*** w87 8/15 p. 29 Where Were His Legs? ***
What About Jesus?
So, what does this indicate about how Jesus was executed? Really, not much at all! For instance, as we discussed on page 23, Jesus most likely was executed on an upright stake without any crossbeam. No man today can know with certainty even how many nails were used in Jesus’ case. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1979, Volume 1, page 826) comments: “The exact number of nails used . . . has been the subject of considerable speculation. In the earliest depictions of the crucifixion Jesus’ feet are shown separately nailed, but in later ones they are crossed and affixed to the upright with one nail.”
We do know that his hands or arms were not simply bound, for Thomas later said: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails.” (John 20:25) That could have meant a nail through each hand, or the plural “nails” might have reference to nail prints in ‘his hands and his feet.’ (See Luke 24:39.) We cannot know precisely where the nails pierced him, though it obviously was in the area of his hands. The Scriptural account simply does not provide exact details, nor does it need to. And if scholars who have directly examined the bones found near Jerusalem in 1968 cannot even be sure how that corpse was positioned, it certainly does not prove how Jesus was positioned.
We thus recognize that depictions of Jesus’ death in our publications, such as you see on page 24, are merely reasonable artistic renderings of the scene, not statements of anatomic absolutes. Such depictions need not reflect the changing and conflicting opinions of scholars, and the drawings definitely avoid religious symbols that stem from ancient paganism.