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diately affecting the vital parts, they will live twenty-four hours after having been thus attached to the wheel. All our commentators entirely overlook this difficulty ; I inquired of Mr. Wrinsberg, our professor of anatomy, in what time and in what manner a man would probably die, whose bones had been broken upon the wheel ? His answer was “ not from loss of blood, but from gangrene, and probably on the third day.” But if we take a different translation, the difficulty is obviated. The Greek word äipety, tollere, as it occurs in the Greek and in the Latin Vulgate, signifies also to “kill.” I then translate it thus, “ that the bones should be broken, and that they should be killed," or, " that after the bones had been broken, they should be killed.” The mode of putting to death would be, as I conceive, from a spear being directed straight to the heart; but as their sufferings would be so far abridged by this mode, whilst in the other case, they would live in inexpressible pain, and with intolerable thirst, for three, nay perhaps for seven days, their bones were previously broken, in order to substitute a sharp and violent death for the longer pain, from which they were now relieved.
For that sabbath day was an high day.”] I am aware that some manuscripts read " for the day of this sabbath,” but I have preferred the common reading, as most in conformity with recognised editions, and in either case the grammar of the sentence is equally applicable.
33, 34. When they see that Jesus is dead, they do not give themselves the trouble of breaking his legs, because he could feel no pain from it; but one amongst them executes his main commission, by piercing his side in such a manner, as necessarily to cause death, in case he had not been dead already. These verses are loaded with many ignorant and feeble comments. Some have even endeavoured to ascertain the name of the soldier, and some have even given it, although not mentioned by John. Some say, he pierced him through malice, others from curiosity to know if he was dead. My opinion is, he acted in obedience to his orders, which were that the crucified persons should be put to death, and as this could not be effected by merely breaking the bones, he was to pierce the heart for that
Some commentators have found out, that the Greek word voow signifies“ to tickle," and not “to pierce;" but these comments are unworthy of the New Tes
tament. Suidas says distinctly, that the Greek word võča. signifies piercing a person or thing, close to you, with a sword or dagger. As I feel myself under the necessity of mentioning the various conjectures, which have been brought forward, in order that the reader may not accuse me of suppressing any thing, I shall here notice a singular various reading, as it occurs in the Vulgate. It is thus translated," he opened his side with a lance," which Beza concludes to have been a confusion of some other Greek word (ävoite). Certain it is, that the word “opened" is in Wheeler's Manuscript, and it occurs in the new Syriac translation. The old Latin translations, prior to Jerome, are divided.
34. “ And forthwith came thereout blood and water."] If the direction of the spear was intended to terminate life, and was therefore aimed at the heart, it could only have produced blood, and what the physicians term “ liquor pericardii,” from the heart, and the contiguous vessels. This is the common opinion, but to make it better understood, I must recur to something which is generally omitted. The “ liquor pericardii” is, in general, in such small quantities, that its effusion is scarcely evident; but when the death is slow, and even in the case of a
person who is hung, it accumulates rapidly, as well as in all the pectoral vessels, besides the pericardium : and as Jesus had now suffered six hours upon the cross, it must have accumulated so considerably as to become visible. In one point of view, this wound, and the blood and water which flowed from it, are important; they prove the death of Jesus Christ, and that it was not merely a fainting fit, but that it was in the state of death, that he was put into the grave. This proof, however, becomes stronger, when we take into consideration my illustration of the word “taken away.” If the object was merely to take away life, the blow would naturally have been aimed at the heart, and the blood and water flowing out would have been the fatal and immediate consequence. But John does not seem to have written this history, however important this fact ultimately becomes, with this object in view; he makes no application of it, as verifying the death of Jesus, but only looks to it, as fulfilling a material
a material passage in Scripture. He does not even hint at the possibility of Jesus being buried alive; and it is not likely he understood so much of the formation of the human frame as to know the effect of the effusion of the “ liquor pericardii,” and
it is not probable, that many even of his learned commentators were acquainted with the physical consequences. The case vould have been different if Luke had related it, as he was a medical man, and is likely to have been conversant with the effect of blood and water issuing in this direction.
35, 36. There is nothing, so far as I can understand the words of John, more clear, than that he here speaks of the actual fulfilment of such passages of the Old Testament, as related prophetically to the Messiah. But it is not here an object to strain passages, or to accommodate them to the situation, to which he conceived they might apply. I will not confine myself to the expression, “ For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled,” because that might have another meaning, but to the connection. The history, in the eyes of John, acquires such singular importance, that he says, he writes as an eye-witness, that he has seen every thing himself, and that he knows it to be true; and he writes that his reader may believe that Jesus is the Christ. But in what way does it contribute to this belief? to convince any one, that Jesus was actually dead, and actually risen? It does both; but he