Theologian says Jesus may not have died nailed to the Cross

From the Daily Telegraph comes this strange story  

Jesus did not die on cross, says scholar

Jesus may not have died nailed to the cross because there is no evidence that the Romans crucified prisoners two thousand years ago, a scholar has claimed.

The legend of his execution is based on the traditions of the Christian church and artistic illustrations rather than antique texts, according to theologian Gunnar Samuelsson.

He claims the Bible has been misinterpreted as there are no explicit references the use of nails or to crucifixion – only that Jesus bore a "staurus" towards Calvary which is not necessarily a cross but can also mean a "pole".

Mr Samuelsson, who has written a 400-page thesis after studying the original texts, said: "The problem is descriptions of crucifixions are remarkably absent in the antique literature.

"The sources where you would expect to find support for the established understanding of the event really don’t say anything."

The ancient Greek, Latin and Hebrew literature from Homer to the first century AD describe an arsenal of suspension punishments but none mention "crosses" or "crucifixion."

Mr Samuelsson, of Gothenburg University, said: "Consequently, the contemporary understanding of crucifixion as a punishment is severely challenged.

"And what’s even more challenging is the same can be concluded about the accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus. The New Testament doesn’t say as much as we’d like to believe."

Any evidence that Jesus was left to die after being nailed to a cross is strikingly sparse – both in the ancient pre-Christian and extra-Biblical literature as well as The Bible.

Mr Samuelsson, a committed Christian himself, admitted his claims are so close to the heart of his faith that it is easy to react emotionally instead of logically.

Mr Samuelsson said the actual execution texts do not describe how Christ was attached to the execution device.

He said: "This is the heart of the problem. The text of the passion narratives is not that exact and information loaded, as we Christians sometimes want it to be."

Mr Samuelsson said: "If you are looking for texts that depict the act of nailing persons to a cross you will not find any beside the Gospels."

A lot of contemporary literature all use the same vague terminology – including the Latin accounts.

Nor does the Latin word crux automatically refer to a cross while patibulum refer to the cross-beam. Both words are used in a wider sense that that.

Mr Samuelsson said: "That a man named Jesus existed in that part of the world and in that time is well-documented. He left a rather good foot-print in the literature of the time.

"I do believe that the mentioned man is the son of God. My suggestion is not that Christians should reject or doubt the biblical text.

"My suggestion is that we should read the text as it is, not as we think it is. We should read on the lines, not between the lines. The text of the Bible is sufficient. We do not need to add anything." 

 

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81 Responses to Theologian says Jesus may not have died nailed to the Cross

  1. revs96 says:

    To be fair, worse nonsense has been on the History Channel the last decade.

  2. Warren says:

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses will eat this one up. They’ve long been sitting on the “pole” argument.

  3. Not much new here.

    Charles Taze Russell (founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses taught that Jesus was tied to a “torture stake.”

  4. Supertradmum says:

    Then, are two thousand years of visions and stigmatists in error? We not only have the answer in Scripture-Then he saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. Douay version, but in the lives of the saints, including one of the last century, Padre Pio.

    I had this sort of thing in Theology class in the early 1970s-it is not a new theory. Pierre Barbet’s book is also a contradiction to this idea above. And, what about the Shroud of Turin?

    I put my vote on the side of Tradition and Revelation. The earliest portrait known of St. Francis has the stigmata as nail holes in his hands as well.

    By the way, I used to write to the History, Discovery and PBS channels for such nonsense, but gave up.

  5. Thomas G. says:

    Does this odd gentleman include archaelogical evidence as well? I was reading a while ago about the bones of a first century man who had been crucified (not Jesus) had been excavated.

  6. Supertradmum says:

    Should have added, Barbet’s classic, Doctor at Calvary is still available.

  7. Jon says:

    Someone other than his blasphemous artist pal should’ve told poor Alexamenos:

    http://www.movements.net/wp-content/uploads/2006/02/alexamenos-worships-his-god.jpg

  8. JohnW says:

    How could a man utter such words? He should fear for his salvation if he does not recant.

  9. catholicmidwest says:

    Publish or perish. That’s what this is called. Amazing what some people will do for a job, ain’t it?

    So is this a Swedish Lutheran or what?

  10. Mitchell NY says:

    He says evidence is “sparse” not absent. So are we to believe that everything we have been taught to believe may not be true? Enter doubt and suspicion? Sounds like a Vat II afterthought. I choose to believe what we have been tought for a few thousand years.

  11. Maltese says:

    because there is no evidence that the Romans crucified prisoners two thousand years ago, a scholar has claimed.

    Lol! This “theologian” is a stark raving idiot! Crucifixions are one of the better documented phenomena from ancient times both from an anthropological, archeological and written standpoint!

    http://www.joezias.com/CrucifixionAntiquity.html

  12. Jack Hughes says:

    If the topic wern’t so serious I’d be laughing; perhaps next he’ll be suggesting that the Diocletian was actually really nice to Christians instead of having them thrown to the lions; shot through with arrows, scourged, attempting to throw them into the Tiber and lancing them.

