Friday, December 28, 2012

Crucifixion the Bodily Support – The Acuta Crux in Patristic Writings (4).

Asado Lamb Roast ( –
Note the lambs were put on double crosses!

(Part 7d 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

Justin Martyr on the Acuta Crux (Part 3)


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.

The Cruciform Roasting of the Passover Lamb.

Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 40 (emphasis mine):

Justin: The mystery, then, of the lamb which God enjoined to be sacrificed as the passover, was a type of Christ; with whose blood, in proportion to their faith in Him, they anoint their houses, i.e., themselves, who believe in Him. For that the creation which God created—to wit, Adam—was a house for the spirit which proceeded from God, you all can understand. And that this injunction was temporary, I prove thus. God does not permit the lamb of the passover to be sacrificed in any other place than where His name was named; knowing that the days will come, after the suffering of Christ, when even the place in Jerusalem shall be given over to your enemies, and all the offerings, in short, shall cease; and that lamb which was commanded to be wholly roasted was a symbol of the suffering of the cross which Christ would undergo. For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross. For one spit is transfixed right through from the lower parts up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb.
Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 40. 1, 2

Greek roasted lamb -- typical modern method. 
This is a rather strange way of roasting a whole lamb. Usually these days after the animal is skinned and gutted, the spit is driven through under the spine from the hindquarters to the sternum, under the shoulders and the head and limbs attached to the spit which is then turned round and round. At fancy parties like in the photo at the top, both the front and hind paws are attached to transverse lathes. But here he has a main spit going from the hindquarters up to the head, and another spit affixed transversely to the back, onto which the front paws are tied. Justin Martyr also said, explicitly so, that the lamb roasts, being given a certain posture resembling the figure of the execution pole or the suspension punishment on it (σχηματιζόμενον ὁμοίως τῷ σχήματι τοῦ σταυροῦ ὀπτᾶται (schêmatizómenon omoíôs tô schêmati tou staurou optatai)).

David W. Chapman has noted that Justin, having grown up in Shechem, could have witnessed Samaritan worshippers of Yahweh dressing up their Passover lambs in just such a manner. 3 Indeed, Chapman cites Joseph Taboury who cited ancient sources and archaeological evidence showing the Passover lambs were indeed suspended by a horizontal beam for flaying and then skewered the lamb on a vertical wooden spit with the transverse still attached, citing a barita in the Jerusalem Talmud (y. Pes. Vii.1 [34a]) and Taboury’s translation: “There is a Tanna who teaches, ‘They insert from the buttocks until it reaches the midst of the mouth.'” 4 And Chapman also cites Taboury’s noting that the lamb wore his removed and cleaned entrails on top of his own head! 5

But this doesn’t resemble so much a suspension on a cross or even a Priapus stake, so much as it resembles a fence-with-pales type of suspension, for the lamb was suspended on the transverse beam and then impaled on the vertical wooden spit.

And the procedure would resemble this.
A type of crucifixion where the victim is impaled.

Next: Wood into Bread.

Greek and Latin Word Definitions.
  1. βήματος (bêmatos), genitive of βήμα (bêma): "step, seat, raised place or tribune, base, pedestal." Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link
  2. ὁμοίως (omoíôs), plural masculine accusative of ὅμοιος (omoíós): “like, resembling, similar.” Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
  3. ὀπτᾶται (optatai), third person singular present indicative / subjunctive middle-passive of ὀπτάω (optáw): “roast, broil.” Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
  4. σταυρός (staurós): "upright pale, pole, utility pole, cross." Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
  5. σταυροῦ (staurou): genitive of σταυρός (staurós).
  6. σκόλοψ (skólops): “impaling stake, thorn, anything pointed.” Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
  7. Σχήματι (schêmati): dative of σχῆμα (schêma): “form, shape, figure.” Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
  8. Σχηματιζόμενον (schêmatizómenon), participle singular present middle-passive masculine accusative of σχηματίζω (schêmatizô): “assume a certain form, figure, posture.” Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
  9. τρόπαιον (trópaion): “tropaeum, trophy.” Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
  10. acuta crux: “piercing cross, sharpened or pointed stake” Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link 1, Link 2.
  11. Sedilis excessu: “projection / transgression of a seat” Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link 1, Link 2.


1.        New, fathers, Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 31-47. Link.
2.        Documenta Catholica Omnia, Ecclesiae Patraes Graeci, Iustinus, Dialogus cum Tryphone Iudaeo. Link. (PDF pp 46-47, cols. 561 and 564 (Latin cols. 562-563))

The Greek text conforming to the bolded English reads: Tό κελευσθέν πρόβατον  ἐκεῖνο ὀπτόν ὅλον γίνεσθαι, τοῦ πάθους τοῦ σταυροῦ, δι᾽ οὗ πάσχειν ἔμελλεν ὀ Xριστός, σύμβολον ἦν τό γάρ ὀπτώμενον, σχηματιζόμενον ὁμοίως τῷ σχήματι τοῦ σταυροῦ ὀπτᾶται. Eῖς γάρ ὄρθιος ὀβελίσκος διαπερονᾶται ἄπο τῶν κατωτάτω μερῶν  μέχρι τῆς κεφαλῆς, καί εἶς πάλιν κατά αἱ χεῖρες τοῦ προβάτου.

Phonetically transiterlated: Tó keleusthén próbaton ekeino optón ólon gínesthai, tou páthous tou staurou, di’ ou páschein émellen ó Christós, súmbolon ên tó gár optômenon, schêmatizómenon omoíôs tô schêmati tou staurou optatai. Eis gár ópthios obelískos disperonatai ápo tôn katôtátô merôn méchri tês kefalês, kaí eis pálin kata aí cheires tou probátou.

The corresponding Latin text reads: Atque hic agnus, quem totum assari praecipitur, supplici crucis, per quam Christus erat passurus, symbolum erat. Agnus enim qui assatur, ad similitudinem figurae cruces dispositus assatur. Alterum enim vero ab infimis partibus ad caput usque recta transfigitur; alterum vero secundum scapulas, ad quod etiam manus agni suspenditur.

3.        David W. Chapman, Ancient Jewish and Christian Perceptions of Crucifixion. Grand Rapids, Baker Academic Division (2010), p. 207.
4.        Ibid.
5.        Ibid., p. 208.

No comments: