Crucifixion

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For other uses, see Crucifixion (disambiguation).
Crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, medieval illustration from the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (12th century)
Crucifixion of Jesus by Marco Palmezzano (Uffizi, Florence), painting ca. 1490

Crucifixion is a form of slow and painful execution in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead. It is principally known from antiquity, but remains in occasional use in some countries.

The crucifixion of Jesus is a central event in Christianity, and the crucifix is the main religious symbol for many churches.

Terminology[edit]

Ancient Greek has two verbs for crucify: ana-stauro (ἀνασταυρόω), from stauros, "stake", and apo-tumpanizo (ἀποτυμπανίζω) "crucify on a plank," [1] together with anaskolopizo (ἀνασκολοπίζω "impale"). In earlier pre-Roman Greek texts anastauro usually means "impale."[2][3][4]

New Testament Greek uses four verbs, three of them based upon stauros (σταυρός), usually translated "cross". The commonest term is stauroo (σταυρόω), "to crucify", occurring 43 times; sustauroo (συσταυρόω), "to crucify with" or "alongside" occurs five times, while anastauroo (ἀνασταυρόω), "to crucify again" occurs only once at the Epistle to the Hebrews 6:6. prospegnumi (προσπήγνυμι), "to fix or fasten to, impale, crucify" occurs only once at the Acts of the Apostles 2:23.

The English term cross derives from the Latin word crux.[5] The Latin term crux literally means "in general, a tree, frame, or other wooden instruments of execution, on which criminals were impaled or hanged" and "in particular, a cross".[6]

The English term crucifix derives from the Latin crucifixus or cruci fixus, past participle passive of crucifigere or cruci figere, meaning "to crucify" or "to fasten to a cross".[7][8][9][10]

Details[edit]

Crucifixion of St. Peter by Caravaggio

Crucifixion was often performed to terrorize and dissuade its witnesses from perpetrating particularly heinous crimes. Victims were left on display after death as warnings to others who might attempt dissent. 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).[11]

In some cases, the condemned was forced to carry the crossbeam to the place of execution. A whole cross would weigh well over 135 kilos (300 lb), but the crossbeam would not be quite as burdensome, weighing around 45 kilos (100 lb).[12] The Roman historian Tacitus records that the city of Rome had a specific place for carrying out executions, situated outside the Esquiline Gate,[13] and had a specific area reserved for the execution of slaves by crucifixion.[14] 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."[15] Objects used in the crucifixion of criminals, such as nails, were sought as amulets with perceived medicinal qualities.[16]

While a crucifixion was an execution, it was also a humiliation, by making the condemned as vulnerable as possible. Although artists have traditionally depicted the figure on a cross with a loin cloth or a covering of the genitals, the person being crucified was usually stripped naked. Writings by Seneca the Younger state some victims suffered a stick forced upwards through their groin.[17][18] Despite its frequent use by the Romans, the horrors of crucifixion did not escape mention by some of their eminent orators. Cicero for example, described crucifixion as "a most cruel and disgusting punishment",[19] 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."[20]

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.[21] This act hastened the death of the person but was also meant to deter those who observed the crucifixion from committing offenses.[21]

Cross shape[edit]

Crux simplex, a simple wooden stake. Image by Justus Lipsius
The crucifixion of Jesus. Image by Justus Lipsius[22]

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;[23] 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; some impale their private parts; others stretch out their arms on the gibbet."[17]

At times the gibbet was only one vertical stake, called in Latin crux simplex.[24] 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).[25] Jehovah's Witnesses argue that Jesus was crucified on a crux simplex, and that the crux immissa was an invention of Emperor Constantine.[26] Other forms were in the shape of the letters X and Y. Apparently the most ancient image of a Roman crucifixion is a graffito found in a taberna (hostel for wayfarers) in Puteoli, dating to the time of Trajan or Hadrian (late first century to early second century AD). The cross is the T shape. An inscription over the individual's left shoulder identifies her as "Alkimila." [27]

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 AD on, describe it as shaped like the letter T (the Greek letter tau)[28] or as composed of an upright and a transverse beam, sometimes with a small projection in the upright.[29][30]

Nail placement[edit]

Crucifixion window by Henry E. Sharp, 1872, in St. Matthew's German Evangelical Lutheran Church, Charleston, South Carolina

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,[31] 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).[32]

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).[33]

An experiment that was the subject of a documentary on the National Geographic Channel's Quest For Truth: The Crucifixion,[34] showed that nailed feet provided enough support for the body, and that the hands could have been merely tied. 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.[35] Ancient sources also mention the sedile, a small seat attached to the front of the cross, about halfway down,[36] which could have served a similar purpose.

