Rome News Agency Premieres Easter Documentary Featuring Gardner-Webb Instructor of Biology

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Jay Zimmer Shares From His Research on the Forensics of the Crucifixion

Jay Zimmer, left, and Antonio Olivie of Rome Reports discuss the practice of flogging.
GWU Instructor of Biology, left, discusses the practice of flogging with Antonio Olivie of Rome Reports.

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—In November 2019, broadcast journalists from Rome Reports TV, a private and independent international TV news agency based in Rome, Italy, visited the campus of Gardner-Webb University. Antonio Olivié, chief executive officer, and Arturo Anastasio, cameraman, made the trip to America to interview Jay Zimmer, GWU instructor of biology.

Olivié was doing research for a documentary about Jesus’ final hours, and it’s now available on the company’s app. “They did an amazing job with the film,” Zimmer said. “It really honors God in my humble opinion.”

While searching the internet for medical perspectives on the crucifixion, Olivié discovered an interview Zimmer did with Gardner-Webb’s radio station, WGWG. Olivié was impressed with the way Zimmer explained the physical suffering of Jesus. “What I needed for the documentary is somebody who explains clear and with some passion and enthusiasm,” he offered.

The documentary also includes interviews with a doctor in Wilmington, N.C., forensic scientists in Torino and Terni, Italy, and other experts on the history of the Roman Empire and sacred scriptures.

Zimmer’s interest in studying the physical death of Jesus began 15 years ago with the book, “A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ as Described by a Surgeon,” by Pierre Barbet, M.D. Through the years, Zimmer has looked at various theories relating to Jesus’ suffering. “I have discovered that using science to look more deeply into the events leading up to the crucifixion has deepened my own personal faith and helped me celebrate Easter Sunday with more focus and intention,” Zimmer observed.

During the interview, Olivié asked Zimmer about the scripture that refers to Jesus sweating blood. Zimmer said the condition is called hematohidrosis and has been documented in close to 100 hospital patients. It usually happens when a person is extremely stressed. “Some of these patients have had multiple episodes,” Zimmer shared. “One theory is the blood is coming from the blood vessels around the sweat gland. During times of stress, the blood vessels are vasodilating or vasoconstricting and the blood can leak over into the sweat gland, mix with the sweat and go to the surface.”

two skeletons of the feet with yellow dots on one showing where the nails would have been placed for the crucifixion of Jesus
Two skeletons of the feet. On the left one, the yellow tape shows where the nails could have been placed.

Olivié also asked about the flogging Jesus received and theories on the actual cause of death. Zimmer explained several possibilities, including water around the lungs, irregular heartbeat, pulmonary embolism (a blood clot), cardiogenic shock and others. “A lot of people suggest that there was so much going on that was detrimental to the body of Jesus that just about any of these factors could have killed him,” Zimmer commented. “Another person has made a strong case to say that maybe you couldn’t kill Jesus. All of this stuff was physically happening, and he was in total control and he was going to decide when he was going to die. At the moment when he gave up his spirit, he was choosing his moment of death. The cause may be a divine act by Jesus.”

Wrapping up the interview, Zimmer made an observation. “Today, we are talking about the crucifixion of Jesus, which is an honor to talk about and important subject,” Zimmer affirmed. “Knowing that he suffered, knowing that he died—from a spiritual, theological point of view—is important, but equally important is knowing that he rose from the dead and there is hope that we have in Jesus.”

View the trailer of the Rome Reports documentary, “The Passion of Jesus – A Medical Investigation.”


Listen to the original WGWG interview with Zimmer:

Rome Reports specializes in covering the Pope and the Vatican, offers the latest news from Rome, and produces high-quality documentaries. The news agency covers all issues related to the Church, from papal addresses to current social, political, economic, and cultural debates taking place in and around the Vatican. Learn more at

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university. Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at

Jay Zimmer, center, interviewed by Antonio Olivie of Rome Reports. The Cameraman is on the left.
Jay Zimmer, GWU instructor of biology, is interviewed by Antonio Olivie while cameraman Arturo Anastasio films the discussion for Rome Reports.