The Anatomical And Physiological Details Of Death By
By Dr. C. Truman Davis
A Physician Analyzes the Crucifixion.
From New Wine Magazine, April 1982.
Originally published in Arizona Medicine,
March 1965, Arizona Medical Association.
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Crucifixion was invented by the Persians in 300 BC, and
perfected by the Romans in 100 BC.
1,It is the most painful death ever invented by man and is
where we get our term “excruciating.”
2,It was reserved primarily for the most vicious of male
Jesus refused the anaesthetic wine which was offered to
Him by the Roman soldiers because of His promise in
Matthew 26: 29, “But I say to you, I will not drink of this
fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink
it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
3,Jesus was stripped naked and His clothing divided by
the Roman guards. This was in fulfilment of Psalm 22:18,
“They divide My garments among them, and for My
clothing they cast lots.”
4,The Crucifixion of Jesus guaranteed a horrific, slow,
Having been nailed the Cross, Jesus now had an
impossible anatomical position to maintain.
5,Jesus’ knees were flexed at about 45 degrees, and He
was forced to bear His weight with the muscles of His
thigh, which is not an anatomical position which is
possible to maintain for more than a few minutes without
severe cramp in the muscles of the thigh and calf.
6,Jesus’ weight was borne on His feet, with nails driven
As the strength of the muscles of Jesus’ lower limbs tired,
the weight of His body had to be transferred to His wrists,
His arms, and His shoulders.
7,Within a few minutes of being placed on the Cross,
Jesus’ shoulders were dislocated.
Minutes later Jesus’ elbows and wrists became dislocated.
8,The result of these upper limb dislocations is that His
arms were 9 inches longer than normal, as clearly shown
on the Shroud.
9,In addition prophecy was fulfilled in Psalm 22:14, “I am
poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint.”
10,After Jesus’ wrists, elbows, and shoulders were
dislocated, the weight of His body on his upper limbs
caused traction forces on the Pectoralis Major muscles of
His chest wall.
11,These traction forces caused His rib cage to be pulled
upwards and outwards, in a most unnatural state. His
chest wall was permanently in a position of maximal
respiratory inspiration. In order to exhale, Jesus was
physiologically required to force His body.
12,In order to breathe out, Jesus had to push down on
the nails in His feet to raise His body, and allow His rib
cage to move downwards and inwards to expire air from
13,His lungs were in a resting position of constant
Crucifixion is a medical catastrophe.
14,The problem was that Jesus could not easily push
down on the nails in His feet because the muscles of His
legs, bent at 45 degrees, were extremely fatigued, in
severe cramp, and in an anatomically compromised
15,Unlike all Hollywood movies about the Crucifixion, the
victim was extremely active.
The crucified victim was physiologically forced to move
up and down the cross, a distance of about 12 inches, in
order to breathe.
16,The process of respiration caused excruciating pain,
mixed with the absolute terror of asphyxiation.
17,As the six hours of the Crucifixion wore on, Jesus was
less and less able to bear His weight on His legs, as His
thigh and calf muscles became increasingly exhausted.
There was increasing dislocation of His wrists, elbows and
shoulders, and further elevation of His chest wall, making
His breathing more and more difficult
Within minutes of crucifixion Jesus became severely
dyspnoeic (short of breath).
18,His movements up and down the Cross to breathe
caused excruciating pain in His wrist, His feet, and His
dislocated elbows and shoulders.
19,The movements became less frequent as Jesus became
increasingly exhausted, but the terror of imminent death
by asphyxiation forced Him to continue in His efforts to
20,Jesus’ lower limb muscles developed excruciating
cramp from the effort of pushing down on His legs, to
raise His body, so that He could breathe out, in their
anatomically compromised position.
21,The pain from His two shattered median nerves in His
wrists exploded with every movement.
22,Jesus was covered in blood and sweat.
23,The blood was a result of the Scourging that nearly
killed Him, and the sweat as a result of His violent
involuntary attempts to effort to expire air from His lungs.
