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May 23, 1986

On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ

Author Affiliations

Texarkana, Tex

JAMA. 1986;255(20):2754. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370200054013

To the Editor.—  The SPECIAL COMMUNICATION, "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ,"1 was particularly offensive. Its overall tone was pseudointellectual and maudlin, the data base contained as much speculation as it did supercilious Latin trivia, and the illustrations were more disgusting than illuminating. What Christian, Jew, or atheist does not realize that respiration during crucifixion is agonizing? Who needs graphic drawings with vector arrows? The authors' fascination with the notion of his scourging wounds becoming "torn open" on several junctures is disturbing. Their concern that these wounds would become contaminated with dirt belies the lack of a clear point to their lugubrious article, as wound contamination is irrelevant with death just a few hours away. Furthermore, nonscientific statements such as "preshock state" and that the terminal event was a "fatal cardiac arrhythmia," which is how all of us die, detract from any serious medical acceptance of this communication. Perhaps