Was Jesus crucified through the palms or the wrists?


My sister is reading a book called ‘The Day Christ Died’ (apparently it’s really good). In that book, it said the nails were put in his wrists instead of his palms because using the palms was an older practice. They had started crucifying through the wrists instead, as a new custom. Since Jesus is depicted with the holes in his palms, and since He has appeared in visions to saints, and they have said He had holes in his palms…I’m wondering which is true?
What does the Bible say about it…hands or wrists?

Thank you!


The Bible mentions the print of the nail in the hands, but it doesn’t necessarily mean through the palms. Look at your own palm. Can you really say at which point your palm ends and wrist begins?

Visions of saints have NO dogmatic weight at all. You are not even required to believe them.

Where the nails were placed is of no doctrinal significance, either. What’s important is that Jesus really died and really rose from the dead in His glorified human body.


Where the nails were placed is of no doctrinal significance, either. What’s important is that Jesus really died and really rose from the dead in His glorified human body




Different languages’ words for “hand” have different ranges of meaning. For instance, the Russian ruka can mean anything from the fingertips to the shoulder.

In this case, the Greek word cheira can mean anything from the fingertips to the elbow. So crucifixion through the wrist would not violate the meaning of the text of Holy Scripture.



First, you should understand that the mode of death by crucifixion was not always due to blood loss alone, but more by the inability to breathe. When the hands are drawn outward and upward, it forces the muscles in the chest into the same configuration they would naturally go when you inhale, so in order to EXhale, it took a willful, forced “pushing down” on the chest to get the air out. If you hands are nailed, obviously each exhale causes the victim to pull hard against the solid nail with an open wound, causing extreme pain and further blood loss.

One type of cross known to have existed at the time of Christ was one that had a small block or horizontal board that acted like a crude “seat,” and it was designed to keep enough weight off the hands to keep them from pulling completely off the nails as could happen if the full body weight was on them. I don’t have a source, but I have read where experiments have been conducted using cadavers that demonstrate the bones of the hand are not strong enough to support full body weight on nails.

On such a cross, in order to exhale the person would have to put some weight on their nailed feet and lift their torso off the “seat” while simultaneously pulling on each arm and forcing their own exhale. If they didn’t have to move, even with nails through their extremities, the woulds would scab over and stop the flow of blood in minutes. By forcing the continuous agitation of the wounds, it keeps the wounds open and the blood flowing, increasing the shock to the body and eventually weakening the person to the point where they could no longer make those movements and succumb to anoxia.

No one is really sure of what kind of cross was used. It is entirely possible this type could have been used and the wounds could have been in the palms.

Wrist nailing is much trickier and could be counterproductive in a public execution meant to be extremely painful AND humiliating. Hit an artery and it could cause death in mere minutes. Hit nerve bundles and it causes such extreme pain the person would lose consciousness from the shock. Yes, I’m sure the Roman soldiers were proficient in their duties, but using a nail on a flexible, moving target does not produce surgical precision.

I’ve never read anything that makes a compelling case one way or the other, and as others have pointed out, it is not the anatomical precision that is the point of it all.


From what I’ve read/understand–wrists.

There is nothing to stop a body hanging crucified from the palms to basically tear the nail up through the hand and out the fingers, if there was no foot support. If the nail is in the wrist, the nail “runs into” the bones below the palms, stopping the body.

However :wink:

If the feet were nailed to the cross, it is possible that they could stop the body from pulling down…although after death, the body would slump forward, so we are at wrists again.


In a documentary called “Quest for Truth: The Crucifixion”, the National Geographic Society scientifically proved that it is possible, and even likely, for a person to be crucified in the palms. Here’s an article:

So it has been proven that the traditional view is likely. Now it’s unlikely that a tradition of the palms would have developed if it were done in the wrists. It’s possible, but our only reason for believing it was that we thought the traditional view was impossible.

Look, it was in the palms; scientifically possible, historically probable, and traditionally held. Now can Sister. “I’m smarter than pre-1960s nuns, because I know where Jesus was crucified” just stop it? I’m probably more pedantic than Sister Mary Smart-alec, so believe me when I speak from experience, we need to think about more important things.

Sorry about the fact the article is on MSNBC.com,
Capt. Pedant


That is a very interesting article, now it all makes more sense.
I’m wondering…who is this “Sister Mary smart-alec” you’e referring to? :smiley:


This is a question I was just about to ask, now I got the answer.



I always understood that He was crucified through the wrists because the palms are not capable of holding up that much weight.


I can see the possibility of nails and ropes used. If there were ropes there to hold the body, then the palms are a possibility. In the end I agree that theologically, it matters not. Because we know that he was crucified. he died and was buried, and on the third he arose again,allelluia


This is not correct. Nails through the palms at the base of the thumb can hold the weight of a human without the feet being nailed. When the feet are also nailed as in the case of Jesus nails through the palms make sense.

If you want some reading on this I recommend a book (widely available, also at EWTN) called The Crucifixion Of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry by Dr. Frederick Zugibe.


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