Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Crucifixion the Bodily Support - The Acuta Crux in Patristic Writings (16)

Athanasius of Alexandria.

(Part 7p 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
Part 7e     Part 7f     Part 7g    Part 7h
Part 7i      Part 7j     
Part 7k      Part 7l
Part 7m    Part 7n    Part 7o


Athanasis (296 or 298 to 373 CE) was an Orthodox-Catholic theologian of Alexandria who made a name for himself and was drafted into a leading role at the Council of Nicaea, to address the teachings of the Arian branch of Christianity. Although he was a prolific writer, he appareantly did not write all that much about the Roman penalty and their execution gear and most of what he wrote is impossible: I found that it is just recitation or paraphrasing of what is found in the NT or worse, stuffing it with theology and even making references to "the Holy Cross" as an instrument of the Deity's power and of the healing of the planet.  I suppose by this time, if Athanasius had ever known about the infamous crux, he had probably forgotten about it, and recognised it only as akin to a tropaeum. But I did find some small bits in his On the Incarnation of the Word. 

Athanasius a few 'prophecies' in this work, five of which I will discuss here.
They say to them, "A man in stripes, and knowing how to bear weakness, for his face is turned away, he was dishonoured and held in no account. He bears our sins, and is in pain on our account; and we reckoned him to be in labour, and in stripes, and in ill-usage; but he was wounded for our sins, and made weak for our wickedness. the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.
On the Incarnation of the Word 34.2 (New Advent) 1, 2
This first one is from Isaiah 53.3-5, although it appears to be a paraphrase. But where it says "to be in labour" does not imply anything remotely resembling childbirth! The Greek for "in labour" is πόνῳ: "in hard work, toil, bodily exertion, exercise." The rest of the translation is accurate, although I will say that "made weak" is μεμαλάκισται, "softened, weakened, made effeminate," which last would be true for the writer and the reader of the day only if they still remembered that an acuta crux was typically used in Roman suspensions, and was still assumed to be applied to the suspension of Jesus. This of course, cannot be proven, and besides, even for the earliest Christians, it could still mean something else: tenderized, that is, "softened up" and weakened by a beating or scourging, as I discussed in the writings of Pseudo-Barnabas, here.
1 But, perhaps, having heard the prophecy of His death, you ask to learn also what is set forth concerning the Cross. For not even this is passed over: it is displayed by the holy men with great plainness. 2. For first Moses predicts it, and that with a loud voice, when he says: “You shall see your Life hanging before your eyes, and shall not believe.” 3. And next, the prophets after him witness of this, saying: “But (Jeremiah 11:19) I as an innocent lamb brought to be slain, knew it not; they counselled an evil counsel against me, saying, Hither and let us cast a tree upon his bread, and efface him from the land of the living.” 4. And again: “They pierced my hands and my feet, they numbered all my bones, they parted my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.” 5. Now a death raised aloft and that takes place on a tree, could be none other than the Cross: and again, in no other death are the hands and feet pierced, save on the Cross only.
On the Incarnation of the Word 33:1-5. (New Advent) 3, 4
Well let me pick this apart: Moses' 'prophecy' in 35:2 is in Deuteronomy 28:66, and it has nothing to do with the suspension of Jesus the Nazarene except in the most general sense.  The statement in Deuteronomy actually reads:
And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear night and day, and shalt have no assurance of thy life.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 28:66, 1917 JPS Edition
Your life will hang in suspense. Day and night, you will be so terrified that you will not believe that you are alive.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 28:66 Kaplan Edition
David W. Chapman discusses this verse a bit, and cites an anecdote in Rabbinic Law that connects the Mosaic statement with the Roman penalty:
"Another explanation is this: 'Your life will hang in doubt before you' -- this applies to one who is placed in the prison of Caesarea. 'And you will fear night and day' -- this applies to one who is brought forth for trial. 'And you will have no assurance of your life' -- this applies to one who is brought out to be crucified."
Proem I in Esther Rabbah 5 
Well what is translated as "to be crucified" is the Aramaic להצלב which could just as easily be translated as "to be hanged" or "to be impaled." 6 Or both, if it's the typical Roman penalty on a typical Roman execution pole. And of course, Athanasius mangles it, equating "your life" with the Christian God Man, and said Moses predicted the Jews would not believe on Him.

The next 'prophecy' is picked out-of-context from Jeremiah 11:19: "Come, let us cast a tree upon his bread, and efface him from the land of the living." That's in the Catholic English, but the Greek reads: Δευτε, καὶ ἐμβάλωμεν ξύλον εἰς τόν ἄρτον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐκτρίψωμεν αὐτὸν ἀπὸ γῆς ζώντων καὶ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ οὐ μὴ μνησθῇ ἔτι. It can also mean: "Come, and let us cast wood into his bread, and rub him out [or wear him out by constant rubbing] from the land of the living."

The third 'prophecy' is from the Psalm 22:17-19: "They pierced my hands and my feet, they numbered all my bones, they parted my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.” It is still known to all Christians. Of course, the Jewish people do not view this as any prophecy at all.

And Athanasius says both are fulfilled by the death on the "cross" (σταυρός (pole)), because a death that is lifted up and takes place on wood (Θάνατος δὲ μετέωρος, καὶ ἐν ξύλῳ γινόμενος) and because the death is one where the hands and feet are dug through (θανάτῳ διορύσσονται χεῖρες καὶ πόδες). Nota bene that with ἐν ξύλῳ the preposition ἐν is paired with ξύλῳ, which is the dative of ξυλον (wood). That would make the wood the agent of cause or the instrument of death, i.e., the death takes place with, by means of, the wood. 7 With the confusion of the Canonical Gospels whether Jesus carried his own cross, pole, or even crossbeam or not, and some ancient sources stating the criminals had to pick up their own pole, it actually makes more sense if the instrument of his execution was equipped with a penetrating wooden member that was known as an acuta crux. Without one, of course, the backup strategy is to assume that John was correct in that Jesus carried the cross, or harmonize the Canonical Gospels as is traditionally done.

Utility Poles. (Source: Wikipedia.)
The fifth 'prophecy' concerns the stretching out of the arms on the crossarm of the execution pole (which was just like the crossarm of a utility pole):
1b For of whom do the prophets say: “I was made manifest to them that sought me not, I was found of them that asked not for me: I said Behold, here am I, to the nation that had not called upon my name; I stretched out my hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people.” 2. Who, then, one might say to the Jews, is he that was made manifest? For if it is the prophet, let them say when he was hid, afterward to appear again. And what manner of prophet is this, that was not only made manifest from obscurity, but also stretched out his hands on the Cross? None surely of the righteous, save the Word of God only, Who, incorporeal by nature, appeared for our sakes in the body and suffered for all.
On the Incarnation of the Word, 38:1b-2 (New Adv't) 8, 9 

This prediction is from Isaiah 65:1 and 2. It follows in train on Isaiah 64, which recounts a lament of the disasters befalling Israel and Judah, and a prayer that the LORD relent and remember his people. In that context, The beginning of Isaiah 65 depicts the LORD in response airing grievances to Isaiah against the people of Israel and Judah and saying he was not done judging the people yet, but Christians took it as a prophecy of the Crucifixion. Make of it what you will.

Anyway, the stretching out of hands part: "I stretched out my hands" in 38:1b is, in the Greek, ἐξεπέτασα τὰς χεῖράς μου (I have spread out my hands). So we have the image of a person spreading his hands out to his sides in a gesture of frustration with the one he's speaking to. Now the supposed fulfillment, is in the "prophet" who was also the "Word of God," who "stretched out his hands on the Cross:" for which the Greek is τὰς χεῖρας ἐκπετάσας ἐπὶ σταυροῦ (the hands being spread out upon a pole). The presumption, of course, is that the pole was like a modern utility pole, because the spreading out is like that of a pair of wings or a net. Of course, by the time of this writing, Athanasius was probably thinking of a CROSS: that is, a TROPAEUM. Unconvinced? Then you should come to Rome....

