborhood (7/27/03)

Fight for the flag moves to nation’s schools (7/20/03)

Drama speaks volumes to alienated veterans (7/13/03)

Church's integrity well received following nightmarish ordeal (6/29/03)

Tornadoes cut wide swath across nation's midsection (6/22/03)

Accountability partners provide human feedback that filters don't (6/15/03)

Checking out your horoscope? God advises you to skip it (6/8/03)

Christian filmmakers pursue wider market success (5/25/03)

Intervention is key to preventing suicide (5/18/03)

Adoption often right decision for young expectant mothers (5/11/03)

Dallas-based ministry keeps inmates out of jail (4/27/03)

Medical analysis of Jesus' death generates interest (4/20/03)

Small-town church reaches community (4/13/03)

Young married couples lulled by false sense of security (3/30/03)

Virtual gambling days may be numbered (3/23/03)

Contemporary Christian music copes with its continuing success (3/16/03)

A/G prayer event set for gathering in nation's capital (3/9/03)

Volunteers give church voice in community (2/23/02)

Federal law protects churches in zoning battles (2/16/03)

Singles find cyberspace dating not always match made in heaven (2/9/03)

Predators often plan strategies long in advance (1/19/03)

The Cross and the Switchblade still makes impact 40 years later (1/12/03)

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Medical analysis of Jesus’ death continues to generate interest

By Scott Harrup (April 20, 2003)

An article published nearly 20 years ago in a medical journal about the ancient Roman practice of crucifixion continues to generate interest today among Christian groups that see it as scientific evidence backing the biblical account of Jesus’ death.

In 1986, William D. Edwards, Wesley J. Gabel and Floyd E. Hosmer published “On the physical death of Jesus Christ” in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Edwards and Hosmer, from the Mayo Clinic’s departments of pathology and medical graphics respectively, and Gabel, a Methodist minister, combined their fields of expertise in order to present to modern readers a clear view of crucifixion.

The Mayo Foundation continues to grant reprint rights to various ministry organizations, including a number of Internet sites, still interested in circulating information from the report. James Dobson has read from the article on his Focus on the Family radio broadcast. A Catholic educational site uses the article to promote contemplation on Christ’s sufferings during Lent. Abbott Loop Community Church in Anchorage offers the article as a Bible study resource on its Web page. In fact, typing the title of the article into a search engine such as Google generates hundreds of Web page hits.

Jesus’ physical stress leading up to His crucifixion included the traumatic events in Gethsemane in which He sweat drops of blood (explained in the article as a possible case of hemorrhage into the sweat glands). His multiple interrogations and sham trials at various sites in Jerusalem and His scourging and physical abuse at the hands of Pilate’s soldiers further weakened Him.

Jesus’ scourging created physical trauma almost as horrific as crucifixion itself. He probably would have been beaten with a short whip that contained leather thongs woven around bone shards and metal balls. “As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim’s back with full force,” the article explains, “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.”

“That scourging was not just an isolated event,” says Rick Salvato, emergency medical response coordinator for the Assemblies of God’s HealthCare Ministries. “The trauma to Jesus’ body stayed with Him throughout the crucifixion ordeal. Reading this report brought to light a lot of details that the gospel accounts don’t include. The article helps us understand the suffering Christ went through in the whole process.”

Spikes hammered through the victim’s wrists (the flesh of the hands cannot support the weight of a body, and the Greek word for hand does include the wrist) and feet would not puncture any major blood vessels, so blood loss was not the major threat to life. Rather, the article’s examination of crucifixion reveals that death often came by asphyxiation. Hanging from his arms and shoulders, the victim’s chest would be forced to expand, creating inhalation. But to exhale, the victim would have to extend his legs and take the weight off of his chest. This labored breathing would create excess carbon dioxide in the blood. Soldiers who killed a crucifixion victim in order to remove a body from a cross more quickly did so by breaking the legs. This prohibited the victim from standing to breathe and hastened the asphyxiation.

“One thing the report made clear,” Salvato says, “is that Jesus definitely died from His ordeal. Even removing Jesus from the cross was very traumatic. Imagine pulling those nails out and taking Him down off the cross with His back chewed up from the scourging. Even if Jesus were in a semi-coma, like some skeptics of the Resurrection claim, He still would have responded to that kind of painful stimulation. So the report does a great job of confirming medically that Jesus was dead. I’ve encountered death professionally many times, and when a person is dead it’s fairly easy to recognize.”

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