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Did Jesus die on a cross? Print E-mail
Tuesday, 10 January 2012 18:51

 

Jesus and the cross

 

The cross is arguably the most beloved symbol in all of Christianity. It adorns our churches and cathedrals, our jewelry, our books and music, and is used in numerous marketing logos. The empty cross symbolizes the work performed there by our Savior who went to death willingly to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus’ last words before He died were “It is finished” (John 19:30 ).  It is no wonder that the cross has come to symbolize all that is the greatest story ever told—the story of the sacrificial death of Christ.

 

History of the cross

 

The history of the cross symbol in Christianity

Early depictions on Jesus usually showed Jesus in the form of a shepherd carrying a lamb. Tertullian (140-230 CE), a Montanist heretic, commented in his essay De Corona: "At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign." This might be an early reference to individuals tracing the sign of the cross on their body.

The use of the cross as a symbol was condemned by at least one church father of the 3rd century CE because of its Pagan origins. The first appearance of a cross in Christian art is on a Vatican sarcophagus from the mid-5th Century.  It was a Greek cross with equal-length arms. Jesus' body was not shown. The first crucifixion scenes didn't appear in Christian art until the 7th century CE. The original cross symbol was in the form of a Tau Cross. It was so named because it looked like the letter "tau", or our letter "T". One author speculates that the Church may have copied the symbol from the Pagan Druids who made crosses in this form to represent the Thau (god). They joined two limbs from oak trees. The Tau cross became associated with St. Philip who was allegedly crucified on such a cross in Phrygia. May Day, a major Druidic seasonal day of celebration, became St. Philip's Day. Later in Christian history, the Tau Cross became the Roman Cross that we are familiar with today.

The shape of the original crucifixion device is a matter for speculation. Sometimes, the Romans executed people on a Tau cross, sometimes on a Roman cross and sometimes on a simple stake. The gospels, which were originally written in Greek, use the word "stauros" to refer to the execution structure. (see Mark 15:21 , Mark 15:32 , Matthew 27:32 , Luke 23:26 , John 19:17 ). This appears as the word "cross" in all but one of the English versions that we have examined. But in reality, the Greek word usually means a vertical pole without a crossbar. TheNew World Translation, sponsored by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, translates the word as "torture stake."  Hermann Fulda, author of "The Cross and Crucifixion" is commented that:

 

the description of Jesus' suffering during the last hours of life indicates that he was crucified on a stake rather than a cross.

that some of the writings of the early church fathers confirms the use of a pole.

that the very earliest depictions of Jesus' crucifixion in Christian art show him on a stake.

 

Acts 5:30 refers to "hanging him on a tree." 1 Peter 2:24 says "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree."

Deuteronomy 21:23 stated that a person hung on a tree was be cursed by God. This verse was a major stumbling block that prevented many Jews from accepting Jesus as the Messiah.

According to author Graydon F. Snyder:

"[Today's]....universal use of the sign of the cross makes more poignant the striking lack of crosses in early Christian remains, especially any specific reference to the event on Golgotha. Most scholars now agree that the cross as an artistic reference to the passion event cannot be found prior to the time of Constantine."

What is the history of crucifixion

 

The history of crucifixion can be traced back to the Egyptians (Genesis 40:19 ) and the Persians (Esther 7:10 ). It was also practiced by the Assyrians, Scythians, Indians, Germans, and from the earliest times by the Greeks and the Romans. Alexander the Great, after the conquest of Tyre, had two thousand Tyrians crucified as punishment for their resistance.

 

Crucifixion was a punishment that was only for slaves or malefactors of the worst kind and Roman citizens were exempt from it. If the Jews used this manner for punishment, it was usually done after the death. In other words, the body or the head was tied to a stake and therefore, placing the head on a pole after death was also called crucifixion.

 

From the earliest accounts of the history of crucifixion, it was considered the most horrible form of death. To the Jew, it would seem even more horrible because of the curse. "You must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance" (Deuteronomy 21:23 ).

 

The process of crucifixion was horrible in itself. First came a scourging with a whip that was usually embedded with nails or pieces of glass or bone to heighten the pain. Many died from the scourging before they got to the cross. The place of execution was outside of the city (Acts 7:58 , Hebrews 13:12 ) and the criminal was made to carry all or part of his cross and if he was unable then someone was pressed to carry it for him. The process of attaching the person to the cross was either that they were fastened to a cross piece and were raised to a cross that was already standing by ropes or they were fastened to the cross and then the cross was raised. The person was tied or nailed to the cross depending upon the method used by the soldiers who carried out the punishment. When the malefactor arrived at the cross, he was stripped naked and what clothes he had were divided among the soldiers, usually a unit of four soldiers with one being the leader.

 

Death came from asphyxiation or pure exhaustion and if they were bound with thongs it might take days to die. The crucified one would not be able to raise himself up to allow his lungs to breath and that was hastened by the breaking of the legs (John 19:31 ). Usually the body was left to rot on the cross and this was done as a deterrent to those who entered the city. Crucifixion was capitol punishment and the sight of the crosses to those who came into the city was a grim reminder of the justice that awaited those who engaged in criminality.

 

The history of the LORD'S crucifixion confirms most if not all of these historical facts. The fact is made in Scripture that Christ was made a "curse" for us. "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a cures for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree'" (Galatians 3:13 ). Jesus was scourged (John 19:1 ) and made to carry His cross and when He stumbled, another was called to carry it (Luke 23:26 ). Jesus' clothes were taken and the soldiers gambled for them (Psalm 22:17-18 ; Matthew 27:35-36 ). When it was found that Jesus was already dead, His legs were not broken to fulfill Scripture (Psalm 34:20 ; John 19:32-33 , 36). The fact that Jesus' body was not left to rot on the cross was a concession by the Romans to the Jews (Matthew 27:58 ; Mark 15:42-46 ) for the next day was a high Sabbath for celebration of the Passover or this was the day of preparation for the Passover (John 19:14 , 31, 42). The Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross overnight and since the Jewish day began at sunset, the body of Christ was taken down, prepared, and buried before the Passover began at sunset.

 

In spite of the history of crucifixion, the crucifixion of the LORD Jesus Christ was not a "train wreck" that was out of the purpose and will of the Father. Although Christ was hung on a cross, it was not the crucifixion that took His life, He "laid it down." "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life - only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father" (John 10:17-18 ). "When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.' With that, he bowed his head and gave up [dismissed] his spirit" (John 19:30 ). Nations down through history have used this form of punishment and torture and God has taken the curse of the cross and turned it into a gift of grace.

