Why Did The Romans Crucify Jesus

Why the Romans Crucified Jesus

Jesus was most likely crucified by the Roman authorities, who were in control of Israel and Palestine at the time, since he was viewed as a political danger by the authorities in Rome. Someone who raises a disturbance in the Temple, the principal focal point of Jewish life and a symbol of Jewish national independence, someone who causes an uproar there was likely to catch the attention of the authorities. I suspect that Pilate, given all that we know about him from other sources, such asJosephus, a Jewish historian writing about the period, undoubtedly was a pretty brutal and effective ruler and would not allow the rise of opposition to Rome and his area.

So I suppose they did collude with the Roman authorities, but it was Pilate’s choice to crucify Jesus.

While there is a tendency to whitewash the Roman involvement, particularly in Luke’s Gospel, there is also a tendency to suggest that Christianity was not a politically dangerous movement and that whenever Roman authorities encountered it, they determined it to be so, that Christianity is not dangerous.


Harold W. Attridge is the Sterling Professor of Divinity at Yale Divinity School, where he has taught for over 30 years. A alumnus of Boston College, Cambridge University, and Harvard University, he served on the faculty of Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, the University of Notre Dame, and Yale Divinity School, where he was dean from 2002 to 2012. Among his writings areEssays on John and Hebrews(Mohr-Siebeck, 2010; repr., Baker, 2012). (Mohr-Siebeck, 2010; repr., Baker, 2012).

Why Did Pontius Pilate Have Jesus Executed?

“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate asks Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel of John, and Jesus responds with a question. It’s a question that may be raised regarding Pilate’s own personal background as well. According to the New Testament of the Christian Bible, the Roman ruler of Judea was a shaky judge who originally exonerated Jesus before bowing to the will of the multitude and condemned him to death as a result of his actions. Non-Biblical sources, on the other hand, present him as a barbaric commander who wilfully rejected the traditions of the Jewish people under his command.

WATCH: JESUS: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE VaultJesus before Pilate, just before he was crucified.

Pilate’s early life is a mystery.

Jesus of Nazareth is confronted with the question, “What is truth?” by Pontius Pilate in the Gospel of John. One might even ask the same inquiry regarding Pilate’s own personal past if they knew what he was talking about. According to the New Testament of the Christian Bible, the Roman ruler of Judea was a shaky judge who originally exonerated Jesus before bowing to the will of the multitude and condemned him to death as a result of the public’s outrage. Non-Biblical sources, on the other hand, portray him as a barbaric commander who wilfully disobeyed the traditions of the Jewish people under his command.

Which of the two statements was correct? JESUS: A HISTORICAL DISCUSSION OF HIS LIFE Before his execution, Jesus appeared before Pilate. DeAgostini/Getty Images courtesy of the photographer.

Pilate clashed with the Jewish population in Jerusalem.

A pair of golden shields emblazoned with the name of the Roman Emperor Tiberius were allowed into King Herod’s ancient residence in Jerusalem, according to Philo, despite Jewish tradition. Writing more than a half-century later, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus related a similar story, claiming that Pilate let troops bearing military standards with the likeness of the emperor into Jerusalem, despite Jewish law prohibiting the carrying of images in the holy city. A large number of people journeyed to the Judean city of Caesarea to express their displeasure, and they laid prostrate outside Pilate’s palace for five days until he finally yielded.

  1. This account has the ring of a rookie governor experimenting with his powers and entirely underestimating the depth of local opposition to graven images.
  2. Josephus related another event, this one with a bloodier conclusion, in which Pilate used cash from the Temple treasury to construct an aqueduct to provide water to Jerusalem.
  3. They were successful.
  4. More information may be found at: Where Is the Head of Saint John the Baptist?

The Gospels portray an indecisive Pilate.

Josephus also referred to Pilate’s well-known role in agreeing to Jesus’ death, which he had played previously. After being gravely concerned by his teachings, the Sanhedrin (an elite council of priestly and lay elders) arrested Jesus while he was celebrating the Jewish festival of Passover, according to the Gospels. They hauled Jesus before Pilate to be prosecuted for blasphemy, accusing him of claiming to be the King of the Jews, which they said was false. And they exerted pressure on Pilate, the only person who had the authority to sentence someone to death, to order his crucifixion.

According to the Gospel of Mark, Pilate intervened on Jesus’ behalf before caving in to the demands of the mob.

MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Discovering the Early Christian Church’s Conversion Tactics from Within “Mark’s goal isn’t truly historical in nature,” Patterson explains.

Mark blamed the Jewish rulers in Jerusalem for the city’s collapse since the high priests and officials had turned their backs on Jesus when he had arrived in the city.

courtesy of DeAgostini/Getty Images Following this, according to the Gospel of Matthew, Pilate washed his hands in front of the assembled throng before declaring, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; take care of yourself.” When the Jewish people heard this, they yelled out, “His blood be on us and our children.” For millennia, it would be used to punish the Jewish people, and it is still being utilized now.

As Bond explains, “Matthew claims that, while Romans were accountable for carrying out the action, the Jews were liable—a line of thought that, of course, has had fatal ramifications ever since.” When Jesus was making problems during a gathering like Passover, when the city was packed to capacity, I don’t believe Pilate would have spent much time worrying about what to do with him.

According to the Gospels, the people preferred the criminal Barabbas than Jesus.

The so-called custom of freeing a prisoner on Passover has been investigated by scholars, but so far, according to Patterson, “they have not discovered anything in regard to this so-called ritual.” More information may be found at: Early Christians Didn’t Always Take the Bible Literally (Discovery).

Pilate disappears from history after his rule.

Following the use of disproportionate force to quell a suspected Samaritan rebellion, Pilate was dismissed from office and transported back to Rome, according to Josephus and the Roman historian Tacitus. Pilate vanished from the historical record as soon as he arrived in Rome. According to various legends, he was either executed by Emperor Caligula or committed suicide, with his remains being thrown into the Tiber River after his death. In fact, the early Christian author Tertullian said that Pilate had become a disciple of Jesus and had attempted to convert the emperor to Christian beliefs.

A portion of a carved stone with Pilate’s name and title etched in Latin on it was discovered face down in an antique theater, where it had been used as a stair.

According to a November 2018 article in Israel Exploration Journal, improved photography showed Pilate’s name engraved in Greek on a 2,000-year-old copper alloy ring recovered at Herodium, which was previously thought to be a Roman coin.

Romans are to blame for death of Jesus

Among religious specialists and laypeople alike, the soon-to-be-released Mel Gibson film “The Passion of the Christ” is causing quite a commotion in the media. Many people believe the film contains anti-Semitic implications. Although the Jews are often believed to have been involved in Jesus’ death, according to Dr. Frank K. Flinn of Washington University in St. Louis’ department of religious studies, the Romans are truly to blame for the death of Jesus. Frank Flinn is a songwriter and musician from the United Kingdom.

“Crucifications could only be authorized by the Roman authorities, and they frequently did so on a brutal, mass scale.” In the opinion of Flinn, an expert on Catholicism, Gibson’s film appears to merge all of the gospel stories about the Passion into one epic, a made-for-the-big-screen story that fails to show how opinions about the Jews’ role in the crucifixion have changed dramatically over time, as has been shown in other films about the Passion.

  • The author points out that our oldest accounts of the crucifixion, such as the Gospel of Mark, which was written about 60-70 C.E., make it apparent that Pilate was the one who ordered Christ’s execution.
  • “Matthew, most likely as a result of inter-Jewish competition, places the ultimate responsibility fully on the shoulders of the Jewish leadership,” Flinn explained.
  • When it came to Jewish persecution and murder throughout the Middle Ages, the label “Christ-killers” became a rhetorical club to legitimize the ghettoization, persecution, and slaughter of Jews.
  • A Guide to Taking in the Show Mel Gibson’s next film Written by Frank K.
  • In his books The Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities, Josephus, the Jewish historian, records several incidents.
  • Only the Roman authorities had the authority to order crucifixions, and they did it on a brutal and enormous scale on a regular basis.
  • The first Galilean disciples of Jesus regarded him as a prophet similar to Elijah, who wandered the Galilean hills healing the sick and reviving the dead, as did the prophet Elijah.
  • Sadducees and Pharisees were among the Jewish leaders who owed their positions to their patron-client relationship with the Roman rulers (notice the word “some”).
  • In addition to the teachers and prophets in rural Galilee and the Dead Sea Scrolls community at Qumran, other Jewish groups and individuals either rejected or rebelled against the corrupt relationship between Jerusalem and Rome.
  • Along with the Temple tax, this tax was collected for Rome by the Temple officials, who distributed it to tax farmers.
  • Due to the annual ordinance of Jubilee, it should have been possible for the rich in Jerusalem to restore this territory to the original tribes, but they failed to do so.
See also:  Why Did Jesus Go To Caesarea Philippi?

According to Leviticus 19:4, “render unto Caesar” means “return to Caesar” his own coin with Caesar’s image on it (a blasphemy to the pious Jew!) and “return to God” what is God’s, which is the land itself, which God ultimately owns and which God gave directly to Israel in the covenant (Joshua 24:13)!” The message of Jesus was both spiritually and politically dangerous, first to the Roman rulers and then, secondary, to their client appointees in Jerusalem, who were first threatened by it.

  • The Gospel of Mark, the earliest Gospel we know, was written between 60 and 70 CE.
  • Matthew and Luke were written considerably later, in the year 80-95, and show a wide range of interests and points of view.
  • Aside from his status as a Jewish disciple of Jesus (Antioch being the site of the first use of the term “Christian”), Matthew also comments on the era following the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE, when tensions broke out between rabbinic Yavneh Jews and Jewish followers of Jesus.
  • It’s possible that the rabbis weren’t all that successful.
  • (I constantly point out to my pupils that a Christian may attend any Jewish Sabbath service and participate fully in all of the prayers with complete religious commitment.) Matthew goes to great lengths to disassociate himself from the actions of the Roman authority.
  • Perhaps as a result of intra-Jewish competition, the phrase “His blood be upon us and our offspring” is added to place the ultimate responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the Jewish leadership (Matthew 24:25).
  • The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts should be read together as a single piece of literature.

We can now use the name “Christian,” which appears for the first time in Acts 11:26, but the term was probably definitely coined as a derogatory slur in its original context.

Against the backdrop of Roman criticism, Luke is attempting to defend Christianity against the charge of “superstition” leveled against it.

The paragraphs about Jesus being crowned with thorns and being mocked have been omitted.

“But Jesus hedelivered over to theirwill,” says Luke, elaborating on Pilate’s guilt (Luke 23:26).

In its present form (ca.

100-110 CE) is that John does not place the blame for Jesus’ death solely on Pilate, or Pilate’s Jewish authorities, or even the Jewish authorities alone, but on “Jews” collectively (John 19:12).

The stage is laid for the later, tragic accusation that “the Jews murdered Jesus,” despite the fact that John does not state so explicitly.

It was not until after Constantine established a complete break with Judaism as such that the term “Christ-killers” was coined to describe these individuals.

Bishop John Chrysostom of Constantinople (ca.

By the Middle Ages, the label “Christ-killers” had evolved into a linguistic club used to legitimize the ghettoization, persecution, and death of Jews around the world, particularly in Europe.

My argument establishes a chronological order for determining who was responsible for Jesus’ killing, as well as the appropriate terminology for each stage: Romans Leaders of the Romans and Jews The High Priest, the Scribes, and the Elders/Romans Chief Priest, Scribes, Elders, and the general populace/Pilate (sort of) Jews are a group of people who live in a community that is surrounded by other Jews (in general) “Stiff-necked Individuals” “Christ-killers.” According to what I’ve read about Mel Gibson’s movie in published accounts, it appears to be similar to many other films about Jesus in that it combines all of the gospel tales about the passion into a single narrative.

As I’ve demonstrated above, the multiple gospels express quite different messages.

This makes it seem eerily similar to the infamous traditional Catholic Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany, which was in its original form grossly stereotyped and anti-Semitic in its content.

