Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ has generated more controversy in the
media than any movie in recent memory. One of the main criticisms has been that the
violence the movie depicts is excessive. The fact is that neither the flogging nor the
crucifixion as shown was as bad or as violent as the actual event – as I will explain later.
I became interested in the medical and engineering aspects of the crucifixion when, as a
relatively new believer, I attended medical school at the University of Miami in Florida
in 1974-1976. I already had my engineering doctorate so my medical training made it
fairly simple to work out the physiology of whole process, which was confirmed later in
the JAMA paper published by W. D. Edwards, et. al. in 1986. The engineering load
analysis, when added to the physiological information, will make it obvious why the
Roman form of crucifixion is the most horrible, cruel, painful and humiliating form of
execution ever devised.
I could describe it all in antiseptic impersonal terms removed from the actual event,
which would make it easier for our minds to bear. Instead, I will describe it as we are
going along following the events as they actually happened to our Lord and Savior as
depicted in the movie by Gibson. As a physician it is easy to be impersonal and
detached, but the subject matter demands that we experience it in our hearts as well as
our minds – so that we can know how great a price he paid to redeem us and so that we
may love him all the more. So, bear with me because this is going to be simultaneously a
horrifying and wonderful experience for us all.