Professor Duncan Derrett has kindly allowed me to place of of his many contributions to Evangelical Quarterly on-line in PDF and assures me that even though he is now in his 90s we still can expect more articles to come.
This question was raised last Saturday during a day conference on biblical archaeology at Tyndale House in Cambridge. Put simply the problem was stated as follows:
Crucifixion normally involved nailing the victim to a horizontal beam through the wrist between the radius and the ulna (the two bones of the forearm). The nail was then firmly trapped by the carpals from ripping out of the hand between the fingers. If the victim were nailed through the palm of the hand the weight of the suspended body would simply cause the nail to pull through the flesh between the metacarpals. That much seems clear. However, in John 20:27 Jesus commands Thomas to:
“…See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” [Italics mine]
Surely, the argument goes, if the nail marks where in Jesus’ wrists then he would have told Thomas to look there for them and not in his hands?
A Possible Solution to the Location of the Nail Prints
I think the answer to the problem is fairly straightforward, once we look at the Greek text. The Greek word for hand – χειρ – which is used twice in the passage cited above means “A hand or any relevant portion of the hands, including, for example, the fingers.” (Nida & Louw, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, Vol. 1, p. 98.). The question is whether the word “hand” in Greek also included the wrist. The word “wrist” or “wrists” appears only in Acts 12:7 in the NIV New Testament. In the Old Testament it appears twice in the Genesis 38:27 & 30, in Jeremiah 40:4 and Ezekiel 13:18. In Acts 12:7 and in the Septuagint of the OT verses the “wrist” is a translation of χειρ. So, it would seem that “wrist” was included within the semantic range of χειρ and so the problem seems to be solved. John 20:27 could quite accurately be translated: “…See my wrists. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Nida & Louw note that there is a precedent for using a specific body part in place of the general term “hand”. Luke 15:22 reads “…Put a ring on his χειρ…” χειρ here is to be translated finger, not hand.
Below are the articles from Gospel Perspectives, Vol. 2: Studies of History and tradition in the Four Gospels. Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1981. I can place one of the articles from this list on-line, subject to the author’s permission. As there are so many good articles I am asking for help in deciding which one to use; so if you have a favourite, please add a comment to let me know. I have excluded the article by Gerhard Maier which is in German.
1) Which article you would like to see included
2) Briefly say why.
Please vote by 15th December. I will take all votes and comments into consideration when I decide which one to use.
D.E. Aune, “The Problem of the Genre of the Gospels: A Critique of C.H. Talbert’s What is a Gospel?” pp.9-60.
R.J. Banke, “Setting ‘The Quest for the Hsitorical Jesus’ in a Broader Framework,” pp.61-82.
D.A. Carson, “Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel: After Dodd, What?” pp.83-146.
Bruce Chilton, “Announcement in Nazara: An Analysis of Luke 4:16-21″ pp.147-172.
William Lane Craig, “The Empty Tomb of Jesus” pp.173-200.
Stephen C. Farris, “On Discerning Semitic Sources in Luke1-2” pp.201-238.
R.T. France, “Scripture, Tradition and the History of the Infancy Narratives of Matthew” pp.239-266
Grant R. Osborne, “John 21: Test Case for History and Redaction in the Resurrection Narratives,” pp.293-328.
Philip Barton Payne, “The Authenticity of the Parables of Jesus” pp.329-344.
David Wenham, “Paul and the Synoptic Apocalypse” pp.345-375.