  13. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Mmmm….so St. Thomas wanting to put his finger in the holes in His hands was not an explicit Scriptural reference, eh?

  14. Rich says:

    John 20:25 refers to the plural nailS that left marks on Jesus’ hands. If Jesus were crucified on a pole, there would have been no reason to use more than one nail for both hands. If his hands were in two different places, like on either ends of a horizontal crossbeam, then there would have been reason for more than one nail.

  15. LoyalViews says:

    Hah! What bloody rubbish. I bet the JW’s will come to my door tomorrow morning and shove the story right up my nose. This, er, “theologian” doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  16. Genna says:

    Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum. And where on the pole exactly would Pilate’s inscription have been placed?
    Odd how some academics have to come up with something “new” and “shocking” to get noticed.

  17. Elly says:

    Father Z, I got worried when I didn’t see any of your red comments but I am reassured after reading the comments above.

  18. Fr Martin Fox says:

    So why did Paul, only a few decades later, refer to our Lord being crucified? And Paul hardly mentions it in passing–he goes on and on about it. Why would he do that?

    Had our Lord been stoned to death for our salvation, I cannot imagine Paul would have said–oh, let’s change that around, crucifixion will work much better.

    Indeed, why would any of the NT writers choose to make up the idea of crucifixion?

  19. Andrew says:

    Perhaps our “sciolus” should read at least Seneca, the Roman author born a few years before Christ, who mentions the cross and the nails in his “de vita beata” (on the happy life) in chapter 19:3 where he writes: “Cum refigere se crucibus conentur — in quas unusquisque vestrum clavos suos ipse adigit …” (they strive to release themselves from their crosses – those crosses to which each one of you nails himself …)

  20. Samuelsson does not say that Christ was not nailed to the Cross, but that evidence for the execution device being a cross rather than a stake (for those who brought up stoning) is not as conclusive as it seems. For me the key lines in this account are:

    “My suggestion is that we should read the text as it is, not as we think it is. We should read on the lines, not between the lines. The text of the Bible is sufficient. We do not need to add anything.”

    In other words, Mr. Samuelsson is a Protestant who believes in Sola Scriptura. And this is a good illustration of why an individual’s reading of Scripture, apart from the Tradition of the Church, is a bad idea!

  21. Incaelo says:

    “My suggestion is that we should read the text as it is, not as we think it is. We should read on the lines, not between the lines. The text of the Bible is sufficient. We do not need to add anything.”

    I would beg to differ. If we read the text as is, we’d have a number of different accounts of the Last Supper, for example, or any other event the Evangelists describe. If we should not read ‘between the lines’, but merely accept the words that are ‘on the lines’, how can we interpret this then? No, a text is the starting point, and an important one of course. But in order to know a text it must be understood, interpreted. We must read ‘between the lines’.

    Factually, I’d be willing to accept this man’s findings. He seems to treat the Biblical text as mere factual accounts and as such they don’t always supply the details we’d want to see. But the Bible is more than just a factual account (it sometimes isn’t even that). The Bible exists on and between the lines.

  22. Titus says:

    Hmm, Spartacus begs to differ about the advent of crucifixion (71 BC).

  23. Titus says:

    Well, so much for formatting: here’s the link.

  24. mpalardy says:

    The last time I checked, the specific manners of the execution of “justice” in ancient Rome would be more the purview of an historian rather than a theologian.

    In other words, oughtn’t Dr. Samuelsson to focus more on the meaning of the Paschal mystery instead of splitting vain literalistic hairs?

  25. So what did Jesus really say when He said “take up your cross and follow Me”?

  26. Andrew says:

    “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John Chpt 20)

    But I think that this guy is saying, like many other “scholars” that the Gospels are not valid historical evidence. He is looking for secular reference. That’s why I looked at Seneca in my post above who clearly speaks of the Cross and the Nails as something well known to his Roman contemporaries.

  27. PostCatholic says:

    That was very interesting. Thanks for sharing it. I’d also be interested in your commentary.

  28. VEXILLA REGIS says:

    No doubt we shall see this nonsense trotted out by the Mass Media in next year’s Ante Easter Anti Easter campaign! How easily commenters above have shown how devoid of scholarship and research this rubbish is!

  29. Clinton says:

    I think Mr. Samuelsson makes the mistake of conflating the entire centuries-long existence of crucifixion, in all its variations, with how
    it was practiced by the Romans at the time of Our Lord. Centuries before Christ, the condemned would be tied or nailed to a tree.
    Eventually, a simple stake was used. However, the Romans continued to ‘refine’ their technique until by the time of Christ’s Passion
    the process we are familiar with–scourging, carrying the patibulum to the place of execution, a placard recording the victim’s offense
    placed above his head, use of nails–had come about.

