Impalement or Crucifiction? Opinions please?

by Tired of the Hypocrisy 28 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Forscher


    The problem as I see it is that the Gospels are not explicit enough for us to definitively exactly what kind of Stauros Jesus was affixed to. I have the pdf of the Latin book the Society appeals to and one thing the book makes abundantly clear is that the Romans used a bewildering variety of cruxes for execution. The variety of cruxes each had their own particular form of suffering and humiliation and which one was used was generally up to the whim of the Roman administrator or executioner and just how they wanted to see the victim humiliated and tortured during their passing.

    So, the society, largely for christophobic reasons (referring to Christendom rather than Jesus Christ himself) sticks to the dictionary definition from classic Attic Greek over other choices. Use of the word by contemporary Greek writers doesn't even appear to enter into the calculation as far as Leo seems to have documented so well. That is where we stand on that one.

    Personally, I think one clue in the New Testament may give us something of an answer. The fact that after having victimized Jesus with a Roman scourging, the Romans still expected Jesus to be capable of carrying his stauros to Golgotha. That is quite a ways to carry a piece of wood.

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I've worked clearing forested land and have an idea of just how heavy trees really are. Even a fairly narrow tree of the rough dimensions of steaks or crosses are pretty heavy things even after all the branches are cleared off. Consider that Jesus was weakened by having received no food or water from the time of his arrest to his execution, and further factor in the abused of a Roman "examination," torture by another name. Further factor in the scourging which traditionally preceded a crucifixtion, something we know was done to Jesus, and there is no way any human being would've been able to carry a cross or a stake as illustrated.

    So the stauros Jesus was expected to carry had to be a patibulum. Anything else would've been to heavy for a person so abused to carry anywhere. However, the patibulum would still be heavy enough that the condemned would be so further weakened from the burden that they would not have been able to offer any significant resistance to when it came time to affix them to the instrument of execution. That is how I, in their position, would have done things. That Jesus was so weakened that he could not carry it any real distance is a testament to how extreme his examination and scourging really were.

    So the most logical explanation to me is that he was crucified on a cross, rather than affixed to a stake. I don't see how one can logically arrive at any other conclusion.

    Their is further potential evidence to ponder. The society makes much ado about the Jews insisting that the "stake" upon which a criminal was hung and displayed be buried with the victim in conformance with Jewish law. The Romans, ever the practical people, would likely have done something they are know to have done elsewhere. Place a permanent pole, or stake, in the ground at the usual place of execution, to which the would affix the patibulum and the victim. Otherwise, the cost of wood for crosses or full stakes would've likely been prohibitive. And the patibulum would've been just big enough to accomplish its purpose and small enough to be cost effective. That further leads one to the cross as the most likely stauros.



  • reniaa

    I had this debate before,

    After reviewing all the evidence you can't use any word describing what it looked like because we simply don't know!....opinion would have the likeliest contenders as the Tau (patibulum)which is a T shape or a simple stake as witnesses contend, from what I know of leolaia research Latin cross the one around most catholics neck the one people kiss etc is the least likely to have been used because it just wasn't a form of execution used at that time.

    just for emphasis a Tau (patibulum) is not a cross it is a T shape!

    and there is evidence against this mainly that a sign was put above his head which for me adds weight to the single stake arguement as well as the fact people are tied to or nailed to patibulum crossbeam before carrying it to their execution place, no mention is made of untying/unnailing jesus before giving it to the guy who carries it instead of jesus

    Personally thats why i prefer the usage of stake word as apposed to cross because anyone saying the word 'cross' immediately pictures a latin cross and no other so it totally gives the wrong impression, also if the shape was so important it would have been specified, the importance was always that he died not the shape of his instrument of death as leolaia will tell you there wasn't even a word for it,

    Leolaia and i disagree over which word to use but i'm a purest and say unless conclusive proof that a latin cross was used, we shouldn't use the word cross we should use the original word 'stake' it may also give a wrong impression but it at least has the authenticity of actually being the word used in the original texts.

  • Forscher
    After reviewing all the evidence you can't use any word describing what it looked like because we simply don't know!.

    I did acknowledge as much at the beginning of my post. I accept the contention that all we can do otherwise is to speculate. So in that spirit.

    Your two main points are not insurmountable. The posting of the sign over Jesus' head could be accomplished at least two different ways and still end up with Jesus on a tau or crossbeam. And the lack of documentation of "untying" Jesus from the crosspiece when he collapsed on the way to Golgotha does not rule out the scenario I presented. The writers may not have considered that little detail important enough to note.

    Still, I do accept your initial point which I troubled to quote. The fact is that the Gospels do not provide enough detail to do anything other than follow the clues and put together theories. I guess the writers were confident that their contemporaries, their target audience, knew enough about crucifixion from personal observation to fill in the blanks.


  • thecarpenter

    Incidentally, the manner in which Christ died (from a pathological standpoint) also points to a crossbeam mounted to a pole. The scriptures mentioned that it took approximately 6 hours for him to die. This manner of death would be consistent with hypovolemic shock. If he was hung from his hands in the way the society depicts it, his manner of death would has been from asphyxiation and it would have happened much more rapidly. Concentration camp prisoners in WWII who were hung by their wrist with their legs tied down, died within ten minutes because they couldn't lift their bodies to respirate. Those left dangling from their wrist, died in about one hour.

    For a more in-depth discussion, see the link below

  • heathen

    Leolaia-- I believe it was emperor constantine that changed the meaning of the word because the cross was an ideal symbol to unite the pagans and christians in his kingdom and that's all he cared about. That would place it at the 4th century AD.I think the important thing is not to use it in worship.It may have looked like a T because of the sign that pilate put over his head .Who knows?

  • parakeet

    "Impalement or Crucifiction? Opinions please?"

  • Leolaia
    Leolaia-- I believe it was emperor constantine that changed the meaning of the word because the cross was an ideal symbol to unite the pagans and christians in his kingdom and that's all he cared about. That would place it at the 4th century AD.

    This may be what the Watchtower Society claims, but it is simply untrue. As I showed in my thread with many examples, the word already referred to crosses that had crossbeams long before the 4th century. These sources were explicit about the stauros having a crossbeam. Other sources are less explicit but show that the kind of stauros in mind was the kind that had a crossbeam (patibulum). The main change in meaning occurred in the 5th-3rd century BC, when a word that had nothing to do with execution started to develop a specialized meaning referring to the instrument used in crucifixion. Since the form of the instrument was highly variable and differently constructed by different peoples (as Seneca put it), it did not refer to one particular kind of stauros -- no less than "car" today refers only one particular kind of car. We know that the Romans started adding crossbeams to the instrument in the 3rd-2nd century BC, and they were very common in the 1st century AD. Greek did not borrow the word patibulum or develop its own word for it or the kind of stauros that had a patibulum (cf. the use of stauros to refer explicitly to the two-beamed instrument in Lucian, Artemidorus, Barnabas, Justin Martyr, etc.). This is especially clear in the references in Greek sources to patibulum-bearing, where stauros occurs in the Greek where patibulum would occur in the Latin. Hence there is no good reason to deny that stauros was used to refer to the kind of instrument commonly used by the Romans in crucifixion.

  • AuldSoul

    I think the use of the plural "nails" in reference to the print in the hands cements the notion that he was believed to have had one nail in each hand. This would have been unnecessary and even impractical if he were crucified on a crux simplex (an upright pole). In addition, appealing to and argument of the modern Christian cross as a pagan symbol is pointless since the upright pole was such a symbol from the earliest times of human worshipfulness.

  • Leolaia

    The use of plural "nails" is inconclusive. The Society's rationalization (that Luke indicates that the feet were nailed as well, so the plural pertains to the nails in both the hands and feet) is implausible, but a plurality of nails for the hands is not necessarily inconsistent with a crux simplex. The forearms could be placed on either side of the pole, or each arm could have been double-nailed (cf. a reference to double-nailing in Plautus, which is however ambiguous). It is important to bear in mind that there wasn't a standard method and the style could be up to the whim of the executioner (as Josephus indicated).

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