Sunday, November 11, 2012

Crucifixion the Bodily Support - "Biblical Evidence" - Installment 7.

Yes, the Romans crucified men bare-ass
naked.  For an obvious reason.

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

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Part 5a Part 5b Part 5c Part 5d Part 5e Part 5f


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

Taking each gospel individually, you have confusion. With Mark and Matthew, it could have been a simple impaling stake, pile-driven into him. With John, some kind of pole on which one was to be lifted... until we get to Pilate's court where the Jews demanded he be taken away and lifted up, i.e., hoisted, and then staurow'ed.  With Luke and Acts, he was hanging; he was fastened, fixed, or even planted on to something unspecified; and yes, he was staurow'ed.

But with harmonization I came up with a utility pole type, a mast type (with its yardarm), or an overhead beam between two poles. And an acuta-crux was present too: either in the form of an outrigged thorn-like stake or as a separate sharpened pole. This would have been the bodily support in a crucifixion.
G. Introduction to the Epilogue.

One thing I didn't touch on was Jesus' mysterious death. I didn't touch it because I thought they made it all up, that there was no basis for it in reality and that people do not die suddenly on a cross after a few hours. Crucifixion was a slow, lingering death. Well I came across a report from a few centuries back where someone who was suspended on wood took a drink of water and died suddenly.

But first, the circumstances of Jesus' death. In this, Mark, Matthew and John are in substantial agreement -- if you discount the fact that in Codex Sinaiticus and some other manuscripts it is recorded he was stabbed with a spear or lance and then he screamed out in pain, and then suddenly died. 

G.1. Death Account in Mark.
34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 35 And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, "Behold, he calleth Elias." 36 And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, "Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down." 37 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. 
Mark 15:34-37 KJV (punctuation changes mine)
Mark reports simply that Jesus having been given vinegar to drink from the charged sponge, dies mysteriously. And given his death cry was with a loud voice, it seems he died from a separate act of violence to his person. This is more evident in the Greek: "ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἀφεὶς φωνὴν μεγάλην ἐξέπνευσεν. (And then Jesus, having uttered a great cry, breathed his last.)" And and the Latin: "Iesus autem emissa voce magna exspiravit. (And then Jesus, letting out with a great voice, breathed his last)"

Afterwards when Joseph of Arimathea appears before Pilate to requisition the body, Pilate is simply amazed that Jesus could die so soon. "And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been [for] any while dead." (Mk 15:44) Mark says that the Roman Prefect is so amazed, he becomes in fact very skeptical and calls in the overseeing centurion to inquire if Jesus is really dead or not, just to make sure. Pilate knew that crucifixion, even with an acuta-crux impaling the person, was a slow, lingering death, much longer than just six hours.

G.2. Death Account in Matthew.
46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, "This man calleth for Elias." 48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. 49 The rest said, "Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him." 50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
Matthew 27:46-50 KJV (punctuation changes mine)
The circumstances of Jesus' death is exactly the same as in Matthew. After being given a drink, he apparently dies mysteriously and violently, and with a very loud cry. The Greek "ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς πάλιν κράξας φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ἀφῆκεν τὸ πνεῦμα. (And Jesus, again having cried loudly with a great voice, gave up his breath.)" and the Latin "Iesus autem iterum clamans voce magna emisit spiritum. (Moreover Jesus a second time cried out with a great, powerful voice, let out his breath.)" are similar to the Greek and Latin in Mark.

Source: Francesco Carotta, Jesus Was Caesar.
Some manuscripts like the Codex Sinaiticus, has an addition to Matthew that offers a cause for Jesus' mysterious, violent death: "αλλος δε λαβων λογχη ενυξεν αυτου τη πλευραν και εξηλθεν ϋδωρ και αιμα (And another taking a lance, stabs the side of him and there came out water and blood.)" (Mt 15:49b, Codex Sinaiticus)1 And it is for this reason that Jesus cries out again with a great voice and gives up the ghost... for he is stabbed to death like Julius Caesar! So some manuscripts of Matthew here has a naturalistic explanation for this, whereas John has a supernatural explanation for it. Unfortunately, Porphyry according to his extant writings did not have a copy of it. He would have really torn into John, had he possessed it. 

G.3. Death Account in Luke. 

