Saturday, December 29, 2012

Crucifixion the Bodily Support - The Acuta Crux in Patristic Writings (6).

One depiction of a crucifixion after Tsaferis and Hass.
The “sedecula” shown is entirely invented.
But he is seated as if on a throne.

(Part 7f 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         Part 5g        Part 6a
Part 6b        Part 6c        Part 6d        Part 6e
Part 7a        Part 7b        Part 7c        Part 7d

Justin Martyr on the Acuta Crux (Part 5)


In the first part previous I’ve shown how Justin Martyr brings up the figure of the σταυρός (staurós) or τρόπαιον (trópaion) and how it related to a flurry of cross and ‘T’ shaped objects, one of which definitely had an attachment that could be relate to the σκόλοψ (skólops) or acuta crux that was attached to the front of the execution pole. In the second part I showed Justin telling Antoninus Pius how the Jews sat Jesus in proper position on what he, Justin, called a βήματος (bêmatos), that is, a judgment seat, although it’s impossible to tell if that seat was also the sedilis excessu of the execution pole that turned it into a Priapus stake. In the third part I noted the peculiarity of Justin's comparison of a person who is undergoing the suspension of the  σταυρός and the roasting of the Passover Lamb: because the Lamb was suspended by its front paws from a horizontal wooden beam, and impaled on a wooden spit from the hindquarters right up to the mouth, as if the acuta crux Jesus was subjected to was a regular impaling stake! In the fourth I showed how early Christians took a verse of overthrowing Jeremiah’s tree and the fruit thereof into a prophecy about how wood was caused to go onto the body of Jesus, or into his body, or both.

Reigning from the Wood?

Another accusation against the Jewish rabbis was an alleged removal of ἁπό τοῦ ξύλου (apó tou ksúlou) “from the wood” from the texts of the 96th Psalm:

And from the ninety-fifth (ninety-sixth) Psalm they have taken away this short saying of the words of David: 'From the wood.' For when the passage said, 'Tell among the nations, the Lord has reigned from the wood,' they have left, 'Tell among the nations, the Lord has reigned.'

Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 73 1, 2

Now this is pretty reckless on Justin Martyr’s part, because he’s saying this to a Jewish person. He then goes on to say that no one from his nation has ever ruled as Lord and God except for, of course, the One Crucified. 3 For indeed, Justin Martyr, and the Church Fathers after him, like Tertullian, make use of these words, ἁπό τοῦ ξύλου, a lingo, “from the wood,” which cannot be found in any of the Greek or Latin translations, from whence they seem to produce them, or in any of the translations or originals extant. 4, 5

Now of course, if he is reigning from the wood as from a throne, would not at least one of the gospels indicate as such? Indeed they do! For in gMark (10:36-45) and gMatthew (20:20-28), we have Jesus telling James and John the sons of Zebedee that “to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” He is talking about the two “thieves” (armed robbers, brigands, highwaymen, insurrectionists) who are to be suspended with him, one on either side, at his crucifixion – Mark and Matthew make this clear by bracketing this vignette with Jesus predicting his death and by portraying the procession to place of execution as a Roman Imperial triumph, and the crucifixion itself as the triumphator being seated between his two consuls! I have made this clear here and here, as has the Biblical Archaeology Review, here. 6

So clearly, if the Crucified One was “reigning from the wood” as from a throne, then clearly he was sitting on a Roman execution pole, which means, of course, he was mounted on it: impaled. This is exactly what Maceneas and Seneca meant by “sitting on a piercing cross”or a “pointed stake.” 7, 8

And of course, a Roman execution pole with its Priapeian appendage was exactly what Justin Martyr was talking about, as we shall see next.

Next up: The Horns of a Unicorn.

Greek and Latin Word Definitions.

(1) "from the wood."

1. ἁπό (apó): preposition c. w/ gen., "from, off. " Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
2. τοῦ (tou): article singular neuter genitive, "of the." Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
3. ξύλου (xúlou): noun singular neuter genitive, "of wood, a plank, a beam, a tree, a stake for impaling." Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.

4. a: preposition c. w/ abl., “from, off of.” Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
5. lingo: noun singular neuter ablative, “from wood, timber, gathered wood, a tree, a club." Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.

(2) "except for the Crucified One."

6. ἄλλ᾽ (áll’): adjective singular neuter accusative, "other, another, any other." Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
7. ἤ (ê): conjunction, "or." Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
8. περί (perí): preposition, c. w/ gen., "about, for." Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
9. τούτου (toútou): adjective singular masculine genitive, "this." Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
10. μόνου (mónou): adjective singular masculine genitive, "alone, only." Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
11. τοῦ (tou) : article singular neuter genitive, "of the, of that, of the one." Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
12. σταυρωθέντος (staurôthéntos): participle singular aorist passive masculine genitive, “having been crucified, impaled.”  Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link. See also FdVR Post Σταυρόω.

13. praeter: preposition, c. w. acc. “except, besides, unless, save, other than,” Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link
14. hunc: pronoun singular masculine accusative, “this, that, the former, the latter, etc.” Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
15. solum: adjective singular masculine accusative “alone, only, sole.” Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
16. crucifixum: participle singular perfect passive masculine accusative, “crucified, attach to a cross or impaling stake, etc.” William Whittaker’s Words, Link.

