Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Study Bible Media

There is an exciting new Study Bible gracing the Internet: the online study edition of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.[1] Regardless of your religious paradigm or persuasion, whether you are Muslim, Mormon, Trinitarian, or something else, this is really good news. For instance, it features study notes that “provide cultural, geographic, and linguistic insight into many Bible verses.” Additionally, it has a Media section that has photos and artwork, along with silent videos and animations that “illustrate various details recorded in the Bible.”[2] One such silent video is from a drone flight showing Bethphage, the Mount of Olives, and Jerusalem.

Significantly, it also showcases what it calls the “Nail in a Heel Bone.” In part, the explanation for this artifact explains why this is significant: “It provides archaeological evidence that nails were likely used in executions to fasten the person to a wooden stake. This nail may be similar to the nails employed by the Roman soldiers to fasten Jesus Christ to the stake. The artifact was found in a stone box, called an ossuary, into which the dried bones of a deceased person were placed after the flesh had decomposed. This indicates that someone executed on a stake could be given a burial.” (Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:33; 24:39; John 19:18)[3]

Let me elaborate. The discovery of this artifact is absolutely amazing—it’s one of the most significant discoveries of the 20th Century, after the Dead Sea Scrolls. Additionally, there are remains of a wooden washer under the nail head, showing that the executioners went to great pains to secure the victim with nails. However, just looking at this heel bone may be confusing. Therefore, a restoration may be helpful:

Here, the heel bone is mirrored from the first image, and the rest of the foot bones are added along with the wooden washer. Thus, it can be more clearly seen now that this victim’s feet were nailed at the sides of the stake and not on top of each other through the metatarsals.

Now, while it’s possible that this nail was pounded directly into the vertical stake, as typically shown in restorations of this nailing, I suppose it is also possible that, in the spirit of wanting to preserve the stake from repeated nailing, that the heel was nailed to the end of a replaceable footrest attached to the stake. Such a location would also position the legs better for delivering the coup de grâce with the iron club, setting up a shear plane facilitating breaking the lower leg bones. The initial report explaining this discovery displayed another heel bone, not found in that ossuary but an actual one for comparison, with a nail hole through it for the purposes of illustration, which was not shattered.[4] This all shows that the Roman executioners knew how to successfully nail a heel bone: This would solidly secure the victim and would also reduce blood-loss. This proves that they were experienced, efficient, and equally brutal.

Considering this naturally invokes the question: Could Jesus’ feet have been nailed in this manner? The only scripture weighing in on this is Psalm 34:20 that John identified as a messianic prophecy, that “not a bone of his will be broken.” (John 19:36) However, considering that the pierced heel bone is diminutive may allow for this type of nailing to be permissible in Jesus’ case. After all, it was used to solidly secure the victim, as nobody wanted to botch these executions. (Reflect also on how the heel is the target against the Messiah in Genesis 3:15.)

Be sure to also read about the “Sahidic Coptic Translation of John 1:1,” by navigating to John 1 and scrolling down on the right-hand side under the gem to its Media section, to see how its final clause may be translated as “the Word was a god.” This would be consistent with Biblical monotheism which is monolatrism. Displayed and discussed there is the Chester Beatty 813.

[1] This can be accessed by navigating to the Bible from and

[2] As announced in the December 2017 Our Christian Life and Ministry—Meeting Workbook, “New Feature of the Midweek Meeting.”

[3] The Greek word typically translated as “crucified” (or loquaciously in the RNWT as “nailed him to the stake”) is σταυρόω (stow-ro’-o), which by itself does not necessarily imply nailing, but merely fastening the condemned by some means to the σταυρός (stauros), and could include ropes only. (BDAG, σταυρόω no. 1) Thus, the importance of this “Nail in a Heel Bone” artifact is emphasized due to it specifying nails, as specifically mentioned in Jesus’ case at Luke 24:39 (where nails are implied in Jesus’ “see my hands and my feet” directive) and at John 20:25 where Thomas said “nails” in accordance with eyewitness observation.

[4] N. Haas. Anthropological Observations on the Skeletal Remains from Giv'at ha-Mivtar. Israel Exploration Journal. Vol. 20, No. 1/2 (1970), Plate 21A p. 63.

Additional reading:


Thursday, December 14, 2017

A theology in crisis?

“the doctrine of the Trinity stands today at a point of crisis”
“the Trinity is a local phenomenon in the realm of systematic theology, with no provenance in the territory of New Testament scholarship”
“Some [Trinitarian] proof texts evaporated because they were, in fact, never anything but Trinitarian mirages.”
“Many arguments that once seemed foundational to Trinitarianism no longer apply.”

That is how the Trinitarian Dr. Fred Sanders appraised his theology in his 2016 academic tome The Triune God. This situation was showcased by Dr. Dale Tuggy in his podcast site where he read from The Triune God in “Review of Sanders’s The Deep Things of God – Part 2” ( There he read from pages 162-164 and 179, where Dr. Sanders expressed his call of alarm. What he said is worth repeating. Beginning on page 162, under the heading “The Shifting Foundation of Biblical Trinitarianism,” he wrote:

Although there has been no change in the material content of the doctrine of the Trinity, the epochal shifts in biblical interpretation in the modern period have greatly altered the available arguments for Trinitarianism. Indeed, the doctrine of the Trinity stands today at a point of crisis with regard to its ability to demonstrate its exegetical foundation. Theologians once approached this doctrine with a host of biblical prods, but one by one, many of those venerable old arguments [163] have been removed from the realm of plausibility. The steady march of grammatical-historical exegesis has tended in the direction of depleting Trinitarianism’s access to its traditional equipment, until a prominent feature of the current era is the growing unpersuasiveness and untenability of the traditional proof texts that were used to establish and demonstrate the doctrine.

[Dale Tuggy then mentioned that he skipped some quotes. I will not. These are:]

“Most theologians no longer expect to find in the New Testament a formal Trinitarianism, only and elemental Trinitarianism,” remarked conservative Jesuit theologian Edmund Fortman in 1972. The heightened historical consciousness of modern scholars has made the very idea that Trinitarian theology has a foothold on the documents of the New Testament seem laughable: “Whatever Jesus did or said in his earthly ministry,” wrote R. P. C. Hanson in 1985, “he did not walk the lanes of Galilee and the streets of Jerusalem laying down direct unmodified Trinitarian doctrine .” [R. P. C. Hanson, Studies in Christian Antiquity (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1985), 296.]

[Dale continued reading:]

The presupposition has become widespread that the doctrine of the Trinity is a local phenomenon in the realm of systematic theology, with no provenance in the territory of New Testament scholarship.

[Again, Dale skipped over a quote that I will not:]

So deep has this presupposition sunk into the practices of the field that Ulrich Mauser could write in 1990, “The historically trained New Testament scholar will today proceed with the task of interpretation without wasting a minute on the suspicion that the Trinitarian confessions of later centuries might be rooted in the New Testament itself, and that the Trinitarian creeds might continue to function as valuable hermeneutical signposts for a modern understanding.” [Ulrich Mauser, “One God and Trinitarian Language in the Letters of Paul,” Horizons in Biblical Theology 20:2 (1998): 100.]

[Dale continued reading, but I will skip ahead to this part:]

Perhaps no development in biblical studies has left the foundation of Trinitarianism [164] unaffected, partly because the long Christian exegetical tradition had at various times delighted to find the Trinity in nearly every layer and every section of Scripture. If the doctrine of the Trinity had come to be at home in every verse of the Bible, it was more or less implicated in revisionist approaches to every verse.

At any rate, the overall trend of sober historical-grammatical labors has been toward the gradual removal of the Trinitarian implications of passage after passage.

[Dale paused and noted that only one example of a “removal of the Trinitarian implications” of a passage was cited, 1 John 5:7. This skipped-over part reads:]

Some of these proof texts evaporated because they were, in fact, never anything but Trinitarian mirages: 1 John 5:7’s “three that bear witness in heaven,” for example, withered away at the first touch of “the lower criticism,” textual criticism. By overwhelming consensus, the comma johanneum is judged not to have been in the original manuscript, and therefore it should not be used as biblical support for Trinitarian theology, though it has some value as early Christian commentary on John’s letter. The discarding of the Johannine comma is perhaps the clearest example of the helpful, clarifying, and destructive work of biblical scholarship. … Nor is this cutting-edge research; it was seen and affirmed in the eighteenth century and disseminated in the early nineteenth. … [T]he complex clashes of premodern, modern, and postmodern modes of interpretation have left the field of Trinitarian exegesis in extensive disarray. Many arguments that once seemed foundational to Trinitarianism no longer apply.

