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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.






18 August 2005

How Did Nails Hold Christ’s Hands?


Q: I have a question about the wounds of Christ. They include whip slashes on the back, nail holes through the hands and feet, the spear through the side, and marks on the forehead from the crown of thorns.

Specifically regarding the wounds to His hands, many people believe that was physically impossible to be held up on the cross by the palms and it was really Christ’s wrists. Do you agree with this? I have asked many people; the people who are deeply religious tell me it was through the hands while the ones that are not tell me that it was through the wrists.


A: The Greek word for “hand” often included the wrist. This is possible in the context of Christ’s crucifixion, since the bones, tendons, and ligaments of the wrist probably would hold one’s weight. It could also be that He was nailed, then tied to the cross. Then the nails would have been additional torture above the crucifixion itself. We know from written records and examination of remains that nails were used in other crucifixions. Indeed, the Romans indulged in great variety when torturing people to death.

When you examine the structure of a human hand, the standard picture of nails through the palms seems the least likely possibility, because even a fairly light body could easily cause the nails to tear through the hand, dropping the victim to the ground. Yet without specific testimony, we won’t know until we see the wounds ourselves.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

3 Comments:

Blogger The Terrible Swede said...

Yet without specific testimony, we won’t know until we see the wounds ourselves.

So we all need to be Doubting Thomas'?

;)

19 August, 2005 00:37  
Anonymous Mike said...

"Yet without specific testimony, we won’t know until we see the wounds ourselves."

This is a perfect example of staying far away from the dangers of rationalism and speculation. It is far better to hear this correct response than the a "definative" answer either way.

We do not have all answers to all questions nor should we invent answers that have no basis in Holy Scripture. Thank you, Pastor. This is refreshing.

06 July, 2006 12:05  
Blogger Xrysostom said...

I think I replied personally to the Swede and neglected to post here. What Mike says is true and what Swede asks needs Christ answer: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

06 July, 2006 15:50  

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