    The Romans engineered crucifixion not only to execute, but to simultaneously degrade the condemned. It’s not surprising that few
    accounts remain. Cicero declared that not only would he not write about it, but he also refused to even think of such a thing.

    I can understand that over centuries and in an empire as vast as the Roman’s variations would crop up. Yet Tacitus, who was born just
    a generation after the Passion, describes Rome’s place of crucifixion just outside the Esquiline gate where such executions
    had taken place for decades. His description of crucifixion as practiced in Rome is entirely consistent with our understanding of Christ’s,
    save a few details. In Rome, evidently, a few ‘extras’ were added that would have been omitted in Judea so as not to offend Jewish
    sensibilities.

    However, I don’t think it a stretch to assume that as Roman governor of Judea handling a potentially explosive incident, Pilate would
    have wished for his resolution of the Jesus’ case to be as ‘by the book’ as possible, with the usual concessions to Jewish custom and
    religious law. Such concessions would create a sequence of events consistent with our understanding of Christ’s Passion.

  30. SimonDodd says:

    This seems like the latest (and lowest) iteration of a kind of radical skepticism which seeks to cast doubt on a disfavored event by demanding a preposterously elevated standard of proof. You see it when Protestants and Catholic dissenters claim that there is “no evidence” that Peter was the first bishop of Rome–or, in this instance, that there is “no evidence that the Romans crucified prisoners two thousand years ago….” All of these suggestions implicitly deny the witness of the church. One might think that when there is a continuous tradition going back to the apostolic era, and which is itself documented even if the original event itself lacks positive documentary evidence, the tradition is itself evidence. At absolute minimum, the tradition places the burden of proof on those who deny it to come up with direct positive evidence that the tradition is wrong. But no; to use Michael Oakeshott’s phrase, this man and those like him set themselves up as supreme judges, demanding that “the social, political, legal and institutional inheritance of his society [be haled] before the tribunal of his intellect.” Ecce homo indeed.

  31. 2,000 years of tradition handed down to us by those who are nearer to the year it all happened and a guy who has chock full of Ovaltines, picks up the Bible and says “Hey, you did not read it right.”

    Is Dan Brown spawning?

  32. Okay, I’ve got my breath now…oy vey!
    And I suppose the Irish (former priest) John what’s his name at Loyola U in Chicago (is that right?…I’m getting dementia, I’m afraid)…with his idea that Jesus’ bones and body were eaten by dogs which lent credulity to His Resurrection; there’s a saying here about the selling of a bridge in Brooklyn, I believe…the both of them should get together and make a religion, yeah?…
    the idiot commentators at NCReporter would love it…they want a “new religion” there…without the Pope and with all kinds of everything in this modern age (which means that it will implode within a generation!).
    I’m with the apostle’s testimony and the consistent teaching and apostolic succession.
    For the rest; deal with it. You don’t have to subscribe to it in this life; but you will have to deal with it in the next.
    That’s it.

  33. Maltese says:

    Is Dan Brown spawning? Lol!

    Yeah, well, these liberal blow hard, die hards are still, unfortunately, hard at work at their craft of dismantling Christian Tradition, anywhere they can get a blow in, and still try to retreat into their tortoise-shells, and claim <invinsible ignorance if anyone questions their orthodoxy!

    Especially the aging ones, claim to be as “sweet and soft” as the dying flesh which surrounds their corrupt souls, but in fact they are more dangerous for their disarming visage. They need to be put down, by God’s own tool: time!

  34. PostCatholic says:

    I wonder if the name you may be searching for, nazareth priest, is John Dominic Crossan? Though he was on the faculty of DePaul (also in Chicago.)

  35. Consilio et Impetu says:

    So, tell me, Mr. Samuelsson, you were there?

  36. jeffmcl says:

    “Stauros” (not “staurus”) does indeed mean a stake or upright pole, particularly one used as a foundation. But that doesn’t preclude it from meaning “cross.” It’s possible the word came to be used as such because it referred to the upright pole that was in the ground for the crucifixion, with the condemned carrying a cross-piece himself to the site of execution. You cannot simply look at classical meanings for Greek words and assume they mean exactly the same thing in Koine. Meanings evolve. For example, the word “thumos,” which meant ‘warrior-spirit’, and had positive connotations in classical Greek, simply means ‘anger’ in Koine. I agree with the point brought up by several previous posters that this is why we have the Church to help us interpret scripture properly.

