Full disclosure: This book is published by my own new publisher, Nordskog Publishing, Incorporated. I am prejudiced in favor of Nordskog’s success.
The experience of reading Died He For Me, by Mark A. Marinella, MD, FACP, is not unlike that of watching Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, and it covers much of the same material.
For Christians, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is one of the central matters of the Faith. We’ve all seen images of the event, portrayed in various degrees of historical authenticity. For the Christian who wants to understand more clearly what the process of crucifixion entailed, Died He For Me is an excellent guide.
It’s a harrowing book. I’ve done some reading on the subject, and had a fair grasp of the essentials. Even so, the sheer brutality overwhelmed me. Simply on the basis of Dr. Marinella’s explanation of the process of preliminary scourging, along with its probable physical consequences, it’s hard to imagine how anybody managed to survive more than a few hours afterwards. Yet, he informs us, many victims lasted three or four days on crosses.
Marinella blends historical research on Roman crucifixion practices, along with contemporary reports, with his own physician’s knowledge of trauma and the body’s responses to it. This necessarily involves some speculation, but Marinella clearly labels his personal judgments as such.
My mental picture of the crucifixion needs revision. The picture is not only one of pain at its extreme, but of severe physical trauma and shock. Crucified people should be imagined as sweating, shivering, convulsing and vomiting blood as they died by inches.
Marinella does not subscribe to the theory, often referenced by preachers, that Christ “died of a broken heart” (myocardial rupture). That kind of death is possible, he admits, but generally takes a longer period of time than the six hours that Jesus suffered. He thinks Jesus probably died of multiple causes.
For the Christian, it must be said (though it’s one of the divine mysteries) that the physical horrors of crucifixion were the least of Christ’s sufferings. Thousands or hundreds of thousands of people (it’s impossible to comprehend) died on crosses, most of them suffering longer in temporal terms than He did. We believe that Christ bore the blast of God’s anger itself, setting His body like a shield between us and the fire of Hell. Such suffering cannot be analyzed or described, and so the full story of Christ’s Passion must remain forever incomplete.
But what we can know is enough to sober our minds and turn us to humility and repentance.
I recommend Died He For Me for pastors, and for adults who are looking for a serious, scientific, non-sensationalist examination of the crucifixion of Christ.
Update: I should have made a connection to the recent (and generally ignored) development of Hamas bringing back the penalty of crucifixion in its enlightened, peace-loving domain.
Tip: The Thinklings.