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 cm (4.53 inches), suggests instead that in this case of crucifixion the heels were nailed to opposite sides of the upright.[37][38][39] The skeleton from Giv'at ha-Mivtar is currently the only recovered example of ancient crucifixion in the archaeological record.[40]

Cause of death[edit]

The length of time required to reach death could range from hours to days depending on method, the victim's health, and the environment. A literature review by Maslen and Mitchell[41] identified scholarly support for several possible causes of death: cardiac rupture,[42] heart failure,[43] hypovolemic shock,[44] acidosis,[45] asphyxia,[46] arrhythmia,[47] and pulmonary embolism.[48] Death could result from any combination of those factors or from other causes, including sepsis following infection due to the wounds caused by the nails or by the scourging that often preceded crucifixion, eventual dehydration, or animal predation.[49][50]

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.[51] He wrote 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. Some scholars, including Frederick Zugibe, posit other causes of death. Zugibe suspended test subjects with their arms at 60° to 70° from the vertical. The test subjects had no difficulty breathing during experiments, but did suffer rapidly increasing pain,[52][53] which is consistent with the Roman use of crucifixion to achieve a prolonged, agonizing death.

Survival[edit]

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."[54] Josephus gives no details of the method or duration of the crucifixion of his three friends before their reprieve.

Ancient practice[edit]

Although 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, 'Jehohanan, the son of Hagakol'.[55][56] 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 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. For instance, it was subsequently determined that the scratches in the wrist area were non-traumatic — and, therefore, not evidence of crucifixion —, while reexamination of the heel bone revealed that the two heels were not nailed together, but rather separately to either side of the upright post of the cross.[57]

History and religious texts[edit]

Pre-Roman states[edit]

The Orpheos Bakkikos crucifixion, hematite seal reflecting ancient Greek themes, considered to be from the third or fourth century AD,[58][59] although one source suggests that it is from the early Christian era.[60] Formerly housed at the Altes Museum in Berlin, but lost or destroyed during World War II.

Crucifixion (or impalement), in one form or another, was used by Persians, Carthaginians, Macedonians, and Romans. Death was often hastened. "The attending Roman guards could only leave the site after the victim had died, and were known to precipitate death by means of deliberate fracturing of the tibia and/or fibula, spear stab wounds into the heart, sharp blows to the front of the chest, or a smoking fire built at the foot of the cross to asphyxiate the victim."[50]

The Greeks were generally opposed to performing crucifixions.[61] However, in his Histories, ix.120–122, the Greek writer Herodotus describes the execution of a Persian general at the hands of Athenians in about 479 BC: "They nailed him to a plank and hung him up ... this Artayctes who suffered death by crucifixion."[62] The Commentary on Herodotus by How and Wells remarks: "They crucified him with hands and feet stretched out and nailed to cross-pieces; cf. vii.33. This barbarity, unusual on the part of Greeks, may be explained by the enormity of the outrage or by Athenian deference to local feeling."[63]

Some Christian theologians, beginning with Paul of Tarsus writing in Galatians 3:13, have interpreted an allusion to crucifixion in Deuteronomy 21:22-23. This reference is to being hanged from a tree, and may be associated with lynching or traditional hanging. However, Rabbinic law limited capital punishment to just 4 methods of execution: stoning, burning, strangulation, and decapitation, while the passage in Deuteronomy was interpreted as an obligation to hang the corpse on a tree as a form of deterrence.[64] The fragmentary Aramaic Testament of Levi (DSS 4Q541) interprets in column 6: "God ... (partially legible)-will set ... right errors. ... (partially legible)-He will judge ... revealed sins. Investigate and seek and know how Jonah wept. Thus, you shall not destroy the weak by wasting away or by ... (partially legible)-crucifixion ... Let not the nail touch him."[65]

Alexander the Great is reputed to have crucified 2,000 survivors from his siege of the Phoenician city of Tyre,[66] as well as the doctor who unsuccessfully treated Alexander's friend Hephaestion. Some historians have also conjectured that Alexander crucified Callisthenes, his official historian and biographer, for objecting to Alexander's adoption of the Persian ceremony of royal adoration.

In Carthage, crucifixion was an established mode of execution, which could even be imposed on generals for suffering a major defeat.[67][68][69]

The Jewish king Alexander Jannaeus crucified 800 rebels, said to be Pharisees, in the middle of Jerusalem.[70][71]

Ancient Rome[edit]

The hypothesis that the Ancient Roman custom of crucifixion may have developed out of a primitive custom of arbori suspendere—hanging on an arbor infelix ("inauspicious tree") dedicated to the gods of the nether world—is rejected by William A. Oldfather, who shows that this form of execution (the supplicium more maiorum, punishment in accordance with the custom of our ancestors) consisted of suspending someone from a tree, not dedicated to any particular gods, and flogging him to death.[72] Tertullian mentions a 1st-century AD case in which trees were used for crucifixion,[73] but Seneca the Younger earlier used the phrase infelix lignum (unfortunate wood) for the transom ("patibulum") or the whole cross.[74] Plautus and Plutarch are the two main sources for accounts of criminals carrying their own patibulum to the upright stipes.[75]

Crucifix, sculpture by Michelangelo, Santo Spirito Church, Florence, Italy (ca. 1494)

Crucifixion was used for slaves, pirates, and enemies of the state. It was considered a most shameful and disgraceful way to die. Condemned Roman citizens were usually exempt from crucifixion except for major crimes against the state, such as high treason.[citation needed]

Notorious mass crucifixions followed the Third Servile War in 73–71 BC (the slave rebellion under Spartacus), other Roman civil wars in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Crassus crucified 6,000 of Spartacus' followers hunted down and captured after his defeat in battle.[76] Josephus tells a story of the Romans crucifying people along the walls of Jerusalem. He also says that the Roman soldiers would amuse themselves by crucifying criminals in different positions. In Roman-style crucifixion, the condemned could take up to a few days to die.

Under ancient Roman penal practice, crucifixion was also a means of exhibiting the criminal's low social status. It was the most dishonourable death imaginable, originally reserved for slaves, hence still called "supplicium servile" by Seneca, later extended to citizens of the lower classes (humiliores).[citation needed] The citizen class of Roman society were almost never subject to capital punishments; instead, they were fined or exiled. Josephus mentions Jews of high rank who were crucified, but this was to point out that their status had been taken away from them. The Romans often broke the prisoner's legs to hasten death and usually forbade burial.[citation needed]

A cruel prelude was occasionally scourging, which would cause the condemned to lose a large amount of blood, and approach a state of shock. The convict then usually had to carry the horizontal beam (patibulum in Latin) to the place of execution, but not necessarily the whole cross.[citation needed] Crucifixion was typically carried out by specialized teams, consisting of a commanding centurion and four soldiers.[citation needed] When it was done in an established place of execution, the vertical beam (stipes) could even be permanently embedded in the ground.[citation needed] The condemned was usually stripped naked—all the New Testament gospels describe soldiers gambling for the robes of Jesus.[77]

The 'nails' were tapered iron spikes approximately 5 to 7 inches (13 to 18 cm) long, with a square shaft 38 inch (10 mm) across. In some cases, the nails were gathered afterward and used as healing amulets.

Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, abolished crucifixion in the Roman Empire in 337 out of veneration for Jesus Christ, its most famous victim.[78][79][80]

In Islam[edit]

The Qur'an mentions crucifixion several times. In Surah 7:124, Fir'awn (i.e. the Pharaoh of Exodus) says that he will crucify his chief wizards.[81] Also, Surah 12:41 mentions Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) prophesying that the king (the current ruler of the land he was stranded in) would crucify one of his prisoners.[82]

'And the wizards fell down prostrate, crying: "We believe in the Lord of the Worlds, The Lord of Musa and Harun". Firaun said: "Ye believe in Him before I give you leave! Lo! this is the plot that ye have plotted in the city that ye may drive its people hence. But ye shall come to know! Surely I shall have your hands and feet cut off upon alternate sides. Then I shall crucify you every one."' Surah 7:120-124[81]
'O my two fellow-prisoners! As for one of you, he will pour out wine for his lord to drink; and as for the other, he will be crucified so that the birds will eat from his head. Thus is the case judged concerning which ye did inquire.' Surah 12:41[82]

In Surah 5:33, The Qur'an mentions crucifixion as a form of punishment. There are four different punishments for the different severities of crime. Crucifixion is the punishment for the robber who kills his victim after robbing him.

'The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter.' Surah 5:33[83]

Crucifixion was in use by the Umayyads.[84]

Japan[edit]

Bakumatsu or early Meiji period crucifixion (c. 1865–1868), Yokohama, Japan. A 25-year-old servant, Sokichi, was executed by crucifixion for murdering his employer's son during the course of a robbery. He was affixed by tying, rather than nailing, to a stake with two cross-pieces.[85][86]

Crucifixion was introduced into Japan during the Sengoku period (1467–1573), after a 350-year period with no capital punishment.[87] It is believed to have been suggested to the Japanese by the introduction of Christianity into the region.[87] Known in Japanese as haritsuke (?), crucifixion was used in Japan before and during the Tokugawa Shogunate. Several related crucifixion techniques were used. Petra Schmidt, in "Capital Punishment in Japan", writes:[88]

Execution by crucifixion included, first of all, hikimawashi (i.e, being paraded about town on horseback); then the unfortunate was tied to a cross made from one vertical and two horizontal poles. The cross was raised, the convict speared several times from two sides, and eventually killed with a final thrust through the throat. The corpse was left on the cross for three days. If one condemned to crucifixion died in prison, his body was pickled and the punishment executed on the dead body. Under Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of the great 16th century unifiers, crucifixion upside down (i.e, sakasaharitsuke) was frequently used. Water crucifixion (mizuharitsuke) awaited mostly Christians: a cross was raised at low tide; when the high tide came, the convict was submerged under water up to the head, prolonging death for many days

In 1597 twenty-six Christians were nailed to crosses at Nagasaki, Japan. Among those executed were Saints Paulo Miki, Philip of Jesus and Pedro Bautista, a Spanish Franciscan who had worked about ten years in the Philippines. The executions marked the beginning of a long history of persecution of Christianity in Japan, which continued until its decriminalization in 1871.

