Saturday, July 19, 2003

ANDREW SULLIVAN IS WONDERING ABOUT THE NAILS IN THE PALMS IN THE TRAILER FOR THE PASSION (scroll up for more). He cites two web pages, one of which is by a medical doctor and which includes some dodgy references (e.g., studies of the Shroud of Turin and stuff from Josh McDowell). The other is an article by Joseph Zias, who is perhaps the world's expert on the subject. In another article Zias said:

The upright remained stationary and the victim carried the crossbeam to his execution. Once the crossbeam was affixed to the upright, the victim would be nailed or tied to the cross. In the case of nailing, the nail would be driven through the wrist rather than the palm.

although he doesn't say why he concludes this. But elsewhere he is quoted as explaining:

``You cannot crucify a person through the hands because there is nothing there but skin and muscle. It will tear. It has to be through the wrist,''

So, sorry Mel Gibson, but physiology requires that crucifixion by nailing (as opposed to tying, which also happened � see both articles just quoted) was through the wrists, not the palms.

UPDATE: Sullivan cites an unnamed reader who says that a "newer theory holds that indeed the hands and feet were entry points, but that wooden washers made from the cut trunk of young trees were used for additional support." I've never heard of this and no reference is cited. Would this prevent the palms from ripping? Is there any evidence for it? In any case, no wooden washers are visible in the trailer. Sullivan also notes that Pilate speaks Latin with the ecclesiastical pronunciation.

UPDATE (21 July): Okay, the trailer does show ropes holding him to the cross. I doubt this would work (i.e., keep the hands from ripping through) but at least they're acknowledging the problem. And the Aramaic pronuciation sounds all right (Elohi rather than Matthews Eloi).

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