Friday, November 9, 2012

Crucifixion the Bodily Support - "Biblical Evidence" - Installment 6.

Detail of an epigraph from the Roman Coliseum.

(Part 5f of the series: Crucifixion the Bodily Support)

Part 1                    Part 2                    Part 3                    Part 4   
Part 5a                  Part 5b                  Part 5c                  Part 5d                  Part5e


What sort of gear was the instrument of Jesus' execution?

Well I said I was going to treat the four gospels as separate which I have done, and then harmonise the whole lot, to see what differences come up. So here we go.

F. Harmonisation.

There are several points to juggle to see which sorts of execution gears used by the Romans would accomplish the (actual or fictitious) execution of Jesus as described in the various gospels.

From the various gospels we have the following points:

F.1. The σταυρὸς was portable and could be borne or worn on one’s back.

This point is from Mark (Mk) 8:34, Matthew (Mt) 10:38 and 16:24, and Luke (Lk) 9.23 where everybody would follow Jesus must take up his own pole σταυρὸν, and contrary to the synoptics, John (Jn) 19:17 said Jesus carried his own pole (σταυρὸν). Whether it was an ordinary pole or impaling stake, a patibulum or cross-pole intended to spread out the arms, or two-pole cross, the σταυρὸς had to be light enough for a violently flogged condemned man to ferry on his back while staggering to the execution site.

F.2. Jesus said he would be “lifted up.”

We have three separate passages where Jesus says that he must be lifted up in the same manner as Moses had lifted up the serpent in the desert. The first instance is in Jn 3:14 when Jesus is visited at night by Nicodemus, and tells him that he is to be lifted up in the same manner as Moses lifted the bronze serpent out in the desert. Then second instance is Jn 8:28 when Jesus tells his Pharisaic Jewish opponents point-blank that when they have lifted him up, they will know that he spoke what the Father (God) taught him. Well the Jews never got the message!  The third instance is in Jn 32-33 when Jesus, at the House of the Holy Place, predict he will be lifted up. This whole snake on a pole business in the first instance, of course, screams that Jesus would be attached to a regular pole somehow and exalted. Just like Moses’ Nehustan pole, Asclepius’ staff and Hermes-Mercury’s caduceus wand.

John claims that this was to be fulfilled when the Jews drag Jesus before Pilate's court to be on trial for his life. Of course, there is no guarantee in real life that a crucified criminal or rebel will be exalted on a cross. The usual Roman term for suspension into a cross or onto a pole or an impale stake is (sus)tollere in crucem, meaning, to lift, hoist, or push up into a cross or onto a stake (pole and/or impale) or both. This is a pregnant construction with the action indicated as an act of motion. And of course, the ius gladii (legal power of the sword) rested with any Roman prefects and procurators who governed Judea since 6 CE.

The typical Roman executionary suspension procedure doesn’t exactly fulfill Jesus’ prediction, when all are taken together, Unless he is to be nailed to an assembled execution cross on the ground and then lifted up, in which case John appears to be importing the imagery of the exaltation of the wax effigy of Julius Caesar on a victory cross / tropaeum at his funeral March 17, 44 BCE into the depiction of what sort death Jesus was to die. The fulfillment doesn’t exactly conform to the image of a bronze snake being nailed to a pole and borne aloft, but it’s close enough for government work.

F.3. Jesus' foreshadowing of the two robbers, crucified on either side.

This scene is only found in Mark and Matthew. In Luke’s gospel, Luke relocates the passages about the Twelve sitting on thrones judging the Twelve Tribes of Israel (Mt 19:16-30), and who would be the greatest, forward to the Last Supper (Lk 22:24-30). John, who is supposedly one of the sons of Zebedee, drops it altogether.

In the scene with Jesus and James and John the sons of Zebedee, (Mk 10:35-40, and Mt 20: 20-23) Jesus said he was not able commit to them that they would get to sit on 'thrones' to the right and left of him when he was to come into his glory. Because here he was talking about himself being suspended on his cross! Here, Jesus reinforces this foreshadowing by bracketing this discourse with predictions of his execution or crucifixion in Mk 10:33-34 / Mt 20:17-19 and Mk 10:45 / Mt 20.28.