  37. robtbrown says:

    And I suppose the Irish (former priest) John what’s his name at Loyola U in Chicago (is that right?…I’m getting dementia, I’m afraid)…with his idea that Jesus’ bones and body were eaten by dogs which lent credulity to His Resurrection; there’s a saying here about the selling of a bridge in Brooklyn, I believe…the both of them should get together and make a religion, yeah?…
    Comment by nazareth priest

    John Dominic Crossan. Like every other “de-mythologizer”, Crossan arrives at a notion of Jesus that does little else except express his nation’s mythology. And so Crossan’s Jesus sounds suspiciously like a member of the IRA.

    Ditto for the German rendition of the “de-mythologized” Jesus, who is a warmed-over version of the Germanic hero (cf. Edith Hamilton’s Mythology).

  38. Jack Hughes says:

    NZ Priest

    Its John Dominic Crossan who used to teach at Loyola (how the Jesuits hired an ‘ex’ priest is beyond me), I guess just like Antony Kenny and Karen Armstrong he’s just another lost soul we need to pray and sacrifice for.

  39. patrick_f says:

    “He is more educated then his intellect can handle” – Mother Angelica

    This guy is ridiculous

    Our Lord shows HIS WOUNDS TO THOMAS . How did the wounds get there if not by crucifixion….

    David prophesied that “They have pierced my hands and my feet, I can count all my bones”

    Perhaps our friend could read the WHOLE Of scripture, rather then cherry picking, which most Sola Scriptura enthusiasts oddly tend to do

  40. Thank you PostCatholic, Jack Hughes (greetings here, mate!) and robtbrown…
    I’m getting a bit dottery, here:<)!
    Nevertheless, if Jesus Christ is not risen from the dead, our faith is in vain…and poor St. Paul of Tarsus (who has been accused of “inventing” Christianity…dare I say, by the Jews??) ah, well, poor St. Paul…
    I’m with Flannery O’Connor…she said regarding the Holy Eucharist: “If it’s not the Body of Christ, to hell with it”…that’s my take on the whole Catholic Revelation of Christ, Crucified and Risen from the Dead: “If it’s not true, to hell with it”.

  41. PostCatholic says:

    Boy oh boy. Here’s an academic pointing out a potential bias in the translation of ancient texts, while at the same time stating, “I do believe that the mentioned man is the son of God. My suggestion is not that Christians should reject or doubt the biblical text.” To which this blog audience responds with some rather sharp and personal words about several other people that neither the original article nor the research it describes appears to mention.

    Speaking as an heretic, Dr Samuelsson (as he is now) hardly sounds another heretic, but rather seems to me to be someone pointing out a useful distinction between the “deposit of faith” and the biblical literature. I imagine Hebrews 11:1 et seq. gives him some comfort. I looked for a copy of this dissertation, but I could only find abstracts of it and articles about it. This one seemed pretty straightforward: http://www.musalmantimes.com/?p=256

  42. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Puts me in mind of a discussion I had with an ardent atheist who seemed impressed by reading that there was no archaeological evidence of the Exodus.

    There’s plenty of evidence in Scripture and Tradition for both the original Passover and the more definitive Pasch. Neither Scripture nor Tradition should be viewed in isolation lest we miss something important. Omitting both is never appropriate when considering topics addressed by either.

  43. Okay, PostCatholic.
    State your case.
    All this guy is saying is that he is taking “literally” some words written down.
    The Catholic apostolic tradition is not something merely written down; it’s a living, breathing reality.
    And it’s been living and breathing since the Resurrection of the Lord.
    Go and try to prove that one, aside from the Magisterium and Tradition of the Church.
    Good luck.
    You guys just don’t “get it”…it’s the living Word of God; you are not going to find it in a book or in an archeological dig; it’s a “living reality”…it’s called the Holy Catholic Church.
    May you receive the grace to return…I’m prayin’ and sacrificing for you, PostCatholic. May you return!

  44. Andy F. says:

    crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato

    Psalms 22:16 …they have pierced my hands and feet.

    “Look at the text, look at the text,” they say! Biblical scholarship of this sort grinds my gears. I rejoiced the day I was finished with my bible courses at a Catholic college.

  45. torontonian says:

    ‘The ancient Greek, Latin and Hebrew literature from Homer to the first century AD describe an arsenal of suspension punishments but none mention “crosses” or “crucifixion.”‘

    Cicero, In Verrem: “… ausus es, ut, quam damnatis crucem servis fixeras, hanc indemnatis videlicet civibus Romanis reservares?”

    Quintilian, Inst.Orat. VII: “Excusserunt illi patrem et aurum in sinu eius invenerunt. Ipsi perseverarunt ire quo intenderant; invenerunt ducem cruci fixum, cuius vox fuit: ‘Cavete proditorem.’”

    There are many more Latin examples. The author of the article (and perhaps, also, the author of the thesis) needs to be more careful with his word choice. “Crucifixion” is definitely described in texts of the period, even if Samuelsson disagrees with the traditional meaning of that word. The idea that the device used was not a two-beam cross would seem to carry a fairly heavy burden of proof.