[Dale then jumped over to page 179, which I will include the most succinct parts:]

There is something disconcerting in maintaining a doctrine while replacing many of the arguments for it. If Trinitarian theology can arise using one set of arguments, but then discard many of those and set about seeking better ones by which to maintain its claims, does this imply that Trinitarians intend to go on believing what they are believing, no matter what? … Proof-switching could signal that a system of orthodoxy is functioning like what Marxist analysis calls an ideology: a set of power relationships concealed behind ideas that really defend them by rationalization. … Buildings that have always stood firm can, on inspection, be found to have less than optimal support, and undergo seismic retrofitting without ever coming down. After the tectonic shifts of biblical criticism, Trinitarian theology is due for some seismic retrofitting.
[End quote.]

As noted, the reason for saying that “after the tectonic shifts of biblical criticism, Trinitarian theology is due for some seismic retrofitting,” is that “the overall trend of sober historical-grammatical labors has been toward the gradual removal of the Trinitarian implications of passage after passage. Some of these proof texts evaporated because they were, in fact, never anything but Trinitarian mirages.” The sole example of a “Trinitarian mirage” was 1 John 5:7. However, he likely also had in mind another Johannine scripture, the Trinitarian favorite John 8:58. He may also agree that another Trinitarian favorite of Jeremiah 23:6 is nothing more than a Trinitarian mirage. Resources explaining how these are Trinitarian mirages, scriptures stripped of their “Trinitarian implications,” (more like Trinitarian accretions) are:
  1. Articles here:
  2. YouTube videos from Ask an Apologist:
(For the record, Dr. Hugh Ross is aware of these resources and has offered no rebuttal at all.)

The last video gives a more detailed explanation for Jeremiah 23:6.

So how extensive is Dr. Sanders’ call for a “seismic retrofitting”? After quoting Athanasius’ book On the Incarnation, he states that there has to be a “shift in register” to follow what Athanasius prescribes: “a good life, a pure soul, virtue, holiness, purity, and imitating the good deeds of the sacred writers.” That is, “a spiritual and ascetical training that will result in communion with the mind of Scripture’s authors … and promises hermeneutical insight.”[1] The problem with this approach though is that it does not demand that Trinitarianism be the outcome. For instance, ones who have indeed pursued “a good life, a pure soul, virtue, holiness, purity, and imitating the good deeds of the sacred writers” and ‘a spiritual and ascetical training resulting in communion with the mind of Scripture’s authors and producing hermeneutical insight,’ have arrived at a Patritheistic theology where the Father alone is the “only true God.” (John 17:1-5) Thus, claiming that a pious life can only result in adopting Trinitarianism is actually an act of hijacking and is quite unreasonable, and also reduces piety to intellectual snobbery. It is also a call to abandon the scriptures and rely on one’s own supposed piety, an act proscribed at 2 Corinthians 10:12. Christians are not to “measure themselves by themselves,” but rather are to “explain spiritual matters with spiritual words,” or “matching spiritual with spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 2:13, NWT, Byington) This is accomplished by becoming “doers of the word” (James 1:22), studying the Bible objectively and honestly to not have a deceptive heart.

Thus, Christians are instructed differently by “the sacred writers.” Indeed, David, Isaiah and James all urge us to search for God by drawing close to him with clean hands and pure hearts. (Psalm 145:18; Isaiah 55:6; James 4:8) This calls for humble objectivity to question the Trinitarian groupthink and transcend it, outwitting confirmation bias to find the true God that Scripture reveals. Trinitarianism is indeed “a theology in crisis.”

Questions for Dr. Fred Sanders:
  1. What other Scriptures do you think no longer support Trinitarianism and were just Trinitarian mirages (or, examples of Trinitarian confirmation bias) the entire time? John 1:1, 8:58, 20:28?
  2. Have you done any objective research into the life and character of Athanasius? Are you sure he was as savory and pious as you are portraying?

[1] While Dr. Sanders quoted Athanasius as stressing the importance of piety, Athanasius himself was known for being extremely impious, as a slanderer and wicked schemer. On this outrageous hypocrisy, see Dr. Dale Tuggy, “Assessing Athanasius and his Arguments” and Timothy D. Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1993), 37.

Additional Reading: See also:

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Friday, December 01, 2017

With what sort of body?

With what sort of body was Jesus resurrected in? The position I will call “Christological Physicalism” maintains that Jesus was resurrected in the same body that he sacrificed, and currently has it now in heaven, outside of earth’s human-life sustaining atmosphere, where his Nazarene body is continuously and miraculously preserved.