Most crucially, the inclination in virtually all Christian interpretations of Jesus’ death is to adopt as one’s frame of reference, not the first phrase in the sequence I listed above, but the last term in the series. But, to be fair, we’ll have to wait till the film is out before we can find out.

Jesus Wasn’t the Only Man to Be Crucified. Here’s the History Behind This Brutal Practice.

(Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.) According to the New Testament, the crucifixion of Jesus took place when the Romans executed him. It is the most famous crucifixion in global history. However, Jesus was by no means the first person to die on the cross of Calvary. Thousands upon thousands of individuals were crucified throughout antiquity, which was at the time believed to be one of the most cruel and disgraceful ways to die, according to the beliefs of the time. During the Roman Empire, the crucifixion procedure was a lengthy one that included scourging (more on that later) before the victim was nailed to the cross and hanged from it.

  1. In addition, what kinds of persons were often crucified?
  2. According to a 2003 article published in the South African Medical Journal, crucifixion was most likely first done by the Assyrians and Babylonians, and it was later adopted by the Persians in the sixth century B.C., when it became a standardized technique (SAMJ).
  3. Alexander the Great expanded the practice over the eastern Mediterranean during his empire-building campaign in Persia in 4th century B.C.
  4. Roman authorities, on the other hand, were unaware of the practice until they came across it while battling Carthage during the Punic Wars in the third century B.C.
  5. Given the fact that crucifixion was considered a very horrible way to die, Rome preferred to refrain from crucifying its own people.
  6. The practice gained particular popularity during the Roman occupation of the Holy Land.
  7. Christ was executed on the pretext that he promoted revolt against Rome, placing him on a level with zealots and other political activists, the authors of the research claimed.
  8. Local tribes, on the other hand, were quick to retaliate when Rome’s armies crucified their adversaries.

According to the account, the triumphant Germanic commander Arminius killed many of the vanquished troops who had fought with Varus in 9 A.D., and Germanic tribesmen crucified Roman tax collectors in 28 A.D., among other examples.

What did crucifixion entail?

People sentenced to death by crucifixion in Rome were scourged beforehand, with the exception of women, Roman senators, and military personnel (unless they had deserted), Retief and Cilliers collaborated on the writing. The Roman practice of scourging involved a victim being stripped nude and bound to a post, after which they were flogged over the back, buttocks, and legs by soldiers. The victim would become weak as a result of the excessive whipping, which would result in deep wounds, extreme agony, and blood.

  1. “The victim was then often insulted before being made to carry the patibulumtied across his shoulders to the location of the execution,” says the author.
  2. Occasionally, the Roman troops would inflict more harm on the victim by chopping off a bodily component, such as the tongue, or blinding him.
  3. The following step differed depending on the region.
  4. Once this was done, the victim would either be tied to the patibulum or benailed to it.
  5. Soldiers would typically split up the victim’s clothing among themselves as the victim awaited execution in this situation.
  6. Some Roman troops accelerated the process by inflicting additional physical punishment on the prisoners.
  7. Otherwise, the corpse would have been placed on the cross, where it would have been devoured by carnivorous animals and birds.
  8. After only 6 minutes, the participants were having difficulty breathing and their pulse rates had doubled, while their blood pressure had plunged, according to a 1963 research published in the journal Berlin Medicine (Berliner Medizin).
  9. However, according to Retief and Cilliers, individuals might have died from a variety of causes, including multiple organ failure and respiratory failure, among others.

It’s no surprise that the crucifixion gave rise to the word “excruciating,” which literally means “out of the cross,” because of the anguish and suffering it involved.

  • Image Gallery: Roman Artifacts Found in a Treasure Trove The Jonah Ossuary is featured in this image gallery. Historic Texts Hidden in a Christian Monastery in Iraq, as shown in photographs

The original version of this article appeared on Live Science. Laura works as an editor for the Live Science website. She is the editor of Life’s Little Mysteries and writes on general science, including archaeology and wildlife, for the magazine. Her work has featured in publications such as The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science, and Spectrum, a website dedicated to the study of autism. Since joining a weekly newspaper in Seattle, she has been recognized with several prizes from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for her reporting.