  46. Norah says:

    My guess is that either Mr Samuelsson or his thesis supervisor thought that he needed an original “angle” something “new” on which to base his thesis.

  47. robtbrown says:

    Jack Hughes,

    I don’t think Crossan has ever been at Loyola, but he was in Chicago. He taught at Mundelein and the CTU until he left the priesthood, after which he taught at DePaul

  48. elmo says:

    This article includes a lot of skepticism as to whether passages of the 1st century Jewish scholar Josephus describing Jesus are authentic, but among the ones the article considers real is a passage that mentions Jesus’s crucifixion. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,905859,00.html

  49. Jack Hughes says:

    rotbrown

    mea culpa; despite my younger years I too am getting a little dotty; perhaps due to the fact that I wrote that at roughly 2am my time

  50. PostCatholic says:

    Okay, PostCatholic.
    State your case.
    All this guy is saying is that he is taking “literally” some words written down.
    The Catholic apostolic tradition is not something merely written down; it’s a living, breathing reality.

    But yes and no, right nazareth priest? He’s also not taking literally the Gospel of John and the post-resurrection story of Doubting Thomas.

    You guys just don’t “get it”…it’s the living Word of God; you are not going to find it in a book or in an archeological dig; it’s a “living reality”…it’s called the Holy Catholic Church.

    No, I get that. I disagree that it’s the word of deity or transmitted from oral tradition to written to the present day in an unrefined and accurate way, but I “get it” that Catholics believe in a Holy Spirit who preserves the truth. It just seems to me that Rev Dr Samuelsson’s comments may indicate he more agrees with you.

    I have to ask if you think it unproductive to do an archeological dig or to carefully examine the written word in a scientific way. I think these things can illuminate your “living reality”, and as an academic process will stand or fall on their merits. Can we agree that “Holy Tradition” stands outside that particular economy of ideas?

    We have in this story an account of a carefully researched academic paper and a few quotes from the author about it. In response, the commentary of those here has largely been to say “Well, obviously that’s wrong,” without having read the paper. A few more erudite comments have cited English translations of other classical texts by way of refutation, forgetting that first (and most importantly) these are probably discussed in the dissertation; secondly, that Dr Samuelsson’s they may suffer from the same alleged misinterpretations; and lastly that often the earliest extant texts we have of some classical sources are copies by medieval Christians who have accreted their own biases to the text. (I do note that torontonian went to some contradictory Latin sources that predate the biblical literature, and I think (s?)he’s quite correct: I would certainly expect the dissertation had to defend against or at least discuss them.)

    But mostly what we have is an intensely personal, angry and uncivil commentary about other scripture scholars, Vatican II, and ‘liberal blow hard [sic], die hards [sic]‘ comparing Dr Samuelsson to them. This is unfair and intellectually dishonest. As a priest and minister, does it not bother you?

    May you receive the grace to return…I’m prayin’ and sacrificing for you, PostCatholic. May you return!

    While I don’t miss my Catholicism, I do appreciate your generous sentiment. Thank you.

  51. Tom in NY says:

    Mihi professores in universitate cultum rerum novarum exsequi apparet; lettras in annalibus professorum exponere credent.
    @torontonian:
    Causa exsequitionis gratias ago. Lexicon L & S amplius decem lemmatium paginas de nomine “crux” monstrat, cum lemmatibus de “In Verrem” Ciceronis et “Annales” C. Taciti.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  52. Bornacatholic says:

    The JW’s have been mentioned several times.

    How many of you invite the JWs inside when they come to your door?

    I always do and then I begin asking them questions and I explain what Catholics believe while they are looking-up in their Bibles the passages I have introduced into the conversation.

    I do the same thing with Mormons.

    I am always polite but I am also always prepared and I think it is important for the homeowner to initiate the conversion with these well-intentioned folks.

    One never knows what The Holy Ghost is doing in the lives of others so maybe your questions and Biblical references will cause the visitors to begin asking themselves questions.

    Almost always the conversation ends by them promising me they will send one of their senior associates back to talk with me but they never do.

  53. Supertradmum says:

    By the way, most, if not all, archaeological finds have actually supported a Biblical truth, place or event, including the ruined walls of Jericho. The Church need not fear science, including archaeology, as the more we find out, the more Scripture is revealed to be “spot on”.

  54. Widukind says:

    Concerning what PostCatholic said, something struck me as funny.
    * “an account of a carefully researched academic paper”
    * “without having read the paper”
    * “forgetting that … these are probably discussed in the
    dissertation”
    * “often the earliest extant texts we have of some classical
    sources are copies by medieval Christians who have accreted
    their own biases to the text.”

    While all of it sounds reasonable and erudite, it seems quite plainly to me that PostCatholic has not read the dissertation himself, so how does he know it is carefully researched and that contrary points were dicussed in the text? It is mere specualtion. (“an account”…”probably”…”often”) Then, can he tells us precisely what classic works have been compromised by medieval Christians, rather than making some broad statement as to their defects?
    Has he not committed what he has condemned?

  55. Bornacatholic says:

    As I recall, The Acts of Pontius Pilate were consulted when the Roman Senate debated whether or not to add Jesus to the Pantheon and those Acts of Pontius Pilate reecorded the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

    St Justin Martyr:

    Chapter 35. Other fulfilled prophecies

    And how Christ after He was born was to escape the notice of other men until He grew to man’s estate, which also came to pass, hear what was foretold regarding this. There are the following predictions: — “Unto us a child is born, and unto us a young man is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders;” Isaiah 9:6 which is significant of the power of the cross, for to it, when He was crucified, He applied His shoulders, as shall be more clearly made out in the ensuing discourse. And again the same prophet Isaiah, being inspired by the prophetic Spirit, said, “I have spread out my hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people, to those who walk in a way that is not good. They now ask of me judgment, and dare to draw near to God.” Isaiah 65:2, Isaiah 58:2 And again in other words, through another prophet, He says, “They pierced My hands and My feet, and for My vesture they cast lots.” And indeed David, the king and prophet, who uttered these things, suffered none of them; but Jesus Christ stretched forth His hands, being crucified by the Jews speaking against Him, and denying that He was the Christ. And as the prophet spoke, they tormented Him, and set Him on the judgment-seat, and said, Judge us. And the expression, “They pierced my hands and my feet,” was used in reference to the nails of the cross which were fixed in His hands and feet. And after He was crucified they cast lots upon His vesture, and they that crucified Him parted it among them. And that these things did happen, you can ascertain from the Acts of Pontius Pilate. And we will cite the prophetic utterances of another prophet, Zephaniah, to the effect that He was foretold expressly as to sit upon the foal of an ass and to enter Jerusalem. The words are these: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your King comes unto you; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” Zechariah 9:9

  56. Rob F. says:

    VEXILLA REGIS said, “No doubt we shall see this nonsense trotted out by the Mass Media…”

    The mass media I can live with. I just pray to be spared a homily on this subject by our mis-educated liberal clergy.

  57. SimonDodd says:

    Gregg writes of “an ardent atheist who seemed impressed by reading that there was no archaeological evidence of the Exodus.” I always wanted to ask one of these radical skeptics what archaeological evidence there is of the Peloponnesian War.

  58. Supertradmum says:

    My favorite joke on the reinterpretation of Biblical truths and the questioning of places and events in Scripture.

    A little Jewish boy came home from school stating that his new liberal teacher said that the Crossing of the Red Sea was easy, as it was only a stream which swelled in the rain. “Praise the Holy One”, answered his Jewish Mother. “Why?”, the boy responded. “Because God drowned Pharaoh’s army, horses, and chariots in a little, shallow stream. It was a miracle.”

  59. Jordanes says:

    Theologians Samuelsson needs to familiarise himself with his subject before writing a paper on it. There is ample historical and archaeological evidence for crucifixion being used by the Romans during the first century A.D.

    http://phdiva.blogspot.com/2006/04/archaeology-of-roman-crucifixion.html

    Before my conversion, I had been raised in a sect (not the JWs) that trafficked in the “stake, not cross” nonsense. However, my understand had always been that “stake vs. cross” was a matter of translation — our sect wanted to distance itself from orthodox Christianity and it’s lingo, so we made a big deal out of the fact that “stauros” means “pole,” and that the biblical Greek word usually translated “cross” literally means “wood.” However, I never thought that the “execution stake” of Jesus Christ wasn’t shaped like a cross: for me back then, it was a matter of not saying “cross” so we wouldn’t be like all of those “false Christians.” It was a shibboleth, nothing more. Only much later did I find out that, yes, there were people in our sect who not only rejected the word “cross,” but even believed that Jesus was somehow nailed to a vertical pole sans crossbar.

  60. Sliwka says:

    Re: St Francis’ Stigmata

    The Vitae of St Francis actually do not describe merely the wounds of Christ forming in his flesh, but the nails themselves forming from his flesh, so much so that he looked to be raised from the ground when walking.

  61. Clinton says:

    After the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity he abolished crucifixion as a method of capital punishment, because it was
    not fitting to use the same means on common criminals as was used on Christ. We have ample archaeological evidence concerning
    how the Romans crucified, a Roman Emperor abolishing crucifixion precisely because it was the method used on Our Lord, and the
    writings of historians such as Eusebius who say this was so. Really, what more can we ask for here?

  62. Jack Hughes says:

    PostCatholic

    I don’t know how you not miss being a Catholic, If I was to loose my Faith I would probebly die of grief.

  63. PostCatholic says:

    While all of it sounds reasonable and erudite, it seems quite plainly to me that PostCatholic has not read the dissertation himself, so how does he know it is carefully researched and that contrary points were dicussed in the text? It is mere specualtion.