 

What kind of crucifixion does the Bible teach

 

The earliest mode of crucifixion seems to have been by impalation, the transfixion of the body lengthwise and crosswise by sharpened stakes, a mode of death-punishment still well known among the Mongol race. The usual mode of crucifixion was familiar to the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, Persians and Babylonians (Thuc. 1, 110; Herod. iii.125, 159). Alexander the Great executed two thousand Tyrian captives in this way, after the fall of the city. (From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

Crucifixion was from a Phoenician origin-- it was later used by the Greeks, especially during the time of Alexander the Great and by the Carthaginians. Rome adopted and improved on it. The modes of execution among the Jews were: strangulation, beheading, burning, and stoning. The Targum [b On Ruth i. 17.] speaks of it as one of the four modes of execution of which Naomi described to Ruth as those in custom in Palestine, the other three being, stoning, burning, and beheading. Crucifixion was not a Jewish mode of punishment, although the Maccabee King Jannaeus had so far forgotten the claims of both humanity and religion as on one occasion to crucify not less than 800 persons in Jerusalem itself. [a Jos. Ant. xiii. 14, 2; War i, 4, 6]

A man named Judas with a Shammaite Rabbi, Sadduk, revolted in submitting to the tax of Quirinius. [c Ant. xviii i. 1] How the Hillelites looked upon this movement, we gather even from the slighting allusion of Gamaliel. [Acts 5:37 ] The two sons of Judas died for it on the cross in 46 A. D. [e Ant. xx. 5. 2]

The Romans cross never had the symbolical meaning attached to it that it had in the ancient Orient; they regarded it solely as a instrument of punishment.
History shows there were 4 different crosses used by the Romans. There was the upright pole a stake, as well as an X shaped ( St. Andrew's Cross x, the Crux decussata), which was very rarely used outside Italy. The two common forms used in Jesus’ day was the Tau cross (shaped like the Greek letter Tau or like our T (Crux Commissa), with the titulus, (the crime written on the plate below his feet or above), and the ordinary Latin Cross (+, Crux immissa) a lower tau with the crossbeam not on the top but near it. The St. Anthony's cross, The upright portion of the cross (or stipes) could have the cross-arm (or patibulum) attached two or three feet below its top known today as the classical form of the cross with the titulus, or small sign, with the victim's crime written above it.

The universal testimony of those who lived nearest the time (like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and others) all testify to a cross beam, not a pole as the Jehovah’s witnesses insist. However since they have a problem with everything written by the early church pastors and theologians they will not accept this.

The Cross was to be carried to the place of execution by Him the one who was to die on it. Arms bound to it with cords, according to ancient custom, the neck of the Sufferer was fastened within the patibulum, two horizontal pieces of wood, fastened at the end, to which the hands were bound. Ordinarily, the procession was headed by the centurion, [Tradition calls him Longinus.] He was preceded by one who proclaimed the nature of the crime, sometimes written on a board.[2 This was the Jewish practice also (Sanh. vi. 2).

The cross carried could not be a 8-10 foot beak that would have been the post. The heavy patibulum of the cross is tied across the shoulders, as the victim to be crucified walked the slow and humiliating journey along the Via Dolorosa. Jesus being extremely weak, the centurion selected a North African from the crowd, Simon of Cyrene, to help him carry the cross. It is not likely a 10 foot beam with a side bar would have been carried, this would be too heavy, weighing well over 100 pounds. So more than likely it was the 6-8 ft.crossbeam that was carried.

The expression 'bearing the cross,' as indicative of sorrow and suffering, is so common, that we read, Abraham carried the wood for the sacrifice of Issac, 'like who bears his cross on his shoulder.' [c Ber. R. 56, on Gen. xxii. 6.]

When arriving at Golgotha they were fastened to the crossbeam on the ground with ropes-or nails (possibly both), through the wrist. The upright post, or stipes, was generally permanently fixed in the ground at the site of execution and the condemned man -was forced-to carry the patibulum, apparently weighing about 110 pounds, from the prison to the place of execution. The victim who was near naked (or naked) was then hoisted with the crossbeam against the standing vertical stake. Discoveries near Jerusalem of the bones of a crucifixion victim suggests that the knees were bent up side-by-side parallel to the crossbeam and the nail was then driven through the side of the ankles.

A block or peg was often fastened to the stake as a crude seat under the feet as the feet were tied or nailed to the stake. The weight of the person would rest on this block and they were able to push up, keeping them from suffocation. This prolonged the agony and the pain of the crucifixion as it was their own strength to push up that lengthened their life. The length of this agony was determined by the strength of the victim, death rarely came before 36 hours had elapsed. The suffering of death by crucifixion was intense, bleeding from jagged wounds, produced traumatic fever. The exposure to the heat of the sun, brought on an insufferable thirst (like Lk.16 being described as Jesus said he thirsts). Arteries of the head and stomach were filled with blood and a throbbing headache would occur. Anxiety in emotions, and the mind could reel with confusion. It was said the victim of crucifixion died a thousand deaths. Death came by suffocation when exhaustion finally set in after a long period of agonizing pain, the person slumped over no longer having the strength to push up their weight from the foot peg. Exhausted the victim would sink into unconsciousness and death. Death was sometimes hastened by breaking the legs of the victims and by a hard blow delivered under the armpit before crucifixion. Crura fracta was a well-known Roman term (Cicero Phil. xiii.12). The pre-mature death of Christ brought great astonishment (Mark 15:44 ) to the Centurion. The symptoms surrounding his death by John (John 19:34 ) seem to point to a ruptured heart, which Jesus died from independent of the cross claiming Him as the victim. This is especially seen as He dismissed His own spirit, picking the time of His own death. Then the Roman guard putting a spear in his side and a mixture of blood and water spilled out, showing He died of a ruptured heart.

Crucifixion is typified in the Torah. The Israelites on the eve of the first Passover marked their doors with blood of the lamb - in Exodus it explains in detail how the blood was smeared on the two sides, the lentil and in a bowl below, thus symbolizing the picture of the future lamb on a cross. The Psalmist predicted the piercing of the hands and the feet (Psalm 22:16 ) which Jesus fulfilled in his crucifixion. It also said not a bone would be broken fulfilling the Passover lamb motif.

Matthew’s description of the Lord’s death includes the information that: “They put up above His head the charge against Him, which read, ‘This is Jesus the King of the Jews’” (Matthew 27:37 ). The Roman governor Pontius Pilate had written the offense of which Christ was condemned and Matthew reported that the proclamation was “set up over his head.” The inscription given by Matthew corresponds exactly with that which Eusebius [c H.E. v. 1.] records as the Latin titulus on the cross of one of the early martyrs.

If Jesus was executed on a torture stake, with both hands together over his head, instead of on a cross with both hands outstretched it would not read “This is Jesus the King of the Jews, put up ABOVE His head” (Matthew 27:37 ). Instead If Christ had been impaled as the Watchtower describes, the text would instead read: “set up over his hands” for the lack of room available it would have been next to impossible to have this between his arms as they are outstretched above him. Also his hands would be the highest point of the body. How could it have been posted above his head if his arms are stretched out directly over his head? Put your hands over your head and see if a plague can fit there as described, it would be more than difficult. The inscription of his accusation was put up at the third hour ( Mk.12:26; Mt.27:35-37) making next to impossible to put a lengthy sign in between arms that would be tied up above.