Captivatingly, the introductory question was rhetorically asked and answered by the Apostle Paul. He wrote:
Nevertheless, someone will say: “How are the dead to be raised up? Yes, with what sort of body are they coming?” You unreasonable person!
Here he used the word ἄφρων (aphrōn), meaning “without reason, foolish, and without reflection or intelligence, acting rashly.” He then continued:
What you sow is not made alive unless first it dies. … Not all flesh is the same flesh, but there is one of mankind, there is another flesh of cattle, another flesh of birds, and another of fish. And there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; but the glory of the heavenly bodies is one sort, and that of the earthly bodies is a different sort. (1 Corinthians 15:35, 36, 39, 40)
While the next verse uses the illustration of how different astronomical bodies differ in their observable glory, his point about the dichotomy between heavenly bodies, including spiritual bodies as seen in 1 Corinthians 15:44, and earthly bodies is unmistakably clear. In 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 he contrasted the corruptible, dishonorable, weak and physical with the incorruptible, glorified, powerful, and spiritual. Thus, while the Christian bound for heavenly life was once earthly—corruptible, dishonorable, weak and physical—upon being resurrected to heavenly life he would now be incorruptible, glorified, powerful, and spiritual. The same principle would be true of Jesus their Lord, would it not? While Jesus’ Nazarene body birthed from Mary was not corrupted with Adamic sin, Paul agrees in 1 Corinthians 15:45 that Jesus was resurrected, not as a Nazarene from Mary, but as “a life-giving spirit,” one who was incorruptible, glorified, powerful, and spiritual.

Pressing this contrast further, Paul at 1 Corinthians 15:47-49 states that “the first man is from the earth and made of dust; the second man is from heaven,”[1] As humans are made from “dust,” being carbon-based, like Adam was, Christians in heaven will not be made of “dust”—they will no longer have carbon-based bodies—but will now have spiritual or heavenly bodies “like the heavenly one,” Jesus. (Philippians 3:20-21) This contrast proves conclusively that Christological Physicalism is in error, and is guilty of deflating Paul’s powerful ontological contrast. Paul then can be seen condemning ones “clinging”[2] to Jesus’ Nazarene body that he willfully sacrificed as being ἄφρων (aphrōn), “without reason, foolish, and without reflection or intelligence, acting rashly.”[3]

There is also a very good reason why Jesus could not take back his sacrificed body: his perfect human body was his perfect human life. By sacrificing his perfect human body, he sacrificed his perfect human life. He died. He sacrificed that entire package that corresponded to what Adam lost. (Romans 5:18-19; Hebrews 9:22, 10:10; 1 Timothy 2:5-6) Thus, his resurrection by his Father was an act of kindness, a reward. He sacrificed his perfect-human-body-life and thus could not be resurrected as a man again, and certainly not in his sacrificed body. It only could have been an entirely different body, a spirit body, which is incidentally the only type of body that can exist in heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:50) Confirming this is Hebrews 5:7, which says that Jesus was resurrected due to his godly devotion. Thus, his resurrection by his Father was an act of kindness, a reward. This is why Jesus said at John 10:17 “I surrender my life, so that I may receive it again.” This “life” transcends his earthly sojourn, so he sacrificed his earthly life but received his resurrected life as a spirit.[4] It was a reward for completing his mission.

Christological Physicalism may use the “raised up in glory” of 1 Corinthians 15:43 as a basis for the concept of having Jesus being a “glorified human,” thus making it sound scriptural. However, this would contradict Jesus’ own declaration at John 14:19-20, that “the world will see me no more,” but that only his followers in heaven would see him. Therefore, it is a certainty that nothing of Jesus’ resurrected, glorified body can be physical and occupying space in our universe. So while the term “glorified” in “glorified human” may sound scriptural, it actually is a word devoid of any meaning, and falls into the category Peter warned of in 2 Peter 2:3 of “counterfeit words,” or “feigned words.” Peter also warned that such ones using their own fake words would speak abusively of the scriptures, unwittingly or not.—2 Peter 2:2.