    No, Widikund, it’s a successfully defended doctoral thesis at one of the top 200 universities in the world (the one which my wife matriculated from, too.) Carefully researched does not mean the conclusions are correct, but I do trust the faculty at Gothenburg not to have been the object of a snow job. If this was a paper written at some third-rate bible college sponsored by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I would not allow myself the assumption that it was carefully researched. I’m sincerely interested in reading this paper and seeing what challenges I can bring to bear upon it–because there are many lines of attack which I am decently sure occurred to the faculty at Gothenburg.

    Then, can he tells us precisely what classic works have been compromised by medieval Christians, rather than making some broad statement as to their defects?

    Off the top of my head? No, I’m not a classicist; I do know there is a text of Pompeius Trogue (I’m spelling that wrong, I’m sure, and I don’t even know what the text is about) that is presumed to be tainted by a transcription, because a friend in her doctoral thesis wrote about this and talked about it with me. Please don’t ask me which, I can’t say; my point is this is a known problem with classical works, particularly those with few extant early copies, and the subject of much academic pursuit.

    Has he not committed what he has condemned?

    What I condemned is a rush to judgment about a paper none of us have read, the unfair comparison of Samuelsson to other scripture scholars (unfair because there is no way in which it is informed), and the vitriolic tone about those people used here. (I did search for the paper, by the way. You can’t get at from the Gothenburg website–unless perhaps the path to doing that is in Swedish, and until Kristin gets home today and applies her Norwegian to that site for me, I’m at a loss there. The article to which I linked earlier says it’s withdrawn from the web pending commercial publication.) I object to people saying “you’re wrong” before they’ve really heard the argument, and I object to personalizing a scientific debate. Anyone who considers themselves in any way scholarly will stand with me on that.

    My personal opinion of whether the Romans crucified Jesus in the sense we understand it today is thus: I always assumed that they did, and I will be just as surprised as the rest of you if there’s evidence to the contrary given the strength of the supposition in all of the transmission of the crucifixion story. To me it seems like a detail that one wouldn’t forget. Until now I’ve never really questioned the details of the execution of Jesus, only the subsequent events. Won’t it be interesting to read more?

  64. PostCatholic says:

    Jack Hughes,

    Hang on to that feeling, then. I think personal integrity between what you believe and how you are is of paramount importance. Like you, I’m trying to live a life of integrity; my path in life has led me to a different set of beliefs. I do feel grief when I don’t measure up to my principles.

  65. Mariana says:

    “So is this a Swedish Lutheran or what?”

    He belongs to Svenska Missionssällskapet, Swedish Mission Society, meaning he’s “evangelical” in the Protestant sense. And they all go on like that, sola scriptura!

    “Seneca….who clearly speaks of the Cross and the Nails as something well known to his Roman contemporaries.”

    Seneca = pagan writer. Evangelicals refuse to read pagan books.

  66. Bornacatholic says:

    I think personal integrity between what you believe and how you are is of paramount importance. Like you, I’m trying to live a life of integrity; my path in life has led me to a different set of beliefs. I do feel grief when I don’t measure up to my principles.

    You make a nice paraphrase of what Obama thinks about Faith as revealed in a 2004 radio interview:

    GG: Do you believe in sin?

    OBAMA: Yes.

    GG: What is sin?

    OBAMA: Being out of alignment with my values.

    GG: What happens if you have sin in your life?

    OBAMA: I think it’s the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I’m true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward, when I’m not true to it, it’s its own punishment.

    Here is the New Testament on Catholics who repudiate The Faith:

    Whosoever revolteth, and continueth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that continueth in the doctrine, the same hath both the Father and the Son.

    Postcatholic. Repent while ye still have time

  67. Bornacatholic says:

    Evangelicals refuse to read pagan books.

    Acts 17: 28 For in him we live and move and are: as some also of your own poets said: For we are also his offspring.

    *Accoring to A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture; The poets/poems referenced are Cleanthes’ Hymn to Zeus and the Phaenomena of Aratus

    If St Paul can reference and recognize the truth existing in those pagans outside of the early Church,then how is it that Evangelicals can justify not reading pagan sources?

  68. AnAmericanMother says:

    I had posted this on the Pompeii thread, but it seems equally relevant (and rather persuasive) here.

    Oh, and something I forgot until this moment—during the excavations of Herculaneum, a strange mark on the wall was found above what looks like a prie-dieu (in Herculaneum all the bodies were reduced to bones, but furniture and even food was carbonized, sealed and preserved by the lava flows).

    Theory is that a cross was affixed to the wall there, and the householder pulled it from the wall and took it with him as he fled.

    The Herculaneum Cross —unfortunately one of those abstracts of a subscriber-only service, but it gives you the basic facts. The cross was also mentioned in a book I read for one of my Archaeology courses. There’s a picture here.