Crucifixion was used as a punishment for prisoners of war during World War II. Ringer Edwards, an Australian prisoner of war, was crucified for killing cattle, along with two others. He survived 63 hours before being let down.

Burma[edit]

In Burma, crucifixion was a central element in several execution rituals. Felix Carey, missionary in Burma in 1806–12[89] wrote the following:[90]

Four or five persons, after being nailed through their hands and feet to a scaffold, had first their tongues cut out, then their mouths slit open from ear to ear, then their ears cut off, and finally their bellies ripped open.

Six people were crucified in the following manner: their hands and feet nailed to a scaffold; then their eyes were extracted with a blunt hook; and in this condition they were left to expire; two died in the course of four days ; the rest were liberated, but died of mortification on the sixth or seventh day.

Four persons were crucified, viz. not nailed but tied with their hands and feet stretched out at full length, in an erect posture. In this posture they were to remain till death; every thing they wished to eat was ordered them with a view to prolong their lives and misery. In cases like this, the legs and feet of the criminals begin to swell and mortify at the expiration of three or four days; some are said to live in this state for a fortnight, and expire at last from fatigue and mortification. Those which I saw,were liberated at the end of three or four days.

Europe[edit]

During World War I, there were persistent rumors that German soldiers had crucified a Canadian soldier on a tree or barn door with bayonets or combat knives. The event was initially reported in 1915 by Private George Barrie of the 1st Canadian Division. Two investigations, one a post-war official investigation, and the other an independent investigation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, concluded that there was no evidence to support the story.[91] However, British documentary maker Iain Overton in 2001 published an article claiming that the story was true, identifying the soldier as Harry Band.[91][92] Overton's article was the basis for a 2002 episode of the Channel 4 documentary show Secret History.[93]

It has been reported that crucifixion was used in several cases against the German civil population of East Prussia when it was occupied by Soviet forces at the end of the Second World War.[94]

Contemporary use[edit]

Crucifixion is still used as a rare method of execution in some countries. The punishment of crucifixion (șalb) imposed in Islamic law is variously interpreted as exposure of the body after execution, crucifixion followed by stabbing in the chest, or crucifixion for three days, survivors of which are allowed to live.[95]

Burma[edit]

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.[96][97]

Iran[edit]

Theoretically, crucifixion is still one of the Hadd punishments in Iran.[98][99] although it is not actually applied and there is no example of its use.[citation needed] If a crucified person were to survive three days of crucifixion, that person would be allowed to live.[100] 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."[101]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

Several people have been executed by crucifixion in Saudi Arabia in the 2000s, although on occasion they were first beheaded and then crucified. Most recently, in March 2013, a robber was set to be executed by being crucified for three days.[102] However, the method was changed.[103]

Sudan[edit]

Sudan's penal code, based upon the government's interpretation of shari'a,[104][105][106] includes execution followed by crucifixion as a penalty. When, in 2002, 88 people were sentenced to death for crimes relating to murder, armed robbery, and participating in ethnic clashes, Amnesty International wrote that they could be executed by either hanging or crucifixion.[107]

Syria[edit]

On 30 April 2014 Islamic extremists carried out a total of seven public executions in Raqqa, northern Syria.[108] The pictures, originally posted to Twitter by a student at Oxford University, were retweeted by a Twitter account owned by a known member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) causing major media outlets to incorrectly attribute the crucifixions to the militant group.[109] In most of these cases of "crucifixion" the victims are shot first then the bodies displayed[110] but there have also been reports of "crucifixion" preceding being shot or decapitated[111] as well as a case where a man was said to have been "crucified alive for eight hours" with no indication of whether he died.[110]

As a devotional practice[edit]

Devotional crucifixion in San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines, Easter 2006

The Catholic Church frowns on self-crucifixion as a form of devotion: "Penitential practices leading to self-crucifixion with nails are not to be encouraged."[112] Nevertheless the practice is not unknown.

In the Philippines, some Catholics are voluntarily, non-lethally crucified for a limited time on Good Friday to imitate the suffering of Jesus Christ. Nails are driven through the palm of the hand, a step is used to stand on, and the period is short. Rolando del Campo, a carpenter in Pampanga, vowed to be crucified every Good Friday for 15 years if God would carry his wife through a difficult childbirth.[113] In San Pedro Cutud, devotee Ruben Enaje has been crucified 27 times during Passion Week celebrations.[114] Although the country's dominant Catholic Church disapproves of the ritual, the Filipino government says it cannot stop the devotees from crucifying and whipping themselves; while the health department insists that those taking part in the rituals should have tetanus shots and that the nails used to pierce their limbs should be sterilized.[115]

In other cases, a crucifixion is only simulated within a passion play, as in the ceremonial re-enactment that has been performed yearly in the town of Iztapalapa, on the outskirts of Mexico City, since 1833,[116] and in the more famous Oberammergau Passion Play. Also, since at least the mid-19th century, a group of flagellants in New Mexico, called Hermanos de Luz ("Brothers of Light"), have annually conducted reenactments of Jesus Christ's crucifixion during Holy Week, in which a penitent is tied—but not nailed—to a cross.[citation needed]