In response, some Christological Physicalists may mention that God preserved the clothing and feet of the Israelites during their Wilderness wandering (Deuteronomy 8:4, 29:5) and protected the three Israelites from the merciless flames in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:25-27), or Jonah’s preservation in the aquatic beast (Jonah 1:17), etc. as proof that God can preserve people in inhospitable environments; consequently, God could preserve for all eternity Jesus’ flesh that he sacrificed. However, some disconnects are observable here. First, those acts of preservation and protection served a purpose and were acts of kindness. Second, they were temporary, not eternal. Third, there were no legal transactions at work to take into account. Thus, this objection actually betrays a lack of appreciation for Jesus Christ’s ransom sacrifice.

Another response is to ask for a scriptural definition of a materialization. This can be delivered by referring to the brief account in Genesis 6:1-4, where the “sons of God,” or angels,[5] had relations with women to produce the Nephilim. In order to accomplish this, each spirit creature or demon must have manufactured a functional male body of their own design and then possessed it, like a puppeteer controlling a puppet—thus, a puppet ontology. This is certainly not hard to imagine, considering the “let us” language used in creation of mankind (Genesis 1:26), or even as seen in the collaboration of the divine council at 1 Kings 22:19-22. At the time of the Noachian Deluge, those materializations ceased being practical (or ceased being tolerated) and must have been discarded, perhaps by rapid dematerialization. Thus, materializations in and of themselves are not speculative, but are deeply rooted in scripture to discerning ones.[6]

Others mention Moses and his effulgence, and point out that he was still a human. (Exodus 34:29-35) A comparison is then made to Jesus’ effulgence to Saul (Acts 9:3-6; 22:6-10; 26:13-17), with the conclusion being that Jesus could still have been human, as well. However, while both instances were certainly miraculous, there are some notable differences between the two events. First, Moses’ radiance was the result of close contact with Jehovah’s angelic representative at Mt. Sinai, and if from that angel, then it was illustrative of that significant event. Jesus’ radiance, on the other hand, was delivered from the sky. Thus, his was illustrative of his actual effulgence in the spirit realm, and was thus a visionary experience (as in Revelation 1:16). Claiming that Jesus’ radiance was from himself as a “glorified” human is a contradiction, for it contradicts the laws of physics to have a human body being able to radiate that much illumination. Contradicting the laws of physics is to contradict the word of God in nature per Romans 1:20. Alternately, claiming then that God was holding the human Jesus in the sky and making him radiate light beyond the brilliance of the sun would make God into a foolish micromanager. No, it was really Jesus positioning himself in the sky and using light rays to illustrate his actual effulgence in the spirit realm.

Another objection is to question the usefulness of 1 Corinthians 15:45 in identifying Jesus. Here, Jesus is identified in many translations as a “life-giving spirit” in contrast to Adam who was a man. The question is, should this phrase, “a life-giving spirit,” be understood ontologically or functionally? However, aside from not appreciating that a functional role would still put Jesus in the class of spirit, this question continues to ignore the contrast Paul made conspicuously clear in 1 Corinthians 15, that Jesus is now different than Adam. Adam was carbon-based and is our human father. Jesus, on the other hand, manifestly cannot be a carbon-based man now—if he was, then Paul’s conspicuous contrast collapses like a house of cards. (Compare with Galatians 1:1, 11-12, where Paul again contrasts “a man” with Jesus.) Again, this objection betrays a glaring lack of appreciation for Jesus Christ’s ransom sacrifice.

Another objection may be to claim that Hebrews 5:7 does not put Jesus’ humanity in the past; however, this objection is betraying an amateurish bias against the notion that Jesus is a spirit now. What could possibly be the motivation otherwise?

Therefore, these objections, and any others like them, really betray ignorance and mockery of the scriptures, shallow thinking, a bigoted complaining mentality, and sinful ingratitude for the ransom.

Christological Physicalism betrays:
  • ignorance and mockery of the scriptures
  • shallow thinking
  • a bigoted complaining mentality
  • sinful ingratitude for the ransom

[1] As Adam was created in the earthly realm, so it would naturally, logically follow that Jesus was created in the heavenly realm. The Christological preexistence-denying camp (ie. Socinian or “Biblical Unitarian” camp) glaringly misapplies this contrast as seen in Sir Anthony Buzzard’s commentary, where he states that Jesus being from heaven is eschatological: “the now immortal Jesus will arrive from heaven at his return.” (The One God, the Father, One Man Messiah Translation, footnote 1080) This comment betrays a bias against Christological preexistence, a preconceived anti-preexistence bias.

