Saturday, December 29, 2012

Crucifixion the Bodily Support - The Acuta Crux in Patristic Writings (5)

One depiction of a crucifixion after Tzaferis and Haas.
The "sedecula" shown is entirely invented.

(Part 7e 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 4)


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!

Wood into bread.

This is from Dialogue with Trypho 72, where Saint Justin the Martyr cites one passage that he claims was removed, and another which he misinterprets completely, to show the so-called "prophetic" prefigurations of the Crucifiction of Jesus Christ. He writes:
I shall do as you please. From the statements, then, which esdras made in reference to the law of the Passover, they have taken away the following: "And Esdras said to the people, 'This Passover is our saviour and our refuge. And if you have understood, and your heart has taken it in, that we shall humble Him on a standard, (1) and thereafter hope in Him, then this place shall not be forsaken forever, saith the LORD of Hosts. But if you will not believe Him, and will not listen to his declaration, you will be a laughingstock to the nations.'"
And from the sayings of Jeremiah they have cut out the following: "I was like a lamb that is brought to the slaughter: they have devised a device against me, saying, 'Come, let us lay wood on his bread (2) and let us blot him out from the land of the living, (3) and his name shall no more be remembered." (Jer. 11:19) And since the passages from the sayings of Jeremiah is still written in some copies in the Synagogues of the Jews (for it is only a short time since they were cut out), and since from these words it is demonstrated that the Jews deliberated about the Christ Himself, to crucify and put Him to death, (3) He Himself is declared both to be led as a sheep to the slaughter, as was predicted by Jeremiah, and is here represented as a harmless lamb, but being in a difficulty about them, they give themselves over to blasphemy. And again, from the sayings of Jeremiah these have been cut out: "The Lord GOD remembered his dead people of Israel who lay in the graves; and He descended to preach to them His own salvation."
Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 72 1, 2
Justin Martyr's accusations that Jewish religious authorities were removing passages from their Tanakh, to get rid of prophecies about a crucified messiah, including the passage (Jer. 11:19) that is still in both Jewish and Christian Bibles to this day! I suppose early Christians interpreted Jeremiah 11:18-23 with the plot against Jeremiah and the destruction of the First temple as the prefiguring prophetic type and the allegedly successful plot against Jesus and the destruction of the Second Temple, which was Herod's ROMAN TEMPLE as the fulfilling antitype. But the other two passages cited, the first from Esdras (Ezra) and the last from Jeremiah, are wanting from our Scriptures, both Jewish and Christian. I suspect because they were never written there.

Now we can discuss the discrete passages. 

(1) In the first passage, Justin claimed Esdras predicted that "we shall humble him on a standard" (ὅτι μέλλομεν ταπεινοῦν ἐν σημείῳ (óti méllomen tapeinoun en sêmeíw) "that we intend to humiliate him on a standard"). It should be noted that the Greek word ταπεινοῦν (tapeinoun) "to humiliate", is inclusive of sexual violation, particularly in this case where Justin cites this passage -- or makes it up out of thin air -- as a prophecy of a suspension on a typical σταυρός (staurós). The Latin for this phrase is ut eum humilieris in signo, "so that we may humiliate him on / with a standard."

(2) In the second passage of Jeremiah 11;19, Justin Martyr misinterprets the Greek phrase for "Let us destroy the tree and its fruit" as "Come, let us lay wood on his bread" according to the English translation. But the Greek is slightly different: Δευτε, ἐμβάλωμεν ξύλον εἰς τόν ἄρτον αὐτοῦ (Deute, embálômen ksúlon eis árton autou) "Come, let us throw a tree onto its bread." It could also be translated as, "Come, let us throw wood onto his bread" or more accurate still, "Come, let us plunge wood into his bread." The Latin may indicate which sense Justin is trying to bring across. It reads, Venite, mittamus lignum in panem eius "Come, let us send (lay) wood onto his bread," "Come, let us cause a tree to go onto its bread," or  more accurately again, "Come, let us plunge wood into his bread." The meanings and semantics are identical in the one as in the other. Since the Hebrew speaks only of overthrowing a tree and the fruit thereof, clearly Justin's interpretation of this is altogether fanciful and unwarranted. 3 But for the moment, let's assume it isn't.