Text References.

1. New, Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 72, Link.
2. Documenta Catholica Omnia, Justin Martyr, Dialogus cum Tryphone Judaeo 72, PDF p. 88, cols. 645, 646, Link.
Corresponding Greek Text: Aπό τοῦ ἐνενηκοστοῦ πέμπτου ψαλμοῦ τῶν διά Δαβίδ λεξθέντων λόγων, λέξεις βραχείας ἀφείλοντο ταύτας, ἁπό τοῦ ξύλου. Eἰρημένον γάρ τοῦ λόγου, Eἵπατε ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, O Kύριος ἐβασίλευσεν ἁπό τοῦ ξύλου, ἀφῆκαν, Eἵπατε ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, O Kύριος ἐβασίλευσεν.
Greek transliteration: Apó tou enenêkostou pémptou psalmou tôn diá Dabid lexthéntôn lógôn, léxeis bracheías afeílonto tautas, apó tou xúlou eirêmánon gár tou lógou, Eípate en tois éthnesin, O Kúrios ebasíleusen apó tou xúlou, afêkan, Eípate en tois éthnesin, O Kúrios ebasíleusen.
Latin text: Resecuerunt ‘a lingo’ ex psalmo xcv. – Et ex psalmo Davidis nonagesimo quinto perpauer haec ibstulerunt, ‘a lingo’. Nam cum its dictum fuissent, ‘Dicite in gentibus: Dominus regnavit in lingo’; reliquerunt, ‘Dicite in gentibus: Dominus regnavit’.
3.. Ibid., ἄλλ᾽ ἤ περί τούτου μόνου τοῦ σταυρωθέντος (áll’ ê perí toútou mónou tou staurôthéntos), “nor about any other, only this one who was crucified;” praeter hunc solum crucifixum, “except this one crucified only.”
4. John Pearson, D.D. An Exposition of the Creed, Cambridge, England, University Press (1859), pp. 378-9.
5. The Tanakh, 1917 JPS Edition, Ketuvim – Writings, Book IV, Psalms 96:10, “Say among the nations: ‘The HaShem reigneth.’” Link. Cf. Psalms 96:10 at parallel translations: “Tell all the nations: ‘The LORD reigns!’” Also the Septuagint: εἴπατε ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ὁ κύριος ἐβασίλευσεν (eípate en tois éthnesin ó kúrios ebasíleusen) “You shall tell in the nations, ‘The Lord has reigned.’” And the Vulgate:
dicite in gentibus Dominus regnavit “Tell in the nations, ‘The Lord has reigned.’”
6. Thomas Schmidt, Biblical Archaeology Review, “Jesus’ Triumphal March to Crucifixion, The sacred way as Roman procession.” The author notes some emperors who ascended Capitoline Hill or took their seat on the Rostrum with two of his generals, consuls or viceregents, citing Claudius (44 CE), Vitellus (68 CE), and of course, Vespasian, who “celebrated his triumph over the Jews with Titus beside him in the triumphal chariot and Domitian riding alongside; the three then performed together the culminating events of the triumph.” Link.
7. Maceneas, ap. Seneca Minor, Epistularum moralium ad Lucilium 101:11 (transl. Richard M. Gummere, Moral Epistles, The Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge, Mass. The Harvard University Press, (1917-25) Vol. III). Links: Latin, English:

debilem facito manu,
debilem pede coxo,
tuber adstrue gibberum,
lubricos quate dentes:
vita dum superest, benest;
hanc mihi, vel acuta
si sedeam cruce, sustine.

“Fashion me with a palsied hand,
Weak of foot, and a cripple;
Build upon me a crook-backed hump
Shake my teeth till they rattle
All is well, if my life remains.
Save, oh, save it, I pray you,
Though I sit on the piercing cross!”*

8. Maceneas, ap. Seneca Minor, Epistularum moralium ad Lucilium 101:12 (Gummere translation except as noted): ‘suffigas licet et acutam sessuro crucem subdas.' “‘You may nail me up and set my seat upon the piercing cross!’”* Meaning of course, a cruciform or semicruciform gallows equipped with a pointed or sharpened stake to seat the criminal thereon, which was obvious to Seneca: est tanti vulnus suum premere et patibulo pendere districtum? “Is it so great to weigh down upon one's own wound, and hang stretched out by a crossbeam?”** Note here, “one’s own wound” is a euphemism for one’s penetrated anus! Cf. Leonard C. Smithers and Sir Richard Burton, translrs, The Priapeia, “Sodomy with Women” (Link), Epigram 10 (Link) and Epigram 87 (Link) for the equation of Priapus’ virile member with a crux; and also FdVR post Crucifixion and Priapus.

* Or "pointed stake."
** My translation – Richard M. Gummere translated Seneca’s retort as: “is it worth while to weigh down upon one’s own wound, and hang impaled upon a gibbet?” It actually brings out the whole obscene, mock-homoerotic sense of Roman crucifixion, although it may have been that Mr. Gummere intended “impaled” only to mean “transpierced with nails.”

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