The word "sit" is rendered in the Greek as a conjugate of καθίζω "sit, cause to sit, take one's seat, settle, sink down." The meaning is essentially identical to the Latin sedeo, which Seneca Minor uses in his EpistulaeMorales ad Lucillum 101.11, 12 (English Link) in reference to an acuta-crux (pointed stake) to sit, sink down or settle on. This is pointing right out that the two λῃσταί (robbers) were going to 'sit' on their crosses.

F.4. The Jewish leaders and assembled crowd call for his death.

They demand that he be crucified:
"Crucify him!" (Σταύρωσον αὐτόν.) (Mk 15;13,14)
"He must be crucified." (Σταυρωθήτω.) (Mt 27: 21,22)
"Crucify, crucify him!" (Σταύρωσον, σταύρωσον αὐτόν) (Lk 23:21)
“Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” ("Ἆρον ἆρον σταύρωσον!) (Jn 19:15)
It should be noted here that ἆρον can just as easily be translated as “lift him up” or “hoist him” and σταύρωσον / σταυρωθήτω could just as easily be translated as “pile-drive (impale) him” / “He must be pile-driven (impaled).” For the previous meanings of the basic verb σταυρόω did not always mean "crucify." It also meant at the time and has meant before it was used to connote crucifixion, as "impalisade, fence with pales, pile-drive, impale." "Impale on [a] cross" is the definition listed in the Greek-English Lexicon to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. And of course, we have the LSJ which defines σταυρόω as: "impalisaded, fence with pales" and also “crucify” in Roman times. Thucydides (The Peloponnesian War 7.25.7) uses the verb to connote: "to drive piles". Diodorus Siculus (Library of History 16.61.2) uses it to connote “impale” (for a corpse already cut to pieces). A more complete survey on the verb can be read here, and by looking into Gunnar Samuelsson's book, Crucifixion in Antiquity.

So one should expect one or more of the previous meanings to be brought forward into the verb σταυρόω when it is used to describe a crucifixion.

F.5. What did they offer him and when did they offer it?

Prior to Jesus’ crucifixion they, the Roman soldiers, offer him a tincture of wine mixed with myrrh (Mk 15:25), which is a tonic and a sexual aphrodisiac! In fact, Romans imported myrrh for the very purpose of using it as an aphrodisiac. Now where did Mark get this information from? It is possible that there was a common practice of the executioners to give those about to be crucified this sort of tincture with the express purpose of making them drunk and high and horny. This would make sense if the cross was equipped with an acuta crux, i.e., a sharpened stake or spike, on which one was suspended or rode, and which would be called a pale (palus), a seat (sedile), a horn (κεράς or cornu), or a thorn (σκόλοψ) in the language of the street.

But then instead, just before they crucify him, they offer him wine mixed with gall (χολῆς: “bile, cuttle-fish ink, a disgust”), i.e., something disgusting to consume. (Mt 27:34)

After Jesus is crucified, the Roman soldiers perchance come in off the road and surround him, offering him vinegar, mocking him the whole time. (Lk 23:36)

At the end of his time alive on the pole, someone offers Jesus some vinegar in a sponge supported on a reed, hoping that would shut him up. (Mk 15:36, Mt 27:48) 

Just before he passes away, the soldiers offer Jesus some vinegar in a sponge that is wrapped around a piece of hyssop, which is herbaceous that time of year. (Jn 19:29)

F.6. How did the executioners crucify him?

The four gospels have absolutely no description of how Jesus was crucified. Luke does have additional information on the mechanics and effects of a typical crucifixion. Just went on before and what were the effects after.

F.6.1 The execution process before.

The Roman soldiers flogged or scourged Jesus. (Mk 15:15, Mt 27:26, Jn 19:1)

The Roman soldiers mock-coronate him in the Praetorium. (Mk 15:16-20, Mt 27:27-31, Jn 19:2-3). Or it was Herod Antipas and his soldiers that did it. (Lk 23:11)

They lead him out. “They” by rule of antecedent were either the Roman soldiers (Mk 15:20, Mt 27:31), or some of the Jews (Lk 23:26, Jn 19:16b)

They run him through the streets either bearing or wearing his own pole (Jn 19:17), or forcing Simon of Cyrene to carry it for him (Mk 15:21, Mt 27;32, Lk 23;36).

