Nailed through the hands

If Jesus was nailed through the wrist as the shroud of Turin shows this. how come

  1. Stigmata occurs on the hands and
  2. Scripture says hands.
    Thanks in advance. :slight_smile:

This is pretty easy.

Chances are, you’d call this thing ‘handcuffs’. But you don’t really put it around someone’s hands, but on their wrist or forearm, right?

That’s almost analogous with the biblical languages. In Greek and Hebrew, the word for ‘hand’ can really cover anything up to the forearm. That’s why in the Bible, stuff like bracelets and fetters are said to be worn around the ‘hands’. (You can’t always recognize them though since some translations - particularly modern ones - try to be helpful by rendering these instances as ‘arms’. ;))

But here’s a nice example.

Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands.

(Of course, that’s assuming that the Shroud of Turin really IS Jesus’. While many people - including me - do accept that it could very well likely be the real deal, the question is still open. It’s not like Christianity rises or falls depending on whether the Shroud is authentic or not. It’s ultimately just the icing on the cake.)

The Turin Shroud looks like it has gone through His hands to me.

Patrick already answered well up above.

I will add that as I recall one examiner noted too that there the entry or exit (I forget) -one was more towards the palm and the other in the wrist.

For the palms would not hold up a person on the a cross…

Actually, that estimate was based on anatomical experiments in the 1900s, and not from Roman history.

On the shroud, only exit wounds are visible, as the palmar surfaces of both hands are hidden against the body.

  • 1 on Patrick457.

If someone is bound around the wrists, forearms, or even elbows, we still say their “hands are tied.”

And Biblical words for hand were often used to mean the entire upper limb.


All your replies are very much appreciated. It makes since now but if the nails went through the wrists, what about stigmata?

There are over 300 recorded cases of stigmata and until recently ALL were in the palm. Every saint that had stigmata had it in the palm and coming out the back of the hand.A modern example is St Pio .

As far as the experiments done on cadavers to see if hands could take the weight of a human body,they were faulty. A living human has tendons and ligaments that are like ropes.One would have to conduct unethical experiments on living humans to see if Barbets hypothesis was true.

I think the reason the stigmata would be on the palms has two possibilities:

  1. They are psychologically induced and not from God.
  2. OR because the pain of having stigmata in wrist could be so horrible (read p. 197 of The Case for Christ, you can read that page on Google Books)

I believe St Teresa of Avila experienced visions of Jesus.She was, at times, confronted by a false jesus though.The way she could discern between the two was the fact that the real Risen Jesus has nail marks in His hands.She did not say :wrist" but “hands”.I am certain this saint and doctor of the Church knew the difference between wrist and hand.

Well, I wouldn’t place too much credit on the stigmata (even the genuine ones) on this question since they are not intended to be 100% exact replicas of Jesus’ historical wounds in the first place. That’s really missing the point of why stigmata occur: they are a visible symbol that the stigmatist is (quite literally) becoming one with Jesus in His suffering, not a proclamation to the effect of ‘these are the exact spots where the nails were driven’.

This incorrect display of stigmata proves a point I made a while back, that many ‘saints’ are, in fact, liars.

But we have been conditioned to swallow many lies and half-truths in this religion of ours. This is mainly to prevent the conservative element having a collective coronary were certain things to be revealed. Just remember, nothing, and I mean nothing, you see in a church during mass is original.

Ancient Greece was truly the high-water mark of human endeavour and civilization, and the tide has ebbed considerably since then.

(I like your signature, Patrick. Mr Pratchett has made a fair assessment of the supreme being there.)

Best wishes,

Well, to be fair, it was only in the early 1900s that the wrist theory was first hypothesized by people such as Dr. Pierre Barbet, and (going by my gut feeling here) only in the 1950s-1980s that this hypothesis spread to the general public (coincidentally, just around the time the Shroud was getting all that publicity). Before that everyone just assumed that both nails were straight through the palm of the hand, because hey, that’s how the statues and icons show it, right?

I’m going to use Jesus films as an analogy here. The very first Jesus film to depict Jesus being nailed through the wrist was a 1935 French film called Golgotha, just around the same time as Dr. Pierre Barbet - who was, incidentally, French - was experimenting and first disseminating his findings to the public. It did get a release in America (it was banned in the UK at the time because the British were still very sensitive about the whole idea of depicting Jesus outright in a movie), but it’s not really a household name film.

If you’ll look at this scene (at the 2:39 mark) closely, you’ll notice that the nail is driven on Jesus’ left wrist.

But it wasn’t until the late 1970s that films only began to depict Jesus being nailed through the wrists on a nearly-regular basis (again, just around the same time as the Shroud of Turin was starting to get a lot more press from the general public): the 1979 Jesus film and The Last Temptation of Christ (1981) are the two earliest modern Jesus films to actually depict the nails going through the wrists.

Jesus (1979): The first modern Jesus movie to show the wrists being nailed
The Last Temptation of Christ (1981): This is the one of the few things in that movie that I’ll give Martin Scorsese credit for, because in a way, he really did his homework in this particular detail

Hardly, given that they depended upon slavery, executed people for disagreeing with the state religion, and fought interminably with each other.

We know far more about the physical world, and that has enabled things socially they never dreamed of, like ending slavery. We’re not better people, but mechanical energy has made slaves unnecessary.

And of course the Mass is unoriginal. The Church is no longer a tiny huddle of persecuted believers meeting in people’s homes. Nor do the masses now speak Greek and Hebrew.

The Church is a body, and bodies do not keep their babyhood appearance as they grow to full length.


With art depicting it only in the palms (see my post above)…it is understandable that the stigmata would appear so (the person and others might be quite confused otherwise).

Methinks you’re being unnecessarily harsh on past saints long dead. Are Galen or Hua Tuo quack physicians because they didn’t have the benefit of modern medical knowledge?

Just remember, nothing, and I mean nothing, you see in a church during mass is original.

Well, nothing is really ‘original’ in the world today. For one, there are really only seven types of stories in the world: every story ever written or told is just a variation on those handful of long-established basic themes. Most songs today heavily use already-established chord patterns. It’s all established formula, cliche.

So I don’t really see your point. So what if nothing in the Mass is ‘original’? Old World Christianity itself, culturally speaking, is a mishmash of cultures: Judaism translated into a Greco-Roman context with a little Germanic on the side. Not really ‘original’. If you ask me, I don’t think ‘originality’ is what determines whether something is ‘true’ or not.

Ancient Greece was truly the high-water mark of human endeavour and civilization, and the tide has ebbed considerably since then.

To be fair, I never really liked Greco-Roman philosophy/skepticism*. Too dry. But then again I’m more the type who finds the Indian worldview more interesting to study than the Western/Greco-Roman one. :shrug:

  • To be fair, I don’t really like that ‘Classical’ period much either. (I feel it’s overrated, really.) I prefer Archaic. Or the Greek Dark Ages. Hey, we could even backtrack to Minoan.

John 20:27
And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you. [27] Then he saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see my HANDS; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. [28] Thomas answered, and said to him: My Lord, and my God. [29] Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed. [30] Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book.

I am fairly certain the recorded stigmata is accurate and St Pio had the wounds as Jesus Christ did.

It is curious though to note that some modern stigmatics show the wounds in the wrists and even forearm. I believe Natuzza Evolo whom one of the Shroud of Turins photographers visited,had the wounds in the wrist. Fr James Bruse shows evidence of wounds on his forearms actually above the wrists.

If you read St. John of the Cross’ book The Ascent of Mount Carmel (it comes directly before The Dark Night of the Soul, and it defines all his terms and tells more basic stuff about the spiritual life), he says straight out that not everything you see or experience in a vision is information direct from God, even if the vision as a whole is a true vision from God. The same thing applies if it’s visual, audial, tactile, or whatever.

God doesn’t take over your brain and make you see everything His way, or turn on a camera and transmit it to you through space/time. It’s a collaboration. Most of the important stuff goes directly to your soul; it’s not conscious information. When He does send information, your mind interprets it in all sorts of different ways.

If He wants you to see a tree, you’re probably not going to see an olive or a fig tree if you live in Switzerland. You’re probably going to see a pine tree or an oak, or whatever trees they have in Switzerland. He wants you to understand, not confuse you by showing you a documentary that goes over your head.

When people as a group see heavenly visions or smell heavenly odors, there’s usually a certain amount of commonality, but they rarely experience exactly the same thing. If they do, it’s usually a sign that the exact thing is important, rather than a general idea.

But it’s often the case that people from the East who have similar mystical experiences to people in the West do not see the exact same thing, even if people in the West have a lot of commonality among themselves, and people in the East do too.

The stigmata are a sort of tactile religious experience, except that other people can also see and feel them. They show up miraculously and often heal up miraculously at the moment of death. They often are suffered mystically before they manifest physically. So the person’s body is collaborating with God in displaying the stigmata, and thus the stigmatics’ minds’ idea of Jesus’ wounds probably influences how they appear. For example, there’s a lot of variations on how genuine stigmatic people have experienced crown-of-thorn wounds, from lots to none at all.

That doesn’t mean the stigmata is not real or not of God. Grace builds on nature. Jesus makes stigmatics a sign, and the sign is not Polaroid Film Here. He sends people a sign of His wounds that they will understand, and what the people around them will understand. The important thing is that He was wounded for love of us, and that all Christians will suffer with Christ if they’re going to rise with Him.

Now, that said, I guarantee you that a man hauling a cross or a crossbeam all around town is going to have ripped-up hands, even before getting crucified. They didn’t give Jesus gloves, and He’d had three years for his carpentry callouses to wear off. Wrist wounds probably wouldn’t be as bloody as palm wounds, since the Romans wouldn’t have been trying to kill their crucified guys quickly by hitting the arteries and veins in the wrists.

It’s an interesting question, but it’s not an easy one to declare one way or another. There’s room for lots of interesting variations, and that doesn’t make stigmata not real.