[2] Used in reference to John 20:17, where Jesus stated that he did not want people to cling to his flesh, in this case the physical body he was materialized in that was going to be discarded or dematerialized. In principle, the same can be said with his Nazarene body: Jesus willingly sacrificed that and therefore he would most clearly also not want people to cling to that either. In the same spirit, Jesus admonished people to not cling to the past with this principle: “No man who has put his hand to a plow and looks at the things behind is well-suited for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) Combining these points, ones clinging to Jesus’ sacrificed body, ‘looking at the things behind,’ are not “well-suited for the Kingdom of God.”

[3] As shown above, he issued this denunciation against ones who could not follow that a physical man was to be resurrected as a spirit creature. Thus, the same negative situation exists for ones who are not following that the physical Jesus was to be resurrected as a spirit creature. Later, when writing to the Galatians, he used a similar condemnatory word ἀνόητος (anoētos) “not understanding, unwise, foolish” twice against them for underestimating the significance of Jesus’ sacrificial death.—Galatians 3:1, 3.

[4] This point is emphasized with Jesus having a prehuman existence as a spirit creature.

[5] For a conclusive explanation for why they were angels, see Reversing Hermon by Dr. Michael Heiser. See also Who Were the Nephilim? However, even if it could be demonstrated that the “sons of the true God” (Genesis 6:1-2) were human kings becoming depraved with polygamy and not demons (with the demons only mating vicariously), there is precedent for materialization in Genesis 18:1-8; Joshua 5:13-15; Judges 6:11-22 and 13:3-21. So the argument does not rest its case on the interpretation of materializing demons. (Updated 3/16/2020)

[6] Elaborating further, first, a spirit creature would manufacture a human body that had all its relevant parts intact—whatever suited the needs of the spirit. However, it would not be operative until the spirit creature began to exercise its influence on it, possessing it like a hand in a puppet. While the spirit creature would be animating the materialization, it would not be conscious or sentient; it would still function as a biological automaton under remote control. Then the materialization would have any function that the designing and possessing spirit creature desired. Refer to Figure 2 and Appendix C in Jesus: a Spirit Born on Earth.

Regarding the process of dematerialization, this may have been accomplished in a variety of manners, like atomization. This would pose no difficulty for the transcendent and controlling spirit being. None of the foregoing is very deep or complicated, certainly not scandalous, and it should be very easy to envision a spirit being having this power and ability.

  1. πνευματικός
  2. Jesus’ Nazarene body
  3. Aquinas’s disservice
  4. Ignatius’s testimony
The Louw and Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament says the following about the word πνευματικός (pneumatikos) in 1 Corinthians 15:44: “pertaining to not being physical—‘not physical, not material, spiritual.’” This resource adds the following observation: “In some language the concept of ‘spiritual body’ can only be expressed negatively as ‘the body will not have flesh and bones’ or ‘the body will not be a regular body.’” (semantic domain 79.3). Thus, this presentation has academic support.

Jesus’ Nazarene body
Figure B1: braided crown of thorns
It is sobering to meditate on what injuries Jesus suffered during the crucifixion process. After the scourging, reducing his back to ribbons of bleeding flesh, the crown of thorns was placed on his head, and then beaten down with multiple, merciless blows with a rod.

The Scourging
In the famous article in JAMA March 21, 1986—Vol 255, No. 11: 1455-63, On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ, Edwards, W.D., W.J. Gabel, and F.E. Hosmer stated that
The usual instrument was a short whip (flagrum or flagellum) with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals. … As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim’s back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues. Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. (1457)
Regarding the “sharp pieces of sheep bones,” what they had in mind were astragalus (ankle) bones. According to Andrea Nicolotti, “Due to their near-cube shape, the astragalus bones of sheep have various uses, most famously as dice. But if strung on the cords of a scourge, these small bones rendered terrible blows on a victim.” Nicolotti adds: “Apuleius’ Metamorphoses (second century CE) provides the best description of this astragalus-scourge, which the author calls tesseratum (strung with tesserae, or small cubes).” (What Do We Know about the Scourging of Jesus?

Small, jagged cubical bones would devastate the flesh upon their brutal contact. (Refer to Figure B2 below.)

Figure B2: astragalus sheep bones

Crown of Thorns
Those thorns would have been long, firm, and sharp. (See Figure B1.) They would have produced numerous lacerations scraping against his cranium wherever the rod hit his head, possibly piercing his outer ear cartilage as well. Did any thorns actually pierce his skull during any of those blows? Then the purple robe of mockery was torn off of him, reopening any coagulating injuries and starting more bleeding. The blood loss was so extensive that he could not even carry the torture stake for very long, even though the other condemned men evidently were able to carry it the entire distance.

