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May 23, 1986

On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ

Author Affiliations

Ohio State University Columbus

JAMA. 1986;255(20):2760. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370200054027

To the Editor.—  I am writing with regard to the SPECIAL COMMUNICATION entitled "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ."1 The matter of death by crucifixion is elegantly described in the article. I believe, however, that one factor is missing in the analysis. An additional, perhaps even major, factor in the death would be the occurrence of vasodepressor syncope with a fatal outcome. This was originally suggested to me many years ago by my mentor, Dr Soma Weiss,2 the Hersey Professor of The Theory and Practice of Physics at Harvard. He was a student of various forms of syncope, and since then I have continued these studies.Vasodepressor (or vasovagal) syncope with sudden loss of consciousness has been carefully studied pathophysiologically. It occurs in a situation that the individual finds untenable and desires to escape, such as an increased muscle blood flow. Some of the mechanisms for flight