A commenter named Jeffrey Liss asked under my post, "The Shroud of Turin: 3.6. The man on the Shroud was crucified":
"One question for you, though. I am curious why you prefer Barbet's research to that of Zugibe. My recollection is that they reach different conclusions as to placement of the nails and cause of death."
I started answering this as a comment under that post, but it grew too long and required photographs to illustrate my points, so I decided to answer the question in this three-part series of blog posts.
[Above: "Destot's space: Space in the wrist bounded by the hamate[H], capitate [G], triquetrals [C] and lunate [B] bones." ("Étienne Destot, Wikipedia, 18 March 2013). This diagram is of the right hand, distal (i.e. palms facing) ("Carpus," Wikipedia, 20 November 2013).]
First, I didn't realise that my preference for Barbet's hypotheses over Zugibe's regarding the placement of the nails in the man on the Shroud's hands and the cause of his death, was evident in my posts. But presumably the commenter was referring to these statements in my previous post:
"The man on the Shroud ... has a swollen abdomen which indicates that he died of asphyxiation, the way crucifixion victims died" [Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, "Verdict on the Shroud," p.45. My emphasis]and
"The Shroud re-enacts the scene. It raises the arms of Christ to the angle at which they were extended on the cross. It shows the point where the hands were pierced, and how the fingers and thumbs responded to the pressure on the median nerve." [Wuenschel, E.A., 1954, "Self-Portrait of Christ," pp.55-56. My emphasis)because they reflect Barbet's views, not Zugibe's.
In September I posted an obituary of Dr Zugibe, who died on 6 September of this year, so readers who knew of Zugibe's strong criticism of Barbet regarding the placement of the nails in the Shroud man's hands and the cause of his death, could be forgiven for thinking that I sided with Zugibe. And indeed having read Zugibe's forceful criticisms of Barbet's position for my recent posts in my "The Shroud of Turin" series, I was initially disposed to think that Zugibe must be right and Barbet wrong. But my doubts were growing about Zugibe's position relative to Barbet's and it was when I got to the point in my previous post, "3.6. The man on the Shroud was crucified:
"Both the man on the Shroud's and Jesus' legs were not broken The legs of the man on the Shroud are not broken. This is despite the crurifragium, the breaking of a crucifixion victim's leg-bones with a heavy mallet, to hasten his death, because he then would be unable to use his legs to raise himself up to breathe, being the norm in Roman crucifixions. As we saw above, Jehohanan's legs had been broken and the Gospel of John records that the Roman soldiers broke the legs of the two robbers crucified with Jesus, to bring about their immediate deaths (Jn 19:31-32).that I mentally came down on the side of Barbet on that point at least.
So when I received Liss' comment a day after my post, I did some further research into what Barbet's and Zugibe's respective positions actually were on the "placement of the nails and cause of death". I was amazed to discover not only that Barbet was right and Zugibe was wrong, but also why. I found that Zugibe's error was not anatomical, but that he had simply misinterpreted where the nail exit wound is on the man on the Shroud's left hand (as I will demonstrate).The location of the nails in the hands. Dr Pierre Barbet (1884–1961) was a former French Army surgeon in World War I, who later became the Chief Surgeon at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Paris:
"Pierre Barbet (1884–1961) was a French physician, and the chief surgeon at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Paris. By performing various experiments, Barbet introduced a set of theories on the Crucifixion of Jesus. In 1950 he wrote a long study called A Doctor at Calvary which was later published as a book. Barbet stated that his experience as a battlefield surgeon during World War I led him to conclude that the image on the Shroud of Turin was authentic, anatomically correct and consistent with crucifixion." ("Pierre Barbet (physician)," Wikipedia, 28 April 2013).So Barbet was no slouch, in both experience and qualifications. Indeed, Barbet, as Chief Surgeon at a major Paris hospital, surgically outranked Zugibe, the Chief Medical Examiner in Rockland County, New York State.
On the location of the nails on the man on the Shroud, Barbet wrote:
"If one examines a frontal cutting of the wrist, and better still a radiograph taken from in front, one finds that in the middle of the bones of the wrists there is a free space, bounded by the capitate, the semi-lunar, the triquetral and the hamate bones. We know this space so well that we know, in accordance with Destot's work, that its disappearance means a dislocation of the wrist, the first stage of the major carpal traumatisms. Well, this space is situated just behind the upper edge of the transverse carpal ligament and below the bending fold of the wrist." (Barbet, P., 1953, "A Doctor at Calvary," pp.115-116. My emphasis).
