Did Jesus Die Of A Broken Heart? -- By: Edward M. Merrins

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 062:246 (Apr 1905)
Article: Did Jesus Die Of A Broken Heart?
Author: Edward M. Merrins


Did Jesus Die Of A Broken Heart?1

Edward M. Merrins

In our inquiry into the subject-matter of this article, it has thus far been shown that rupture of the heart cannot have been the physical cause of the death of Jesus, for the following reasons: (1) so grave a lesion, unless traumatic, never occurs except when the tissues of the heart are diseased; (2) profound grief, or other form of mental perturbation, can never directly induce it if the heart be healthy; (3) the symptoms characteristic of the lesion when it is complete, such as utter physical collapse and unconsciousness, were not exhibited at the time it is assumed the rupture occurred. There are still other objections to be brought forward.

This theory of rupture of the heart does not satisfactorily account for the flow of blood and water from the wound in the side after death, a flow which Dr. Stroud describes as having been copious, rapid, and easily seen by the distant spectator. Suppose it be granted, for argument’s sake, that in the short time between the death of Jesus and the infliction of the spear wound in his side, the blood which was effused into the pericardial sac, in consequence of the rupture, underwent coagulation, and separated into clot and serum. Even so, while the serum might furnish the flow of “water” following the wound, as far as can be ascertained, it is conjecture only to say there would be a copious flow of blood also.

A short description of the phenomena of clotting may not be out of place. When blood is drawn from a living animal into an open vessel at the ordinary temperature of the air, in two or three minutes the fluid is seen to become semi-solid or jelly-like, and in about ten minutes the change has extended throughout the entire mass. This solid mass, clot, or crassamentum adheres so closely to the sides of the retaining vessel, that, if the latter be inverted, none of its contents escape. A little later, a light straw-colored fluid, serum, makes its appearance, and, the more the serum transudes, the firmer and harder does the clot become.

Such being the nature of the clots, it would have to be a very large and open wound through which they could issue. Owing to their size and consistency, they would be apt to plug the wound instead of passing through.

“In all the varieties of injury to the heart,” says a recent writer, “the wound is found plugged with blood clot.” In the pericardium, the clots would remain there practically as they were formed. Among the cases of ruptured heart collated by Stroud, there were a few in which post-mortem examination of the body was made, with the following results: ...

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