(3) For Justin then quotes the next line in Jeremiah 11;19: "and let us blot him out of the land of the living." The English is faithful to the Greek: ἐκτρίψωμεν αὐτόν ἐκ γῆς ζώντων (ektrípsômen autón ek gês zôntôn) "let us rub him out of the land of the living." Except the Greek has a more mafiosi sense to it: "Hey Vito I got a contract out on this guy, I want you t' rub him out." It also conveys a sense of bringing life to a wretched end, of constant rubbing, and a wearing out by rubbing! The Latin is slightly different, but still has the sense of killing someone: tollamus eum e terra viventium "let us do away with him from out of the land of the living." So it's easy to read a prophecy about Jesus into a discovered conspiracy against Jeremiah himself, when his malefactors intended to knock over his fruit-tree and then "cut him off" or out of the living. So we do have an intended murder in this passage.

(4) And Justin Martyr finds a connection with the typical Roman penalty of crucifixion (which doesn't conform to our typical understanding of it), where he says that the Jews themselves deliberated about Jesus, "to crucify Him and put Him to death." In the Greek, Justin  wrote: ἀναιρεῖν αὐτόν σταυρώσαντες βουλευσάμενοι (anairein autón staurôsantes bouleusámenoi) "having deliberated [amongst themselves] to do away with him, having crucifed / impaled [him]." The Latin reads: ut Christum crucifigentes occiderent "so that having crucified / impaled Christ they might destroy him." So we are to believe that Justin is basically telling Trypho, who is reportedly Jewish, to his face, that Jews crucified Jesus!

24 in. tall Rhino horn 8 in. wide at base.
The Romans could have used these...
...on crucified persons!
To sum it up, we have Justin Martyr depicting the death of Jesus Christ as having been carried out by the Jews (and he's supposed to be having a dialogue with a Jew here!) and the method of execution was crucifixion. And how does he describe the death? He says Jesus was humbled on a standard: he was affixed to a standardized crux, then: a Roman one by the standard Roman design introduced in the Second Century  CE, or perhaps earlier. A 'sexual' violation cannot be ruled out of the humiliation and abasement of the man -- the Greek verb for "blot him out" has the sense of constant rubbing and a wearing out, and of bring a life to a wretched end. Wood was plunged or caused to go onto or more precisely into his body -- in a Roman execution on a cross-armed, spiked pole, both are true --- so he may be rubbed out, that is, worn out by constant rubbing. For on such an execution pole, when the crucified's leg muscles spasm, cramp and fail, he slumps onto a strategically placed and oriented thorn-like spike... which pierces and stretches the anus.

Greek and Latin Word Definitions.

(1) "we shall humble him on a standard."

1. ὅτι (óti): conjunction, "that". Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
2. μέλλομεν (méllomen): verb first person plural present indicative active, "we intend." Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
3. ταπεινοῦν (tapeinoun): verb present infinitive active, "to lower, humble, abase, sexually violate." The LSJ shows the last meaning indicated in the Septuagint Genesis 34:2; 2nd Kings 13:12,14; and Ezra 22:10-11.  Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
4. ἐν (en): preposition c. w/ dat., "in, upon" Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
5. σημείῳ (sêmeíw): noun singular neuter dative, "mark, sign, signal, flag, ensign, standard, boundary marker, a device on a shield, a ship's figurehead." Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.

(2) "Come, let us lay wood on his bread."

6. δεῦτε (deute): adverb of exhortation, "come hither!" Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
7. ἐμβάλωμεν (embálômen): verb 1st plural aorist subjunctive active, "let us throw in, put in, cast upon, throw at / upon / against, strike, plunge into, inflict, implant in." Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
8. ξύλον (ksúlon): noun singular neuter accusative, "wood, a plank, a beam, a tree, a stake for impaling." Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, Link.
9. εἰς (eis): preposition, c. w/ acc., "into, to."
10. ἄρτον (árton): noun singular masculine accusative, "bread, cake or loaf of bread."
11. αὐτοῦ (autou): noun singular masculine or neuter genitive, "of him, his, of it, its."