They lead two other criminals with Jesus to be executed (ἀναιρεθῆναι "to be raised, lifted up, killed, done away with") (Lk 23:32)

They strip him completely naked before they crucified him and gamble for his clothes afterwards. The “they” who did it were Roman soldiers (Mk 15:24, Mt 27:35, Jn 19:23) or the Jewish execution party (Lk 23:34).

F.6.2. The actual mechanical procedure.
"And they crucify him." (Καὶ σταυροῦσιν αὐτὸν) (Mk 15:24)
"And they crucified him."  (Σταυρώσαντες δὲ αὐτὸν) (Mt 27:35)
"…there they crucified him." (…ἐκεῖ ἐσταύρωσαν αὐτὸν) (Lk 23:33)
“Here they crucified him…” (ὅπου αὐτὸν ἐσταύρωσαν) (Jn 19:18)
No clues or details are given in these passages concerning the actual act of crucifying Jesus, save the use of the verb σταυρόω: “impalisade, fence with pales, pile-drive, impale, crucify.”

Indeed, one has to look into Acts to find further clues as to what the mechanical process was. In Acts 2:23, we see Peter telling the assembled Jews that they crucified Jesus and put him to death (προσπήξαντες ἀνείλατε), literally fastened, fixed, or planted against something unspecified and lifted up or put to death. In Acts 2:36 Peter says they crucified (ἐσταυρώσατε) him, which could include one or more of the earlier senses of the verb σταυρόω. In Acts 4:10, Peter is reported as employing the same verb ἐσταυρώσατε for crucified again. In Acts 5:30 we see Peter tell the Sanhedrin that they killed Jesus by hanging him upon a tree, gallows or stake (κρεμάσαντες ἐπὶ ξύλου) = "whom you killed, having hanged him on a tree," a Greek transliteration for the Hebrew (תָּלָה עַל־ עֵֽץ) (talah 'al 'etz) = “hang upon a tree” (1917 JPS Tanakh) or more directly and accurately per ancient Near East epigraphy “impale on a stake” (1985 JPS Tanakh). In Acts 10:40, in Cornelius’s house, Peter again says that the Jews killed Jesus by hanging him on a tree, etc. (κρεμάσαντες ἐπὶ ξύλου).

F.6.3. The results of the mechanical procedure.

The living persons of the two criminals were bodily suspended or hanged by a means not specified (Lk 23:39):  κρεμασθέντων from κρεμάννῦμι, “hang, hang up, suspend” by any means including crucifixion and impalement. At the end of the day they were to be taken down and Joseph of Arimathea took down (καθελων) the body of Jesus (Mk. 15:46, Lk 23:53) or just took (λαβὼν) it (Mt 27:59).

This is confirmed (except for Joseph of Arimathea being a disciple) by an angry screed, recorded in Acts 5:27-29, by the Apostle Paul in the Synagogue in Pisidian Antioch where he accuses the Jews in Jerusalem and their rulers of, despite lacking a conviction meet of a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And after they themselves carried out all that was written, they took him down as booty from the tree (καθελόντες ἀπὸ τοῦ ξύλου) on which he was hanged and laid him in a tomb.

And yet in Jn 19:31 we read that the bodies were to be lifted up and taken away (ἀρθῶσιν) before sunset, which is the apparent sense established by other uses of the verb αἴρω (ἀείρω) in the New Testament. Otherwise the bodies would remain on the crosses, poles (ἐπὶ τοῦ σταυροῦ), which signifies the cross or pole as a support for each body – which it was. In which The preposition ἐπὶ constructed with the genitive of σταυρὸς would indicate that the bodies were on, upon or on top of the σταυρὸς which means it was either an impaling stake or a pole or frame equipped with an impale.

In the case of Jesus there were nail imprints in his hands, wrists or forearms. (Jn 20:25, 27) So apparently in John there was some kind of beam they nailed his hands to.

F.7. Location of the Sign.

Now after they crucified Jesus, where did they install the sign bearing his name and charge of crimen maiestas -- high treason -- for being The King of the Jews?

In Mk 15:26, the location the titulus was posted is not indicated. In Mt 27:37 it's above or near, almost upon, his head: "And they placed upon or near the head of him of the accusation of him (καὶ ἐπέθηκαν ἐπάνω τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ τὴν αἰτίαν αὐτοῦ).” In Lk 23:38 the narrative simply states that it's above Jesus: "Moreover there was also an inscription over him (ἦν δὲ καὶ  ἐπιγραφὴ  ἐπ' αὐτῷ).” Jn 19:19 states that “Moreover Pilate wrote a notice and put it on [top of] the cross (ἔγραψεν δὲ καὶ τίτλον ὁ Πιλᾶτος ἔθηκεν ἐπὶ τοῦ σταυροῦ)".

Okay, here the sign is above, at or near Jesus, it’s almost upon his head, and it’s put on top of the cross, hanging beam or pole. Which basically rules out a simple vertical pole, a lone impaling stake, and a crux immissa (tropaeum). What we have left to choose from are a crux commissa (wooden structural tee or a utility pole), a mast-type 'cross', or a patibulum (horizontal pole or beam) suspended between two posts (cf. Seneca, Dialogus 6 (De Consolatione) 20.3).

F.8. And it Was Granted that Two May Sit…

In Mark 10: 35-40 and Matthew 20: 20-23, Jesus is asked if James and John the sons of Zebedee could sit beside him one at his right and the other at his left, naively think that he was speaking of the sitting on his throne in the World to Come. In reply, Jesus said it was outside of his power to grant their request, for the seats were reserved for those for whom it was prepared. This, of course, was an allusion to his crucifixion.

And the two who got to sit at his right and at his left were two λῃσταί: armed robbers (Mk 15;27, Mt 27:38), also called κακούργους : criminals, evildoers (Lk 23:33), and other (men): (Jn 19:18)
“And with him they crucify two robbers (καὶ σὺν αὐτῷ σταυροῦσιν δύο λῃστάς)” (Mk 15:27).
“Then are crucified with him two robbers (Τότε σταυροῦνται σὺν αὐτῷ δύο λῃσταί)” (Mt 27:38).
"along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left (καὶ τοὺς κακούργους, ὃν μὲν ἐκ δεξιῶν ὃν δὲ ἐξ ἀριστερῶν).” (Lk. 23:33)
“and with him two others--one on each side and Jesus in the middle (καὶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ἄλλους δύο ἐντεῦθεν καὶ ἐντεῦθεν, μέσον δὲ τὸν Ἰησοῦν). (Jn 19:18)
And note that the four evangelists used or implied the verb σταυρόω to denote the crucifixion of the two criminals. And obviously they were required to ‘sit’ in accordance with Jesus’ foreshadowing of his crucifixion in his conversation with James and John Ben-Zebedee.

And if the two with lesser charges were ‘seated’ each on an acuta-crux under lesser charges (armed robbery), the one crucified under the charge of high treason as "The King of the Jews" would be similarly mounted on one, as well. And his could have been taller and stouter. The gospels are absolutely clear that the Romans Soldiers (or "Jews") singled Jesus out for special treatment! So then they would not have remitted this cruel and unusual and most shameful part of the extreme punishment.

F.9. The Mockery.

The mockery in Matthew and Mark are quite different from that in Luke, and far more insulting. The two evangelists set it up so that it is clear that it is quite impossible for Jesus to come down from the cross, pole or frame he is suspended on, despite the fact that neither of the two mention nails being used, at all, anywhere in their gospels.

The ordinary passers-by call for him to "Come down from the cross:"
“Save yourself, and come down from the cross! (καταβὰς ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ!)” (Mk. 15:30)
“Come down from the cross, (κατάβηθι ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ) if you are the Son of God!” (Mt 27:40)
In the same vein the chief priests, the teachers of the law and/or elders dared him to do the same thing:
"Let this Christ... come down now from the cross (ὁ χριστὸς..  καταβάτω νῦν ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ)” (Mk 15:32)
"Let him come down now from the cross (καταβάτω νῦν ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ)" (Mt 27:42)
These verbs for “come down” are conjugated from καταβαίνω, “step down, dismount” as in “I dismount a horse (καταβαίνω ἀπὸ τοῦ ἵππου).” Now that we have in Mark and Matthew the exact same verbiage in κ. ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ that we have in κ. ἀπὸ τοῦ ἵππου, it means that Jesus must  "dismount" his suspension-torture cross, pole, or frame, meaning, of course, that he is mounted, stuck on, astride a part of it. And of course it is quite impossible to dismount it, because everyone is mocking and daring him in such a rude manner.

In Luke 23:35-39 the mockery is far different from that in Mark and Matthew. Here, no one dares Jesus to “Come down from the cross!” It is as if Luke knows that Mark and Matthew are being far too rude in their use of the Greek verb καταβαίνω "dismount" when it refers to coming down from a crucifixion instrument, meaning the cruciarius is usually mounted, i.e., penetrated on it.

Instead the people watch, the rulers sneering, the soldiers offering vinegar --- strong vinegar, not just posca, if they were having sport with him as Luke says --- and even one of the two criminals were asking him to save himself (σωσάτω ἑαυτόν) and them too.

John mentions nothing.

F.10. The Hyssop.

Now the use of the hyssop in John’s gospel (Jn 19:29) is very strange. Either the purpose of the inclusion of the hyssop was theological, or there was a Roman practice of irrumating thirsty crucified criminals with sponges laden with vinegar (Gk. οξους, Latin acetum), filthy toilet sponges or otherwise. This of course, is not an act of kindness, but to further torment the person, as he is already dehydrated, to give him a harsh, bitter-tasting fluid that acts as a diuretic.

And how did they "put it upon hyssop?" The Greek verb is, περιθέντες "they put around. In Latin, circumponentes "they set, put, placed around"; and circumdederunt "they put, set, placed around, wrapped around, surrounded, enclosed." And in the early spring hyssop, now known as oregano, marjoram and zatar, may not have been a woody perrenial from a previous year but rather an herbaceous shoot, scarcely 18" high and wholly unable to support a sponge.

There's an interesting fact about hysopped vinegar. Back then, it was used to treat wounds and irritation to the anus. This has been noted by Bill Thayer of the University of Chicago in his comment on Pliny the Elder's NaturalHistory, Book 23. (Note: for anus, Pliny used a euphemism: "seat.") 

"This text of Pliny, however, provides evidence of something very different: hyssoped vinegar was apparently considered a very strong topical anaesthetic specific for rectal pain.
"In more intelligible detail, here is the connection with the Crucifixion:…

"…The crucified man hangs from his wrists, and his chest is distended inwards and down. If a foot-rest is provided, this prolongs the torture, since the victim will be able to push himself up and get some air; but this induces cramps and eventually tetany of the arm and leg muscles, which become so painful that he eventually slumps down again — and the cycle continues to exhaustion and final asphyxiation in the down position."

"To this torture, the Romans commonly added a refinement: a sharp spike (called a sedile, a ‘seat’) was fixed on the upright beam in such a place that when the exhausted victim slips back down, it pierces the anus….

…"Now read Pliny's text again. What the soldier was doing was not giving Jesus a drink of posca using hyssop as a support for the sponge. He was administering a pain-killer to a different place altogether, and the sponge, in accordance with our passage of Pliny, was being used as a swab. The writer of the gospel was standing too far away to see exactly what the soldier was doing and interpreted it wrongly; or some redactor has been prudish."

Then again the passage could have originally stated that the executioners tied a vessel full of vinegar to a reed and put it to his mouth, as stated by Porphyry in Against the Christians (Fragment 15, Macarius, Apocriticus II:12), or the word ὑσσώπῳ, “hyssop” was originally ὑσσῷ, “javelin.” The word is missing from the passage in one of the earliest fragmentary manuscripts Papyrus P66 due to the disintegration of the papyrus.

F.11. Breaking the legs.

Another exclusive to John. So that they might take the persons down from the cross (pole, pale) per Jewish demands, what the soldiers were doing was to break the legs of each of the condemned (Jn 19:32) as a coup de grâce -- a death blow intended to end the suffering of a wounded creature. In the Gospel of Peter, this is made plain: the two thieves don't insult the one crucified with them, but one of them backtalks at one of the executioners. And the execution party decides that this one's legs shall not be broken, so that he shall die in torment. Of course, the executioners probably did not do the breaking of legs out of compassion, but more likely out of boredom or because of local authorities' demands -- in this case, get the bodies buried before sunset!

And the means of death probably wasn’t asphyxiation (the Romans set fires for that -- see image at top) but rather it might have been what we would call Harness Hanging Syndrome, since they can no longer push up with their legs. Or maybe being penetrated with an acuta-crux has something to do with this – depending on its size and shape, of course.

