Monday, 14 April 2008

I Knew I Was Right

Before lights-out last night I read the first twenty or so pages of the diary, these ones covering the period from the author's seventh year to his sixteenth. Not boring in the least! It actually reminded me of several blogs I read, blogs written by people more than three times this author's age (at the time of writing) and with PhDs, cars etc to boot. The first entry was about how funny sausages look before they are cooked.

The letter quoted below was the first thing that met my eye in the current issue of the LRB. I didn't find it boring either, in fact it kept me happy for five stops on the Hurstbridge Line, even though I only wanted and intended to go four stops in the first place. (It was one of those ancient and decrepit de- then re-commissioned trains that were bought back from the man who had them all in his paddock, and on these trains they don't tell you what the next station is, which doesn't help.) It's pure ignorance of course but I couldn't tell whether it's an elaborate leg-pull or an actual hypothesis (or whether the reader is supposed to be able to tell the difference.) I quote it now, & thus initiate the end of this happy state of confused innocence, I suppose out of the familiar old self-sabotaging inability to know when to stop mucking around with something that's perfectly satisfactory as it is: no negative capability here thank you very much!
What Really Happened

From Dr Roger James

Frank Kermode does not include in his discussion of the resurrection the gospel reference that gives the best clue about the death and resurrection of Jesus, namely John 19.34: ‘Forthwith came there out blood and water’ (LRB, 20 March). There can be only one possible explanation for this happening after the spear had been thrust into his side: Jesus had a large pleural effusion, which the spear released. This diagnosis explains a good deal that is otherwise puzzling in the gospel stories. Although he had previously walked everywhere, Jesus needed an ass for his final entry into Jerusalem. Also, he was unable to carry his cross, which other men of his age could carry easily. A pleural effusion this size would have been accumulating for some time. It would have been tuberculous, and so Jesus would have been getting steadily weaker. It isn’t surprising that he felt ‘he was not long for this world.’

The story in John implies that the soldiers were surprised to find Jesus dead so soon. With the effusion pressing on his heart and his body fixed upright he would probably have gone into severe heart failure, and would have appeared dead even though his heart itself was perfectly sound. The spear blow that was expected to finish him off might actually have saved his life by relieving the pressure on his heart. Being laid horizontally would have allowed the blood and fluids pooled in his legs to return into circulation, a process assisted by the coolness of the tomb. He might, in these circumstances, have regained consciousness and thus have seemed to be resurrected.

Dr Roger James
Portsmouth


Prompt crucifixion/entombment can save lives. Also, I especially liked the part about the ass.

9 comments:

M-H said...

I have heard this theory before. Apparently it is medicall feasible. I am very fond of it, in fact, but it sends bible-believing Christians into fits of apopleptic rage. Ask me how I know...

librarygirl said...

How absolutely fascinating.
Thanks for sharing that one.

And I read those diaries myself on the bus to Monash a long time ago in a galaxy far far away....

I remembered the bit about the sausages.

lucy tartan said...

It's a very striking bit!

M-H, how *do* you know?

Su said...

oOH Please delete this if this is a repeat but:
It depends whether he was speared above or below the diaphragm. A watery fluid could result from piercing the abdomen if there was ascites present. Ascites is abdominal perfusion (where plasma is forced into the abdominal cavity) and can result from a very large range of illnesses including heart problems. I had a relative who ended up with ascites from bread and butter pericarditis; a condition where the heart is restricted by scar tissue from a pericardial infection.

Anonymous said...

There is something about the fact that this man is working as a doctor in my home town which satisfies me deeply.

Why am I reading this? To avoid teh work! of course.

-barista

Mindy said...

Crucifixion? Line on the left, one cross each. (Sorry LoB on the brain today)

I also heard that the soldiers may have pierced his bladder thus releasing water, and that his bones were found (allegedly) in the Jesus family tomb along with the bones of his mother and brother James. Or was that a fiction novel based on a quasi historical novel? It's all melded into one big mess.

I can't help but think though that someone wouldn't have been able to keep their mouth shut of he had survived. Maybe he survived the crucifixion, but died of whatever it was that was making him sick, or a giant infection from being prodded with a spear.

genevieve said...

Superior post. I wonder if the ass saw any angels. Nick Cave should be very jealous of your find, LucyT.

Bwca said...

soon the whole thing will become a plotline of Doc Martin ... with NikCave playing the patient (because he seems to be everywhere I even glance)


... and I do hope dear PUDD has grown the fur back on his ass, now that the frosty mornings are here.

M-H said...

Sorry, I forgot to check back. When I left this comment I had just been visiting close relatives who are Bible Believers. They are also involved in Higher Education and very defensive of their beliefs to the point of aggression with me. I was feeling raw and tired of the constant haranguing I had been subject to. So I know because I have recently been living it. :)