Rowan Williams has a great series of lectures on the Gospel of Mark given in Holy Week 2010 during his time as Archbishop of Canterbury.  The audio links are provided below.

The beginning of the gospel – Reading Mark’s Life of Jesus:

1. History & Memory

2. Unveiling Secrets (with separate Q&A)

3. A Lifelong Passion

The series has now been published as a book.



The Empty Tomb by Ghislaine Howard

“Now very early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been moved away from the entrance. So she went running to Simon Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”. Then Peter and the other disciple set out to go to the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the strips of linen cloth lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who had been following him, arrived and went right into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen cloth lying there, and the face cloth, which had been around Jesus’ head, not lying with the strips of linen cloth but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, came in, and he saw and believed. (For they did not yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead.)” John 20:1-9

The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb by Hans Holbein the Younger

“Then they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it, with the aromatic spices, in strips of linen cloth according to Jewish burial customs.  Now at the place where Jesus was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden was a new tomb where no one had yet been buried.  And so, because it was the Jewish day of preparation and  the tomb was nearby, they placed Jesus’ body there.” John 19:40-42

The washing of the feet by Ghislaine Howard

And before the feast of the passover, Jesus knowing that His hour hath come, that He may remove out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own who are in the world — to the end He loved them. And supper being come, the devil already having put it into the heart of Judas of Simon, Iscariot, that he may deliver Him up, Jesus, knowing that all things the Father hath given to Him — into His hands — and that from God He came forth, and unto God He goeth, doth rise from the supper, and doth lay down his garments, and having taken a towel, he girded himself; afterward he putteth water into the basin, and began to wash the feet of his disciples, and to wipe with the towel with which he was being girded. He cometh, therefore, unto Simon Peter, and that one saith to him, `Sir, thou — dost Thou wash my feet?’ Jesus answered and said to him, `That which I do thou hast not known now, but thou shalt know after these things;’ Peter saith to him, `Thou mayest not wash my feet — to the age.’ Jesus answered him, `If I may not wash thee, thou hast no part with me.’ Simon Peter saith to him, `Sir, not my feet only, but also the hands and the head.’ Jesus saith to him, `He who hath been bathed hath no need, save to wash his feet, for he is clean altogether; and ye are clean, but not all;’ for He knew him who is delivering him up; because of this He said, `Ye are not all clean.’ When, therefore, He washed their feet, and took His garments, having reclined at meat again, He said to them, `Do ye know what I have done to you? Ye call me, “The Teacher” and “The Lord”, and ye say well, for I am; if then I did wash your feet — the Lord and the Teacher — ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given thee an example, that ye should do as I have done to ye. Verily, verily, I say unto ye, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” John 13:1-15

Apparently by trauma-induced coagulopathy! according to a new study published in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine:

Joseph W. Bergeron, The crucifixion of Jesus: Review of hypothesized mechanisms of death and implications of shock and trauma-induced coagulopathy, doi:10.1016/j.jflm.2011.06.001 (subscription required).

My understanding was that crucifixion victims would likely have died of suffocation, so exhausted that they could no longer pull themselves up to breathe – yes a brutal way to die!!!  (For further reading on crucifixion in the ancient world check out Larry Hurtado’s blog entry.)

However, according to this article this is only one of six leading theories on the exact mechanism of Jesus’ death:

1) Pulmonary embolism

2) Cardiac rupture

3) Suspension trauma

4) Asphyxiation

5) Fatal stab wound

6) Shock

A reconstruction (left) showing how the skeletal foot of the crucified man from the Giv'at ha-Mivtar tomb (1st C Jewish remains) would have been fixed to the cross, with the original nail and heel bone (Calcaneus) on the right.

This new article has already been trashed by Piers Mitchell, a biological anthropologist at the University of Cambridge (see this link), who himself wrote a paper on the subject in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine in early 2006:

Matthew W Maslen and Piers D Mitchell, Medical theories on the cause of death in crucifixion, J. R. Soc. Med., 2006; 99: 185 – 188. 

Here is a quote from their conclusions on the matter:

“Our conclusion is that, at present, there is insufficient evidence to safely state exactly how people did die from crucifixion in Roman times. It is quite likely that different individuals died from different physiological causes, and we would expect that the orientation in which they were crucified would be crucial in this respect. Until new archaeological or textual evidence comes to light then it is only through more realistic humane re-enactment research that we may move closer to an answer.”

Happy Easter Everyone.

N. T. Wright seminar: Can a Scientist Believe in the Resurrection

Matt J. Rossano article in the Huffingtonpost: Does Resurrection Contradict Science?

The Empty Tomb by Dr. He Qi

“For Jesus’ followers, Friday was the crucifixion, Saturday was the time of tears and uncertainty, Sunday was the resurrection.  Faith confesses that the resurrection already happened.  And yet it seems faith also leaves us in a perpetual Saturday – when the suffering (of people and thus of God) of the crucifixion stays just as near to us as the promise of resurrection.  Sunday, we believe, is coming.  But meanwhile, we are not left trying to live faithfully in this Saturday of Tears?”  Kent Annan in After Shock

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