Famous crucifixions[edit]

  • The crucifixion of Jesus: Jesus of Nazareth's death by crucifixion by Pontius Pilate (most likely in AD 30 or 33), recounted in the four first-century canonical Gospels, is referred to repeatedly as something well known in the earlier letters of Saint Paul, for instance, five times in his First Letter to the Corinthians, written in AD 57 (1:13, 1:18, 1:23, 2:2, 2:8). Pilate was the Roman governor of Iudaea province at the time, and he is explicitly linked with the condemnation of Jesus not only by the Gospels but also by Tacitus,[117] (see Responsibility for the death of Jesus for details). The civil charge was a claim to be King of the Jews.
  • The rebel slaves of the Third Servile War: Between 73 BC and 71 BC a band of slaves, eventually numbering about 120,000, under the (at least partial) leadership of Spartacus were in open revolt against the Roman republic. The rebellion was eventually crushed and, while Spartacus himself most likely died in the final battle of the revolt, approximately 6,000 of his followers were crucified along the 200 km Appian Way between Capua and Rome as a warning to any other would-be rebels.
  • Saint Peter, Christian apostle: according to tradition, Peter was crucified upside-down at his own request (hence the Cross of St. Peter), because he did not feel worthy enough to die the same way as Jesus.
  • Saint Andrew, Christian apostle and Saint Peter's brother: crucified, according to tradition, on an X-shaped cross, hence the name St. Andrew's Cross
  • Simeon of Jerusalem, 2nd Bishop of Jerusalem, crucified in either 106 or 107
  • Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln was an English boy whose disappearance in 1255 prompted a blood libel against the local Jews. A Jewish man was tortured until he confessed to killing the child. The story of Little Saint Hugh became well known through medieval ballad poetry.
  • Mani, the founder of Manicheanism, was depicted as having died by crucifixion.
  • Archbishop Joachim of Nizhny Novgorod: reportedly crucified upside down, on the Royal Doors of the Cathedral in Sevastopol, Russia in 1920
  • Wilgefortis was venerated as a saint and represented as a crucified woman, however her legend comes from a misinterpretation of the full-clothed crucifix of Lucca.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ LSJ apotumpanizo ἀποτυμπα^ν-ίζω (later ἀποτύμπα^ν-τυπ- UPZ119 (2nd century BC), POxy.1798.1.7), A. crucify on a plank, D.8.61,9.61:—Pass., Lys.13.56, D.19.137, Arist. Rh. 1383a5, Beros. ap. J.Ap.1.20. 2. generally, destroy, Plu.2.1049d.
  2. ^ LSJ anastauro ἀνασταυρ-όω , = foreg., Hdt.3.125, 6.30, al.; identical with ἀνασκολοπίζω, 9.78:—Pass., Th. 1.110, Pl.Grg.473c. II. in Rom. times, affix to a cross, crucify, Plb. 1.11.5, al., Plu.Fab.6, al. 2. crucify afresh, Ep.Hebr.6.6.
  3. ^ Plutarch Fabius Maximus 6.3 "Hannibal now perceived the mistake in his position, and its peril, and crucified the native guides who were responsible for it."
  4. ^ Polybius 1.11.5 [5] Καρχηδόνιοι δὲ τὸν μὲν στρατηγὸν αὐτῶν ἀνεσταύρωσαν, νομίσαντες αὐτὸν ἀβούλως, ἅμα δ᾽ ἀνάνδρως προέσθαι τὴν ἀκρόπολιν: Historiae. Polybius. Theodorus Büttner-Wobst after L. Dindorf. Leipzig. Teubner. 1893-.
  5. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary, "cross"". Etymonline.com. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  6. ^ Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary: crux, ŭcis, f. (m., Enn. ap. Non. p. 195, 13; Gracch. ap. Fest. s. v. masculino, p. 150, 24, and 151, 12 Müll.) [perh. kindred with circus]. I. Lit. A. In gen., a tree, frame, or other wooden instruments of execution, on which criminals were impaled or hanged, Sen. Prov. 3, 10; Cic. Rab. Perd. 3, 10 sqq.— B. In partic., a cross, Ter. And. 3, 5, 15; Cic. Verr. 2, 1, 3, § 7; 2, 1, 4, § 9; id. Pis. 18, 42; id. Fin. 5, 30, 92; Quint. 4, 2, 17; Tac. A. 15, 44; Hor. S. 1, 3, 82; 2, 7, 47; id. Ep. 1, 16, 48 et saep.: "dignus fuit qui malo cruce periret, Gracch. ap. Fest. l. l.: pendula," the pole of a carriage, Stat. S. 4, 3, 28.
  7. ^ "Collins English Dictionary, "crucify"". Collins. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "Compact Oxford English Dictionary, "crucify"". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  9. ^ "Webster New World College Dictionary, "crucify"". http://www.yourdictionary.com/. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  10. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary, "crucify"". Etymonline.com. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  11. ^ Seneca the Younger wrote: "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; some impale their private parts; others stretch out their arms on the gibbet" (Dialogue "To Marcia on Consolation", 6.20.3).
  12. ^ Ball, DA (1989). "The crucifixion and death of a man called Jesus". Journal of the Mississippi State Medical Association 30 (3): 77–83. 
  13. ^ "Annales 2:32.2". Thelatinlibrary.com. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  14. ^ "Annales 15:60.1". Thelatinlibrary.com. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  15. ^ Jewish War V.II
  16. ^ [Mishna, Shabbath 6.10: see David W. Chapman, Ancient Jewish and Christian Perceptions of Crucifixion (Mohn Siebeck 2008 ISBN 978-31-6149579-3), p. 182
  17. ^ a b Seneca, Dialogue "To Marcia on Consolation", in Moral Essays, 6.20.3, trans. John W. Basore, The Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1946) 2:69
  18. ^ "Of Consolation: To Marcia date=Aug 2011". wikisource.org. Wikisource. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  19. ^ Licona, Michael (2010). The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. InterVarsity Press,. p. 304. ISBN 978-0-8308-2719-0. OCLC 620836940. 
  20. ^ Conway, Colleen M. (2008). Behold the Man: Jesus and Greco-Roman Masculinity. Oxford University Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-19-532532-4.  (citing Cicero, pro Rabirio Perduellionis Reo 5.16).
  21. ^ a b Koskenniemi, Erkki; Kirsi Nisula and Jorma Toppari (2005). "Wine Mixed with Myrrh (Mark 15.23) and Crurifragium (John 19.31-32): Two Details of the Passion Narratives". Journal for the Study of the New Testament (SAGE Publications) 27 (4): 379–391. doi:10.1177/0142064X05055745. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  22. ^ Justus Lipsius: De cruce, p. 47
  23. ^ Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 5.11.1
  24. ^ William Barclay, The Apostles' Creed 1998 ISBN 978-0-664-25826-9, p. 78
  25. ^ "The ... oldest depiction of a crucifixion ... was uncovered by archaeologists more than a century ago on the Palatine Hill in Rome. It is a second-century graffiti scratched into a wall that was part of the imperial palace complex. It includes a caption — not by a Christian, but by someone taunting and deriding Christians and the crucifixions they underwent. It shows crude stick-figures of a boy reverencing his "God," who has the head of a jackass and is upon a cross with arms spread wide and with hands nailed to the crossbeam. Here we have a Roman sketch of a Roman crucifixion, and it is in the traditional cross shape" (Clayton F. Bower, Jr: Cross or Torture Stake?). Some second-century writers took it for granted that a crucified person would have his or her arms stretched out, not connected to a single stake: Lucian speaks of Prometheus as crucified "above the ravine with his hands outstretched" and explains that the letter T (the Greek letter tau) was looked upon as an unlucky letter or sign (similar to the way the number thirteen is looked upon today as an unlucky number), saying that the letter got its "evil significance" because of the "evil instrument" which had that shape, an instrument which tyrants hung men on (ibidem).
  26. ^ "Why do Watch Tower publications show Jesus on a stake with hands over his head instead of on the traditional cross?". Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. 
  27. ^ Cook, John Granger (2012). "Crucifixion as Spectacle in Roman Campania". Novum Testamentum 54 (1): 60–100, esp. 92–98. 
  28. ^ Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter 9. The document no doubt belongs to the end of the first or beginning of the second century.[1]
  29. ^ "The very form of the cross, too, has five extremities, two in length, two in breadth, and one in the middle, on which [last] the person rests who is fixed by the nails" (Irenaeus (c. 130–202), Adversus Haereses II, xxiv, 4 [2]).
  30. ^ Justin Martyr (c. 100-165) Dialogue with Trypho "Chapter XC - The stretched-out hands of Moses signified beforehand the cross",
    "Chapter XCI" "For the one beam is placed upright, from which the highest extremity is raised up into a horn, when the other beam is fitted on to it, and the ends appear on both sides as horns joined on to the one horn."
    "Chapter CXI" "stretching out his hands, remained till evening on the hill, his hands being supported; and this reveals a type of no other thing than of the cross"
  31. ^ In the Iliad XX, 478-480, a spear-point is said to have pierced the χεῖρ "where the sinews of the elbow join" (ἵνα τε ξενέχουσι τένοντες / ἀγκῶνος, τῇ τόν γε φίλης διὰ χειρὸς ἔπειρεν / αἰχμῇ χακλκείῃ).
  32. ^ Liddell and Scott on χείρ. Cf. The Science of the Crucifixion.
  33. ^ Wynne-Jones, Jonathan (16 March 2008). "Why the BBC thinks Christ did not die this way". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-03-16. 
  34. ^ "a brief news article". MSNBC. 2005-03-25. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  35. ^ Viladesau, Richard (2006). The beauty of the cross: the passion of Christ in theology and the arts, from the catacombs to the eve of the Renaissance. Oxford University Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-19-518811-0. OCLC 58791208. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  36. ^ "Crucifixion". Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  37. ^ "Some Notes on Crucifixion" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  38. ^ David W. Chapman, Ancient Jewish and Christian perceptions of crucifixion (Mohr Siebeck, 2008), p. 86–89
