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hands, wrists & crucifixion

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  • Bob Schacht
    John 20:25, So the other disciples told him, We have seen the Lord. But he said to them, Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 9, 2003
      John 20:25, So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But
      he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put
      my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not

      This is our only source in the Gospels for the idea that Jesus' hands were
      *nailed* to the cross, instead of tied, as was sometimes done. I have heard
      that the use of nails was common practice in Roman crucifixions, so no
      problem there.

      My question, however, has to do with the word for hands. My understanding
      was that when nails were used, the ordinary practice was to drive the nails
      through the *wrist*, because there are more tendons and ligaments there
      that can hold the weight of a sagging body than there are in the hands. The
      Greek word is *cheir*, which according to Louw-Nida 8.30 cheir, can mean
      "(a) hand, finger: a hand or any relevant portion of the hand, including,
      for example, the fingers" They don't in that place of my computerized
      dictionary mention wrists. However, "wrists" appears only once in the NRSV
      NT, at Acts 12:7, Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone
      in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, "Get up
      quickly." And the chains fell off his wrists.
      But the Greek word here is the same (although inflected? differently), and
      indeed the KJV translates "hands" rather than wrists.

      So, do I understand then that the word used in John 20:25 is ambiguous, and
      might refer to the wrists rather than the hands, meaning nothing more
      precise than "distal appendage"? I find no other word used for wrists in
      the NT (not that such word would have been much in demand).


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