    So here you have strong evidence of a Christian cross in a place of honor in a household in A.D. 79, which remained inaccessible until 1938.

  69. Supertradmum says:

    Very cool and thanks for the info, AnAmericanMother

  70. PostCatholic says:

    I suppose it’s unsurprising that the President and I sound similar on the issue of values and personal integrity, Bornacatholic; he was raised at First Unitarian Church, Honolulu and I’m a Unitarian Universalist. I guess I differ from him in that I do not believe in a doctrine of sin at all. [!?!?]

    AnAmericanMother–the Herculaneum cross is a very controversial item. Barrels of ink have been spilled speculating what it was. It’s been argued it was a Christian symbol, a Jewish one, a shelf, a bracket supporting a statue/idol, a pagan idol carving in wood, some sort of game, etc. The table below it contained dice and some lamps, so it seems a good candidate for the object to have a devotional item of some sort. I personally think there’s a compelling case to be made that it was in fact a Christian cross, but this is definitely not settled fact and the simple truth is we don’t know what hung on the wall there.

  71. Jack Hughes says:

    Postcatholic

    How can you not believe in the doctine of sin when you see evil people all around you? Or are you a moral relitavist?

    Also why do you read this blog and post on it if you have lost your faith?

  72. AnAmericanMother says:

    We can argue possibilities all day long, but most of those theories have been addressed and exploded. Nobody’s been able to show anything comparable in Jewish or pagan contemporary usage, and the “table” below it has a structure that is also unique. The idea that it was “just a shelf” is doubtful given the ornamental stucco that framed the missing object (and the fact that it had only a single central support that was much longer than the “shelf” itself – the “shelf” would immediately tip over if you put anything on it). You acknowledge that it’s a “compelling case” . . . it’s pretty overwhelming. The cross is “controversial” only to the extent that skeptics take aim at any early Christian artifacts.

  73. PostCatholic says:

    All depends on which papers you read. Let’s agree to disagree. As I said, I tend to believe that it was a Christian cross.

  74. Supertradmum says:

    Postcatholic,

    I am glad that you read this blog. The only time I went to a Unitarian Church as a very young person, a girl dressed up in a flag did a dance in the “sanctuary” on patriotism. The leader gave a few words and then we had tea and cookies. One of the regulars was an oblate of a local order of nuns. Very interesting group…

    You should read this blog everyday!

  75. PostCatholic says:

    Jack Hughes,

    I did not say I do not see wrongdoing. The world is indeed full of it. Sin, though, is the transgression of a divine law or commandment or rule. When one does not believe in divinities, one has not a lot of truck with their laws.

    As for why I come: I enjoy the keen minds here, I do like to invite thinking from a different point of view, and I think I have something to offer to the debate. I’m frankly offended by some of the opinions held by the author of the blog and by his audience, and I’m sure the feeling is mutual, but I think there’s value in honest dialogue. I do my best to be respectful of your Catholic faith and not to “troll” you. I never comment on Rev. Zuhldorf’s liturgical commentaries and posts about matters of internal concern to only the Catholic church. I hope I’m welcome even if my views are contrary; that’s what good debate and open minds depend upon.

  76. PostCatholic says:

    Supertradmum: that sounds wacky. I’ve heard tales of some super-kooky stuff that went on in UU churches in the 70s… I am really glad my church has never done anything like that in the time I’ve been going or I’d head for the door!

  77. AnAmericanMother says:

    You think we’re disagreeing even when we agree? I thought I was a bit argumentative . . . .

    I think what we’re disagreeing on is the burden of proof. In matters archaeological, it’s unreasonable to demand proof beyond a reasonable doubt, such as is necessary to send a man to prison. More than the ‘scintilla’ that negates abuse of discretion, perhaps something more than a “preponderance” as in civil matters, which is simply a tip of the scales in one direction or the other. The “clear and convincing” intermediate standard would do it for me, and I think in this case the evidence is fairly clear and also fairly convincing.

    You sound like you’re demanding (in this as perhaps in other matters) a proof not only beyond a reasonable doubt but beyond all doubt.

    You won’t get that until Christ comes in glory, because that leaves you no choice on whether or not to believe, which He has no intention of taking away from you.

  78. PostCatholic says:

    I guess a difference between us is that “I don’t know,” is an acceptable answer to me, AnAmericanMum. There are many cogent arguments on what hung in that room in Herculaneum, but if one applies Ockham’s razor, Christian cross is most likely. I don’t know what was there and probably never will.

  79. PostCatholic says:

    Sorry–I ought to have said ‘AnAmericanMother’. I conflated you and Supertradmum somehow and I apologize to you both.

  80. AnAmericanMother says:

    Honored to be mentioned in the same breath . . . let alone conflated.

    :-D