  39. ^ "Joe Zias, Crucifixion in Antiquity — The Anthropological Evidence". Joezias.com. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  40. ^ "The Bioarchaeology of Crucifixion". PoweredbyOsteons.org. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  41. ^ Maslen, Matthew; Piers D Mitchell (April 2006). "Medical theories on the cause of death in crucifixion". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 99 (4): 185. doi:10.1258/jrsm.99.4.185. 
  42. ^ William Stroud; Sir James Young Simpson (1871). Treatise on the Physical Cause of the Death of Christ and Its Relation to the Principles and Practice of Christianity. Hamilton, Adams & Company. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  43. ^ Davis, CT (1962). "THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS. THE PASSION OF CHRIST FROM A MEDICAL POINT OF VIEW". Arizona Medicine 22: 182. 
  44. ^ Frederick T. Zugibe (30 April 2005). The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-59077-070-2. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  45. ^ Wijffels, F (2000). "Death on the cross: did the Turin Shroud once envelop a crucified body?". Br Soc Turin Shroud Newsl 52 (3). 
  46. ^ Pierre Barbet (1953). A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ as Described by a Surgeon. Kenedy. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  47. ^ Edwards, WD; Gabel WJ; Hosmer FE (1986). "On the physical cause of death of Jesus Christ". Journal of the American Medical Association 255: 1455–1463. doi:10.1001/jama.255.11.1455. 
  48. ^ Brenner, B (2005). "Did Jesus Christ die of pulmonary embolism?". J Thromb Haemost 3: 1–2. 
  49. ^ Edwards WD, Gabel WJ, Hosmer FE (March 1986). "On the physical death of Jesus Christ". JAMA 255 (11): 1455–63. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370110077025. PMID 3512867. 
  50. ^ a b Retief FP, Cilliers L (December 2003). "The history and pathology of crucifixion". South African Medical Journal 93 (12): 938–41. PMID 14750495. 
  51. ^ Columbia University page of Pierre Barbet on Crucifixion
  52. ^ Zugibe, Frederick T (1988). The cross and the shroud: a medical inquiry into the crucifixion. New York: Paragon House. ISBN 0-913729-75-2. [page needed]
  53. ^ Zugibe, Frederick T. (2005). The Crucifixion Of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry. New York: M. Evans and Company. ISBN 1-59077-070-6. [page needed]
  54. ^ The Life Of Flavius Josephus, 75
  55. ^ Haas, Nicu. "Anthropological observations on the skeletal remains from Giv'at ha-Mivtar", Israel Exploration Journal 20 (1-2), 1970: 38-59; Tzaferis, Vassilios. "Crucifixion – The Archaeological Evidence", Biblical Archaeology Review 11 (February, 1985): 44–53; Zias, Joseph. "The Crucified Man from Giv'at Ha-Mivtar: A Reappraisal", Israel Exploration Journal 35 (1), 1985: 22–27; Hengel, Martin. Crucifixion in the ancient world and the folly of the message of the cross (Augsburg Fortress, 1977). ISBN 0-8006-1268-X. See also Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome, by Donald G. Kyle p. 181, note 93
  56. ^ In the Fullness of Time, by Paul L. Maier. Books.google.com. 1997. ISBN 978-0-8254-3329-0. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  57. ^ Zias J. & Sekeles, E. (1985). "The Crucified Man from Giv'at ha-Mivtar: A Reappraisal.". Israel Exploration Journal (35). pp. 22–27. 
  58. ^ William Guthrie, Orpheus and Greek religion: a study of the Orphic movement, (Princeton University Press, 1993), page 265.
  59. ^ John Friedman, Orpheus in the Middle Ages (Syracuse University Press, 2000) page 9.
  60. ^ Carotta, Francesco; Eickenberg, Arne (October 2009). "Orpheos Bakkikos—The Missing Cross". Retrieved December 23, 2011. 
  61. ^ Stavros, Scolops (σταῦρός, σκόλοψ). The cross; encyclopedia Hellinica
  62. ^ Translation by Aubrey de Selincourt. The original, "σανίδα προσπασσαλεύσαντες, ἀνεκρέμασαν ... Τούτου δὲ τοῦ Ἀρταύκτεω τοῦ ἀνακρεμασθέντος ...", is translated by Henry Cary (Bohn's Classical Library: Herodotus Literally Translated. London, G. Bell and Sons 1917, pp. 591–592) as: "They nailed him to a plank and hoisted him aloft ... this Artayctes who was hoisted aloft".
  63. ^ W.W. How and J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1912), vol. 2, p. 336
  64. ^ See Mishnah, Sanhedrin 7:1, translated in Jacob Neusner, The Mishnah: A New Translation 591 (1988), supra note 8, at 595-96 (indicating that court ordered execution by stoning, burning, decapitation, or strangulation only)
  65. ^ Levi,Aramaic Testament of Levi 4Q541 column 6
  66. ^ Quintus Curtius Rufus, History of Alexander the Great of Macedonia 4.4.21
  67. ^ Richard A. Gabriel, Hannibal (Potomac Books 2011 ISBN 978-1-59797-766-1)
  68. ^ Henry George Liddell, A History of Rome (Oxford University Press 1855), 302