The Nailing and Piercing
When the nailing began, it is possible that nails were driven though his heel bones, one nail per heel, thus nailed at both sides of the stake. This would leave both heel bones with a hole through them. (See Figures B3 and B4, which are modern replications.) Lastly, while his legs were not shattered, a spear was thrust up into his side, piercing the region of his heart. In short, his Nazarene body was destroyed, unable to properly stand with broken feet. In order for it to be rejuvenated and resurrected, it would need massive healing on multiple points—including the replacement of lost flesh. Thus the conclusion becomes inescapable that a healed body would not be his sacrificed body. It appears to me then that ones claiming that Jesus was resurrected with the same body that he sacrificed are not appreciating what happened to that body! They show room to grow in their appreciation for what the ransom sacrifice entailed.

Figure B3: a perforated heel bone.

Figure B4: a heel bone with a Roman nail hole.

Aquinas’s disservice
The Roman Catholic scholar and “saint” Thomas Aquinas (1224/25-1274) wrote about Jesus’ “glorified body.” As one Roman Catholic source reports:
Christ’s body, though real, was “glorified” (i.e. in a glorified condition). … It means that a glorified body is still a body, but it is not subject to corruption.

As we would say in modern scientific terminology, the glorified body is not subject to the forces and laws of physics and chemistry. Human bodies, made of the elements on the periodic table, belong to rational souls.
At this point it sounds like they actually have a spirit body in mind, one incorruptible and “not subject to the forces and laws of physics and chemistry,” not being assignable to any one of the elements of the periodic table. However, we are then reminded that this is not what they have in mind:
St. Thomas maintains that all glorified bodies are still made of the elements. This was of course in the pre-periodic table days, but nevertheless element refers to matter and energy. St. Thomas asks whether the elements composing a body stay the same? Do they act the same? How can they really remain the same substance if they do not act according to their nature? St. Thomas concludes that matter does persist, does retain its properties, but becomes more perfected. (italics original)
Due to him writing on this matter “in the pre-periodic table days,” he was speaking outside of his field of expertise. He was using his own agenda-driven “folk-science” devoid of any real scientific credibility—and was thus engaging in an exercise of speculation that also blissfully ignored Jesus’ clear declaration at John 14:19-20 as discussed above. It was the “science fiction” of his day, analogous to describing how “lightsabers” of Star Wars fame operate, or how “transporter beams” of Star Trek fame function. The Star Wars and Star Trek gurus are purposefully speaking outside their field of expertise for entertainment sake. Thus Aquinas’s claim about matter becoming perfected is an unscientific absurdity, and one far less convincing than the explanations for “lightsabers” and “transporter beams.” Nevertheless, he has evidently inflicted a colossal disservice to the Roman Catholic community, for that report concluded: “The same principle that creates elements and forms bodies is the same principle that perfects them—that is, God.” This is a classic “God can do anything” fallacy. Just appeal to God’s omnipotence and call it a day. Such reasoning only convinces people who are already convinced, and does nothing for objective truth-seekers.

The report continued, operating under Aquinas’s disservice: “It makes sense that if real bodies are made of elements, then so are glorified bodies.” It only makes sense if you think Aquinas’s explanation makes sense, which to objective minds does not. Nor could it possibly make any sense, as he was—as admitted—writing “in the pre-periodic table days,” writing before any credible comments could be made! Thus his “perfected matter” comment is nothing more than lame science fiction of a B-movie. It’s similar to how the Mormon founder Joseph Smith claimed to have translated Egyptian Hieratic before that knowledge was available to him. One cannot make credible claims before the scientific knowledge is available.

Source: What Was Christ’s Resurrected Body Made Of?