(3) "and let us blot him out from the land of the living"

12. ἐκτρίψωμεν (ektrípsômen): verb first person plural present subjunctive active of ἐκτρίβω (ektríbô), "let us rub, rub out, destroy, bring life to a wretched end, rub constantly, wear out." Perseus Greek Study Tool, Link. IBG Verb Ending Chart, Link.
13. αὐτόν (autón): pronoun singular masculine accusative: "him." Perseus Greek Study Tool, Link
14. ἐκ (ek): preposition, c. w/ gen. "from out of." Perseus Greek Study Tool, Link
15. γῆς (gês): noun single feminine genitive, "of Earth, of land." Perseus Greek Study Tool, Link
16. ζώντων (zôntôn): participle plural present active masculine or neuter genitive, "of the living." Perseus Greek Study Tool, Link

(4) "to crucify him and put him to death"

17. ἀναιρεῖν (anairein): verb present infinitive active: "to take up, raise, make away with, destroy, kill." Perseus Greek Study Tool, Link
18. αὐτόν (autón): pronoun singular masculine accusative: "him." Perseus Greek Study Tool, Link
19. σταυρώσαντες (staurôsantes): participle plural aorist active masculine nominative, "after fencing with pales, pile-driving, impaling, crucifying." Perseus Greek Study Tool, Link. See also FdVR Post Σταυρόω.
20. βουλευσάμενοι (bouleusámenoi): participle plural aorist middle masculine nominative, "having deliberated, taken counsel [amongst themselves]."  Perseus Greek Study Tool, Link.

Latin Word Definitions.

(1) "we shall humble him on a standard."

1. ut: conjunction, "that, so that" Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
2. eum: pronoun singular masculine accusative, "him." Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
3. humilieris: verb first person plural present subjunctive active, "we may abase, humble." Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
4. in: preposition c. w/ abl., "in, on." Also indicative of instrumental ablative, "with, by." Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
5. signo: noun single neuter ablative, "mark, token, sign, standard, ensign." Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.

(2) "Come, let us lay wood on his bread."

6. Venite: verb second person plural present imperative active, "Come!" Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
7. mittamus: verb first person plural present subjunctive active, "let us cause to go, let go, send, send off, cast, launch, plunge, lay." Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
8. lignum: noun single neuter accusative, "wood, timber, gathered wood, a tree, a club." Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
9. in: preposition c. w/ acc., "into, onto, to." Also indicative of pregnant construction: throw something  into something else and leave it there. Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
10. panem: noun singular feminine accusative, "bread, loaf of bread." Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
11. eius: pronoun singular masculine or neuter genitive, "of him, his, of it, its." Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.

(3) "and let us blot him out from the land of the living"

12.  tollamus: verb first person plural present subjunctive active, "lift, lift up, take up, raise, elevate, take away, remove, carry away, make away with, do away with, kill, destroy, ruin." Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
13.  eum: pronoun singular masculine accusative, "him." Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
14.  e: Preposition, c. w/ abl., "out of, from within." Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
15.  terra: noun single feminine ablative "from the earth, land." Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
16.  viventium: participle plural present feminine genitive, "of the living." Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.

(4) "to crucify him and put him to death"

17. ut: conjunction, "that, so that." Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.
18. Christum: noun single masculine accusative, "Christ" (this is bleedin' obvious)
19. crucifigentes: participle plural present (all genders) nominative, "crucifying." Whittaker's Words, Link. Could also mean "impaling." (Seneca Dialogus 6 (De Consolatione ad Marciam) 20.3 - one of the cruces seneca sees is per obscena stipitem egerunt "through the privates [i.e., the anus] a stake is driven" Link). 
20. occiderent: verb third person plural imprfect subjunctive active, "they might destroy him, torture him to death." Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, Link.

Text References.

1. New, Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 72, Link.
2. Documenta Catholica Omnia, Justin Martyr, Dialogus cum Tryphone Judaeo 72, PDF pp. 87-88, cols. 643, 644, 645, 646. Link.
3. Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Schaff, Philip, editor, Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries, Vol. 7, p. 121, n. 755: "This explanation appears altogether fanciful and unwarranted." Link.

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