London: The episode of Jesus’ crucifixion is based more on traditions of the Christian church and artistic illustrations than antique texts, says a Swedish researcher.
“The problem is that descriptions of crucifixions are remarkably absent in the antique literature,” Gunnar Samuelsson, of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, who recently finished his doctoral thesis on the topic, said.
He added: “The sources where you would expect to find support for the established understanding of the event really don’t say anything.”
The 400-page thesis offers the reader samples of antiquity’s most terrifying texts and gives examples of mankind’s amazing resourcefulness in terms of mind-boggling cruelty against fellow human beings.
Samuelsson has studied the available ancient Greek, Latin and Hebrew/Aramaic literature all the way from Homer to the first century A.D.
While the texts indicate a vast arsenal of suspension punishments, they do not say much about the kind of punishment the Christian tradition claims Jesus was forced to endure.
The thesis clearly shows that although the studied texts are full of references to suspension of objects and the equipment used to this end, no reference is made to ‘crosses’ or ‘crucifixion’.
“Consequently, the contemporary understanding of crucifixion as a punishment is severely challenged. And what’s even more challenging is that 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,” said Samuelsson.
He also points out that the actual execution texts do not describe how Christ was attached to the execution device.
“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,” The Telegraph quoted Samuelsson, as saying.
“If you are looking for texts that depict the act of nailing persons to a cross you will not find any beside the Gospels.”
Samuelsson added: “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.”