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May 23, 1986

On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ

JAMA. 1986;255(20):2752. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370200054010

To the Editor.—  In the article, "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ,"1 a historically inaccurate version of the events leading to Jesus' death is portrayed (although I am not disputing the physiopathological assertions). The reliance of Edwards et al on the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as a primary basis for deriving historical data is unfounded. The Gospels are a set of theological documents that are not necessarily historical. The reliance on the scriptures as a source of scientific inquiry pertaining to the actual history of Jesus has been refuted by biblical scholars.2-4The many accounts of Jesus' death have been tainted by the lack of scientific empiricism on behalf of religious historians attempting to record his life. The authors of the Gospels were not fundamentally interested in recording reliable historical data. Rather, they were "interested in presenting him as seen through the