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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 June, 2005, 09:02 GMT 10:02 UK
Was Jesus killed by a blood clot?
Image of crucifixion
Many people were crucified in Biblical times
Jesus may have died from a blood clot in his lungs, Israeli doctors believe.

Dr Benjamin Brenner from Rambam Medical Centre bases his theory on New Testament and contemporary religious sources about the crucifixion.

He believes Jesus developed a deep vein thrombosis in his legs while nailed to the cross, which then travelled from his legs to his lungs and killed him.

Other scientists dismissed the theory. Bible scholars said the spirituality behind Jesus' death was more important.

DVT

Dr Brenner looked at an in-depth study into Christ's crucifixion that had been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1986 by Dr William Edwards and colleagues from the US.

This fits well with Jesus' condition
Dr Brenner

That study found that before his crucifixion, Jesus went 12 hours without food or water, was under intense emotional stress and was beaten and forced to walk to the crucifixion site carrying the heavy cross beam of the cross on which he was killed.

It is commonly believed that Jesus died from asphyxiation and blood loss after being nailed to the cross.

Dr Brenner claims that the authors may have missed the possibility of a blood clot.

Missing the point

Awareness about DVT and the associated complication of pulmonary embolism - when the blood clot reaches the lungs - has been growing in recent years, particularly in relation to immobility and long-term travel, dubbed economy class syndrome.

Jesus was on the cross for only six hours. It seems unlikely that a large DVT could develop
Dr William Edwards, author of the JAMA study

He said "It is known that the common cause of death in the setting of multiple trauma, immobilisation and dehydration is pulmonary embolism.

"This fits well with Jesus' condition and actually was in all likelihood the major cause of death of crucified victims."

He told the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis that Jesus probably died three to six hours after the crucifixion from the clot.

But Dr Edwards dismissed Brenner's theory saying he was well aware of the effects of pulmonary embolism at the time that he wrote the Journal of the American Medical Association study.

"We didn't list it in our article because we didn't consider it a likely cause. "Jesus was on the cross for only six hours. It seems unlikely that a large DVT could develop and cause fatal pulmonary embolism in that short time."

Bible scholars said by focusing on the cause of death they were missing the point.

Stephen Pfann, a Bible scholar in Jerusalem, said: "What they are doing is an autopsy of the physical body which is always interesting from an academic standpoint.

"But if people concentrate on that part of the event alone they are missing the most important part, which is the spiritual suffering.

"The major trauma for the son of God is spiritual trauma, the loneliness feeling the rejection of God and the shame of the world that came upon him at that point."




SEE ALSO:
Turin shroud 'older than thought'
31 Jan 05 |  Science/Nature


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