Was Jesus scourged to a bloody pulp?

Is it true that Jesus was scourged to such an extent that the whip marks left his body resembling a bloody pulp? Let's find out.


Scourging appears to have been a customary preliminary administered to those about to be crucified. The condemned, usually stripped naked, was beaten and mocked all the way to the execution site. Yet, at most, Jesus underwent a superficial scourging. According to Mark 15:20 and Matthew 27:31 the Roman soldiers "put his own outer garments on him" before he was led to the place of execution. New Testament confirmation that Jesus' scourging was mild (if it occurred at all) is found in this claim that he was given his own clothes to wear to the execution. On arrival at the execution site the clothes he wore, both his outer garments and his inner garment, were not bloodstained and torn by the whiplash of the blows struck as the condemned marched to his execution. If his clothes were blood-soaked and torn they would have been of no value to the soldiers. The author of John writes:

The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified Jesus, took his outer garments [imatia] and made four parts to every soldier and also the inner garment [khitona]; now the inner garment was seamless, woven in one piece. They said therefore to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be;" that the Scripture might be fulfilled, "They divided my outer garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots." (John 19:23-24; see also Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34)

If Jesus wore clothing on a scourged ripped-raw body the clothing removed from him would be shredded and soaked in blood. For what purpose would the soldiers divide up such bloodied and torn clothing? The presumption must be that the clothing he wore to the execution site were in good, usable condition. It follows that Jesus' physical condition was not greatly altered by what the evangelists call a "scourging." Furthermore, the Gospels make no mention of scourging taking place at the site of the crucifixion. To take the New Testament's description of Jesus final hours at their word one would have to assume that a scourging was not inflicted upon Jesus.

© Gerald Sigal