The phrase, "which was crucified with him" in Greek is: τοῦ συσταυρωθέντος αὐτῷ "of the one fenced with pales, pile-driven, impaled and/or crucified with him", the Latin Vulgate, qui crucifixus est cum eo "who was crucified with him" and the Old Latin qui confixus erat illi in crucem "who had been fastened or nailed together (rare), joined (by pressing), pierced through, transfixed with him onto the cross, pole, pale."

F.12. Stabbing the Side.

From Reliquarium Lateran, ca 600 CE.
Apparently, John also had a need to indicate that Jesus was not crucified by being simply directly impaled. This is because that perhaps, σταυρόω still connoted a sense of ‘pile-driving’ or impalement, even of the kind from which there was no surviving. And so, to portray that Jesus did not suffer an exit wound from an impale stake, John comes up with the stabbing scene in Jn 19:34: “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side (λόγχῃ αὐτοῦ τὴν πλευρὰν ἔνυξεν), and forthwith came there out blood and water.” The verb here used is ἔνυξεν, “Pricked, stabbed, pierced,” but we are later to understand that the wound in the side (πλευρὰν), “side, ribs,” caused by the stabbing with the lance (λόγχῃ) was supposed to be this really huge, really deep gash.

In a hostile occupied country, a real crucifixion of a condemned man who is popular with the locals would require the soldiers to threaten the use of a spear. A pilum would be useless, because any one could bend the point back and it would be disabled. Something rigid like a Celtic lance would be far more useful. But the narrow gaps between the ribs could conceivably prevent a puncture would anything deeper than pricking or stabbing, due to the manner the spearhead tapers out. Tradition seems to back up the idea that Jesus was merely pricked or stabbed like in The Passion of the Christ.

And the stated reason for this stabbing is cited in John 19:37: "as another scripture says: 'They will look upon the one they have pierced (ἐξεκέντησαν: ‘pierced through, transfixed’, 'pierced, stabbed', or 'pricked, stabbed').” Well it seems John didn’t remember that in his story when Jesus was up on the cross, the soldier had pierced him in the sense of pricking or stabbing and later on in John 20:25-27, portrays the wound in Jesus’ side to be large enough for “doubting” Thomas to thrust his whole hand into: “ ‘Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.’… …‘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.’ “

F.13. "It is I, myself!"

This scene described in Luke 24:36-44 is after the Resurrection, after Jesus appeared on a highway to and had supper broke bread with two others. He appears to the whole assembled eleven in a room asks them to touch his hands and feet (Lk 24:39,40) and asks for and consumes a broiled fish (Lk 24:41-43).

First, there is no evidence of nails. Second, there is no evidence of a big wound in his side. In fact, the very statement that says he ate some broiled fish mitigates against serious internal damage that would invariably be caused a simple direct impalement. Which means, of course, that Luke was trying to get the message across that Jesus was not killed by that method! Something which, apparently to me, and perhaps to him, too, Mark and Matthew utterly negligently failed to do.

And it looks to me that Luke was aware of John’s gospel when he wrote his, or vice-versa, for one with a big lance wound in his side at least when it’s in the flank hitting the digestive system is not going to be able to eat.

F.14. Conclusions:

And so, from harmonizing the four gospels (and coming up with a fifth in the process):
  1. One condemned to be crucified carried his own pole (σταυρὸς) on his own back; therefore it was a large yet portable part of the instrument of his execution. (F.1)
  2. One was to be lifted up on or onto his pole when and in order to be crucified. (F.2, F.4, F.6.1)
  3. One who is crucified is first stripped naked, completely. (F.6.1)
  4. Mark indicates Roman soldiers gave those about to be crucified a tincture of wine and myrrh. This is a sexual aphrodisiac, which means the executioners understood the sexual connotation of Roman crucifixion! Mathew edits this to indicate the wine had a disgusting substance mixed in. (F.5)
  5. The verb used by the evangelists for “crucify”, σταυρόω, connotes crucifixion by impalement, or ‘pile-driving’. [F4, F.6.2]
  6. The crucified one was suspended and hanging once the procedure of his crucifixion was complete. [F.6.2, F.6.3]  
  7. The instrument of one’s crucifixion was referred to as a ξυλον “tree, gallows, stake.” [F.6.2, F.6.3]
  8. The one crucified was also firmly supported on, with, and by the instrument of his execution. [F.6.3]
  9. The manner of placement and location of the sign bearing Jesus’ name and charge of his conviction restricts the larger pole or frame from which the crucified one was hanged to a wooden structural tee of at least two parts, a utility pole, or an overhead beam supported on two poles. [F.7]
  10. Both robbers and Jesus, too, sat (also sank or settled) upon on the instruments of their crucifixion. [F.8]
  11. The instrument of Jesus’ execution was something he had to dismount from in order to save himself and was not able to by the very nature of its design. [F.9]
  12. A sponge charged with hysopped vinegar is a very curious substance to have at the ready at a crucifixion site, unless the intent was to use it as a strong analgesic for injuries caused to the anus by repeated penetration with a spike every time one hanged in the down position. [F.10]
  13. The breaking of the legs caused a quick death for those who were crucified. [F.11]
  14. John alleges Jesus was stabbed in the side with a spear or lance. This seems to deflect suspicion that Jesus may have been crucified by being transpierced on an impaling stake which the Romans also called a crux and the Greeks a σταυρὸς as well as a σκόλοψ. [F.12]
  15. Luke alleges that Jesus was able to eat regular food the day after his resurrection, meaning he was not transpierced with an impaling stake, nor did any spike he would have been penetrated by when he slumped during his crucifixion cause any internal damage. This also apparently cancels out Jesus being stabbed in the side with a lance. [F.13]
From Last Temptation of Christ.
So the summation of the above fifteen points is this: the condemned carried his own pole to his crucifixion, where he was stripped naked and possibly given an aphrodisiac tincture of wine and myrrh. Then he is nailed with nails, plural, through his hands or wrists to, and lifted up and caused to be suspended by, one part of the gear of his execution, while at the same time he is sitting on, then penetrated by and mounted on, and finally firmly supported by another part of the same gear. Spectators would mock him, daring him to dismount (impossible!). Sometimes, the crucified was treated with hyssoped vinegar -- which, according to Pliny the Elder, was used to treat wounds of the anus. Breaking of legs caused a quick death by a cause unknown to us, possibly the cause was hanging harness syndrome. The eating of food and showing a stab wound from a lance are assertions by Luke and John that in one he wasn't wounded in the midsection and in the other the puncture wound in the midsection was not opened by a pressure point from the inside out.

So then, from the above fifteen points, it is clear that the instrument of Jesus’ execution and that of the two thieves was a cruciform frame, either a wooden structural tee or a utility pole, equipped with an acuta-crux: a spike that pierced the anus of the crucified when he slumped into the down position. The addition of details by the later evangelists Luke and John appear to have been included with the intent to quash rumours that Jesus was transpierced by his crux, not just the nails. 

Even so, there is an outside chance that the gear of Jesus' execution could have consisted of both a suspension beam between two posts by which one is suspended, and an impaling stake upon which one was forced to sit, sink, and settle, and interpreted as such by Non-Christians.

F.15. Weeding out the Confusion of the Four Gospels and Acts.

Another way of harmonizing is to take the different types of crucifixion gear that are possible under each  of the Evangelists' works and find out what remains.

F.15.1. Mark.

1. An impaling stake. (A)

2. An ordinary pole with with an acuta-crux, or spike that the condemned had to sit on. (B)
3. A cruciform structure of the flattop T-type, with the acuta-crux. (C)
4. A cruciform mast-type structure with the vertical pole taller than the height of transverse above the ground, with the acuta-crux. (D)
5. A set of three poles, the central one shorter and pointed, where the crucified would be suspended by the transverse from the two outer poles and impaled on the central one. (G)

F.15.2. Matthew.

1. An impaling stake. (A)

2. An ordinary pole with with an acuta-crux, or spike that the condemned had to sit on. (B)
3. A cruciform structure of the flattop T-type, with the acuta-crux. (C)
4. A cruciform mast-type structure with the vertical pole taller than the height of transverse above the ground, with the acuta-crux. (D)
5. A set of three poles, the central one shorter and pointed, where the crucified would be suspended by the transverse from the two outer poles and impaled on the central one. (G)

F.15.3. Luke.