Barbet described the results of experiments that he was permitted to carry out on cadavers at St Joseph's Hospital:
"I repeated the same experiment with several men's hands ... Each time I observed exactly the same thing. Once it had passed through the soft parts, and the nail had entered fully into the wrist ... it then emerged through the skin of the back of the wrist at about a centimetre above the point of entry ... The nail has entered into Destot's space; it has moved aside the four bones which surround it, without breaking one of them, merely widening the space ... The point of entry, being a little outside and medial to Destot's space, the point of the nail reached the head of the great bone, slid along its mesial slope, went down into the space and crossed it. The four bones were pushed aside, but were intact and by reason of thus being pushed were closely pressed against the nail. Elsewhere the latter was resting on the upper end of the transverse carpal ligament ... The point of emergence is thus a little above and a little within the point of entry. If I had driven in the nail a little on the inner side of the bending fold I should have fallen straight into Destot's space, which is a little on the inner side of the axis of the wrist in the axis of the third intermetacarpal space. The obliquity of the nail pointing backwards and upwards is solely caused by the arrangement of the bony surfaces around Destot's space, for this happened every time during my experiments ... In each case the point took up its own direction and seemed to be slipping along the walls of a funnel and then to find its way spontaneously into the space which was awaiting it ... Is it possible that trained executioners would not have known by experience of this ideal spot for crucifying the hands, combining every advantage and so easy to find? The answer is obvious. And this spot is precisely where the shroud shows us the mark of the nail, a spot of which no forger would have had any idea or the boldness to represent it ... the nails in the hands were driven into a natural space, generally known as Destot's space, which is situated between the two rows of the bones of the wrist." (Barbet, 1953, pp.116-119).
However, Zugibe claimed that "Barbet's observations and conclusions were medically and scientifically inaccurate":
"In 1950, when I came across Pierre Barbet's book, A Doctor at Calvary, I was enthralled with the subject and lectured to numerous audiences on his findings. However, it was not until I attended graduate school at Columbia University to pursue a Ph.D. in human anatomy, that I started to realize that Barbet's observations and conclusions were medically and scientifically inaccurate. For example, the anatomy students had a number of mnemonics to memorize various anatomical structures in a particular order. When I applied one such mnemonic for the bones in the wrist, I realized that Destot's space was on the side of the wrist opposite to where the Shroud of Turin showed the wrist wound. I then began to investigate Barbet's missing thumb theory, his asphyxiation hypotheses, and more. It was then that I realized that Barbet had not applied the principles of the scientific method to his various hypotheses-sine qua non in scientific research-yet his hypotheses were published in myriad journals, books, magazines, documentaries, and movies, and quoted ad infinitum. Subsequently, after extensive experimentation, I was able to demonstrate that his other hypotheses were also untenable." (Zugibe, F.T., 2005, "The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry," p.2. My emphasis).But in fact it is Zugibe who, while not "medically and scientifically inaccurate", has simply misinterpreted the Shroud image! The key is in Zugibe's claim above that "Destot's space was on the side of the wrist opposite to where the Shroud of Turin showed the wrist wound" (my emphasis). But this is simply not so as we shall see.
