Bible: Expert says nails found may have been used for crucifixion
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Easter Sunday is the single most important date in the liturgical calendar, although it is preceded by another important day – Good Friday. On this day, which falls on April 2 this year, Christians worldwide will commemorate the agonising crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ at the hand of the Romans. According to the Bible, Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, one of his 12 disciples, in exchange for 30 pieces of silver.
Jesus was then brought on trial before the Jewish assembly of elders known as the Sanhedrin where He was condemned on trumped-up charges of blasphemy.
The assembly then brought Him before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate where He stood accused of subverting Roman rule and crowning Himself king.
Luke 23 reads: “Then the entire council took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor.
“They began to state their case: ‘This man has been leading our people astray by telling them not to pay their taxes to the Roman government and by claiming he is the Messiah, a king.'”
Although Pilate found no reason to sentence Jesus to death, he ultimately allowed the gathered crowds to decide his faith.
According to Luke 23, the mob demanded Jesus was crucified.
The scripture reads: “Pilate argued with them, because he wanted to release Jesus. But they kept shouting, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!'”
The preferred Roman method of execution at the time was the crucifixion, which saw the victim tied or nailed to a large wooden beam.
The victims typically suffered for days, dying from sheer exhaustion or asphyxiation rather than blood loss.
According to Tom Meyer, a professor of Bible studies at Shasta Bible College and Graduate School in California, US, this was a horrid and shameful way to die.
But the Romans were not the first to employ this barbaric punishment against their enemies.
Professor Meyer told Express.co.uk: “According to James Freeman (Manners and Customs of the Bible), crucifixion was an ancient mode of capital punishment, and is said to have been devised by Semiramis, the Queen regent of the Assyrian Empire (811 to 806 BC).
The instruments allegedly used in crucifixion of Jesus
“Crucifixion was also later implemented by the Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans to name a few.
“It was a most shameful and degrading punishment. Among the Romans, it was reserved for robbers, assassins, criminal slaves and rebels.”
According to the scripture expert, the victims were first stripped of their clothes, which were seized by the executioner.
They were then fixed to the cross which was lying flat or already driven into the ground.
The limbs were then stretched out and nails or large iron spikes were driven through the hands and feet.
Professor Meyer said: “In this situation, the sufferer was left to linger until death slowly came.
“This usually required two or three days, though sometimes longer.
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“Crucifixion was an agonizingly slow punishment. It proved fatal, not so much due to loss of blood, since the wounds in the hands and feet did not lacerate any large vessel and were nearly closed by the nails which produced them, but by the slow process of complications in the nervous system and exhaustion.
“After the man’s death, the Roman custom was to leave the body on the cross until it was devoured by beasts and birds of prey.”
According to the expert, this was a powerful statement against anyone who might attempt to defy the might of the Roman Empire.
However, an exception was made for the Jewish people as their laws required anyone who died on a tree to be taken down by sunset.
Professor Meyer said: “Otherwise, the Israelites would be guilty of overspreading their land with the dead bodies of criminals.
“The Jews were permitted to bury their crucified countrymen on the day of their crucifixion.
“This usually made it necessary for the executioners to hasten their death, which was done by kindling a fire under them, or by letting hungry beasts attack them, or by breaking their bones with an iron mallet.”
According to the Bible, once the Romans saw Jesus had already died, they pierced his side with a spear.
And though many historians have disputed the Biblical narrative, Professor Meyer believes Christ’s crucifixion unfolded more than two millennia ago as described in the Bible.
He said: “According to the Bible, when the Romans came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear. These things happened in fulfilment of Old Testament Scriptures (John 19:33-37).
“More than 2,000 years later, the resurrected Jewish Messiah continues to be the most controversial figure of all time.”
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City is said to stand atop the site of the crucifixion.
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