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.)

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