Next: Wrap-up


1. On the Incarnation 34: 2 (Documenta Catholica Omnia, English Text)
There is this passage, for instance: "A man that is afflicted and knows how to bear weakness, for His face is turned away. He was dishonored and not considered, He bears our sins and suffers for our sakes. And we for our part thought Him distressed and afflicted and ill-used; but it was for our sins that He was wounded and for our lawlessness that He was made weak. Chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His bruising we are healed."
2. De incarnation verbi 34:2 (Documenta Catholica Omnia, Greek Text)
[34.2] Φασὶ τοίνυν·  «Ἄνθρωπος ἐν πληγῇ ὤν, καὶ εἰδὼς φέρειν μαλακίαν, ὅτι ἀπέστραπται τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ· ἠτιμά σθη καὶ οὐκ ἐλογίσθη. Αὐτὸς τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν φέρει, καὶ περὶ ἡμῶν ὀδυνᾶται· καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐλογισάμεθα αὐτὸν εἶναι ἐν πόνῳ, καὶ ἐν πληγῇ, καὶ ἐν κακώσει. Αὐτὸς δὲ ἐτραυματίσθη διὰ τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, καὶ μεμαλάκισται διὰ τὰς ἀνομίας ἡμῶν· παιδεία εἰρήνης ἡμῶν ἐπ' αὐτόν, τῷ μώλωπι αὐτοῦ ἡμεῖς ἰάθημεν.». 
3. On the Incarnation 35: 1-5 (Documenta Catholica Omnia, English Text)
You have heard the prophecy of His death, and now, perhaps, you want to know what indications there are about the cross. Even this is not passed over in silence: on the contrary, the sacred writers proclaim it with the utmost plainness. Moses foretells it first, and that right loudly, when he says, "You shall see your Life hanging before your eyes, and shall not believe." After him the prophets also give their witness, saying, "But I as an innocent lamb brought to be offered was yet ignorant of it. They plotted evil against Me, saying, 'Come, let us cast wood into His bread, and wipe Him out from the land of the living." And, again, "They pierced My hands and My feet, they counted all My bones, they divided My garments for themselves and cast lots for My clothing." Now a death lifted up and that takes place on wood can be none other than the death of the cross; moreover, it is only in that death that the hands and feet are pierced.
4. De incarnation verbi 35:1-5 (Documenta Catholica Omnia, Greek Text)
[35.1] Ἀλλ' ἴσως περὶ μὲν τῆς τοῦ θανάτου προφητείας ἀκούσας, ζητεῖς καὶ τὰ περὶ τοῦ σταυροῦ σημαινόμενα μαθεῖν. Οὐδὲ γὰρ οὐδὲ τοῦτο σεσιώπηται· δεδήλωται δὲ καὶ λίαν τηλαυγῶς ἀπὸ τῶν ἁγίων. [35.2] Μωϋσῆς γὰρ πρῶτος μεγάλῃ τῇ φωνῇ προαπαγγέλλει λέγων· «Ὄψεσθε τὴν ζωὴν ὑμῶν κρεμαμένην ἀπέναντι τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν ὑμῶν, καὶ οὐ μὴ πιστεύσητε.». [35.3] Καὶ οἱ μετ' αὐτὸν δὲ προφῆται πάλιν περὶ τούτου μαρτυροῦσι λέγοντες· «Ἐγὼ δὲ ὡς ἀρνίον ἄκακον ἀγόμενον τοῦ θύεσθαι, οὐκ ἔγνων· ἐπ' ἐμὲ ἐλογίσαντο πονηρὸν λέγοντες· δεῦτε, καὶ ἐμβάλωμεν ξύλον εἰς τὸν ἄρτον αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐκτρίψωμεν αὐτὸν ἀπὸ γῆς ζώντων.». [35.4] Καὶ πάλιν· «Ὤρυξαν χεῖράς μου καὶ πόδας μου· ἐξηρίθμησαν πάντα τὰ ὀστᾶ μου, διεμερίσαντο τὰ ἱμάτιά μου ἑαυτοῖς, καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν ἱματισμόν μου ἔβαλον κλῆρον.». [35.5] Θάνατος δὲ μετέωρος, καὶ ἐν ξύλῳ γινόμενος, οὐκ ἄλλος ἂν εἴη, εἰ μὴ ὁ σταυρός· καὶ ἐν οὐδενὶ πάλιν θανάτῳ διορύσσονται χεῖρες καὶ πόδες, εἰ μὴ ἐν μόνῳ τῷ σταυρῷ.
5. As cited in David W. Chapman, Ancient Jewish and Christian Perceptions of Crucifixion, Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Academic (2008) p. 89. (Link.)

6. Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of the Targumin, Talmud and Midrashic Literature, New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, (1926) p. 1282, entry  צלב : "to hang, impale." (Link.)

7. Perseus Greek Word Study Tool, ἐν and ξύλῳ. The Autenrieth, Slater, Middle Liddell and LSJ Lexica (accessible by the link menu in the top listing box for ἐν) all verify that ἐν + dative can mean "of the instrument, means or manner" with the dative noun as the instrument, means or manner by which something is brought about. 

8. On the Incarnation 38: 1b-2 (Documenta Catholica Omnia, English Text)
Of whom, for instance, do the prophets say "I was made manifest to those who did not seek Me, I was found by those who had not asked for Me? I said, 'See, here am I,' to the nation that had not called upon My Name. I stretched out My hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people." Who is this person that was made manifest, one might ask the Jews? If the prophet is speaking of himself, then they must tell us how he was first hidden, in order to be manifested afterwards. And, again, what kind of man is this prophet, who was not only revealed after being hidden, but also stretched out his hands upon the cross? Those things happened to none of those righteous men: they happened only to the Word of God Who, being by nature without body, on our account appeared in a body and suffered for us all.
9. De incarnation verbi 38:1b-2 (Documenta Catholica Omnia, Greek Text)
[38:1] ....Περὶ τίνος γὰρ λέγουσιν οἱ προφῆται· «Ἐμφανὴς ἐγενόμην τοῖς ἐμὲ μὴ ζητοῦσιν, εὑρέθην τοῖς ἐμὲ μὴ ἐπερωτῶσιν· εἶπα ἰδού εἰμι τῷ ἔθνει οἳ οὐκ ἐκάλεσάν μου τὸ ὄνομα· ἐξεπέτασα τὰς χεῖράς μου πρὸς λαὸν ἀπειθοῦντα καὶ ἀντιλέγοντα;» [38.2] Τίς οὖν ἐστιν ὁ ἐμφανὴς γενόμενος; Εἴποι τις πρὸς Ἰουδαίους· εἰ μὲν γὰρ ὁ προφήτης ἐστί, λεγέτωσαν πότε ἐκρύπτετο, ἵνα καὶ ὕστερον φανῇ· Ποῖος δὲ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ προφήτης ὁ καὶ ἐμφανὴς ἐξ ἀφανῶν γενόμενος, καὶ τὰς χεῖρας ἐκπετάσας ἐπὶ σταυροῦ; Τῶν μὲν οὖν δικαίων οὐδείς, μόνος δὲ ὁ τοῦ Θεοῦ Λόγος, ὁ ἀσώματος ὢν τὴν φύσιν καὶ δι' ἡμᾶς σώματι φανεὶς καὶ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν παθών. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Crucifixion the Bodily Support - The Acuta Crux in Patristic Writings (15)

Source: Dover Beach,

(Part 7o 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
Part 7e    Part 7f     Part 7g    Part 7h
Part 7i     Part 7j     
Part 7k      Part 7l
Part 7m     Part 7n


Lactantius, or Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius, was an early church author, or Ante-Nicene Church Father, who produced several works in Latin, called De Opificio Dei ("The Works of God"), Divinarum Institutionum Libri VII, ("The Divine Institutes"), An Epitome of the "Divine institutes", De Ira Dei ("On the Wrath of God"), De Mortibus Persecutorum ("On the Deaths of the Persecutors"), and possibly de Ave Phoenice ("The Phoenix"). 

His descriptions of the alleged crucifixion of Jesus the Nazarene might not be exhaustive, but based on what I have found in his "Divine Institutes" (where most, if not all of his descriptions of the event may be found), he seems to be knowledgeable of part of the immense variety of terms ancient Romans used to describe the act. Shall we begin?
Therefore, because He had laid down his life while fastened to the cross (suffixus), His executioners did not think it necessary to break His bones (as was their prevailing custom), but they only pierced (perforaverunt) his side.
Lactantius, Divine Institutes, 4.26 (5th pgh,  2nd sent.) 1
Here, "fastened to the cross" is rendered in the Latin as suffixus (having been fixed underneath), can mean either penetrated / impaled on an acuta crux, nailed up to a patibulum, or as was likely in the usual manner under Rome, both.
Thus his unbroken body was taken down from the cross (patibulo detractum) and carefully enclosed in a tomb.

Lactantius, Divine Institutes, 4.26 (5th pgh, 3rd sent.) 2
Now in the next sentence Lactantius makes use of the word patibulum, and detrahere, indicating to the reader that the use of a crossarm was involved in the suspension, and that the body had to be taken down from it, thereby including the second sense of suffixus into the scope of the suspension. 
For since he who is suspended on a cross (patibulo suspenditur) is both conspicuous to all and higher than others, the cross (crux) was especially chosen, which might signify that He would be so conspicuous, and raised on high...
Lactantius, Divine Institutes, 4.26 (5th pgh,  6th sent.) 3
Here he uses patibulo suspenditur for "is suspended on a cross". In the Latin, patibulo is both the dative (indirect object) and ablative (instrumental) of patibulum (door-bar, crossarm, gibbet) literally, "suspended on a cruciform gibbet" or "suspended by a transverse (spreading) beam". And he indicates the one suspended is quite literally on display to all passers-by.
For someone may perchance say, "Why, if he were God, and chose to die, did He not at least suffer by some honourable kind of death? Why was it the cross (crux) especially? Why by an infamous kind of punishment (infami genere), which may appear unworthy even of a man if he is free -- although guilty?"

Lactantius, Divine Institutes 4.26 (4th pgh, 8th-10th sents.) 4
Lactantius here understands that an execution by the crux was an infamous kind of punishment (infami genere), which, even at the turn of the 4th Century CE, was commonly understood as an unworthy method of putting a free man to death even though he was guilty as sin. In fact, the Latin infamis (of ill report, ill spoken of, disreputable, notorious, infamous) carries with it a connotation of sexual, moral or social turpitude: turpis adulescentia, vita infamis means "a disgraceful youth, an infamous life" (Cicero, For Marcus Fonteius 15.33). In fact the digitus infamis refers to the middle finger (Juvenal, Satires 10.53, Persius, Satires 2.34) -- they knew how to flip the bird!

And he understands how the person put to death was put on display: by having his arms stretched out on a horizontal beam, for he quotes a line from a lost work by Seneca, on Moral Philosophy: 
“This is that virtuous man, not distinguished by a diadem or purple, or the attendance of lictors, but in no respect inferior, who, when he sees death at hand, is not so disturbed as though he saw a fresh object; who, whether torments are to be suffered by his whole body, or a flame is to be seized by his mouth, or his hands are to be stretched out on the cross (sive extendiae per patibulum manus), does not inquire what he suffers, but how well.”

Lactantius, Divine Institutes 6.17 fin. 5
Here, per patibulum doesn't mean, "on a cross (ob tropaeum / in tropaeo)," but rather, "'through' (along) a horizontal beam." I must pause here to note, that originally, a patibulum originally meant a door bar, put in place to keep doors shut, and came to mean crux, because part of the execution of the crux at this time usually included the extension of the executed person's arms out on a crossbeam. 6

Now we go back a few chapters:
On which account the Milesian Apollo, being asked whether He was God or man, replied in this manner: "He was mortal as to His body, being wise with wondrous works; but being taken with arms under Chaldean judges, with nails and the cross (γόμφοις καὶ σκολόπεσσι / clavis et cruce) He endured a bitter end.

Lactantius, Divine Institutes 4.13 (2nd pgh, 7th sent.) 7
"With nails and the cross" we have in the Greek, γόμφοις καὶ σκολόπεσσι (with bolts and with pales): γόμφοις is the dative plural of γόμφος (wooden nail, peg; bolt, dowel; any bond or fastening), and σκολόπεσσι is the dative plural of σκόλοψ (anything pointed, esp. pale, stake, impaling stake, palisade; thorn). The Catholic translator rendered this phrase as clavis et cruce (with nails and the cross [execution pole]). So it appears that as had Origen, Lactantius understood that the Roman crux functioned as an impaling stake and was assembled out of timbers suitable for palisades. And we know by the quote that the contemporary detractors of Christianity in the late 3rd / early 4th Century had assumed it to be so of Jesus the Nazarene.

I come now to the passion itself (ipsam passionem), which is often cast in our teeth as a reproach that we worship a man, and one who was visited and tormented (affectum et excruciatum) with remarkable punishment (insigni supplicio).
Lactantius, Divine Institutes, 4.16.1 (1st pgh, 1st sent.) 8
What is interesting to note here is that "the passion itself" (ipsam passionem is gramatically feminine, reminding one of the reporach Seneca cast upon Maceneas about his desire to live over suicide, even if he had to sit on a piercing 'cross': the lines Maceneas wrote, Seneca reproached as a "turpitude of effeminate verse"! 9 Next we have "visited and tormented" (affectum et excruciatum), which has the more complete meaning of "visited, afflicted, oppressed, weakened, impaired and tormented, tortured, racked, plagued." The last phrase "with remarkable punishment" (insigni supplicio): the word insigni is the dative-ablative of insignis, which can also appropriately mean "prominent, extraordinary, notorious, severe;" and supplicio the dative-ablative of supplicium, also a "kneeling down, humiliation, torture, torment, pain, distress, suffering." So from the above passage the sense appears that the crux-penalty is: (1) effeminate; (2) a torture, a racking, (3) 'prominent', notorious, remarkable, severe; and (4) a humiliating punishment, accompanied by a bending of the knees.
Then they lifted him up (suspenderunt eum) in the midst between two malefactors, who had been condemned for robbery, and fixed him to the cross (crucique affixerunt). What here can I deplore in so great a crime (facinore)? Or in what words can I lament such wickedness?
Lactantius, Divine Institutes 4.18 (2nd pgh, 6th-8th sent.) 10
Here an affixing to the crux, that is, fixing on as an 'addition', according to Lactantius, was the last action done by the executioners who carried out the Roman penalty. The lifting preceded the fixing. And Lactantius calls it a great facinus (ablative = facinore), meaning a "bad deed, misdeed, outrage, villainy, crime; instrument of villainy." Considering that in the ancient Mediterranean world, a free man was to remain inviolate and unpenetrated, it would have been an outrage to violate him, especially when the violation made him 'effeminate', i.e., involved an act penetration. It is for this reason the typical crux (Roman crucifixion) was considered the slaves' punishment.
For we are not relating the crucifixion (crux) of Gavius, which Marcus Tullius followed up with all the spirit and strength of his eloquence, pouring forth as it were the fountains of all his genius, proclaiming that it was an unworthy deed that a Roman citizen should be crucified (in crucem esse sublatum) in violation of all laws. And although He was innocent, and undeserving of that punishment, yet He was put to death, and that, too, by an impious man, who was ignorant of justice. What shall I say respecting the indignity of this cross (hujus crucis indignitate), on which (in qua) the Son of God was suspended and nailed (suspensus atque suffixus)?

Lactantius, Divine Institutes 4.18 (2nd pgh, 9th-11th sent.) 11
Concerning the crux of Gavius, it should be noted that the act of suspension and affixion to the tool is equated with execution tool itself: in the Latin, they can be one and the same. But the Latin for "should be crucified" (in crucem esse sublatum) translates as "to be hoisted onto a crux," likely the acuta crux, the pointed seat of a piercing 'cross', or the whole Priapean assembly. And because crucem is the accusative of crux, the construction in crucem is pregnant: to be hoisted up onto the crux (probably using the patibulum) and suspended on the crux itself.

Next is "the indignity of this cross" (hujus crucis indignitate): this is an understatement, thanks to Victorian and modern delicate sensibilities (despite Mel Gibson's squalid bloodbath). The Latin indignitas (ablative indignitate) can also mean in this case, "unworthiness, vileness, shamefulness, enormity, heinousness, insulting treatment, meanness, baseness," with infamia as a synonym. I have already discussed the word above, and the Romans' knowledge of the digitus infamis (the finger) and how heinous it was for a free man, let alone a Roman citizen, to be violated with an 'effeminizing' penalty, i.e., overpowered and penetrated. So a Priapus stake sort of 'cross' is more likely to be connoted here, rather than the typical cross imagined by the Christians, where Jesus the Nazarene is lifted up and exalted as a god.

And Lactantius also explains how the procedure was done: in qua suspensus atque suffixus (on / with which [he was] suspended and fastened underneath). Now why "on / with which?" Because qua is in the ablative, in + an ablative (ex.: in hoc signo vinces (under / by this sign you will conquer)) has both a locational and an instrumental sense to it. The participle suspensus is obvious enough: it means "having been raised, elevated, suspended" which does not necessarily exclude a sense of being suspended by a support underneath as an appropriate means. The conjunction atque (and, as well as, together with; and even, and ____ too) And suffixus, (having been fixed underneath), here is combined with in qua, and the ablative pronoun is equated with its antecedent crucis (genitive of crux). So it was by the crux itself that Jesus was fastened underneath. If it was just by the nails that Jesus was 'suffixed' (to the stipes and the patibulum), Lactantius would have said so.

And as was common with early Christian authors, Lactantius quotes LXX Jeremiah 11:19: 12
Also Jeremiah: "Lord, declare it unto me, and i shall know. Then I saw their devices: I was led as an innocent lamb to the sacrifice; they mediated a plan against me, saying, 'Come, let us send wood into his bread.(mittamus lignum in panem ejus) and let us sweep away his life from the earth (et eradamus e terra vitam ejus), and his name shall no more be remembered.” Now the wood signifies the cross, and the bread His body; for He Himself is the food and the life of all who believe in the flesh which He bare, and on the cross upon which He was suspended (in crucem qua pependit).'"
Lactantius, Divine Institutes 4.18 (3rd pgh, 35th-37th sent.) 13
Now this is a strange. Philip Schaff reasons that this is "altogether fanciful and unwarranted" as an interpretation as a prophecy of the Crucifixion. 14 The NIV English translation from the Massoretic text reads, "Let us destroy the tree, and its fruit;" and the 1985 JPS Tanakh reads almost identically, "Let us destroy the tree with its fruit." However, the fanciful interpretation almost becomes a sure thing to occur under early Christianity, given the early fathers' attitude towards the Jews, 14 and the dodgy Greek translation of the LXX, with its multiple meanings of words: ἐμβάλωμεν ξύλον εἰς τὸν ἄρτον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐκτρίψωμεν αὐτὸν ἀπὸ γῆς ζώντων. (Let us cast wood onto [put wood into] his bread, and rub him out [wear him out by constant rubbing] from the land of the living.) Lactantius' Old Latin source is hardly better: mittamus lignum in panem ejus, et eradamus e terra vitam ejus (let us send wood into his bread, and erase his life from the land). For ἐμβάλωμεν is conjugated from ἐμβάλλω: "throw in, put in; throw at, upon, against". The Greek ἐκτρίψωμεν is from ἐκτρίβω: "rub out, produce by rubbing, rubbing hard; rub out, destroy root and branch, bring [life] to a wretched end; rub constantly, wear out; thresh out; polish; wipe out." Lactantius uses the Latin mittamus, from mitto, "send, cause to go; let go, let loose, release, dismiss; send; put forth; send, throw, hurl, cast, launch, plunge." He also uses eradamus, from erado, "scratch out, scrape off; strike out, erase, shave off; abolish, extirpate, eradicate, remove, obliterate, cause to be forgotten." Certainly this interpretation of Jeremiah 11:19 would have been a complete flight of fancy, unless, of course, the 'cross' the early fathers was talking about was a Priapus stake with an acuta crux to serve as a projecting and transgressive 'seat': something like these (for adults 18+ only), but pointed and much harsher.  A simple two-beam doesn't work, either: when the suspended pushes up on his feet, he flexes out from the face of the cross. Then there is the question of wearing one's own pole on the way to his execution. Sometimes the pole is not thrown on the person's back; he has to lift it himself. 15, 16

Therefore, being lifted up and nailed to the cross (suspensus atque affixus), he cried to the Lord with a loud voice, and of his own accord gave up His Spirit.
Lactantius, Divine Institutes 4.19 (1st pgh, 2nd sent.) 17
Again, we have suspensus atque affixus (suspended and affixed as a brand or fixed on as an addition). In other words, he's hanging and he's stuck. There is nothing here that excludes a Priapus Stake with its acuta-crux.
I will now speak of the mystery of the cross (crux), least anyone should happen to say, "If death must be endured by him, it should not have been one that was manifestly infamous and dishonourable (non utique infamis ac turpis), but one which had some honour...
Lactantius, Divine Institutes 4.19 (1st pgh, 2nd sent.) 18
The sort of death was, in Latin,  infami ac turpis (manifestly infamous and polluted), or (particularly notorious and shameful). Again, the sense is better conveyed, I would think, if the so-called 'cross' the Romans used was actually a Priapus stake.


From Lactantius' descriptions of the Crucifixion of Jesus the Nazarene, we can make the following conclusions about his understanding of crucifixion: First, the person is attached both by affixion (affigere: to fix or fasten to), i.e., nailing to a pole, impaling on a stake, or both; and suffixion (suffigere: to fix or fasten beneath), i.e., impaling on a stake, nailing up to a patibulum which serves as an overhead crossbeam, or both. Second, the person is suspended prior to being attached to the crux (pole, stake). The method of suspension was being hoisted onto the crux to remain on it (in crucem sublatus), and its instrument was the patibulum, which also came to be known as an alternate name for the crux by this time. Once suspended, the prisoner hanged (pependit) on the crux, by means of it. The arms of the prisoner were stretched out along the crossbeam, effectively "opening up" his body and putting him on display. The assembled crux included at least two pointed wooden stakes (σκόλοπες, pali) and the prisoner was attached to it with nails (γόμφοι, clavi). Lactantius, like Justin Martyr and Tertullian, understood LXX Jeremiah 11:19 as a prophecy of the Crucifixion, despite the texts of Massoretic Hebrew, the Tanakh, and the Protestant English Bibles meaning nothing of the sort. As a prophecy of the Crucifixion, it could mean either "let us put wood on his bread," or "let us send wood into his bread." The suffering or passion of the prisoner was considered by the ancient Romans to be effeminate, indeed the noun itself is grammatically feminine. Lastly, crucifixion itself was considered a manifestly infamous, notorious, polluted and shameful (utique infamis ac turpis) type of death, so much so that Lactantius considered the Crucifixion an outrage, a crime, an act of villainy (facinus) and a vileness, an insulting act, an emormity (indignitas). Now with all this information, the crux that would best fit the description of the crux that Jesus suspended on and attached to would be, of course, a tota crux  or Priapus stake: certainly with its yardarm, and together with the well-known projection of a seat.

Vivat Crux Graffito: Vivas in cruce
(May you live on a crux.)

Of course, a century before Lactantius, a magical-gem engraver had a similar conception of Jesus' Crucifixion:

Magical gem from the Levant with The Crucifixion, 2nd-3rd C. CE.
The arms are in a relaxed position and the legs are hanging free.
Jesus Christ in this depiction appears to be impaled,
as well as suspended from a patibulum.

Resources:, Lactantius.
New, Church Fathers, Lactantius, The Divine Institutes.
New, Church Fathers, Lactantius, The Epitome of the Divine Institutes.
Documenta Catholica Omnia, Lactantius.
Nonius Marcellus, De Compendiosa doctrina ad filium, L. IV, p. 221, 11-14 (Google preview).
Justus Lipsius, de Cruce, L. II, cap. viii, p. 87 (Google preview, p. 87)
Seneca, Epistularum Moralium ad Lucillium 101.13 (The Latin Library).
New, Bible, Jer. 11, gMark 15, gMatt 27, gLuke 23, gJohn 19.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library, ANF07 Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries, Lactantius, Divine Institutes IV.xviii.
Chariton, Chaereas and Callirhoe 4.2.6,7 (Google preview).
British Museum, magical gem / intaglio.
Perseus Greek Word Study Tool.
Perseus Latin Word Study Tool.
Numen Latin Word Study Tool.
Notore Dame William Whitaker's Words.
Perseus Digital Library (Persius, Cicero).


1. Lactantius, Divinarum Institutionum Libri VII 4.26: Suffixus itaque quia spiritum deposerunt, necessarium carnifices non putaverunt, ossa ejus suffringere (sicut mos eorum ferebat) sed tantummodo latus ejus perforaverunt. "And so because, having been fixed underneath, he had given up his breath, the executioners did not suppose a necessary to break beneath his bones (just as their custom would bring about), but they only stabbed his side."

2. Lactantius, Divinarum Institutionum Libri VII 4.26: sic integrum corpus patibulo detractum est, et sepulcro diligentur inclusum. (Thus the unbroken body was taken [or pulled] down from the crossarmed execution pole and diligently enclosed in a sepulcher.)

3. Lactantius, Divinarum Institutionum Libri VII 4.26: Nam quoniam is, qui patibulo suspenditur, et conspicuus est omnibus, et caeteris altior, crux potius electa est, quae significaret illum tam conspicuum tamque sublimem futurum,... (For seeing that he, who is suspended by a patibulum, and is conspicuous to everybody, and higher than the others, rather a crux is chosen, which may signify Him who is about to be so very obvious and even so borne aloft.)

4. Lactantius, Divinarum Institutionum Libri VII 4.26.29: Cur si Deus fuit, et mor voluit, non saltem aliquo honesto genere mortis affectus est? Cur potissium cruce? Cur infami genere supplicii, quod etiam homine libero, quanvis nocente, videatur indignum (Why, if he were God, and preferred to die, was he not afflicted at least with any honourable kind of death? Why especially with a crux? Why with an infamous sort of punishment, which as yet for a free person, although guilty, may be seen as beneath him.)

5. Lactantius, Divinarum Institutionum Libri VII 6.17 fin.: 'Hic est ille homo honestus, non apice, purpurave, non lictoram insignis ministeria, sed nulla re minor, qui cum mortem in vicinia videt, non sic perturbatur, tanquam rem novam viderit; qui, sive toto corpore tormenta patienda sunt, sive flamma ore rapienda est, sive extendiae per patibulum manus, non quaerit quid patiatur, sed quam bene.' ("This is that honorable man, not with ornaments or in purple, not distinguished by the attendance of lictors, but in no wise inferior, who, when he sees death in the vicinity, he is thus not perturbed, as much as [when] he would have seen a novel thing; who, whether in the whole of his body tortures are about to be endured, or whether a flame is caught up in his mouth, or whether his hands [are] about to be stretched out along the patibulum, one asks not in what respect he may suffer, but how well."

6. Nonius Marcellus, De Compendiosa doctrina ad filium, L. IV, p. 221, 11-14 (Google preview). With a good explanation of the Latin such as can be found here, one can understand that Nonius shows how a patibulum at that time (3rd or 4th C. CE) could mean either a crux*, a beam to which one was tied before he was fastened on to or planted down on a crux**, and a door-bar.  A crux, then meant either *a pole with at least a cross-arm, or ** a regular pole (in case of nailing feet) or an impaling stake.

7. Lactantius, Divinarum Institutionum Livri VII, 4.13: Propterea Milesius Apollo consultus, utrumne Deus, an homo fuerit, hoc modo respondit: (On which account Milesius-Apollo having been consulted, whether God, or a man he was, responded in this way:)
Θνητός ἰήν κατά σάρκα, σοφος, τερατώδεσιν ἔργοις,
Ἀλλ' ὑπὸ χαλδαίων κριτῶν ὅπλοις συναλωθεις
Γόμφοις καί σκολόπεσσι πικρών ἀνέτλησε τελουτην
Mortalis erat corpore, sapiens portentificus (a) operibus
Sed sub chaldaeis judicibus armis comprehensus
Clavis et cruce amarum toleravit finem.
(One mortal according to the flesh, wise, with portentious works.
But under Chaldean judges he was arrested with arms.
With bolts / nails and with pales / a crux he endured a bitter end.)
Cf. Justus Lipsius, de Cruce, L. II, cap. viii, p. 87 (Google preview, p. 87): Memimit et Apollo in oraculo quopiam de Christo: Γόμφοις καί σκολόπεσσι πικρών ἀνέτλησε τελουτην -- Clavisque et palis mortem exantlauit (Memimit and Apollo in an oracale [said] something about Christ: With nails and with pales he endured a bitter end.)

8. Lactantius, Divinarum Institutionum Livri VII, 4.16: Venio nunc ad ipsam passionem, quae velut opprobrium nobis objectari solet, quod et hominem, et ab hominibus insigni supplocio affectum et excruciatum colamis; (I come now to the passion itself [lit.: herself], which as a disgrace they often throw out at us, and because we worship a man, even [one who] by [other] men was afflicted and tortured-out with notorious punishment.)

9. Seneca, Epistularum Moralium ad Lucillium 101.13 (The Latin Library): quid sibi vult ista carminis effeminati turpitudo? (What does he mean by it, [such] turpitude* of effeminate verse?)

*also baseness, shamefulness, disgrace, dishonor, infamy.

10. Lactantius, Divinarum Institutionum Livri VII, 4.18: Tum suspenderunt eum inter duos noxios medium qui ob latrocinia damnati erant crucique affixerunt. Quid ego hic in tanto facinore deplorem? aut quibus verbis tantum nefas conquerar? (Then they suspended him in the middle between two [noxious] criminals, who were condemned for armed robbery, and affixed him to the crux. What can I say here in such a great outrage? Or with what words can I lament so great an impious deed?)

11. Lactantius, Divinarum Institutionum Livri VII, 4.18: Non enim Gavianam crucem describimus, quam Marcus Tullus universis eloquentiae suae nervis ac viribus, velut effusis totius ingenii fontibus, prosecutus est, facinus indignum esse proclamans, civem Romanum contra omnes leges in crucem esse sublatum. Qui quamvis innocens fuerit, et illo supplicio indignus, mortalis tamen, et ab homine scelesto, qui justitiam ignoraret, affectus est. Quid de hujus crucis indignitate dicemus, in qua Deus a cultoribus Dei suspensus atque suffixus? (For by no means do we describe the crux of [Publius] Gavius which Marcus Tullus [Cicero] followed up with the whole of his strengths and powers, as though with a pouring forth from the fountain of his entire contstution, proclaiming it is an unworthy outrage [that] a Roman citizen, against all the laws, [is] to be hoisted up onto a crux. Who, although he was innocent, and undeserving of that [humiliating] punishment, nevertheless, destined to die, and by a wicked man ignorant of justice, he was afflicted. What shall I say of the shamefulness of this crux, with which the God by the husbandmen of God was borne up and fastened beneath [nailed up / impaled]?)

12. LXX, Jeremiah 11:19: ἐγὼ δὲ ὡς ἀρνίον ἄκακον ἀγόμενον τοῦ θύεσθαι οὐκ ἔγνων ἐπ' ἐμὲ ἐλογίσαντο λογισμὸν πονηρὸν λέγοντες δεῦτε καὶ ἐμβάλωμεν ξύλον εἰς τὸν ἄρτον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐκτρίψωμεν αὐτὸν ἀπὸ γῆς ζώντων καὶ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ οὐ μὴ μνησθῇ ἔτι. (And I was as a meek lamb, that is carried to be a victim: and I knew not that they had devised counsels against me, saying: Let us put wood on his bread*, and cut him off** from the land of the living, and let his name be remembered no more.)

* the Greek can mean alternatively, "let us or send wood into his bread."
** a better sense of the Greek ἐκτρίψωμεν is: "let us rub him out, wear him out by constant rubbing," etc.

13 Lactantius, Divinarum Institutionum Livri VII, 4.18: Hieremias (cap. 11): 'Domine, significa mihi, et cognoscam: tunc vidi meditationes eorum; ego sicut agnus sine malitia perductus sum ad victimam: in me cogitaverunt cogitationem, dicentes: "Venite, mittamus lignum in panem ejus, et eradamus e terra vitam ejus, et nomen ejus non erit in memoria amplius."' Lignum autem crucem significat, et panis corpus ejus, quia ipse est cibus, et vita omnium qui credunt in carnem quam portavit, et in crucem qua pependit. (Jeremiah (ch. 11): "Lord, point it out to me, and I will know. Then I saw their deliberations: I just as a lamb without malice was led through to the sacrifice. Against me they designed a plot, saying, 'Come, let us send wood into his bread, and erase his life from the land [of the living], moreover his name will not be in a good memory any more.'" However the wood signifies the crux, and bread his body, because he himself is the food, also the life of all who trust in his flesh which he bore, and in the crux by which he hanged.)

14. Schaff, Philip, editor, Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries, Vol. 7, p. 121, n. 754 and 755. Link to online copy at

15. Chariton, Chaereas and Callirhoe 4.2.6,7 (Google preview) ...κάκεινος ουδέ ιδών αυτούς ουδέ απολογουμένων ακούσας ευθύς εκελευσε τούς εξ καί δέκα τούς όμοσκήνους ανασταυρωσαι. Προήχθησαν ουν ποδας τε καί τραχήλους συνδεδεμένοί καί έκαστος αυτων τον σταυρόν έφερε: τη δέ αναγκαία τιμωρία καί τήν εξωθεν φαντασίαν σκυθρωπήν προσέθηκαν οί κολαζοντες εις φόβου παράδειγμα τοις ομοίοις. Χαιρέας μέν ουν απαγόμενος έσίγμα, Πολύχαρμος δέ τόν σταυρόν βαστάζων 'δια σέ' φησιν, 'ω Καλλιρρόη, ταυτα πασχομεν.' (Without even seeing them or listening to their defence he immediately ordered the sixteen cell-mates to be crucified / impaled. They were duly brought out, chained together foot and neck, each carrying his own pole. The executioners added this grim spectacle to the requisite penalty as a deterrent to others so minded. Now Chaereas said nothing as he was led off with the others, but upon taking up [his own] pole, Polycharmus exclaimed, "It is your fault, Callirhoe, that we are in this fine mess."). The Greek βαστάζων has the following meanings: "taking up, raising, lifting up; clasping, holding in one hands; bearing, carrying, supporting; carrying off, taking away, stealing."

16. gMark 15:21, καὶ ἀγγαρεύουσιν παράγοντά τινα Σίμωνα Κυρηναῖον, ἐρχόμενον ἀπ' ἀγροῦ, τὸν πατέρα Ἀλεξάνδρου καὶ Ῥούφου, ἵνα ἄρῃ τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ (And they forced one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and of Rufus, to take up his cross). "To take up" in the Greek is ἄρῃ, 3rd person aorist subjunctive active of αἴρωἀείρω "to take up, raise, lift up; bear, sustain; raise up, exalt; lift and take away." Cf. gMatt 27:32: Ἐξερχόμενοι δὲ εὗρον ἄνθρωπον Κυρηναῖον, ὀνόματι Σίμωνα: τοῦτον ἠγγάρευσαν ἵνα ἄρῃ τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ (And going out, they found a man of Cyrene, named Simon: him they forced to take up his cross); gLuke 23:26, Καὶ ὡς ἀπήγαγον αὐτόν, ἐπιλαβόμενοι Σίμωνά τινα Κυρηναῖον ἐρχόμενον ἀπ' ἀγροῦ ἐπέθηκαν αὐτῷ τὸν σταυρὸν φέρειν ὄπισθεν τοῦ Ἰησοῦ. (And as they led him away, they laid hold of one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country; and they laid the cross on him to carry after Jesus); and John 19:17 καὶ βαστάζων ἑαυτῷ τὸν σταυρὸν ἐξῆλθεν εἰς τὸν λεγόμενον Κρανίου τόπον, ὃ λέγεται Ἑβραϊστὶ Γολγοθᾶ (And bearing [lit.: lifting up and carrying] his own cross, he went forth to the place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew Golgotha). Note that gMark, gLuke and gJohn are or can be in agreement, that the act of carrying or bearing the cross began with an act of lifting it up. GLuke is in opposition -- he has the Jewish leaders lay wood on Simon of Cyrene's "bread," that is, his body; the author of gLuke clearly doesn't like the idea of a Priapus stake! Unfortunately, it would break the "prophecy" of Jer. 11:19 if the cross were merely a two-beam (or one pole and one plank) construction, because then wood is neither put on Jesus' "bread" nor caused to go into it.

17. Lactantius, Divinarum Institutionum Livri VII, 4.18: Suspensus igitur atque affixus exclamavit ad Dominum voce magna, at ultro spiritum posuit. (Consequently, having been suspended as well as affixed he called out to the Lord with a great voice, and of his own accord he put aside his own spirit.)

18. Lactantius, Epitome Divinarum Institutionum ad Pentadium Fratrem, 51 Dicam nunc de sacramentum crucis, ne quis forte dicat: Si suscipienda illi mors fuerat, non utique infami ac turpis, sed quae haberet aliquid honestatis. (I will tell now of the guaranty of the crux, lest anyone perchance may say, "If death must be accepting to him, [it should not have been] particularly notorious and shameful, but one which had to some extent some honour.)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Crucifixion the Bodily Support - The Acuta Crux in Patristic Writings (14)


(Part 7n 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
Part 7e    Part 7f     Part 7g    Part 7h
Part 7i     Part 7j     
Part 7k      Part 7l


A. Introduction.

We’ve gone over before what Origen and Celsus thought was the nature of the Roman execution pole: something like a pole (σταυρός), but also a thorn (σκόλοψ). Here, I will repeat some points but also add some previously unintroduced thoughts expressed by Origen.

B. A Most Shameful Death.

Now according to Celsus, Jesus was bound ignominiously and disgracefully executed. But the English translation only begin to do the Greek justice, because Celsus uses superlatives in this passage:
Believe that he whom I introduce to you is the Son of God, although he was shamefully bound (δεδομένος ατιμότατα), and disgracefully punished (κεκολασμένος αίσχιστα),…
Origen, Contra Celsum 6.10 1
Now what Celsus was saying here when he describes Jesus to have been “shamefully bound and disgracefully punished” is δεδομένος ατιμότατα ή κεκολασμένος αίσχιστα (delivered up most ignominiously, as [one] finally punished most shameful[ly]).

Origen is cognisant of the same extreme shame associated with the death of the σταυρός (pole) in his Commentary on Matthew:
...not only did they demand that a murderer go free, but also that a just man be put to death – even to the utterly vile death of the pole (mortem turpissimam crucis).
Origen, Commentary on Matthew 27:22ff 2
The Latin turpissimam is a superlative accusative (direct object) of the adjective turpe: (of sight or condition) ugly, unsightly, unseemly, repulsive, foul, filthy; (of sound) disagreeable, cacophonous; (figuratively) shameful, disgraceful, repulsive, odious, base, infamous, scandalous, dishonorable. In the superlative, these undesirable qualities are made as bad as can be. And so “utterly vile” is a most excellent translation for a death on a Priapus stake: because in order to relieve the strain in his shoulders, the suspended man has to press up with his legs. But because he can’t lock his knees, his leg muscles will weaken, cramp and fail and so he once again slumps. Because of this compulsory dance, he is “riding” the virile member of the execution pole -- he is tightly around the thing, and so humiliates, tortures and crucifies himself with “conjectures.”

And again in Contra Celsum, Origen notes Celsus’ declamation that Jesus was a most degraded man executed by a suspension from a board:
Quotes Celsus: “When we declare the Logos to be the Son of God we do not present to view a pure and holy Logos, but a most degraded man, who was punished by scourging and crucifixion (ἀποτυμπανισθέντα).”
Origen, Contra Celsum 2.31 3
The word Celsus uses for crucifixion is ἀποτυμπανισθέντα (suspended from a τύμπανον: a board). The Greek punishment is defined in various lexica as “crucify on a plank” and “cudgeling”. The former meaning would apply here, unless Celsus had a gospel we know nothing about, where Jesus was bashed with a club, like the two robbers in the Canonical gospel of John. Now later on in the same 31st chapter, Origen did not dispute the method of suspension or even address it, but rather let it stand without comment, yet he disputed that Jesus was (merely) a most degraded man.

And he also makes mention of Jesus as “a most degraded man.” Just a recap: in the ethos of the ancient Mediterranean world, for a man to be penetrated was considered to be shameful, and for some men it was considered to be more shameful than for others. 4

So the execution delivered to Jesus was a most shameful one, which in my opinion involved some kind of impalement (in addition to micro-impalement with nails) wherein the person was bodily penetrated. And which is more shameful: simple direct impalement with a sharpened ordinary pole, or controlled impalement on a tall stake while suspended between two poles, or a full-blown Roman crucifixion involving a cross-armed pole with a wooden phallus? A simple imagining of how the suspended would look when he slid down on his impaling device would give you the answer.

C. A Suspension that Involved Racking... by Gravity.
“You,” says he [Celsus], “mock and revile the statues of our Gods, but if you had reviled Dionysius or Herakles in person, you would not perhaps done so with impunity. But those who crucified (κατατείνοντες καί κολάζοντες) your god, when present among men, suffered nothing for it, either at the time or during the whole of their lives.”
Origen, Contra Celsum 8.41 5
What Celsus uses here for “crucified” is the present passive participle κατατείνοντες (being stretched tight, racked, tightly bound) and κολάζοντες (being docked, punished) describing the actions of the executioners that were inflicted upon Jesus. So the execution meted out involved a stretching tight, a racking, a tight binding which would adequately describe the results of a suspension by the extremities on a pole equipped with an overhead crossarm. In chapter 42 Origen acknowledges that he understood that Jesus was killed in such a manner: “he supposes that it is the body of Jesus extended on the cross and slain, and not His divine nature, that we call God; and that it was as God that Jesus was crucified and slain,” but he, Origen, has a quibble with Celsus’ statement that those who killed him did not suffer retribution: he said the Jewish people in Jerusalem who called for his death were the ones who allegedly suffered retribution for it, for he wrote, “that this city not long afterwards [30 to 70 CE: 40 years!!] was attacked, and, after a long siege, was utterly overthrown and laid waste.” 6 Unfortunately, despite the fact that this was a known Roman penalty and the Jewish authorities had no authority to mete out capital punishment themselves, at least without express permission from the Roman Prefect or Procurator, Origen makes no mention of what happened to the Roman executioners!

D. A Slow, Lingering Death.

Origen for instance calculates it to have been a three hour death - from the sixth to the ninth hour (Commentary on Matthew 5. 140) miraculum, quoniam post tres horas receptus est. Here is the whole passage:
Since those crucified persons who are not stabbed, suffer greater torment, and survive in great pain, sometimes the whole of the following night, and even the whole of the next day ; and since Jesus was not stabbed, and his enemies hoped that by his hanging long upon the cross he would suffer the greater torment, he prayed to the Father and was heard, and as soon as he had called was taken to the Father ; or else, as one who had the power of laying down his life, he laid it down when he chose. This prodigy astonished the centurion, who said — “Truly this man was a son of God.” — For it was a miracle that he who would otherwise perhaps have survived two days on the cross, according to the custom of those who are crucified but not stabbed, should have been taken up after three hours, so that his death seems to have happened by the favour of God, and rather through the merit of his own prayer than through the violence of the cross.
Origen, Commentary on Matthew 5.140

There are two takeaways from this: first, people suspended on a Roman execution pole (Priapus stake) survive for two days or more, unless they are stabbed in a vital organ first (apparently Origen did not make an exception for those whose legs are broken and subsequently die from shock or fat embolism, but such a death could take up to a day and a half to occur. 7

E. Σταυρός: a Pole.

Celsus further down describes a continuous stream of literary effluent from an earthly church, and touches on one of their beliefs, in which the Christians of the time referred to as the “tree of life:”
And in all their writings (is mention made) of the ‘tree of life’ (τό της ζωης ξύλον), and a resurrection of the flesh by means of the 'tree' (από ξύλου), because, I imagine, their teacher was nailed to a cross (σταυρω ένηλώθη), and was a carpenter by craft (τέκτων τήν τεχνην)…

Origen, Contra Celsum 6:34 8
Celsus connects a so-called “tree of life,” and a bodily resurrection by means of the “tree,“ to Jesus’ execution: that he was σταυρω ένηλώθη (nailed to an execution pole) and his trade: τέκτων (of a carpenter, joiner). The relevant point Celsus is making here is that Jesus was suspended on a σταυρός, some kind of pole, and secured to it with nails (ἧλοι).

In chapter 36 Origen does not dispute the idea expressed by Celsus that Jesus was nailed to a pole, but disputes Celsus’ connexion of the execution to the tree of life, and Celsus’ allegation Jesus was a carpenter by trade (something a lot of Christians believe today), saying Celsus “not observing that the tree of life is mentioned in the Mosaic writings, and being blind also to this, that in none of the Gospels current in the Churches is Jesus Himself ever described as being a carpenter.” 9

Origen typically uses σταυρός himself, such as for example in Contra Celsum 1.66 (6) where he complains about what Celsus said about the blood of Jesus (and he quotes Celsus in Contra Celsum 2.36 -- see below in Section F):
He asserts, sporting at least, that the blood of Jesus which was poured out upon the pole (σταυρῷ), that it was assuredly not "Ichor, such as flows in the veins of the blessed Gods."
Contra Celsum 1.66 22

F. Σκόλοφ: a Thorn.

When Celsus first recounts Jesus’ crucifixion and his sufferings on the cross (or rather, a Roman torture-stake), he first, through his Jewish sock-puppet, to recount other myths and even some scams! And to these he compares to Jesus’ death on his pole:
But the question is, whether anyone who was really dead ever rose with a veritable body. Or do you imagine the statements of others not only to be myths, but to have the appearance of such, while you have discovered a becoming and credible termination to your drama in the voice from the cross (σκόλοπος), when he breathed his last, and in the earthquake and the darkness?
Origen, Contra Celsum 2.55 10

There are two takeaways from this. First, Celsus doesn’t believe a word of the gospels (that goes without saying). And second, Celsus calls the gear of Jesus’ execution, which a believer would call a σταυρός, a σκόλοψ: a thorn!

Origen reiterates the charge in the 58th chapter :
Further, after these Greek stories which the Jew adduced respecting those who were guilty of juggling practices, and who pretended to have risen from the dead, he says to those Jews who are converts to Christianity: “Do you imagine the statements of others not only to be myths, but to have the appearance of such, while you have discovered a becoming and credible termination to your drama in the voice from the cross (σκόλοπος: “thorn”), when he breathed his last?”
Origen, Contra Celsum 2.58 11
And in the very same chapter he states that he DOES deem it a becoming and credible termination to the drama in the voice from the “cross” (thorn), when he breathed his last. Not only that, but Origen states the Christians believed it was crowned by Jesus’ alleged resurrection from the dead, and that the whole business was predicted by the prophets of the scriptures which both the Jews and Christians shared in common.

And later Celsus’ “Jew” asserts an immediate disappearance from the Cross was a far more appropriate action for a diety:
But let us observe how this Jew of Celsus asserts that, “if this at least would have helped to manifest his divinity, he ought accordingly to have at once disappeared from the cross (σκόλοπος: “thorn”).”
Origen, Contra Celsum 2.68 12
And notice he uses the same term – σκόλοψ – thorn – again! Celsus is quite aware that part of the Roman punishment was some sort of impaling device. The LSJ and the Autenrieth Greek-English Lexica, among others, define a σκόλοψ as “anything pointed, esp a pale, stake for impaling.”

And indeed Origen in the next chapter of the same book shows that indeed Celsus was absolutely right in calling the well-known Roman torture-stake a σκόλοψ:
But we wish to show that his instantaneous bodily disappearance from the cross (σκόλοπος: “thorn”) was not better fitted to serve the whole purposes of the economy of salvation.
Origen, Contra Celsum 2.69 13
The literal narrative, however, one might thus explain, viz., that it was appropriate for Him who had resolved to endure suspension upon the cross (ἐπί σκόλοπος κρεμασθῆναι), to maintain all the accompaniments of the character He had assumed, in order that He who as a man had been put to death, and who as a man had died, might also as a man be buried.
Origen, Contra Celsum 2.69 14
And yes Origen does come out and say it, that suspension from the cross was, in his words, ἐπί σκόλοψ κρεμασθῆναι (to have been hanged upon the thorn): in essence, penetrated by it.