Later Zugibe clarifies what he believes is wrong with Barbet's hypotheses on where the Shroud man was nailed through his hands:
"BARBET'S HYPOTHESES ...The man of the Shroud was nailed through the area of the wrist called Destot's Space and not through the palm of the hand. After Barbet concluded that nails driven through the palms of the hands could not hold the weight of the body, he looked for a stronger area. After a few experiments, he concluded that the man of the Shroud was nailed through the area of the wrist called Destot's Space and not through the palm of the hand. To quote from his book Doctor at Calvary, `one finds that in the middle of the bones of the wrists, there is a free space bounded by the capitate, the semilunar, the triquetral and the hamate bones. We know this space so well that we know (that it is) in accordance with Destot's work ...' (Barbet 1963). Unfortunately, this cannot be true because these four bones are located on the little finger (ulnar) side of the wrist, not on the thumb (radial) side of the wrist as is depicted on the Shroud! Look at the hand wound image on the shroud to confirm this. Note that the hand wound image on the Shroud is indeed on the radial (thumb) side of the wrist. ... Having earned an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Human Anatomy in addition to my M.D. degree, and having taught gross anatomy to medical students, Barbet's error hit me like a ton of bricks. However, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and carefully checked to see if the space might angle toward the site depicted on the Shroud, emerging at the point Barbet suggests. But, upon checking, I found that anatomically there was no way such a connection could have been made. While some people might believe that Barbet simply made an error in naming the bones of the wrist, I do not believe this to be true. First, in Barbet's 1937 book, Les cinq plaies du Christ, written 13 years prior to Doctor at Calvary, he included a diagram of the wrist ... showing Destot's Space bordered by the capitate, semilunar, triqueteral, and hamate bones on the ulnar (little finger) side of the wrist, not on the radial (thumb) side of the wrist where the wound image is depicted on the Shroud. This can be confirmed in any anatomy textbook. ... Second, in the same book there is a photograph of a cadaver that Barbet nailed to a cross that also shows that the nails are indeed nailed through the small finger (ulnar) side of the wrist and not on the thumb (radial) side" (Zugibe, 2005, pp.72-73).
[Right: Diagram in Barbet's 1937 book, Les cinq plaies du Christ ("The Five Wounds of Christ"), showing Destot's Space bordered by the capitate, semilunar, triqueteral, and hamate bones on the ulnar (little finger) side of the wrist: Zugibe, F.T., 1995, "Pierre Barbet Revisited," Sindon N. S., Quad. No. 8, December.]Again the key is in Zugibe's claim that "these four bones are located on the little finger (ulnar) side of the wrist, not on the thumb (radial) side of the wrist as is depicted on the Shroud"! Both Barbet and Zugibe were agreed on where Destot's space is. What they were disagreed on (not personally since Barbet died in 1961) is Zugibe's claim that the nail exit wound on the left hand of the man on the Shroud is closer to the thumb's side of the hand than the little finger's side. So who is right?
[Above: The nail exit wound and bloodstain on the back of the left hand of the man on the Shroud: Shroud Scope: Durante 2002 Vertical. The thumbs are not visible but on the left hand it would be on the upper side, towards the elbow of the right hand and furthest from the right hand's fingers. Note that the wound is at the base of the second (middle) and third (ring) fingers, where Destot's space is on the diagrams above.]
verify for themselves, with their left hand crossed over their right, that the thumb would be on the side of the hand nearest the elbow of the right hand and furthest from its fingers. It is clear from this photograph that the nail exit wound is between the base of second (middle) finger and the third (ring) finger. And as can be seen in the diagram above, Destot's space is at that same location-the space between the second and third fingers. Readers can verify from their own left hand that that space, because of the larger size of the first (forefinger) and second (middle) fingers compared with that of the third (ring) and fourth (little) fingers, is "in fact closer to the ulnar (little finger) side of the wrist" than "the radial (thumb) side." So Barbet was right and Zugibe was wrong on that point (and as we shall see on two other points). While it seems difficult to believe that Chief Medical Examiner Zugibe could make such a mistake, it would be equally difficult to believe that Chief Surgeon Barbet could.
Perhaps Zugibe's error was due to him in the 1960s, when he formed his opinion that Barbet was wrong, using an Enrie 1931 negative
[Above: Close-up of an Enrie 1931 negative photograph of the Shroud man's hand wound: Shroud Scope: Enrie Negative Vertical. Note that while the brightness of the bloodflow from the wound may make it appear to be closer to the thumb (upper) side of the hand, nevertheless the exit wound is clearly at the base of the second and third fingers where Destot's space is.]
photograph of the Shroud, which due to the brightness of the bloodflow from the hand wound, creates an optical illusion that the wound is closer to the thumb? And then having formed his erroneous view on the location of the hand wound and written two books and at least one article critical of Barbet's hand wound hypothesis, Zugibe never critically re-examined the basis of his own hand wound hypothesis? Whatever the reason, it is clear that Zugibe was wrong and Barbet was right on the location of the nail in the left hand (and presumably in the covered right hand) being in Destot's space. And as we shall see, Zugibe's error on that point lead to another error.