1. An ordinary pole with an acuta-crux, or spike that the condemned had to sit on. (B)
2. A cruciform structure of the flattop T-type, with the acuta-crux. (C)
3. A cruciform mast-type structure with the vertical pole taller than the height of transverse above the ground, with the acuta-crux. (D)
4. A set of three poles, the central one shorter and pointed, where the crucified would be suspended by the transverse from the two outer poles and impaled on the central one. (G)

F.15.4. From Acts.

1. An impaling stake. (A)

2. An ordinary pole with an acuta-crux (σκόλοψ), or spike that the condemned had to sit on. (B)
3. A cruciform structure of the flattop T-type, with the acuta-crux. (C)
4. A cruciform mast-type structure with the vertical pole taller than the height of transverse above the ground, with the acuta-crux. (D)
5. A cruciform structure of the flattop T-type, plain. (E) (Acts 2:36, 4:10 said he was σταυρόω'ed).
6. A cruciform mast-type structure, plain. (F)
7. A set of three poles, the central one shorter and pointed, where the crucified would be suspended by the transverse from the two outer poles and impaled on the central one. (G)
8. A set of two poles, where the crucified would be suspended by the transverse from the poles. (H)

F.15.5: From John.

1. A cruciform structure of the flattop T-type, with the acuta-crux. (C)
2. A cruciform mast-type structure with the vertical pole taller than the height of transverse above the ground, with the acuta-crux. (D)
3. A cruciform structure of the flattop T-type, plain. (E) (gJohn 19:18 said he was σταυρόω'ed).
4. A cruciform mast-type structure, plain. (F)
5. A set of three poles, the central one shorter and pointed, where the crucified would be suspended by the transverse from the two outer poles and impaled on the central one. (G)

F.15.6. By Process of Elimination:

Types and which gospels and early church "history" each type qualifies for:

(A): Impale: Mark, Matt, Acts.
(B): Pole with acuta-crux: Mark, Matt, Luke, Acts.
(C): T with acuta-crux: Mark, Matt, Luke, Acts, John.
(D): Mast  with acuta-crux: Mark, Matt, Luke, Acts, John.
(E): T without acuta-crux: Acts, John.
(F): Mast without acuta-crux: Acts, John.
(G): Suspension beam on two poles with a central impale: Mark, Matt, Luke, Acts, John.
(H): Suspension beam on two poles only: Acts.

The types that qualify for all five works are: (C): T with acuta-crux, (D): Mast with acuta-crux, and (G) Suspension beam on two poles with a central impale.

F.15.7. Final Conclusions:

Through harmonization, either by harmonizing the gospels themselves and Acts, or by eliminating the types that conform to the requirements of one work and not another, we arrive to three possible types of suspension gear. The results are the same by both methods. And they make clear: Jesus was not crucified on a simple two-beam cross by the traditional understanding of "crucifixion:" nail to a tropaeum.

And this means the traditional understanding of "crucifixion" then, therefore, goes back not to an actual executionary suspension of a Jewish preacher of the good news of the World to Come (which to the Romans meant Death To Rome), but rather to the funerary exposition of the wax image of Julius Caesar on a tropaeum, which was confused with and later changed to a 'crux' by the Church Fathers and early Byzantine Christianity, respectively.

Christians have a lot to answer for.

Pace deorum.

1. The noun σταυρὸς: masculine gender, nominative [subject] singular (pale, pole, execution cross or 'tree', i.e., Priapus stake; religious or votive cross). Accusative [direct object] singular is σταυρὸν. Accusative plural is σταυρούς. Genitive [possesive, generative or point of origin object] singular is σταυροῦ.

2. The noun patibulum, neutral gender, subject, direct object (door bar, beam or pole which was worn by slaves on the way to their punishment or execution or as part of their punishment, transverse lifting beam for execution by crucifixion or direct impalement).


Perseus Digital Library, Perseus Link
Greek and Roman Authors on Lacus Curtius, Penelope Link 
The Latin Library Link
Perseus Greek and Latin Word Study Tools. Link
Whittaker's Words, Univ. of Notre Dame, Link
Word Study Tool, Numen, The Latin Lexicon. Link 
Online Parallel Bible Suite, Biblos ( Link 
Gospel of John in Old Latin, Vetus Latina Iohannes. Link

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