Yet many Christians have argued, argue, and will argue, that from the Septuagint Numbers 33:55 (σκόλοπες ἐν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ὑμῶν “thorns in your eyes”) and 2 Cor 12:7 (σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί “a thorn in the flesh”) that σκόλοψ doesn’t necessarily mean impaling stake or impaling thorn, it means… something else. Something small, like the nails. Except what Origen says destroys the Christians’ arguments utterly when he acknowledges that what Celsus calls a σκόλοψ – thorn, singular -- is the σταυρός – pole -- when he puts words into Celsus’ mouth:
But even if it had been related in the Gospels, according to the view of Celsus, that Jesus had immediately disappeared from the cross (σκόλοπος), he and other unbelievers would have found fault with the narrative, and would have brought against it some such objection as this: “Why, pray, did he disappear after he had been put upon the cross (τί δήποτε μετά τόν σταυρόν), and not disappear before he suffered?”
Origen, Contra Celsum 2.69 15
Of course, here, Origen acknowledges that σκόλοψ is a commonly used word for σταυρός, which here he uses to define a Roman crucifixion, specifically one in particular. Note bene: “after he was put on the cross” is rendered simply as: τί δήποτε μετά τόν σταυρόν (lit.: why at some time after the σταυρός-punishment). This is verbiage not unknown to the Greek-speaking ancients. 16

And further, Origen uses the same terminology when he compares what Celsus and his “Jewish companion” say ought to have happened on the Roman pole with the account of the post-Resurrection appearances and disppearances:
If, then, after learning from the Gospels that He did not at once disappear from the cross (σκόλοπος: “thorn”), they imagine that they can find fault with the narrative, because it did not invent, as they consider it ought to have done, any such instantaneous disappearance, but gave a true account of the matter, is it not reasonable that they should accord their faith also to His resurrection, and should believe that He, according to His pleasure, on one occasion, when the doors were shut, stood in the midst of His disciples, and on another, after distributing bread to two of His acquaintances, immediately disappeared from view, after He had spoken to them certain words?
Origen, Contra Celsum 2.69 17

Again, Origen uses the noun σκόλοψ (thorn) when most other Christian apologists would have used the word σταυρός (pole). Indeed, there are plenty of other places where he does use σταυρός, but his use of the other known is an indication that he seems to understand that the Roman execution pole has some kind of thorn, upon which the crucified are suspended.

In the following,both Origen (Contra Celsum 3.32) and Celsus (Contra Celsum 2.36) both use the verb ἀνασκολοπίζω "impale, fix on a pole."
He laid it [his life] down when he said, "Father, why have you forsaken me? And when he had cried with a loud voice, he gave up the ghost," anticipating the public executioners of the crucified (των ἀνεσκολοπισμένον: “those impaled”), who break the legs of the victims (των σταυρουμένον: “those suspended or pile driven”) and who do so in order that their punishment might not be prolonged.
Origen, Contra Celsum 3:32 18
Now we know that Origen understands ἀνασκολοπίζειν (to impale) in the etymological manner because in Contra Celsum 2.69 above, he said so in the above-mentioned passage ἐπί σκόλοπος κρεμασθῆναι (to be suspended on a thorn) in Contra Celsum 2.69! And here in 3.32, he equates it with σταυροῦν (to suspend: i.e., crucify, poleify, impale or pile-drive).
Celsus next says, "What is the nature of the ichor in the body of the crucified (ἀνασκολοπιζομένον: “impaled”) Jesus? is it 'such as flows in the bodies of the Immortal Gods?'"
Origen, Contra Celsum 2.36 19

Now here, Celsus uses the verb ἀνασκολοπίζειν (to impale) and understands it in the etymological sense also, owing to the fact that he repeatedly used the singular noun σκόλοψ (impaling stake, thorn) when referring to the suspension pole of Jesus.

And Origen does not dispute the nature of the typical Roman executionary suspension (how do we know it’s typical? Origen applies it to Jesus , sight unseen). Instead, he disputes the nature of Jesus’ blood: it is neither like the nature of the ichor of the immortal (Panhellenic) gods, nor is it of the typical blood of a dead man, where, if one were to stab someone whose heart blew up because of the stress of strenuous activity after receiving a blunt force trauma such as falling on one’s front side while carrying a heavy timber in a weakened state, the sort of “blood and water” that would come out would be congealed blood and translucent serum. But instead Origen said that both Jesus’ own blood and pure water flowed forth from his side, as if he were still alive (never mind the fact that only one gospel writer recorded it, at least 60-odd years after Jesus’ reported death).

And again, Origen uses the same verb ἀνασκολοπίζειν with regard to the legendary crucifixion of the Apostle Peter, where, as it is recorded in the Acts of Peter, and in the Acts of Peter and Paul, he was crucified with his feet nailed to the frame so that he was suspended upside down. Then in each account, he proclaims a short speech and immediately gives up the ghost. 20 Yet Origen is on record in Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiasticae 3.1 as stating that Peter was impaled upon the head (ανασκολοπισθε κατά κεφαλης , lit.:”he was impaled down of the head.”) because he preferred not to suffer in the same manner Jesus suffered. 21 It is most peculiar, it seems to go against the bulk of Christian tradition concerning this Apostle.

G. Conclusions on Origen’s View of Roman Crucifixion.

So looking above we can see that Origen basically agreed with Celsus that the gear of Jesus’ execution included a thorn (σκόλοψ) on which he was suspended, a pole (σταυρός) to which he was nailed (ένηλώθη) and a board (τύμπανον) from which he hanged. He also assented to Celsus’ statement that the gear had put Jesus to the full stretch, i.e., racked him (κατατείνοντες), which is what the Romans intended that the Earth’s gravity do to their worst criminals with their own body mass when they suspended them to be executed. He also agreed with the Anti-Christian polemiscist that the penalty was most shameful (αίσχιστα) and a person undergoing such a penalty was to be most degraded. (ατίμοτατον). It appears Origen is also familiar with the full-blown Roman crux, complete with stipes, patibulum and acuta-crux a.k.a. sedilis excessu (projecting, transgressive seat). And of course, nails. It is also apparent that the use of the acuta crux was widespread enough that Origen could safely assume that it was applied to the living person of Jesus when he was suspended by the Romans (an historical Jesus crucified by Romans is assumed). Which means in Origen’s day, too, it was typical.

H. Notes:

1. Origen, Contra Celsum 6.10: πίστευσον ον εισηγουμαί σοί τουτου ειναι υιόν θεου, κάν η δεδομένος ατιμότατα ή κεκολασμένος αίσχιστα,… (you must have believed that he who I introduce to you to be this son of a god, although he may be delivered up most ignominiously, as [one] finally punished most shameful[ly].)

2. Non solum homicidam postulantes ad vitam, sed etiam iustum ad mortem et ad mortem turpissimam crucis. Quoted in: Martin Hengel, John Bowden transl., Crucifixion. Philadelphia, Fortress press (1977), p. xi.

3. Origen, Contra Celsum 2.31: ἐπεί “λόγον ἐπαγγελλόμενοι υἱόν εἷναι τοῦ θεοῦ, ἀποδείκνυμεν οὐ λόγον καθαρόν καί ἅγιον, ἀλλά ἄνθρωπον ἀτιμότατον* ἀπαχθέντα καί ἀποτυμπανισθέντα. (He says: “Declaring the Logos to be the son or the God, we do not make known a pure and holy Logos, but a most dishonoured man, who was punished by scourging and suspension from a board.)

 * Quator Codd. MSS. Regius, Basileensis, et duo Anglicani: ἀτιμότατα.

4. Seneca the Elder Controversiae 4. Praef. 10: impudicitia in ingenuo crimen est, in servo necessitas, in liberto officium. (Gross indecency [passive male homosexual promiscuity: letting one’s self be topped by another male] is a crime in the freeborn man, an inevitability in the slave, and a duty in the freedman.)

5. Origen, Contra Celsum 8.41: Τόν δέ σόν θεόν παρόντα κατατείνοντες καί κολάζοντες ουδέν οι ταυτα δράσαντες πεπόνθασιν, αλλ' ουδε μετά ταυτα εν τοσούτο βίω. (But that one your god while present being racked and punished, not one of them who did this work suffered, and in no wise among these [the rest], [or] otherwise in the meantime during his life.)

6. Origen, Contra Celsum 8.42

7. Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 8th Edition (2009), Elsevier. Link.

8. Origen, Contra Celsum 6.34: ...πανταχου δέ έκει τό της ζωης ξύλον καί ανάστασιν σαρκός από ξύλου, διότι οιμι ό διδάσκαλος αυτων σταυρω ένηλώθη καί ην τέκτων τήν τεχνην. (…and everywhere in that place that tree of life and a raising up of the body by the tree, for that reason I suppose that teacher of them was nailed to a pole and [his] skill was of that a carpenter.)