Throughout all this He was completely naked, and the
leaders of the Jews, the crowds, and the thieves on both
sides of Him were jeering, swearing and laughing at Him.
In addition, Jesus’ own mother was watching.
24,Physiologically, Jesus’ body was undergoing a series of
catastrophic and terminal events.
25,Because Jesus could not maintain adequate ventilation
of His lungs, He was now in a state of hypoventilation
26,His blood oxygen level began to fall, and He developed
Hypoxia (low blood oxygen).
In addition, because of His restricted respiratory
movements, His blood carbon dioxide (CO2) level began
to rise, a condition known as Hypercapnia.
27,This rising CO2 level stimulated His heart to beat faster
in order to increase the delivery of oxygen, and the
removal of CO2
28,The Respiratory Centre in Jesus’ brain sent urgent
messages to his lungs to breathe faster, and Jesus began
29,Jesus’ physiological reflexes demanded that He took
deeper breaths, and He involuntarily moved up and down
the Cross much faster, despite the excruciating pain.
The agonising movements spontaneously started several
times a minute, to the delight of the crowd who jeered
Him, the Roman soldiers, and the Sanhedrin.
30,However, due to the nailing of Jesus to the Cross and
His increasing exhaustion, He was unable to provide more
oxygen to His oxygen starved body.
31,The twin forces of Hypoxia (too little oxygen) and
Hypercapnia (too much CO2) caused His heart to beat
faster and faster, and Jesus developed Tachycardia.
32,Jesus’ heart beat faster and faster, and His pulse rate
was probably about 220 beats/ minute, the maximum
33,Jesus had drunk nothing for 15 hours, since 6 pm the
Jesus had endured a scourging which nearly killed Him.
34,He was bleeding from all over His body following the
Scourging, the crown of thorns, the nails in His wrists and
feet, and the lacerations following His beatings and falls.
35,Jesus was already very dehydrated, and His blood
pressure fell alarmingly.
36,His blood pressure was probably about 80/50.
37,He was in First Degree Shock, with Hypovolaemia (low
blood volume), Tachycardia (excessively fast Heart Rate),
Tachypnoea (excessively fast Respiratory Rate), and
Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating).
38,By about noon Jesus’ heart probably began to fail.
39,Jesus’ lungs probably began to fill up with Pulmonary
40,This only served to exacerbate His breathing, which
was already severely compromised.
41,Jesus was in Heart Failure and Respiratory Failure.
42,Jesus said, “I thirst” because His body was crying out
43,Jesus was in desperate need of an intravenous infusion
of blood and plasma to save His life
44,Jesus could not breathe properly and was slowly
suffocating to death.
45,At this stage Jesus probably developed a
46,Plasma and blood gathered in the space around His
heart, called the Pericardium.
47,This fluid around His heart caused Cardiac Tamponade
(fluid around His heart, which prevented Jesus’ heart
from beating properly).
48,Because of the increasing physiological demands on
Jesus’ heart, and the advanced state of Haemopericardiu
m, Jesus probably eventually sustained Cardiac Rupture.
His heart literally burst. This was probably the cause of
49,To slow the process of death the soldiers put a small
wooden seat on the Cross, which would allow Jesus the
“privilege” of bearing His weight on his sacrum.
50,The effect of this was that it could take up to nine
days to die on a Cross.
51,When the Romans wanted to expedite death they
would simply break the legs of the victim, causing the
victim to suffocate in a matter of minutes. This was called
52,At three o’clock in the afternoon Jesus said,
“Tetelastai,” meaning, “It is finished.”
At that moment, He gave up His Spirit, and He died.
53,When the soldiers came to Jesus to break His legs, He
was already dead. Not a bone of His body was broken, in
fulfilment of prophecy (above).
54,Jesus died after six hours of the most excruciating and
terrifying torture ever invented.
55,Jesus died so that ordinary people like you and me
could go to Heaven.
All He Asks You is to Love Him, Your Lord, Your God with
all your heart and with all your soul and with all your
strength and with all your mind’!!
Can’t you even do this for Him?