Nails in Hands ?

From: Jim Poulsen (
Date: Wed Mar 24 1999 - 03:26:05 EST

This is my first posting to B-Greek after several months of observing, and
let me say how much I appreciate the "good spirit" on B-Greek. I sense both
scholars and "little greekers" like me are equally welcome.

By way of introduction, I've taken 1 year of Classical Greek and 1 year of
NT Greek but struggle to keep that education current as I work 40++ hours
per week in the area of Finance, not theology, although I am very active as
a lay preacher.

I recently heard someone teach that one of the miracles of the crucifixion
was the fact that the nails driven into the "hands" of our Lord
"miraculously bypassed" the many bones in His palms. This teaching was
supported by the meeting with Thomas in John 20 and our Lord's reference to
the marks in His "hands".

I understand the Romans normally crucified people by driving the spike
between the two large bones in the wrist rather than into the soft flesh of
the palm.
My question is whether the Greek text of John 20:27 is of any help in
understanding this.

John 20:27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my
hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not
faithless, but believing.
John 20:27 eita legei tw ywma fere ton daktulon sou wde kai IDE TAV CEIRAV
MOU kai fere thn ceira sou kai bale eiv thn pleuran mou kai mh ginou apistov
alla pistov (this greek transliteration is from my On-Line Bible)

Strong's gives the following definition of hand.

5495 cheir {khire} perhaps from the base of 5494 in the sense of its
congener the base of 5490 (through the idea of hollowness for grasping);
TDNT - 9:424,1309; n f

TDNT (Little Kittle) says "the arm may also be called the CHEIR", but it
doesn't provide any references. C Brown's NIDNT refers to other Greek words
for "fist - PYGME" and "finger - DAKTYLOS", but I can't find any reference
to a Greek word for "wrist".

So, to put a sharper point on my question,

1 - Is there a Greek word for "wrist" that could have been used here to more
clearly indicate where the nails were driven?

2 - If there is a Greek word for wrist and it wasn't used, are there
linguistic/stylistic reasons for using the more common word for hand?

3 - Are there any NT or LXX references where "CHEIR" clearly refers to the
wrist or arm and not just the hand?

4 - Is there any other "textual" support for the nails penetrating the
wrists rather than the palms of the hands?


Jim Poulsen, CA
Vice President for Finance
Trinity Western University
Langley, BC Canada

When I get a little money, I buy books;
And if any is left, then I buy food and clothes.

B-Greek home page:
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: []
To unsubscribe, forward this message to
To subscribe, send a message to

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:40:21 EDT