This, despite Luke's claims that he got his information from several eyewitnesses and many written sources, is the most contrarian "report" when it comes to describing the death of Jesus.
44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. 46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit:" and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
Luke 23:44-46, KJV (punctuation changes mine)
Here, Jesus' death is not violent (apart from being suspended on a crux). Instead, what is depicted here is that Jesus know's he's now dying, calls out in a great, loud voice to his Father to receive his spirit, and then expires. Nothing in Luke indicates he was subjected to any violence other than a pummeling from his guardians at the high priest's house prior to his trial before the Sanhedrin.

G.4. Death Account in John.

John's account is more in line with Mark and the usual Matthew.
28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, "I thirst." 29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished:" and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. 
John 19:28-30, KJV (punctuation changes mine) 
Again, we have a mysterious death after taking vinegar to slake his thirst. And we do have a stabbing by a Roman soldier wielding a lance (Jn 19:34), but it's after he has handed over his spirit to the Deity. 

G.5. Coincidentally, A Similar Death.

By coincidence, we do have a report of a person who was put on wood, took a drink of water, and forthwith gave up the ghost. The method he was put on wood was an impalement, itself, which when done properly, was a slow, lingering death.
Ottoman authorities considered impalement primarily as a punishment for use as an example or warning to others. Death by impalement was the most excruciating and when done correctly caused the victim to die slowly over two or three days. The executioner drove a metal tipped [or blunt-pointed] stake into the victim's body, passing through the entire torso without touching any of the most vital organs. 2
This event happened on the Isle of Crete under the Ottoman Turks around 1832 and was reported by Robert Ashley when he wrote of actual impalements when Ottoman troops captured one-hundred Cretan insurrectionists:
"Several were impaled, and the stake of one of the unhappy men who endured this cruel torture, fell with him during the succeeding night. On this he managed to crawl to a neighbouring fountain, assuaged his thirst with its water, and immediately expired." 3
G.6. Conclusion.

This is the same exact sort of quick death mentioned in three of the gospels. Clearly, then, these faith stories state that Jesus was impaled or deeply penetrated by some sort of acuta-crux when he hanged from his stauros, regardless of its shape. Apparently such an one in the real world could have been large enough and perhaps shaped with a sharp point so as to cause the crucified and impaled one to die almost immediately when he slaked his thirst. Clearly then, the "sedile"4 of the cross, utility pole, frame, etc., was not some plank or horizontal projecting beam one could sit on, but a cruel and unusual dildo!

Next: The Acuta Crux in Anti-Christian Discourse.


1. Matthew 27:49b is not in the Translation window at the site. It is viewable in the Image and Transcription windows. A literal translation can be read here.

2. James J. Reid, Crisis of the Ottoman Empire: Prelude to Collapse 1839-1878, Stuttgart, Steiner (2000), p. 440. Google-books preview link here.

3. Robert Pashley, Travels in Crete, Cambridge: John W. Parker Printer to the University; London: John Murray, 1837, I, p. 69, and note 27, which discusses various historical and philological questions relating to the use of impalement in Greece and Crete. (quoted in Reid, p. 440, note 220.)

4. The term sedile is derived from a term coined by Tertullian in Ad Nationes 12.3b, 4: "Every post which is fixed in the ground in an upright position is part of a crux, and indeed the greater. But to us [Christians] a complete crux is imputed, certainly with its own yardarm and also with that projecting seat" (translation and emphasis mine; but I'm sure Tertullian would have approved). Nota bene the Latin for the last phrase is cum illo sedilis excessu, "also with that projection of a seat" which could instead be translated "together with the well-known transgression of a seat." 

Nota bene: excessu is the singular masculine ablative of excessus,and the singular masculine ablative noun supine of excedo.)

LSJ excedo: Neut. to go out, go forth or away, to depart, retire, withdraw; Lit.: In gen., with ex and abl., with abl. alone, or absol.; In partic., to go beyond, overstep, rise above, overtop a certain boundary, of personal subjects very rarely, more freq. of inanimate subjects; to depart from life, to decease, to die. Trop. In gen. (very rarely): to recede from victory, to yield the victory; In partic. To go beyond a certain boundary or a certain measure, to advance, proceed, to transgress, digress; to depart, disappear; to depart from, to leave a place; to go beyond, surpass, exceed a certain limit, to overtop, tower above.

LSJ exessus: m. excedo, A departure;  In gen.: Esp., a departure from life; Trop., a leaving of the mental powers, loss of self-possession. A standing out, projecting beyond a certain limit, Lit. projections; Trop. A departing from the subject, digression (post-Aug.); A deviation, aberration from any thing. 

Tertullian Ad Nations 12.3b,4

No comments: