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The Crucifixion of Jesus

April 10, 2009

Larry Hurtado has an interesting piece at Slate on the reasons for the crucifixion of Jesus. A much discussed topic within Christianity and an event at the heart of so many fundamental idea, both good and bad, in the Western world–from the notion of self-sacrifice, the absolution of original sin, the genesis of Anti-Semitism among some, and the promise of salvation for the faithful–this article also explores the meaning of crucifixion as it was practiced by the Romans and the transformation of that meaning by the transformation of Jesus into an historically worshiped figure. Crucifixion in Jesus’ day had a specific meaning and association:

As Martin Hengel showed in Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross, Roman-era writers deemed crucifixion the worst imaginable fate, a punishment of unspeakable shamefulness. Celsus, a Roman critic of Christianity, ridiculed Christians for treating as divine someone who had been crucified. A second-century anti-Christian graffito from Rome, well-known among historians who study the time period, depicts a crudely drawn crucified man with a donkey’s head; under it stands a human figure, and beneath this is a derisive scrawl: “Alexamenos worships his god.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 24, 2009 7:07 pm

    Thanks for this article. Feel free to read thoughts on the crucifiction on my blog and please leave a comment

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