Ignatius’s testimony
Ignatius of Antioch was an early second-century Christian leader, allegedly a disciple of the Apostle John, who wrote a series of letters. One was addressed to the Christians in Ephesus. In 7:2 of that letter he wrote in part: “There is only one physician, who is both flesh and spirit.” (Lightfoot and Harmer translation.) Or, as the Hermeneia Commentary for Ignatius presents: “There is one physician, both fleshly and spiritual.” This commentary explains:
The first component of the striking list of antitheses that follows may ultimately be rooted in a semi-credal pattern that contrasted what Jesus was “according to the flesh” with what he became “according to the spirit” (Rom 1:3-4; cf. Sm. 1.1). In Ignatius, however, flesh and spirit represent two spheres or two dimensions that refer to human and divine reality respectively. We have here the kernel of the later two-nature christologies. (Page 60.)
Then it says:
The series of antitheses in Eph. 7.2 appears to move from the historical to the exalted Christ. This is emphasized in the last antithesis by the words “first” and “then.” … Note that the expression “from Mary” in Ignatius likewise emphasizes the true humanity of Jesus. (Pages 61-62.)
A parallel is noted in his letter to Polycarp at 3:2, where “the Christological attributes of Pol. 3.2 find their closest parallel in Eph. 7.2.” (Page 267.) Polycarp 3:2 in the Hermeneia Commentary says:
Look for him who is above time—non-temporal, invisible, for our sakes visible, intangible, impassible, for our sakes passible, one who endured in every way for our sakes.
Or, by Lightfoot and Harmer:
Wait expectantly for him who is above time: the Eternal, the Invisible, who for our sake became visible; the Intangible, the Unsuffering, who for our sake suffered, who for our sake endured in every way.
Thus, Ignatius is not saying Jesus is simultaneously flesh and spirit, but was flesh and is now spirit. While he was fleshly, tangible and visible, he is now a spirit, invisible and intangible. While he was once in the human sphere or dimension, he is now in the spirit sphere or dimension.

Source: William R. Schoedel, Ignatius of Antioch, ed. Helmut Koester, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985).

  1. Verbal pummeling
  2. Enoch and Elijah
Verbal pummeling
Paul was not concerned about hurting anyone’s feelings at 1 Corinthians 15:36 and Galatians 3:1, 3, nor was Jesus with his verbal bashing at Luke 9:62. Neither was Jeremiah for that matter, if we are to imagine him literally fulfilling the command in Jeremiah 6:11 to vent his searing wrath on everyone in the street. In fact, Paul’s audience even complained that Paul’s words were ‘weighty and forceful,’ possibly in reaction to his argument starting in 1 Corinthians 15:36. (2 Corinthians 10:10) But he did not recoil in fear of their sniveling grievance. This was not cruel—it merely expressed a wake-up call of righteous indignation fortified with integrity for the truth.

While such verbal pummeling was found on the lips and pens of those servants and messengers of God, Christians who are not of such divine appointment should rather display, for the most part, “mild temper and deep respect.” (1 Peter 3:15) Of course, we should not mince our words either, if righteous indignation allows for it, even if the response is similar to what Paul mentioned in 2 Corinthians 10:10, knowing that we cannot please everybody, as Paul feared in Galatians 4:16. Supporting that we should not mince or dilute our words when the situation calls for it is Ecclesiastes 12:11, which says that “the words of the wise are like oxgoads, and their collected sayings are like firmly embedded nails.” The Message paraphrase relays the meaning as “the words of the wise prod us to live well. They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together.” These oxgoads and hammered nails, while not feeling good at the time of contact, are meant to have a corrective and then stabilizing effect.

Enoch and Elijah
Jeremiah reported that Elijah ‘ascended to the heavens in a windstorm’ in Israel, whereas Ezra reported that he was still on earth a number of years later sending a letter to wicked King Jehoram of Judah. (2 Kings 2:11; 2 Chronicles 21:12-15) Thus, for both accounts to be accurate, he must have been transferred to another prophetic assignment, in agreement with Jesus’ own conclusion at John 3:13, that no one had ascended to heaven. (See: “Elijah”

Similarly, while Enoch was somehow “taken” by God (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5), he too per John 3:13 never ascended to heaven. Instead, God may have put him in a prophetic trance and then terminated his life while he was in the trance so that he would not experience the pangs of death.—Hebrews 11:13. (See: “Enoch”

Additional reading:

  • The crown of thorns: The Crown of Thorns by Meadow.
  • Perforated heel bone: N. Haas. Anthropological Observations on the Skeletal Remains from Giv'at ha-Mivtar. Israel Exploration Journal. Vol. 20, No. 1/2 (1970) Plate 21A page 63.
  • Heel bone with Roman crucifixion nail hole: Joe Zias, Crosses and Crucifixions, Misunderstood and Misinterpreted – a guide for/to the perplexed. The Ancient Near East Today, August 2019, Vol. VII, No. 8.
  • Periodic table: Screen shot from the EMD periodic table iOS app.

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