I believe stigmata is a true phenomena where the person actually shares the wounds and pain that Jesus experienced in His humanity. All of the over 300 genuine stigmatics and saints display wounds in the palm.The bible confirms this when Jesus tells Thomas to look at his hands

.The executioners cruelly and sadistically drove the spikes directly through His hands.

We’re speaking about Jesus’ hands here, but I’d just digress a bit to talk about the feet as well.

It’s not directly stated in any gospel about whether Jesus’ feet were nailed. Maybe the closest we can get is Luke 24: “See my hands and my feet.” But then again, Luke doesn’t mention explicitly in his gospel whether nails were used when Jesus was crucified; only John mentions nails being involved, and then again, he only implies Jesus’ “hands” being nailed (the feet are not mentioned).

In other words, Luke’s account is not exactly like John where Jesus’ showing His hands is explicitly Him showing His crucifixion scars there. For all we know, Luke’s Jesus was simply inviting the disciples to see and touch His exposed body parts (aside from His head) to see that He isn’t a ghost, regardless of whether there were stigmata there or not. In fact, an early Christian work known as the Didascalia Apostolorum (ca. 3rd century) interprets Jesus’ command in Luke to see His feet not in conjunction with any scars, but in light of a popular (Greco-Roman?) belief that ghosts and other incorporeal entities float or hover: in other words, this work has Jesus asking the disciples to look at His feet to see if they are planted on the ground and leave behind footprints, like any physically alive human being does.

“That you may know that it is I, put your finger, Peter, in the nailprints of my hands, and you, Thomas, put your finger in the spear-wounds of my side; but you, Andrew, look at my feet and see if they do not touch the ground. ‘The foot of a ghost or a demon does not join to the ground’.”

Whatever happened to Jesus’ feet is something our earlier sources are quite unclear. We can already find the idea that the feet were nailed from St. Justin Martyr (our earliest source to make the connection); this idea eventually won because it’s a nicer fit with Psalm 22 (“they dug my hands and my feet”). But then again you also have other sources like the Didascalia and the Gospel of Peter where only the nails in the ‘hands’ are explicitly mentioned as in John. (GoP 21: “And then they plucked the nails off of the Lord’s hands and laid him on the earth…”)

The earliest artworks depicting people who were crucified (predating the 4th-5th century, when Christians began to mass-produce images of Jesus crucified) are not of much help here either. There are at least three or four such artworks: two of them depict the feet not being nailed while the other two could depict the feet fixed in some way, but it’s really hard to tell since these two are really crude wall graffiti.

Our earliest possible depiction of a crucifixion is a fresco from a tomb in Rome dating from the mid-3rd century BC showing a naked man who is likely crucified. It seems that the man is portrayed as being pinned to this horizontal beam by a nail through his hand or wrist/forearm, but there’s no indication that the feet are nailed. In fact, it kinda seems like he’s dangling off the ground. The second artwork that doesn’t show the feet nailed is a gemstone from the 2nd/3rd century with a carving depicting the crucified Jesus, most likely used as a talisman. In this depiction, Jesus’ feet are clearly not nailed; instead He is portrayed with His legs spread out as if on horseback, ‘sitting’ on the peg-like projection that juts out near the middle of the vertical post just below the crotch. (To be fair though, this artist seems to have depicted Jesus being tied to the crossbeam by the wrists rather than nailed to it.)

As for the other two artworks, they are graffiti from Rome and from Pozzuoli (ancient Puteoli), respectively. The Roman one, a graffiti mocking a Christian named Alexamenos from ca. the 3rd century, is in fact our earliest depiction of the crucified Jesus (here shown with the head of a donkey). In this drawing, the donkey-headed crucified Jesus is possibly shown standing on a sort of footrest or pedestal (represented by a vertical line). But of course, the nature of the drawing makes it impossible to determine whether the artist thought Jesus was nailed at the feet. The one from Pozzuoli possibly depicts a crucified woman named Alcimilla: Alcimilla seems to be shown with her ankles or feet fixed in some way to the vertical post, but again, since this is a very childish drawing you can’t make any definite statement on this particular element.

In fact, because of this confusion in our available data, during the early 1960s a few scholars in fact thought - because of the silence in John and some early sources - that maybe crucified victims were not nailed in the feet at all, that that was just later guesswork from the Psalm 22 passage. But then, in 1967 archaeologists discovered the remains of a crucifixion victim (Jehohanan) who was clearly nailed on his ankles, which reopened the question. Now the answer is generally just ‘He could have been, He could have been not’ - since the available data allows for both possibilities really. (For the record, Jehohanan, while nailed at his ankles, was apparently not nailed through his hands/wrists; his arms were simply tied to the cross. In other words, he’s somewhat Jesus’ opposite.)

I do not see God as a card dealer who won’t tell people what the rules are.WE have the bible and tons of other writings. Jesus himself confirmed we should follow the 10 commandments given to Moses but to always love God and love your neighbor.

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