Also in Lk.23:33 it mentions there was a another man to his right HAND and the other on the left, again it does not say to the right side and left side which seems to indicate that his arm was outstretched.

Medieval and Renaissance painters have drawn pictures of Christ carrying the entire cross. Many of these painters and most of the sculptors of crucifixes today show the nails through the palms. Roman historical accounts, and experimental work have shown the-nails, were driven between the small bones of the wrists and not through the palms. Nails driven through the palms will strip out between the fingers when the weight of a body is hung on it. Although they could have been tied with rope to hold, the Bible gives affair amount of detail on the process and the instruments used, but does not have any mention this. If rope was used it was tied to the arms over the shoulders for carrying the crossbeam to the place of crucifixion.

The Watchtower interprets the Bibles account as an unclear statement “Jesus most likely was executed on an upright stake without any crossbeam. No man today can know with certainty even how many nails were used in Jesus' case.” (Watchtower 8/15/1987, p. 29)

Can we not know? Which way does the Biblical and historical evidence lean?

Thomas who had not seen the Risen Lord with the others voiced his skepticism (John 20:25 ). The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
Notice it says the print of the nails not nail. This is not singular, so Thomas knew how he had been crucified, with his arms outstretched, not with them being together like the feet. This would take two nails not a single nail as it would through the feet.

Thomas used the word “nail,” in the plural form but “imprint” is singular, indicating a separate nail punctured each hand leaving a single mark in each hand.

The common form of crucifixion used was the Tau cross (shaped like the Greek letter Tau or like our capitol T or lower t). There is archeological evidence that it was on this type of cross that Jesus was crucified.

On the tombstones of the early Christians had the cross etched on them as the emblem of victory and hope. It was only after superstition took the place of true spiritual devotion that the figure of the cross was used or borne about as a sacred charm. There would be no reason to draw a cross if in fact it was not the instrument of crucifixion, there was no conspiracy to change the object he was impaled on.

In 1873, French scholar Charles Clermont-Ganneau unearthed nearly 30 ossuaries southeast of Jerusalem. The small limestone burial boxes containing human bones were found at the Mount of Offense and bore Hebrew and Greek names. Some bore a cross above the name inscription. The date of the original burial is estimated to be between 70-135 A.D.( Jack Finegan, The Archeology of the New Testament, pp. 238-240).

The 1945 discoveries at Talpioth. Here 11 ossuaries were found and reported to be from Christian grave sites in Bethany. These burial boxes too were engraved with crosses and their burial date was estimated at 42-43 A.D. - slightly more than a decade after our Lord’s death and resurrection. Some of the ossuaries were even inscribed with the Greek monogram for Christ (Px) as a dedicatory, leaving no doubt as to the manner of the Savior’s death and the ensuing use of the cross as a Christian symbol. (Jack Finegan, The Archeology of the New Testament pp. 240-243.)

Others, even from outside the Christian community, also indicate that the weight of the historical evidence favors the cross over a stake. In 1971, Time magazine reported an archaeological find that had remained secret for several months: “Israeli archaeologists announced that they had identified the remains of the unfortunate young man and found clear evidence of his grisly execution. The Israeli scholars, who studied the find for more than two years before making their announcement, were understandably cautious. What they uncovered and authenticated is the first firm physical evidence of an actual crucifixion in the ancient Mediterranean world. ... The only previously physical evidence of crucifixion was extremely tenuous. It consisted of a few bones, excavated in Italy and Rumania containing holes in the forearms and heals that could have been made during crucifixion. ... The new archaeological evidence, a byproduct of intense excavation and building activities by the Israelis in the territories they conquered in the Six-Day War, is far more substantial.” (Time magazine, Jan. 18, 1971, pg. 64.)

Gerhard Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament gives three meanings for stau-ros’. The first matches the Watchtower’s; the others present other distinct meanings: “The stauros is an instrument of torture for serious offenses, ... In shape we find three basic forms. The cross was a vertical, pointed stake ... or it consisted of an upright with a cross-beam above it ... or it consisted of two intersecting beams of equal length.” (Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. VII, pg. 572.

Xulon (tree - rendered xy’lon by the Watchtower) also carries more definitions than what the Watchtower Society offers. Kittel interprets one of the renderings: “Cross. A distinctive New Testament use of xulon is in the sense ‘cross.’” (Kittel, Theological Dictionary, Vol. V, pg. 39.
W.E. Vine translates xulon as “a timber beam, a tree “wood, a piece of wood, anything made of wood” (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words) The word xylon is usually “wood” or “tree” Because it looked like a tree with a branch coming out of each side.

Kittel explained the particulars involved in the carrying out of the fatal punishment upon a stauros’: “Crucifixion took place as follows. The condemned person carried the patibulum (cross-beam) to the place of execution - the stake already erected. Then on the ground he was bound with outstretched arms to the beam by ropes, or else fixed to it by nails. The beam was then raised with the body and fastened to the upright post.” ( Ibid., pg. 573.)

The scholar Joseph Thayer concurs with the dual meaning of stauros: “An upright stake, esp. a pointed one, ... a cross; a. the well-known instrument of most cruel and ignominious punishment, borrowed by the Greeks and Romans from the Phoenicians; to it were affixed among the Romans, down to the time of Constantine the Great, the guiltiest criminals, particularly the basest slaves, robbers, the authors and abetters of insurrections, and occasionally in the provinces, at the arbitrary pleasure of the governors, upright and peaceable men also, and even Roman citizens themselves.” ( Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, pg. 586.)

Dr. Paul Maier believes the Archaeological evidence for a cross has evidence. The Church used the symbol of the cross as early as the first century. In his 1976 work, First Christians, Maier writes:”Christians were already established at Puteoli-[the Apostle] Paul’s fame had preceded him there ... It may be from this early congregation that faith expanded around the Bay of Naples, because there were Christians in nearby Herculaneum shortly afterward. One of the houses in that resort town, today liberated from its lava burial by Mt. Vesuvius, shows the clear outlines of a metal cross that had been set in the wall over a charred prie-dieu in an upstairs room. The cross evidently is just as old a Christian symbol as the fish.” (Paul Maier, First Christians, p. 140.)

On the facing page, a photograph of the upstairs room is reproduced showing the outline of the cross in the wall. The photo’s caption reads: “A primitive Christian oratory in the upper room of the so-called ‘House of Bicentenary’ at Herculaneum. A whitish stuccoed panel shows the imprint of a large cross, probably metallic, that had been removed or possibly used as a stamping device. Before it are the remains of a small wooden altar, charred by lava from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D” (ibid. p.141)

Other scholars also agree with Maier’s assessment that the cross was quickly adopted by the Church as a Christian symbol. Michael Green, in his book, Evangelism in the Early Church, states: “Some experts doubt whether the cross became a Christian symbol so early, but the recent discoveries of the cross, the fish, the star and the plough, all well known from the second century, on ossuaries of the Judaeo-Christian community in Judea put the possibility beyond reasonable cavil.” (Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church, pp. 214- 215.)