9. Origen, Contra Celsum 6.36

10. Origen, Contra Celsum 2.55: Αλλ' εκεινο σκεπτέον, εί τις ως αληθως αποθανών, ανέστη ποτέ αυτω σώματι' ή οίεσθε τά μεν των άλλων μύθους ειναί τε καί δοκειν, υμιν δέ τήν καταστροφήν του δράματος ευσχημόνς ή πιθανως εφευρησθαι, τήν επί του σκόλοπος αυτου φωνήν ότ απεπνει, καί τόν σεισμόν, καί τόν σκότον; (But the subject examined, whether anyone was truly dead, rose up at some time with his body, or do you suppose indeed those [narratives] of those others to be fictions and even to seem [as such], but to you all that catastrophe of the drama to be found decent and credible, that voice upon his thorn when he breathed out his last, and the earthquake, and the darkness?)

11. Origen, Contra Celsum 2.58: Ετι δέ μεθ' άς παρέθετο ο Ιουδαιος ιστορίας Ελληνικας, περί των ωσανεί τερατευσαμένον, καί περί των ως αναστάντων εκ νεκρων, φησί πρός τούς από Ιουδαίων τω Ιησου πιστεύοντας. "ή οίεσθε, τά μεν των άλλων μύθους ειναί τε καί δοκειν, υμιν δέ τήν καταστροφήν του δράματος ευσχημόνως ή πιθανως εφευρησθαι, τήν επί του σκόλοπος αυτου φωνήν, ότ απέπνει ;” (Further, after the Greek stories which the Jew adduced respecting those who were indulging in strange gesticulations, and who [have pretended to] have arisen from the dead, he says to those Jews who put their trust in Jesus: “Do you imagine the statements of others not only to be myths, but to have the appearance as such, while you have discovered an appropriate and plausible termination [or catastrophe] to your drama in the voice upon his thorn, where he breathed his last?”)

12. Origen, Contra Celsum 2.68: Ιδωμεν δέ τίνα τρόπον φησιν ό παρά τω Κέλσω Ιουδαιος, ότι "ει δ' ουν τόγε τοσουτον ώφειλεν εις επίδειξιν θεότηος, από του σκόλοπος γουν εύθύς αφανης γενέσθαι (Let us observe what manner that Jew besides Celsus says, that “But if this then would have augmented into a making known of his divinity, at least then straightaway from the thorn he would have disappeared.”

13. Origen, Contra Celsum 2.69: Θέλομεν δέ παραστησαι, πως ου χρησιμώτερον ην πρός τήν οικονομίαν όλην τό, ευθύς από τού σκόλοπος αυτόν αφανη γενέσθαι σωματικως. (But we wish to present, how it was not more useful toward the whole magical operation that, straightaway from the thorn [he] himself should have become invisible.)

14. Origen, Contra Celsum 2.69: Τά δέ της λεξεως ούτως άν τις άποδωη, ότι κατά τόν κρίνατα υπομειναι τό επί σκόλοπς κρεμασθηναι, ην καί τά εξης τη υποθεσαι τηρησαι, ίν' ώς άνθροπος καθαιρεθείς, τω ώς άνθρωπος αποτεθνηκέναι, ώς άνθροπος καί ταφη. (But this of the narrative, if haply, one might thus explain, that [it was] in accordance for him, having chosen to endure it, having been hanged upon the thorn, and was to have watched over the habits of the [inner] essence, for him as a man to have been put down, for whom as a man to have died and as a man to be buried.)

15. Origen, Contra Celsum 2.69: Ἀλλά καί εἰ καθ᾽ ὑπόθεσιν ἐγεραπτο ἐν τοῖς εὐαγγελίοις, ὅτι ἀπό τοῦ σκόλοπος ἀφανής εὐθύς ἔγεντο ἐκάκιζεν ἄν τό γεγραμμένον ὁ Kελσος καί οἱ ἄπιστοι, καί κατηγόρησαν ἄν καί οὕτω λέγοντες "τί δήποτε μετά τόν σταυρόν γέγουεν ἀφανής, οὐ πρό τοῦ παθεῖν δὲ τοῦτ᾽ ἐπραγματεύσατο (But even if according to the hypothesis it had been written in the gospels, that he straightaway disappeared from the thorn, if that was written Celsus and others [would] disbelieve it, and perhaps would have brought an objection even such as this: “Why at some time after the σταυρός-punishment he disappeared, and had not taken the trouble before this suffering?”)

16. This is similar to where Didorus Siculus (90-21 BCE), (Library of History 20.54.4) said that when the captured citizens of Utica, suspended on a siege-machine, were pierced when the defenders of the city “nailed [them] down against the machine with sharp-pointed items (τοῖς ὀξυβελέσι πρὸς τῇ μηχανῇ προσκαθήλωσαν), the violence and vengeance was almost tantamount to a σταυρός (ὥστε σταυρῷ παραπλησίανεἶναι τὴν ὕβριν ἅμα καὶ τὴν τιμωρίαν), that is, an executionary suspension on a Roman execution pole, fastened with nails.

This is also the verbiage Philo of Alexandria (20 BCE – 50 CE), (In Flaccum 72) uses when he said that certain Jews mourning their murdered comrades during a pogrom were seized forthwith and put through an immense amount of torture, where the final and seated (reserved or physically seated, probably both) penalty was the σταυρός (ἡ τελευταία καὶ ἔφεδρος τιμωρία σταυρὸς ἦν.), i.e., the suspension on the same kind of Roman pole.

17. Origen, Contra Celsum 2.69: είπερ ουν από των ευαγγελιων μεμαθηκότες ότι ου γέγονεν ευθύς αφανής από του σκόλοπος, εγκαλειν οίονται τω λόγω, μη πλασαμένω, ως εκεινοι ηξίωσαν, τό, ευθύς αυτόν αφανη γεγέσθαι από του σκόλοπος, αλλά τό αληθές αναστάσει αυτου, καί ως βουληθεις οτέ δούς άρτον δυσι των γνωρίμων, ευθύς άφαντος εγένετο απ' αυτων, μετά τινας, ούς ελαλησεν αυτοις, λογους. (If really then, having learned from the gospels that because he did not become straightaway invisible from the thorn, they suppose to find fault with the story, not invented, thus they deem it worthy, that he himself should have become straightaway invisible from the thorn, yet that true [account] with his raising up, and having preferred those when moreover having given bread to two together of those known [by him], after he spoke to them certain words?)  
18. Origen, Contra Celsum 3.32: Επει γάρ εξουσίαν ειχε θειναι αυτήν έθηκε μέν, ηνίκα ειπε "πατερ, ινατί με εγκατέλιτες; και κραξας φωνη μεγάλη, άφηκε τό πνευμα" προλαβών τούς επί των ανεσκολοπίσμένων δημίους, υποτέμνοντας τά σκέλη των σταυρουμένον, καί διά ύποτέμνοντας, ίνα μή επιπλέον τιμωρίαν τισωσιν. (For when he had the authority to bring it to pass, indeed he laid down his life, at the time he spoke "'Father, why have you left me in the lurch?' And having cried out in a mighty voice, he gave up the breath," having anticipated the executioners of the impaled, who break the upper legs of the pile-driven, and who do so lest they serve all the sentence they would have paid.)

19. Origen, Contra Celsum 3:36: Ειτά φησιν ο Κέλσος. "τί καί ανασκολοπιζομένον του σώματς ποιος ιχώρ, -- οιός πέρ τε ρεει μακάεσσι Θεοισιν." (Then declares that Celsus, "And what is the nature of the ichor in the body of the impaled one? -- And at least as of the sort that flows in the Blessed Gods.")

20. Acts of Peter and Paul, "And Peter, having come to the cross, said: 'Since my Lord Jesus Christ, who came down from the heaven upon the earth, was raised upon the cross upright, and He has deigned to call to heaven me, who am of the earth, my cross ought to be fixed head down most, so as to direct my feet towards heaven; for I am not worthy to be crucified like my Lord.' Then, having reversed the cross, they nailed his feet up." 

Cf. Acts of Peter ch. 37: "'I beseech you the executioners, crucify me thus, with the head downward and not otherwise: and the reason wherefore, I will tell unto them that hear.'"

Cf. Acts of Peter ch. 38: "And when they had hanged him up after the manner he desired, he began again to say:... '...For it is right to mount upon the cross of Christ, who is the word stretched out, the one and only, of whom the spirit saith: For what else is Christ, but the word, the sound of God? So that the word is the upright beam whereon I am crucified. And the sound is that which crosseth it, the nature of man. And the nail which holdeth the cross-tree unto the upright in the midst thereof is the conversion and repentance of man.'"

21. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiasticae 3.1: ανασκολοπισθε κατά κεφαλης ούτως αυτός αξιώσας παθειν (having deemed himself worthy to suffer in this manner he was impaled upon the head [lit.: he was impaled down of the head].) The translation at New Advent instead renders it in English as “he was crucified head-downwards.”

22. Origen, Contra Celsum 1.66: Παίζων γοῦν τό ἐπί τῷ σταυρῷ προχυθέν αἷμα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ φησιν, ὅτι οὐκ ἦν
Ἰχώρ, οἷος πέρ τε ῥέει μακάρεσσι θεοῖσιν
(Sporting at least then the blood of Jesus having been poured out upon the pole he asserts, that assuredly not it was
"Ichor, such as all and in stream in the blessed Gods.")


New Advent, Church Fathers, Origen, Against Celsus. Link.
New Advent, Church Fathers, Eusebius, Church History. Link.
New Advent, Church Fathers, Apocryphal Writings, Acts of Peter and Paul. Link.
Documenta Catholica Omnia, Eusebius, Historia Ecciesiasticae. Link.
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