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May 23, 1986

On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ

Author Affiliations

Harvard University Health Services Cambridge, Mass

JAMA. 1986;255(20):2755. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370200054016

To the Editor.—  The article on the physical death of Jesus of Nazareth1 missed the mark: one simply cannot do an autopsy without a corpse.Even if the New Testament, upon which the authors relied principally for "facts," were historical, it is not unanimous in saying that Jesus was crucified. The Book of Acts, which some scholars consider more ancient than the Gospels, says that Jesus was hanged from a tree.2 Whether Jesus died during the ordeal is not a new question; there was a period spanning the early Middle Ages when the Church said Jesus did not die, not even physically.I find the authors' use of the term "the Jews" too general, too vague, and too liable to be used for mischief, as it has so often been used in the past 2,000 years. Which Jews did the authors have in mind? Surely not Jesus' original followers,