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May 23, 1986

On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ

Author Affiliations

Oklahoma State University Stillwater

JAMA. 1986;255(20):2755. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370200054015

To the Editor.—  The article, "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ,"1 is a disgrace to your credibility as a journal of scientific inquiry. The intention throughout the article is to present an apology for the Christian faith, yet it masquerades as a scientific study, which you legitimate by printing it. The apologetic intentions are especially transparent in the concluding paragraph: "Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge." This is a non sequitur. Medical data can only lend credibility to what is essentially a historical hypothesis. The hypothesis itself must stand or fall on the basis of the validity of the historical analysis that lies behind it. Yet, the depiction of the death of Jesus that is presented represents an uncritical, literal reading of the biblical text that would not be followed by