Termed one of the most cruel and humiliating deaths that a person could undergo, crucifixion originated with the Persians in the seventh or sixth centuries b.c. and continued until the Roman Emperor Constantine abolished it. An article that appears on The Blog for WhyWon’tGodHealAmputees offers some doubt that Jesus Christ actually died in this fashion.
One should note that the contributors to that blog have repeatedly asserted that Jesus Christ is not a real, historical person. So why they would have interest in a scholar who debates the existence of crucifixion is unknown.
It looks like Gunnar Samuelsson, a newly graduated Swedish theologian, has asserted that it is unlikely that Jesus died by crucifixion. Samuelsson has underwent a three year study of the ancient literature and doesn’t find it probable that crucifixion was used at that time. He only finds references to suspending a person (or part of a person), but no references to actual crucifixion. Even the Bible itself doesn’t actually say that Jesus was crucified, only that he carried a staurus and was hung on it.
Interesting, and wrong. In the Gospels of Matthew, several times Jesus’ execution is referred to as being “crucified” between chapters 20 and 28. Mark also refers to Jesus’ execution as a crucifixion between chapters 15 and 16. Luke refers to crucifixion throughout chapters 23 and 24. John also in chapters 18 and 19. Acts also refers to crucifixion in the death of Jesus, primarily Peter’s first sermon (Acts 2, but again in Acts 4). Paul talks quite extensively about Jesus’ crucifixion in Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Galatians.
The Bible definitely uses the word “crucifixion” extensively to talk about Jesus’ death. Other historical documents that fit into the time period that Samuelsson allegedly studied also mention and describe crucifixion, most notably the works of Josephus. There is also some archeological evidence to back up the documentary descriptions, as we have discovered victims of ancient crucifixions in tombs. Their wounds testify to the accuracy of the description in ancient literature, including the Bible.
However, Saumuelsson is quick to say that he isn’t attempting to undermine Christianity. He’s just trying to arrive at the truth of an ancient tradition, much like the rest of us. “Samuelsson — who believes that ‘the man who walked this earth was the Son of God, and that he will return to judge the living and the dead’ — says this accusation is simply ‘stupid.'” (source)
So, let’s not let this news get us all bent out of shape.