Jesus’ own word prophesied the Apostle Peter’s martyrdom refutes the Jehovah Witnesses position: “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself, and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go. Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.” (John 21:18-19 ) We are told that Peter was crucified on a cross upside down because he did not consider himself worthy to be crucified in the same way as His Lord.

We cannot change what has been written and explained in the Scripture but only try to understand it. The fact is that the Bible and history do lean to it being a cross just as “Christendom” has held.

The early church fathers regarded the cross as pointing above, below, and to both sides, as symbolizing” the height, depth, length, and breadth” of the love of Christ, extending salvation to all (Eph 3:18 ).

Whether one wants to believe in a certain shape of the wooden instrument is not really the whole issue. As the Bibles words still ring through time, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18 ). The real point is whether they one is saved by Christ dying on it. And it is clear that Jehovah witnesses do not believe they are or can be by Christ's sacrifice alone but instead by works.

Jesus Faced a Horrible Death

 

Crucifixion sometimes began with a scourging or flogging of the victim’s back. The Romans used a whip called a flagrum, which consisted of small pieces of bone and metal attached to a number of leather strands. The number of blows given to Jesus is not recorded; however, the number of blows in Jewish law was 39 (one less than the 40 called for in the Torah, to prevent a counting error). During the scourging, the skin was ripped from the back, exposing a bloody mass of tissue and bone. Extreme blood loss occurred, often causing death, or at least unconsciousness. In addition to the flogging, Jesus faced severe beating and torment by the Roman soldiers, including the plucking of His beard and the piercing of His scalp with a crown of thorns.

 

After the flogging, the victim was often forced to carry his own crossbar, or patibulum, to the execution site. The patibulum could easily weigh 100 pounds. In the case of Jesus, the record shows that He may have carried His patibulum the distance of over two football fields. In a weak and tormented state, it’s no wonder the record establishes that Jesus needed a great deal of assistance. Once the victim arrived at the execution site, the patibulum was put on the ground and the victim was forced to lie upon it. Spikes about 7 inches long and 3/8 of an inch in diameter were driven into the wrists. The spikes would hit the area of the median nerve, causing shocks of pain up the arms to the shoulders and neck. Already standing at the crucifixion site would be the 7-foot-tall post, called a stipes. In the center of the stipes was a crude seat to “support” for the victim. The patibulum was then lifted on to the stipes, and the victim’s body was awkwardly turned on the seat so that the feet could be nailed to the stipes. At this point, there was tremendous strain put on the wrists, arms and shoulders, resulting in a dislocation of the shoulder and elbow joints. The position of the nailed body held the victim’s rib cage in a fixed position, which made it extremely difficult to exhale, and impossible to take a full breath. Having suffered from the scourging, the beatings and the walk with the patibulum, Jesus was described as extremely weak and dehydrated. He was probably losing significant amounts of blood. As time passed, the loss of blood and lack of oxygen would cause severe cramps, spasmodic contractions and probably unconsciousness.

 

Ultimately, the mechanism of death in crucifixion was suffocation. To breathe, the victim was forced to push up on his feet to allow for inflation of the lungs. As the body weakened and pain in the feet and legs became unbearable, the victim was forced to trade breathing for pain and exhaustion. Eventually, the victim would succumb in this way, becoming utterly exhausted or lapsing into unconsciousness so that he could no longer lift his body off the stipes and inflate his lungs. Due to the shallow breathing, the victim’s lungs would begin to collapse in areas, probably causing hypoxia. Due to the loss of blood from the scourging, the victim probably formed a respiratory acidosis, resulting in an increased strain on the heart, which beats faster to compensate. Fluid would also build up in the lungs. Under the stress of hypoxia and acidosis, the heart would eventually fail. There are several different theories on the actual cause of death for Jesus. One theory is that there was a filling of the pericardium with fluid, which put a fatal strain on the ability of His heart to pump blood. Another theory states that Jesus died of cardiac rupture. Another theory is that Jesus' death was “multifactorial and related primarily to hypovolemic shock, exhaustion asphyxia and perhaps acute heart failure.” Regardless of the actual medical cause of final death, the historical record is very clear -- Jesus suffered numerous hours of horrible and sustained torture on the cross of Calvary.

 

Details of the Crucification

 

Details

Crucifixion was often performed to terrorize and dissuade the onlookers from perpetrating the crimes punishable by it. Victims were left on display after death as warnings so that others who attempt dissent might be forewarned. Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful (hence the term excruciating, literally "out of crucifying"), gruesome, humiliating, and public, using whatever means were most expedient for that goal. Crucifixion methods varied considerably with location and time period.

The Greek and Latin words corresponding to "crucifixion" applied to many different forms of painful execution, from impaling on a stake to affixing to a tree, to an upright pole (a crux simplex) or to a combination of an upright (in Latin, stipes) and a crossbeam (in Latin, patibulum).

In some cases, the condemned was forced to carry the crossbeam on his shoulders to the place of execution. A whole cross would weigh well over 300 pounds (135 kilograms), but the crossbeam would weigh only 75–125 pounds (35–60 kilograms). The Roman historian Tacitus records that the city of Rome had a specific place for carrying out executions, situated outside the Esquiline Gate, and had a specific area reserved for the execution of slaves by crucifixion. Upright posts would presumably be fixed permanently in that place, and the crossbeam, with the condemned person perhaps already nailed to it, would then be attached to the post.

The person executed may have been attached to the cross by rope, though nails are mentioned in a passage by the Judean historian Josephus, where he states that at the Siege of Jerusalem (70), "the soldiers out of rage and hatred, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest."Objects used in the crucifixion of criminals, such as nails, were sought as amulets with perceived medicinal qualities.

While a crucifixion was an execution, it was also a humiliation, by making the condemned as vulnerable as possible. Although artists have depicted the figure on a cross with a loin cloth or a covering of the genitals, writings by Seneca the Younger suggest that victims were crucified completely nude. When the victim had to urinate or defecate, they had to do so in the open, in view of passers-by, resulting in discomfort and the attraction of insects. Despite its frequent use by the Romans, the horrors of crucifixion did not escape mention by some of their eminent orators. Cicero for example, in a speech that appears to have been an early bid for its abolition, described crucifixion as "a most cruel and disgusting punishment", and suggested that "the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears."

Frequently, the legs of the person executed were broken or shattered with an iron club, an act called crurifragium, which was also frequently applied without crucifixion to slaves. This act hastened the death of the person but was also meant to deter those who observed the crucifixion from committing offenses.

 

Cross shape

 

The gibbet on which crucifixion was carried out could be of many shapes. Josephus describes multiple tortures and positions of crucifixion during the Siege of Jerusalem as Titus crucified the rebels; and Seneca the Younger recounts: "I see crosses there, not just of one kind but made in many different ways: some have their victims with head down to the ground; someimpale their private parts; others stretch out their arms on the gibbet."

At times the gibbet was only one vertical stake, called in Latin crux simplex or palus, or in Greek μόνος σταυρός (monos stauros, i.e. isolated stake). This was the simplest available construction for torturing and killing the condemned. Frequently, however, there was a cross-piece attached either at the top to give the shape of a T (crux commissa) or just below the top, as in the form most familiar in Christian symbolism (crux immissa). Other forms were in the shape of the letters X and Y.

The New Testament writings about the crucifixion of Jesus do not speak specifically about the shape of that cross, but the early writings that do speak of its shape, from about the year 100 on, describe it as shaped like the letter T (the Greek letter tau) or as composed of an upright and a transverse beam, sometimes with a small ledge in the upright.

Nail placement

 

In popular depictions of the crucifixion of Jesus (possibly because in translations of John 20:25 the wounds are described as being "in his hands"), Jesus is shown with nails in his hands. But in Greek the word "χείρ", usually translated as "hand", referred to arm and hand together, and to denote the hand as distinct from the arm some other word was added, as "ἄκρην οὔτασε χεῖρα" (he wounded the end of the χείρ, i.e., he wounded her hand).

A possibility that does not require tying is that the nails were inserted just above the wrist, between the two bones of the forearm (the radius and the ulna).[22]

An experiment that was the subject of a documentary on the National Geographic Channel's Quest For Truth: The Crucifixion, showed that a person can be suspended by the palm of the hand. Nailing the feet to the side of the cross relieves strain on the wrists by placing most of the weight on the lower body.

Another possibility, suggested by Frederick Zugibe, is that the nails may have been driven in at an angle, entering in the palm in the crease that delineates the bulky region at the base of the thumb, and exiting in the wrist, passing through the carpal tunnel.

A foot-rest (suppedaneum) attached to the cross, perhaps for the purpose of taking the person's weight off the wrists, is sometimes included in representations of the crucifixion of Jesus, but is not discussed in ancient sources. Some scholars interpret the Alexamenos graffito, the earliest surviving depiction of the Crucifixion, as including such a foot-rest. Ancient sources also mention the sedile, a small seat attached to the front of the cross, about halfway down, which could have served a similar purpose. A short upright spike or cornu might also be attached to the sedile, forcing the victim to rest his or her perineum on the point of the device, or allow it to insert into the anus or vagina. These devices were not an attempt to relieve suffering, but would prolong the process of death. The cornu would also add considerably to the pain and humiliation of crucifixion.

In 1968, archaeologists discovered at Giv'at ha-Mivtar in northeast Jerusalem the remains of one Jehohanan, who had been crucified in the 1st century. The remains included a heel bone with a nail driven through it from the side. The tip of the nail was bent, perhaps because of striking a knot in the upright beam, which prevented it being extracted from the foot. A first inaccurate account of the length of the nail led some to believe that it had been driven through both heels, suggesting that the man had been placed in a sort of sidesaddle position, but the true length of the nail, 11.5 centimeters (4.53 inches), suggests instead that in this case of crucifixion the heels were nailed to opposite sides of the upright.

 

Cause of death

 

The length of time required to reach death could range from a matter of hours to a number of days, depending on exact methods, the prior health of the condemned, and environmental circumstances. Death could result from any combination of causes, including blood loss, hypovolemic shock, or sepsis following infection, caused by the scourging that sometimes preceded the crucifixion, or by the process of being nailed itself, or eventual dehydration.

A theory attributed to Pierre Barbet holds that, when the whole body weight was supported by the stretched arms, the typical cause of death was asphyxiation. He conjectured that the condemned would have severe difficulty inhaling, due to hyper-expansion of the chest muscles and lungs. The condemned would therefore have to draw himself up by his arms, leading to exhaustion, or have his feet supported by tying or by a wood block. When no longer able to lift himself, the condemned would die within a few minutes. Experiments by Frederick Zugibe have, however, revealed that, when suspended with arms at 60° to 70° from the vertical, test subjects had no difficulty breathing, only rapidly increasing discomfort and pain, which is consonant with the Roman use of crucifixion as a prolonged, agonizing death. Legs were often broken to hasten death through severe traumatic shock and fat embolism.

 

Survival

 

Since death does not follow immediately on crucifixion, survival after a short period of crucifixion is possible, as in the case of those who choose each year as a devotional practice to be non-lethally crucified.

There is an ancient record of one person who survived a crucifixion that was intended to be lethal, but that was interrupted. Josephus recounts: "I saw many captives crucified, and remembered three of them as my former acquaintance. I was very sorry at this in my mind, and went with tears in my eyes to Titus, and told him of them; so he immediately commanded them to be taken down, and to have the greatest care taken of them, in order to their recovery; yet two of them died under the physician's hands, while the third recovered." Josephus gives no details of the method or duration of the crucifixion of his three friends before their reprieve.

 

Ancient crucifixion

Despite the fact that the ancient Jewish historian Josephus, as well as other sources, refers to the crucifixion of thousands of people by the Romans, there is only a single archaeological discovery of a crucified body dating back to the Roman Empire around the time of Jesus. This was discovered in Jerusalem in 1968. It is not necessarily surprising that there is only one such discovery, because a crucified body was usually left to decay on the cross and therefore would not be preserved. The only reason these archaeological remains were preserved was because family members gave this particular individual a customary burial.

The remains were found accidentally in an ossuary with the crucified man’s name on it, 'Yehohanan, the son of Hagakol'. Nicu Haas, an anthropologist at the Hebrew University Medical School in Jerusalem, examined the ossuary and discovered that it contained a heel bone with a nail driven through its side, indicating that the man had been crucified. The position of the nail relative to the bone indicates that the feet had been nailed to the cross from their side, not from their front; various opinions have been proposed as to whether they were both nailed together to the front of the cross or one on the left side, one on the right side. The point of the nail had olive wood fragments on it indicating that he was crucified on a cross made of olive wood or on an olive tree. Since olive trees are not very tall, this would suggest that the condemned was crucified at eye level.

Additionally, a piece of acacia wood was located between the bones and the head of the nail, presumably to keep the condemned from freeing his foot by sliding it over the nail. His legs were found broken, possibly to hasten his death as described in John 19:31-35 . It is thought that because in Roman times iron was rare, the nails were removed from the dead body to conserve costs. According to Haas, this fact could help to explain why only one nail has been found, as the tip of the nail in question was bent in such a way that it could not be removed.

Haas had also identified a scratch on the inner surface of the right radius bone of the forearm, close to the wrist. He deduced from the form of the scratch, as well as from the intact wrist bones, that a nail had been driven into the forearm at that position. However, much of Haas' findings have been challenged. The scratches in the wrist area were determined to be non-traumatic and, therefore, not evidence of crucifixion. A later reexamination of the heel bone revealed that the two heels were not nailed together, but nailed separately to either side of the upright post of the cross.

 

Crucifixion today

Theoretically, crucifixion is still one of the Hadd punishments in the Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran's Islamic Criminal Law, Article 195), although it is not actually applied[citation needed] and there is no example of using it. If a crucified person were to survive three days of crucifixion, that person would be allowed to live. Execution by hanging is described as follows: "In execution by hanging, the prisoner will be hung on a hanging truss which should look like a cross, while his (her) back is toward the cross, and (s)he faces the direction of Mecca [in Saudi Arabia], and his (her) legs are vertical and distant from the ground."

Sudan's penal code, based upon the government's interpretation of Shari'a, includes execution followed by crucifixion as a penalty. When, in 2002, 88 people were sentenced to execution, Amnesty International speculated that they could be executed by either hanging or crucifixion. The accused were convicted of crimes relating to murder, armed robbery, and participating in ethnic clashes in Southern Darfur that killed at least 10 people, but Amnesty International believes that the convicted were tortured and did not receive a fair trial and adequate legal representation.

In the 50th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (1994), local bishops reported several cases of crucifixion of Christian priests.[citation needed]

The human rights group Karen Women Organization documented a case of Tatmadaw forces crucifying several Karen villagers in 2000 in the Dooplaya District in Burma's Kayin State.

The crucifixion of a nun in Romania made news in 2005. 23 year-old Maricica Irina Cornici was believed to be possessed by the devil. Father Daniel, the superior of the Romanian Orthodox monastery who ordered the crucifixion, did not understand why journalists were making a fuss over the story, claiming that "Exorcism is a common practice in the heart of the Romanian Orthodox church and my methods are not at all unknown to other priests." Father Daniel and four nuns were charged with imprisonment leading to death.

On 23 November 2009 in Saudi Arabia, a 22-year-old man was sentenced to beheading and posthumous crucifixion, by tying his beheaded body to wooden beams to be displayed to the public after the beheading. The man was convicted of and admitted to abducting and raping five children, aged between 3 and 7 years, whom he left out in the desert to die.

 

Last Words Jesus Spoke

 

THE FIRST WORD

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."

Gospel of Luke 23:34

 

Jesus says this first word only in the Gospel of Luke, just after he was crucified by the soldiers on Golgotha, with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. The timing of this suggests that Jesus asks his Father to primarily forgive his enemies - Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin; Pontius Pilate and Herod; and the soldiers who have scourged him, mocked him, tortured him, and who have just nailed him to the cross. But could this not also apply to his Apostles and companions who have deserted him, to Peter who has denied him three times, to the fickle crowd, who only days before praised him on his entrance to Jerusalem, and then days later chose him over Barabbas to be crucified? Could this not also apply to us, who daily forget him in our lives?

 

Does he react angrily? No, he asks his Father to forgive them, because they are ignorant! At the height of his physical suffering, his Divine love prevails and He asks His Father to forgive his enemies.

 

Right up to his final hours on earth, Jesus preaches forgiveness. He teaches forgiveness in the Lord's prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us" (Matthew 6:12 ). When asked by Peter, how many times should we forgive someone, Jesus answers seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22 ). At the Last Supper, Jesus explains his crucifixion to his Apostles when he tells them to drink of the cup: "Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:27-28 ). He forgives the paralytic at Capernaum (Mark 2:5 ), and the adulteress caught in the act and about to be stoned (John 8:1-11 ). And even following his Resurrection, his first act is to commission his disciples to forgive: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (John 20:22-23 ).

 

 

 

THE SECOND WORD

"Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

Gospel of Luke 23:43

 

Now it is not just the religious leaders or the soldiers that mock Jesus, but even one of the criminals, a downward progression of mockery. But the criminal on the right speaks up for Jesus, explaining the two criminals are receiving their just due, and then pointing to Jesus, says, "this man has done nothing wrong." Then, turning to Jesus, he asks, "Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom" (Luke 23:42 ). What wonderful faith this repentant sinner had in Jesus - far more than the doubting Thomas, one of his own Apostles. Ignoring his own suffering, Jesus mercifully responds with His second word.

 

The second word again is about forgiveness, this time directed to a sinner. Just as the first word, this Biblical expression again is found only in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus shows his Divinity by opening heaven for a repentant sinner - such generosity to a man that only asked to be remembered!

 

 

 

THE THIRD WORD

"Jesus said to his mother: "Woman, this is your son".

Then he said to the disciple: "This is your mother."

Gospel of John 19:26-27

 

Jesus and Mary are together again, at the beginning of his ministry in Cana and now at the end of his public ministry at the foot of the Cross. What sorrow must fill her heart, to see her Son mocked, tortured, and now just crucified. Once again, a sword pierces Mary's soul, the sword predicted by Simeon at the Temple (Luke 2:35 ) . There are four at the foot of the cross, Mary his Mother, John, the disciple whom he loved, Mary of Cleopas, his mother's sister, and Mary Magdalene. His third word is addressed to Mary and John, the only eye-witness of the Gospel writers.

 

But again Jesus rises above the occasion, and his concerns are for the ones that love him. The good son that He is, Jesus is concerned about taking care of his mother. In fact, this passage offers proof that Jesus was the only child of Mary, because if he did have brothers or sisters, they would have provided for her. But Jesus looks to John to care for her.

 

St. Joseph is noticeably absent. The historic paintings, such as Tondo-doni by Michelangelo and The Holy Family by Raphael, suggest Joseph was a considerably older man. St. Joseph had probably died by the time of the crucifixion, or else he would have been the one to take care of Mary. Early Christian traditions and the second-century apocryphal Protoevangelium of James held that Joseph was a widower, and his children by his former wife were the "brothers and sisters of Jesus."

 

Another striking phrase indicating Jesus was an only child is Mark 6:3 , referring to Jesus: "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?" Now if James, Joses and Judas and Simon were also natural sons of Mary, Jesus would not have been called the "son of Mary," but rather "one of the sons of Mary."

 

 

 

THE FOURTH WORD

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34

 

This is the only expression of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Both Gospels relate that it was in the ninth hour, after 3 hours of darkness, that Jesus cried out this fourth word. The ninth hour was three o'clock in Palestine. Just after He speaks, Mark relates with a horrible sense of finality, "And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last" (Mark 15:37 ).

 

One is struck by the anguished tone of this expression compared to the first three words of Jesus. This cry is from the painful heart of the human Jesus who must feel deserted by His Father and the Holy Spirit, not to mention his earthly companions the Apostles. As if to emphasize his loneliness, Mark even has his loved ones "looking from afar," not close to him as in the Gospel of John. Jesus feels separated from his Father. He is now all alone, and he must face death by himself.

 

But is not this exactly what happens to all of us when we die? We too will be all alone at the time of death! Jesus completely lives the human experience as we do, and by doing so, frees us from the clutches of sin.

 

His fourth Word is the opening line of Psalm 22 , and thus his cry from the Cross recalls the cry of Israel, and of all innocent persons who suffer. Psalm 22 of David made a striking prophecy of the crucifixion of the Messiah, at a time when crucifixion did not exist: "They have pierced my hands and my feet, they have numbered all my bones" (22:16-17). The Psalm continued: "they divide my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots" (22:18).

 

There can not be a more dreadful moment in the history of man as this moment. Jesus who came to save us is crucified, and He realizes the horror of what is happening and what He now is enduring. He is about to be engulfed in the raging sea of sin. Evil triumphs, as Jesus admits: "But this is your hour" (Luke 22:53 ). But it is only for a moment. The burden of all the sins of humanity for a moment overwhelm the humanity of our Jesus.

 

But does this not have to happen? Does this not have to occur if Jesus is to save us? It is in defeat of his humanity that the Divine plan of His Father and Himself will be completed. It is by His death that we are redeemed. "For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all" (l Timothy 2:5-6).

 

 

 

THE FIFTH WORD

"I thirst"

Gospel of John 19:28

 

The fifth word of Jesus is His only human expression of His physical suffering. Jesus is now in shock. The wounds inflicted upon him in the scourging, the crowning with thorns, and the nailing upon the cross are now taking their toll, especially after losing blood on the three-hour walk through the city of Jerusalem to Golgotha on the Way of the Cross. Systematic studies of the Shroud of Turin, as reported by Gerald O'Collins inInterpreting Jesus, indicate the passion of Jesus was far worse than one could imagine. The Shroud has been exhaustively studied by every possible scientific maneuver, and the scientific burden of proof is now on those who do not accept the Shroud as the burial cloth of Jesus.

 

"He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross,

so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness.

By his wounds you have been healed" (l Peter 2:24).

 

 

 

THE SIXTH WORD

When Jesus had received the wine, he said,

"It is finished";

and he bowed his head and handed over the spirit.

Gospel of John 19:30

 

It is now a fait accomplit. The sixth word is Jesus' recognition that his suffering is over and his task is completed. Jesus was obedient to the Father and gave his love for mankind by redeeming us with His death on the Cross.

When Jesus died, He "handed over" the Spirit.

 

Jesus remains in control to the end, and it is He who handed over his Spirit. One should not miss the double entendre here, for this may also be interpreted as His death brought forth the Holy Spirit. The Gospel of John gradually reveals the Holy Spirit. Jesus mentions living water in John 4:10-11 when he met the Samaritan woman at the well, and during the Feast of Tabernacles refers to living water as the Holy Spirit in 7:37-39. At the Last Supper, Christ announced he would ask the Father to send "another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth" (14:16-17). The word Advocate is also translated as Comforter, Helper, Paraclete, or Counselor. "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you" (14:26). The symbolism of water and the Holy Spirit become more evident in John 19:34 : "But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water." The piercing of his side fulfilled the prophecy in Zechariah 12:10 : "They will look on me whom they have pierced." The piercing of Jesus' side prefigures the Sacraments of Eucharist (blood) and Baptism (water), as well as the beginning of the Church.

 

 

 

THE SEVENTH WORD

Jesus cried out in a loud voice,

"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit":

Gospel of Luke 23:46

The seventh word of Jesus is from the Gospel of Luke, and is directed to the Father in heaven, just before He dies. Jesus recalls Psalm 31:5 - "Into thy hands I commend my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God." Luke repeatedly pleads Jesus' innocence: with Pilate (Luke 23:4 , 14-15, 22), through Dismas, the criminal (Luke 23:41 ), and immediately after His death with the centurion" "Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, "Certainly this man was innocent" (Luke 23:47 ).

 

John's Gospel relates that it was the Day of Preparation, the day before the actual Passover (Pesach in Hebrew, Pascha in Greek and Latin), that Jesus was sentenced to death (19:14) and sacrificed on the Cross (19:31). He died at the ninth hour (three o'clock in the afternoon), about the same time as the Passover lambs were slaughtered in the Temple. Christ became the Paschal or Passover Lamb, as noted by St. Paul: "For Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed" (1 Corinthians 5:7 ). The innocent Lamb was slain for our sins, so that we might be forgiven.

 

Jesus fulfilled His mission: "They are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith" (Romans 3:24-25 ). The relationship of Jesus to the Father is revealed in the Gospel of John, for He remarked, "The Father and I are one" (10:30), and again, at the Last Supper: "Do you not believe I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works" (14:10). And He can now return: "I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father" (16:28). Jesus practiced what He preached: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13 ).

 

Traditionally, these seven sayings are called words of 1. Forgiveness, 2. Salvation, 3. Relationship, 4. Abandonment, 5. Distress, 6. Triumph and 7. Reunion.

 

 

 

Who Was Present at the Cross?

 

Gospel of Matthew

According to this gospel, the various witnesses included Roman soldiers, Jewish officials, passersby who mocked Jesus, and two men crucified at the same time. The only reference to followers of Jesus is found in Matthew 27:55-56 , which says that many women were "watching from a distance", and specifically names "Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons." Unlike male followers, these women would probably have been allowed to watch without being arrested, provided that they didn't try to interfere.

 

Gospel of Mark

The account in this gospel is very similar to that in Matthew. In fact most biblical scholars believe that Matthew copied most of his account from Mark. In any case, Mark 15:40-41 also says that many women watched from a distance and specifically mentions "Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome."

 

Gospel of Luke

The author of this gospel also apparently copied most of his account of the crucifixion from Mark. The only mention of Jesus' followers is in Luke 23:49 , which says that some of them watched from a distance, but doesn't give any names.

 

Gospel of John

The account in this gospel differs considerably from the other three. It says that several women and one disciple stood "near the cross", and that Jesus spoke to them from the cross. The women are identified as Jesus' mother Mary, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clophas (or Cleophas), and Mary Magdalene. The disciple is identified only as "the disciple whom Jesus loved".

 

e take it then for granted that four women are mentioned as being present at the crucifixion of the Lord. In John we see two pairs, the unnamed women, the mother of the Lord and her sister; and the two women who are named, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. As Luke records, there were many other women, but these stand prominently out, as having been most closely associated with Him.

All the evangelists speak of the presence of the soldiers, and of the two malefactors crucified one on either side of Jesus. Matthew, Mark, and Luke draw special attention to the centurion in charge of the carrying out of the crucifixion, and they give some account of how he was impressed in the presence of the Crucified. According to Matthew he said, "Truly this was a Son of God" ; according to Mark, "Truly this Man was a Son of God", according to Luke, "Certainly this was a righteous Man." Let me at once say that there is no contradiction between Matthew and Mark on the one hand, and Luke on the other. It is almost certain that the centurion said both of these things. It is certainly conceivable that as this man watched Jesus on the cross, he gave utterance to more than one sentence, and we believe therefore that while Matthew and Mark chronicle the statement which impressed them, Luke chronicled what appealed to him, and was in perfect harmony with his whole scheme of teaching. The accounts are rather complementary than contradictory.

The presence of the chief priests is recorded by Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke making no reference to them. Matthew, Mark, and Luke refer to the scribes, elders, or rulers, comprising the Sanhedrin, while John ignores their presence.

Luke, who wanted to show the universality of the work and relation of Jesus, declares the presence of great multitudes of the people.

John alone tells us that the disciples were also there, and he only, moreover, refers to the fact of his own presence, and this in order that he may record Christ's committal of His mother to his care. Standing back and gazing out upon that mixed multitude, we notice the women, the soldiers, the malefactors, the centurion, the chief priests, the members of the Sanhedrin, the group of His own disciples, and in addition to these, the vast multitudes of people from the whole surrounding country. All sorts and conditions of men are gathered to the Cross, representative crowds, the whole scene being a picture and a prophecy of how, through all the centuries, every sort and condition would be gathered to the uplifted Cross of the Son of man.

 

Did Jesus die on a cross?

References

 

 

1- Reverand Alexander Hishop, The Two Babylons, pp. 197-205, frankly calls the cross "this pagan symbol … the Tau, the sign of the cross, the indisputable sign of Tammuz, the false messiah.

 

2- The mystic Tau of the Cladeans (Babylonians) and Egyptians - the true original form of the letter T the initial of the name of Tammuz … the Babylonian cross was the recognized emblem of Tammuz.

 

3- In the Egyptian churches the cross was a pagan symbol of life borrowed by the Christians and interpreted in the pagan manner.

 

4- Jacob Grimm, in the Deutsche Mythologie, says that the Teutonic (Germanic) tribes had their idol Thor, symbolized by a hammer, while the Roman Christians had their crux (cross).

 

5- Greek dictionaries, lexicons and other study books also declare the primary meaning of the stauros to be an upright pale, pole or stake.

 

6- The word stauros should have been translated "stake", and the verb stauroo to have been translated "impale", almost all the common versions of the Scriptures persist with the Latin Vulgates crux (cross), rendering of the Greek stauros.

 

7- Why then was the "cross" (crux) brought into the Faith? Again historical evidence points to Constantine as the one who had the major share in uniting Sun-worship and the messianic Faith.

 

8- Constantine's famous vision of "the cross superimposed on the sun", in the year 312, is usually cited. Writers, ignorant of the fact that the cross was not to be found in the New Testament Scriptures, put much emphasis on this vision as the onset of the so-called "conversion" of Constantine. But, unless Constantine had been misguided by the Gnostic Manichean half-Christians.

 

9- Constantine replaced Christianity with all the holidays, doctrines, and beliefs of ancient Pagen Rome.

 

10- Constantine's coin- it's inscription honors the pagan sun god Apollo, yet he continued to produce them evan after his "conversion", who indeed used the cross in their hybrid religion, this vision of the cross superimposed on the sun: could only be the same old cosmic religion, the astrological religion of Babylon.

 

11- "Did you know that Babylonian worship is the same way the Roman Catholics worship right down to their sacraments, idols, queen of heaven, saints, ect

 

12- The fact remains: that which Constantine saw, is nowhere to be found in scripture. We reed in the book of Johannes Geffeken, The Last Days of Greco-Roman Paginism. p.319. "that evan after 314 A.D. the coins of Constantine show an evan-armed cross as a symbol for the Sun-god." Many scholars have doubted the "conversion" of Canstantine because of the fact that he only requested to be baptized on his death-bed many years later, in the year 337.

 

13- So, if the vision of the cross impressed him, and was used as a rallying symbol, it could not have been in honor of Yahushua, because Constantine continued paying homage to the Sun-deity and to one of the Sun-deity's symbols, the cross.

 

14- This continuation of Sun-worship by Constantine is of by his persistent use of images of the Sun-deity on his coins that were issued by him up to the year 323.

 

15- Secondly, the fact of his motivation to issue his Sunday-keeping edict in the year 321, which was not done in honor of Yahushua, but was done because of the "venerable day of the Sun", allegiance to Sol Invictus.

 

16- "Cross - a universal symbol from the most remote times; it is the cosmic symbol par excellence." Other authorities also call it a sun-symbol, a Babylonian sun-symbol, an astrological Babylonian-Assyrian and heathen sun-symbol, also in the form of an encircled cross referred to as a "solar wheel", and many other varieties of crosses. Also, "the cross represents the Tree of Life". The age old fertility symbol, combining the vertical male and horizontal female principles, especially in Egypt. either as an ordinary cross, or better known in the form of the crux ansata, the Egyptian ankh (sometimes called the Tau cross), which had been carried over into our modern-day symbol of the female, well known in biology. ♀

 

17- "What could be the "tree of life" for sun-worshippers?" The "tree of good and evil"' their father the devil; Cain's father… This is the opposite of 'Yashushu'a being the tree of life in the garden...

 

18- The indisputable sign of Tammuz, the mystic Tau of the Babylonians and Egyptians, was brought into the Church chiefly because of Constantine, and has since been adored with all the homage due only to the Most High or Mighty One of Yisrael.

 

19- The protestants have for many years refrained from undue adoration of, or homage to the cross, especially in England at the time of the Puritans in the 16th - 17th centuries.

 

20- But lately this in-Scriptual symbol has been increasingly accepted in protestantism. We have previously discussed "the weeping for tammuz", and the similarity between the Easter resurrection and the return of rising Tammuz.

 

21- Tammuz was the young incarnate Sun, the Sun-divinity incarnate. This same Sun-deity, known amongst the Babylonians as Tammuz, was identified  with the Greek Adonis and with the Phoenician Adoni, all of them Sun-deities, being slain in winter, then being "wept for", and their return being celebrated by a festivity in spring, while some had it in summer - according to the myths of pagan idolatry. The evidence for its pagan origin is so convincing that The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that "the sign of the cross, represented in its simplest form by a crossing of two lines at right angles, greatly antedates, in both East and the West,

 

22- The introduction of Christianity, It goes back to a very remote period of mankind civilization. It then continues and refers to the tau cross of the pagan Egyptians. "In later times the Egyptian Christians attracted by its form, and perhaps by its symbolism, adopted it as the emblem of the cross.

 

23- Further proof of its pagan origin is the recorded evidence of the Vestal Virgins of pagan Rome having the cross hanging on a necklace, and the Egyptians doing it too, as early as the 15th century B.C.E.

 

24- Numerous other sects of India, also used the sign of the cross as a mark in their followers' heads. "The cross thus widely worshipped, or regarded as a 'sacred emblem', was the unequivocal symbol of Bacchus, the Babylonian Messiah, for he was represented with a head-band covered with crosses. "It was also the symbol of Jupiter Foederis…

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 January 2012 19:58