[quote="2HunnyBuns, post:1, topic:184910"]
I teach 7th grade CCD and last night we covered a chapter on Christ's passion. When we got to the part about the crucifixion and how it was done, I had one student (the most attentive one in the class) ask me a question. She wanted to know if it was certain that the nails were driven into Jesus' hands and not his wrists. Apparently, she and I have both seen the same documentaries on crucifixion that question the placement of the nails. She raised the point that scientific evidence has shown that the hands would not have supported the weight of the body if he had been crucified in this way and the nails would have torn through his hands. So can anyone tell me how I should answer this student? I told her that I'd have to see if I could dig up an answer for her.
She's correct that Dr. Pierre Barbet, around the 1930's, did propose that the nails must have went around the wrist area instead of the palms because of the above reasons. Add to that the seeming support that Scripture has for this: in New Testament Greek, the word usually translated as 'hand' (cheir) is usually used in a broad sense to refer to both hand and arm. In this it might reflect Semitic usage - period Hebrew and Aramaic seem to have lacked a specific term for this particular part of the body. Hence, in Genesis 24:22 Abraham’s servant gave Rebekah bracelets al-yadeiha, "for her hands", and in Acts 12:7, Peter's chains were in his "hands" (cheirōn). Of course, his revolutionary theory enjoyed some popularity for quite some time in many circles (it still does so today).
Now, as probably have been mentioned, Dr. Frederick Zugibe has recently reviewed Barbet's claims and found that no, contrary to what Barbet was trying to show, the traditional depiction which has the nails going through the palms do work and that people hanging on crosses would most likely not have any difficulty breathing and thus, are not in any danger of asphyxiation (caution: this link has some rather graphic pics, so while you might want to tell your student about Dr. Zugibe and his opinion, I think it would be wise NOT to lead her to this page; at least, not yet).