Louis with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and psychology, as well as an advanced certificate in science writing from New York University.

Why was Jesus crucified?

Among the other articles in Slate, Patton Dodd examines violent Passion performances, and Michael Sean Winters provides a behind-the-scenes look at the preparations for Holy Week at a Catholic church. The Crucifixion of Christ, painted by Diego Velázquez Traditional Christian creeds include the assertion that Jesus was crucified “under Pontius Pilate,” which is a basic statement in the faith. However, the vast majority of Christians have only the vaguest understanding of what the term means, and the vast majority of non-Christians are unlikely to comprehend why it is such an important component of Christian faith.

  1. As the Roman procurator of Judea, Pilate was a historical individual who was recorded in numerous sources of the time, including an inscription discovered at the site of ancient Caesarea in Israel, and who was referred to as such.
  2. Beyond that, the term expresses in a succinct manner some rather significant details about that particular historical event.
  3. A young guy died in agony and public disgrace, not in a quiet manner at the conclusion of an extended lifespan.
  4. Not lynched, but executed, it is said, and this was done by the lawfully appointed administrative power of Roman Judea, not by the mob.
  5. This indicates that Pilate discovered something so terrible that it warranted the imposition of the death sentence.
  6. The Romans had a variety of methods for carrying out a judicial death; some, such as beheading, were quicker and less severe than crucifixion, while others, such as beheading, were more painful and time-consuming.
  7. Censorship was meant to be reserved for those who had earned their citizenship by genuine Roman citizenship, however they may still be executed by other ways.
See also:  How Old Was Jesus When He Turned Water To Wine

Primarily, it was reserved for those who were perceived to be raising their hands against Roman rule or those who in some other way appeared to be challenging the social order—for example, slaves who attacked their masters, and insurrectionists, such as the large number of Jews crucified by Roman Gen.

As a result, the accusation that was affixed to Jesus’ cross in the Gospels, “King of the Jews,” reflects the most likely offense for which Jesus was crucified: “King of the Jews.” To put it another way, either Jesus personally declared himself to be the Jewish royal messiah, or his disciples made the same assertion.

  • Indeed, one criteria that might be used more rigorously in current academic arguments concerning the “historical Jesus” is what we can term the condition of “crucifiability”: the condition of “crucifiability” is the ability to be crucified.
  • Encourage people to be friendly to one another; advocate a more flexible interpretation of Jewish law; or even publicly criticize the Temple and its leadership are all sins that are unlikely to have resulted in the death penalty for Jesus.
  • Instead of sentencing him, the governor determined that he was harmless, despite the fact that he was slightly insane and irritating to the Temple priests.
  • The argument that Jesus was a royal messiah would also assist to explain why Jesus was crucified but his disciples were spared.
  • The problem was with Jesus himself.
  • Pilate most likely determined that publicly murdering Jesus would snuff out the messianic zeal of his followers while not accumulating an excessive number of Jewish bodies in the process.
  • In Jesus and Judaism, E.P.

Many other scholars, including Sanders, agree.

If they came to the conclusion that Jesus posed a threat to Roman authority, they were obligated to repudiate him publicly.

However, Jesus was not crucified by Jewish officials.

It’s very obvious what St.

As Martin Hengel demonstrated in his bookCrucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross, authors of the Roman era considered crucifixion to be the harshest penalty imaginable, a punishment of awful humiliation.

It is well-known among historians who study the historical period for its anti-Christian graffito, which displays a crudely drawn crucified man with a donkey’s head underneath a human figure, with the words “Alexamenos worships his god” scrawled beneath the image in scornful cursive.

The crucifixion of Jesus was avoided by some early Christians, while others favored one or more alternative scenarios.

This notion is believed to have been echoed subsequently in the Muslim story that a member of the crowd was wrongly crucified while Jesus fled.

There’s no doubt that at least some early Christians felt the same way as we do.

