Professor Benjamin Brenner wrote in The Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis that Jesus's death, traditionally believed to have occurred three to six hours after crucifixion began, was probably caused by a blood clot that reached his lungs.

Such pulmonary embolisms, leading to sudden death, can stem from immobilisation, multiple trauma and dehydration, said Brenner, a researcher at Rambam Medical Centre in Haifa.

"This fits well with Jesus's condition and actually was in all likelihood the major cause of death by crucifixion," he wrote in the article, based on religious and medical texts.

A 1986 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association mentioned the possibility that Jesus suffered a blood clot but concluded that he died of blood loss.

New insights

But Brenner said research into blood coagulation had made significant strides over the past two decades.

He said recent medical research has linked immobility among passengers on lengthy flights to deep vein thrombosis, popularly known as economy-class syndrome, in which potentially fatal blood clots can develop, usually in the lower legs.

Brenner noted that before crucifixion, Jesus underwent scourging, but the researcher concluded that "the amount of blood loss by itself" would not have killed him.

He said that Jesus, as a Jew from what is now northern Israel, may have been particularly at risk to a fatal blood clot.

Thrombophilia, a rare condition in which blood has an increased tendency to clot, is common to natives of the Galilee, the researcher wrote.