  69. ^ Robin Waterfield, Polybius. The Histories (Oxford University Press 2010 ISBN 978-0-19-953470-8), p. 23
  70. ^ Wenhua Shi, Paul's Message of the Cross As Body Language (Mohr Siebeck 2008 ISBN 978-3-16-149706-3), p. 46
  71. ^ James C. VanderKam, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible (Eerdmans 2012 ISBN 978-0-8028-6679-0), p. 110
  72. ^ "Livy I.26 and the Supplicium de More Maiorum". Penelope.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  73. ^ "Apologia, IX, 1". Grtbooks.com. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  74. ^ After quoting a poem by Maecenas that speaks of preferring life to death even when life is burdened with all the disadvantages of old age or even with acute torture ("vel acuta si sedeam cruce"), Seneca disagrees with the sentiment, saying death would be better for a crucified person hanging from the patibulum: "I should deem him most despicable had he wished to live to the point of crucifixion ... Is it worth so much to weigh down upon one's own wound, and hang stretched out from a patibulum? ... Is anyone found who, after being fastened to that accursed wood, already weakened, already deformed, swelling with ugly weals on shoulders and chest, with many reasons for dying even before getting to the cross, would wish to prolong a life-breath that is about to experience so many torments?" ("Contemptissimum putarem, si vivere vellet usque ad crucem ... Est tanti vulnus suum premere et patibulo pendere districtum ... Invenitur, qui velit adactus ad illud infelix lignum, iam debilis, iam pravus et in foedum scapularum ac pectoris tuber elisus, cui multae moriendi causae etiam citra crucem fuerant, trahere animam tot tormenta tracturam?" - Letter 101, 12-14)
  75. ^ Titus Maccius Plautus Miles gloriosus Mason Hammond, Arthur M. Mack - 1997 Page 109 , "The patibulum (in the next line) was a crossbar which the convicted criminal carried on his shoulders, with his arms fastened to it, to the place for ... Hoisted up on an upright post, the patibulum became the crossbar of the cross"
  76. ^ http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Appian/Civil_Wars/1*.html#120
  77. ^ Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:23-25
  78. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica. "Encyclopaedia Britannica Online: crucifixion". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  79. ^ Dictionary of Images and Symbols in Counselling By William Stewart 1998 ISBN 1-85302-351-5, p. 120
  80. ^ "Archaeology of the Bible". Bible-archaeology.info. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  81. ^ a b Surat Al-'A'rāf (The Heights)
  82. ^ a b Surat Yūsuf (Joseph)
  83. ^ Surat Al-Mā'idah (The Table Spread)
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  93. ^ "The Crucified Soldier". Secret History. Season 9. Episode 5. 2002-07-04. Channel 4.
  94. ^ Max Hastings, Armageddon: the Battle for Germany 1944–45, ISBN 0-330-49062-1, ISBN 978-0-330-49062-7
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  98. ^ Iran's Islamic Criminal Law, Article 195
  99. ^ The Sanctions of the Islamic Criminal Law
  100. ^ Case Study in Iranian Criminal System
  101. ^ Judicial Law on Retaliation, Stoning, Execution, Crucifixion, Hanging and Whipping, section 5, article 24
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  103. ^ AP (13 March 2013). "Saudi Arabia Reportedly Executes 7 Men Convicted of Robbery by Firing Squad Skipping Originally Planned Crucifixion". The Blaze. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  104. ^ Chicago Tribune (14 October 1988), "Moslem Code Looms in Sudan"
  105. ^ Amnesty International, Document AFR 54/21/91
  106. ^ Death Penalty Worldwide: Sudan
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  109. ^ Siegel, Jacob (30 April 2014). "Islamic Extremists Now Crucifying People in Syria—and Tweeting Out the Pictures". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 14 July 2014. CORRECTION: This story misidentified the origin of a tweet and attributed it to an ISIS member when it actually came from Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, a student at Oxford University who has no affiliation with ISIS. We regret the error. 
  110. ^ a b Almasy, Steve (29 June 2014). "Group: ISIS 'crucifies' men in public in Syrian towns". CNN. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  111. ^ "ISIS terror in and around Rojava, March-April 2014". Kurdistan Times. 13 April 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  112. ^ Directory on Popular Piety 144
  113. ^ "Man Crucifies Himself Every Good Friday". Religious Freaks. 2006-04-12. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
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  115. ^ "Boy, 15, nailed to a cross as Filipinos whip and crucify themselves in gory Good Friday ritual". Daily Mail (London). 2008-03-22. Retrieved November 6, 2010. 
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  117. ^ Annals', 15.44.

External links[edit]