It implied that the state execution that lay at the foundation and core of their religion had occurred, and that their cherished messiah had been tried and pronounced guilty by a representative of Roman imperial power at the time of his death.

The group was, at the very least, not the type of organization that would easily appeal to individuals who were concerned about their social status.

Despite this, they managed to pull it off somehow. Years of Christian tradition have made the picture of Jesus being crucified so ubiquitous that the offensiveness of the act that it depicts has almost totally faded away from public consciousness.

What Happened to Pontius Pilate — The Man Responsible for Crucifying Jesus?

In front of the crowd, Pilate presents Jesus to them. Wikimedia Commons has made this image available to the public. Pontius Pilate was unquestionably a historical person of importance. At 1961, a slab of limestone with inscriptions was discovered in Caesarea Maritima (modern-day Israel), stating that he served as the Roman governor of Judah during the reign of Emperor Tiberius and during the time period when Jesus was living. A number of documents connected to his rule have also been discovered in Rome among ancient writings.

  • The accusations of treason were brought against Jesus because he claimed to be the “King of all Jews,” which was a prohibited claim to make while Judaea was under the control of Rome.
  • For more than two centuries, Pilate had served as the ruler of that section of the Roman empire (and would continue to be until 36 AD).
  • Many pagan symbols were introduced into hallowed Jewish institutions as a result of his orders, which caused consternation among the local community.
  • He had a conversation with Jesus, and it appears that he first believed him to be innocent.
  • Then, three days after his death, Jesus resurrected from the dead, demonstrating to his disciples that he truly was the son of God (again, according toscriptures).
  • However, despite the significant role that Pontius Pilate had in its inception, the vast majority of people are unaware of what happened to him over the remainder of his life after that.
  • For them, the following few years were just another day at the office.

There were a slew of other suspected rebels who suffered a fate similar to Jesus’s later on throughout his reign.

Furthermore, because the inhabitants of Judaea were not citizens, Pilate was free to be as harsh as he pleased.

Other historical texts also describe how Pilate seized cash from a Jewish temple and used them to construct an aqueduct connecting Jerusalem to the rest of the world.

To do this, he had troops masquerading as citizens enter the unarmed throng and then beat a number of demonstrators to death with clubbing weapons.

In the end, his worst misfortune happened when a group of Samaritans went in search of items that were claimed to have been buried by the Prophet Moses at Mount Gerizim and found none.

Pilate was quickly summoned to Rome, where he was tried by Tiberius after some of the survivors reported to the Roman governor of Syria, Lucius Vitellius, about what had happened to them.

Nevertheless, while he was on his way, Tiberius passed away due to old age and was succeeded by Caligula.

Pilate had just recently resigned from politics and was surviving on a state pension and whatever money he had stolen from the people of Judaea to supplement his income.

Following his death, a vast deal of information about Pilate disseminated throughout Europe.

They just wished to avoid being persecuted any further than they were already being mistreated.

The dissemination of fake letters purporting to be authored by Pilate occurred as early as the 2nd century, according to historical records.

The “Acts of Pilate,” among other sources, described how Pilate allegedly declared, “I have discovered no grounds for the death punishment.

The Jewish mob, on the other hand, wanted him dead and fought back by screaming, “His blood be on us and our children!” To put it another way, they’ll accept responsibility for assassinating the son of God.

According to the author, this quotation was written several years after Christ’s death with the goal of shifting the responsibility from Pilate to the Jews, as previously mentioned.

Eventually, as the Roman Empire converted to Christianity, the guilt for Jesus’ crucifixion was shifted from the Jews to Pontius Pilate.

However, the harm had already been done in terms of the Gospels, which were blaming the Jews. In actuality, Pilate received no punishment at all for all of the atrocities he had done throughout his reign of terror (except perhaps eternal damnation).

New Evidence of How Romans Would Have Crucified Jesus

If you’re interested in learning more about Jesus of Nazareth, one of the few things experts agree on is that the man Christians believe to be the Messiah was crucified in first-century Jerusalem, which is one of the few things scholars agree on. However, when it comes to the facts of his death and burial, there is a great deal of disagreement over what actually occurred. Because the Romans killed the vast majority of convicts by attaching them to wooden crosses, it is extremely unlikely that Jesus was nailed to the crucifixion.

