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Encyclopedia Britannica

About Crucifixion

"Crucifixion: important method of capital punishment, particularly among the Persians, Seleucids, Jews, Carthaginians, and Romans from about the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD. Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, abolished it in the Roman Empire in AD 337, out of veneration for Jesus Christ, the most famous victim of crucifixion. Punishment: There were various methods of performing the execution. Usually, the condemned man, after being whipped, or "scourged," dragged the crossbeam of his cross to the place of punishment, where the upright shaft was already fixed in the ground. Stripped of his clothing either then or earlier at his scourging, he was bound fast with outstretched arms to the crossbeam or nailed firmly to it through the wrists. The crossbeam was then raised high against the upright shaft and made fast to it about 9 to 12 feet (approximately 3 metres) from the ground. Next, the feet were tightly bound or nailed to the upright shaft. A ledge inserted about halfway up the upright shaft gave some support to the body; evidence for a similar ledge for the feet is rare and late. Over the criminal's head was placed a notice stating his name and his crime. Death, apparently caused by exhaustion or by heart failure, could be hastened by shattering the legs (crurifragium) with an iron club, so that shock and asphyxiation soon ended his life. Crucifixion was most frequently used to punish political or religious agitators, pirates, slaves, or those who had no civil rights. In 519 BC Darius I, king of Persia, crucified 3,000 political opponents in Babylon; in 88 BC Alexander Jannaeus, the Judaean king and high priest, crucified 800 Pharisaic opponents; and in about AD 32 Pontius Pilate had Jesus of Nazareth put to death by crucifixion. 

The account of Jesus Christ's Crucifixion in the Gospels begins with his scourging. The Roman soldiers then mocked him as the "King of the Jews" by clothing him in a purple robe and a crown of thorns and led him slowly to Mount Calvary, or Golgotha; one Simon of Cyrene was allowed to aid him in carrying the cross. At the place of execution he was stripped and then nailed to the cross, at least nailed by his hands; and above him at the top of the cross was placed the condemnatory inscription stating his crime of professing to be King of the Jews. (The Gospels differ slightly in the wording but agree that the inscription was in "Hebrew," or Aramaic, as well as Latin and Greek.) On the cross Jesus hung for three hours of agony. The soldiers divided his garments and cast lots for his seamless robe; various onlookers taunted him. Crucified on either side of Jesus were two convicted thieves, whom the soldiers dispatched at eventide by breaking their legs. The soldiers found Jesus already dead; but, to be certain, one of them drove a spear into his side, from which poured blood and water. He was taken down before sunset (in deference to Jewish custom) and buried in a rock-hewn tomb."

 
Philip W. Goetz, "Crucifixion" (Encyclopaedia Britannica: Chicago, 1988 ed.) Vol. 3, p. 762

 


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Bible Characters and History - Walter G. Williams
Assyrian Pride - Ashurnasirpal II
The Ancient British - Julius Caesar
The Horrors of the Jerusalem Siege - Flavius Josephus
The Ancient Greek Language - A.T. Robertson
Holy Places in Jerusalem - John Wilkinson
Not One Stone Upon Another - Kathleen Kenyon
Palestine - George Allen Turner
Jews and Their Land - David Ben-Gurion
Herod's Speech on the Eve of the Temple's Reconstruction - Josephus
Pompey Enters the Holy of Holies - Cornelius Tacitus
Julius Caesar and the Jews - Jeremy C. Jackson
Cyrus Captures Babylon Account - Herodotus of Halicarnassus
"Sacred Prostitution" in Babylon - Herodotus - The Histories
Pontius Pilate and the Aqueduct Riots - Flavius Josephus
Cutting A Path - Kenneth S. Wuest
Original Meanings of Words
- Henry Craik
Hebrew - The Rich Language - Robert Baker Girdlestone
Jerusalem - 3000 Years of History
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The Earliest Christian Creed
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The Pick and the Spade
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Peculiar Customs
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Jesus' View of the Old Testament
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Heathen Oracles and Hebrew Prophecy
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Abraham's Seed - Blessing of the Nations
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Samson and the Philistines - R. K. Harrison
Quotes From Some U.S. Presidents - William Federer
Octavian and Herod - F. F. Bruce
History, Archaeology and the Bible - Henry Clarence Thiessen
The Day of Christ's Birth - Harold W. Hoehner
The People of the Bible
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When did Jerusalem become the Capital of Israel? - Kathleen Kenyon
When was Bible Completed According to Archaeology?
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Kenyon on the Rylands Fragment - Sir Frederic Kenyon
Papyrology and Dating the New Testament - Millar Burrows
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The Reliability of the New Testament Text
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Koine Greek (330 BC - 330 AD) - Daniel B. Wallace
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Hellenistic Anti-Semitism
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Ancient Customs and Scripture
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The Paradox of Palestine
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Geography and the Bible
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The Mystery of Jesus - Daniel Rops
The 5 Books of Moses and Archaeology - Gleason L. Archer, Jr.
A Letter to his Uncle - Sir William Mitchell Ramsay
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God's Placement of Palestine - Sir G. A. Smith
Historians and Christians - John Elder
Judaism or Christ
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Paul's Use of the Old Testament
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The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon - Hazel W. Perkin 
The Acts Of The Apostles - Merril C. Tenney 
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The Moral Status In Jesus' Time - J.W. Shepard
Josephus on Crucifixion - Flavius Josephus
Old Testament Exegesis - Douglas Stuart
Idol Worship - James B. Walker
Letter From A Pioneer of Biblical Archaeology - Maj. General C. W. Wilson
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Assyrian Cruelty - Asshurizirpal Inscription
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Reliable Sources - John Warwick Montgomery
History or Literature or Scripture? - Arthur Wainwright
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The Roman Army - George H. Allen
Origin Of Languages - William Sanford LaSor
Solomon's Gold From Ophir - Merril F. Unger
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Between The Testaments - Charles F. Pfeiffer
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Luke, The Greek Historian - Kenneth S. Wuest
Luke and the Book of Acts - W. M. Ramsay
Why Were Some Animals Unclean In Leviticus? - G.J. Wenham
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Mount Moriah - Benjamin Chapman
The Synagogue - James M. Freeman 
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Pliny's Conversation With Trajan About The Christians - Edwin M. Yamauchi
The Crossing of the Red Sea - L. Thomas Holdcroft
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About Crucifixion - Encyclopedia Britannica
Notable Sayings About The Bible - Henry H. Haley
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Opinion About The NT From A World Renown Archaeologist - W. F. Albright
The Best Ancient Poesy And The Bible - Cowley
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