However, a recent archaeological discovery in Italy lends further credence to the biblical statements of the death of Jesus.

The corpse was discovered in a tomb near Venice that had been abandoned for several centuries.

See also:  Who Is Jesus To Me Essay?

In an interview with the Italian newspaper Estense, Gualdi stated that “despite the terrible preservation circumstances, we were able to establish that marks on the bones imply a violent event akin to crucifixion.” This is supported by the fact that the guy was buried straight into the earth (instead of in a tomb) and that there were no grave goods (things that the deceased would want in the afterlife) present, implying that the burial was done without ceremony.

  1. In other words, it was the type of burial that was intended for slaves and criminals alone.
  2. The first was discovered in a tomb from the time of the Romans in Jerusalem in 1968.
  3. In addition to the nail, there was a little piece of olive wood in the heel, which was most likely the same piece of wood that had been used to make the cross.
  4. If you were bound during crucifixion, there is no analogous physical proof because being tied to a cross leaves no scars on the bones.) Crucification is, without a doubt, the most well-known type of ancient punishment.
  5. Despite the fact that the practice of crucifixion was quite widespread in ancient times, the Romans employed this especially painful method of death to enforce social conformity.
  6. The bodies of the condemned would stay nailed to crosses for several days at a time.
  7. in which a husband and wife were nailed to a cross for ten days.

Once they were dead, some were left to decay in public places, while others were pulled down and given to wild animals, and some, like as the Italian skeleton, were buried in mass graves.

The Romans were also not especially conservative in their application of the crucifixion: during the slave insurrection led by Spartacus, 6,000 crosses were placed along the road leading to Rome.

The crucifixion is a subject that Christians of all denominations find particularly compelling.

Christian painters pondered what a crucified body—the fundamental theme of Western art—really looked like as it was nailed to a cross, and how they might depict it.

Sculptor Thomas Banks, together with painters Benjamin West and Richard Cosway, embarked on a genuinely horrific experiment in the year 1801.

Today, the Royal Academy of Arts still has the plaster cast from which it was created.

Banks, West, and Cosway carried out their experiment at an era of medical history that was well-known for its fascination with corpses and dissection; yet, this was not the first time that this type of experiment had been undertaken in the last century.

Apocryphal stories of Michelangelo’s crucifixion surfaced in the 19th century, in which the artist strapped a model to a wooden cross and stabbed him in the side to simulate the physical consequences of the crucifixion When the Shroud of Turin was being investigated for authenticity in the 1930s, a French doctor called Pierre Barbet, the surgeon general of the Saint Joseph Hospital in Paris, offered to assist with the investigation.

  • Barbet tied an unidentified body to a makeshift cross in an attempt to decipher the wound markings on the “hands” of the Turin Shroud in an effort to better comprehend the wounds.
  • Eventually, he penetrated what is known as “Destot’s space,” a tiny aperture about the size of a pea that is surrounded by bones.
  • In World War I, a torture technique known as ‘hanging’ was developed, in which a victim is hung by their hands, which are tied straight over their heads.
  • Unfortunately for Barbet, this was not the case.
  • Francis to recreate the techniques of execution used in the case.
  • The attendees were really excited to see the crucifixion of Jesus, and it showed.
  • “Everyone wanted to go up and feel how it felt,” Zugibe said.
  • Although the results of his trial indicated that people strapped to the crosses did not appear to have much problem breathing, it was a corpse on his coroner’s table that inspired him to continue his research.
  • She had been violently stabbed several times.
  • A common feature of the practice, which is highly opposed by the Catholic Church, is that victims are nailed to a cross on a mock Calvary.

As you would think, the procedure is harsh, but it is popular enough that the Department of Health has issued formal rules, which recommend that practitioners acquire tetanus vaccinations and use sterilized nails.


Crucifixion was a popular means of capital punishment for several centuries, notably among the Persians, Seleucids, Carthaginians, and Romans, from around the 6th century BCE to the 4th century CE. Because of reverence for Jesus Christ, the most famous victim of the crucifixion, Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, banned it throughout the Roman Empire in the early 4th centuryceout of veneration for him.


There were a number of different approaches to carrying out the execution. Ordinarily, after being beaten, or “scourged,” the condemned man would pull the crossbeam of his cross to the location of punishment, where the upright shaft of the cross had already been embedded in the ground. He was stripped of his garments, either at the time of his scourging or earlier, and either tied tightly to the crossbeam with his arms spread or nailed securely to it through the wrists. Afterwards, the crossbeam was hoisted up against the upright shaft and fastened to it at a height of around 9 to 12 feet (nearly 3 metres) above the ground.

A ledge placed around halfway up the upright shaft provided some support for the torso; however, evidence of a corresponding ledge for the feet is uncommon and late in the archaeological record.

Death happened as a result of a combination of factors including restricted blood circulation, organ failure, and asphyxiation as the body strained under the force of its own weight.

Crippling people to death was most commonly employed to punish political or religious agitators, pirates, slaves, or anyone who did not have the right to vote.

Crucifixion of Jesus

The tale of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion in the Gospels begins with the scourging of the Messiah. The Roman soldiers then insulted him as the “King of the Jews” by dressing him in a purple robe and a crown of thorns, and they took him slowly to Mount Calvary, also known as Golgotha; one Simon of Cyrene was permitted to assist him in bearing the cross on his back and shoulders. At the execution site, he was stripped and nailed to the crucifixion, or at the at least affixed to the cross by his own hands, and above him, at the very top of the cross, was a condemnatory inscription proclaiming his crime of professing to be King of the Jews, which he had committed.

The troops split his clothing and drew lots for his seamless robe, which was the winner.

Two guilty thieves were crucified on either side of Jesus, and the soldiers dispatched them at the conclusion of the trial by breaking their legs.

It is possible that one of the soldiers thrust a spear into Jesus’ side, causing blood and water to flow out. However, it seems unlikely that this was the case. To comply with Jewish tradition, he was hauled down before sundown and buried in a rock-hewn grave on the grounds.

Crucifixion in art

Beginning in the early Middle Ages, the image of Christ on the crucifixion has been a popular topic in Western art. Early Christians were preoccupied with simple symbolic affirmations of salvation and eternal life, and they were repulsed by the ignominy of the punishment. As a result, the Crucifixion was not depicted realistically until the 5th century; instead, the event was represented first by a lamb, and then by a jewelled cross after Christianity was recognized by the Roman state in the early 4th century.

  • These early Crucifixions, however, were triumphal representations, depicting Christ as alive and well, with wide eyes and no sign of agony, having triumphed over death and the grave.
  • Following the prevailing mysticism of the time, this narrative was embraced in the West in the 13th century, with an ever-increasing emphasis placed on his suffering as a result of it.
  • Giraudon/Art Resource is based in New York.
  • It is common for the major mourners, the Virgin Mary and St.

However, in various expanded versions of the theme there are a number of other pairs of figures, both historical and symbolic, who traditionally appear to the right and left of the cross: the two thieves, one of whom was repentant, who were crucified with Christ; the centurion who pierced Christ’s side with a lance (and later acknowledged him to be the Son of God) and the soldier who offered him vinegar on a sponge; and small personifications of the Sun and Moon, which were eclipse Other people that might be depicted are the soldiers who cast lots for Christ’s clothing and St.

Mary Magdalene, among others.

Intended to inspire piety in the viewer, this spectacle became the primary concern of artists, who depicted the scene with gruesome realism and occasionally included the horror of a crowd of jeering spectators.

John the Baptist appears on a number of Crucifixions from this period, pointing to Christ and his sacrifice in the same way that he had previously foretold Christ’s arrival on earth.

In common with much Christian religious art, the theme of the Crucifixion declined in popularity from the seventeenth century; some twentieth-century painters, on the other hand, generated very distinctive interpretations of the subject.

Those in charge of editing the Encyclopaedia Britannica Melissa Petruzzello was the author of the most recent revision and update to this article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.