The Death of Jesus

The Death of Jesus: Fundamental Biblical Account

The Death of Jesus , is one of the best known events in the history of mankind, it was the time in which the Son of God Jesus descended from his glory to die on a cross out of love for all mankind to be saved and alive next to the father for the rest of eternity. In the following article we will know everything about the Death of Jesus our beloved Lord and Savior.

How was the death of Jesus?

One of the most frequently asked questions about the Lord Jesus Christ and the Church is answered by professors of History and Theology at the University of Navarra. Jesus died while nailed to a cross on the 14th day of Nisan, which means Friday, April 7, 30 AD. This can be deduced from the critical analysis of the Gospel accounts, which were contrasted with the allusions to his death transmitted in the Talmud (cf. TB, Sanhedrin VI,1; fol. 43a).

Crucifixion on a tree was one of the death sentences that the Romans came to apply to all slaves and rebels. It had an infamous type of character, so it could not of itself be applied to a citizen who was Roman, but rather only to foreigners.

Since the Roman authority came to impose this penalty in the land of Israel, there are numerous testimonies that this kind of penalty was applied relatively frequently. The procurator of Syria, who was Quintilio Varo, had been crucified in the year 4 BC to approximately 2,000 Jews as a kind of retaliation for an uprising.

Therefore, reference is made to the way in which the Lord Jesus could have been crucified, which are of undoubted interest for the discoveries that were made in the Givat ha-Mivtar necropolis on the outskirts of Jerusalem. In that same place was found the tomb of a man who was crucified in the first half of the first century AD, that is, he was a contemporary of the Lord Jesus.

The sepulchral inscription allows to get to know his name: Juan, son of Haggol. This man would have measured 1.70 meters tall and may have been up to 25 years old when Jesus died . There is no doubt that it is a crucified person since the gravediggers themselves were unable to later remove the nail that held his feet, forcing them to have to bury him with the nail, which in turn managed to keep a piece From the wood.

This has allowed us to know that the cross of that same young man was made of olive wood. Apparently he had a slight wooden protrusion between his legs that could be used to support himself a little, using it as a kind of seat, so that the prisoner could recover his strength a little and prolong the agony by preventing with that breath an instantaneous death due to suffocation that would occur if all the weight were to hang from the arms with nothing to support it.

The legs would become slightly open and also flexed. The remains that were found in his grave show that the bones of the hands were not crossed or broken. Therefore, it is most possible that the arms of that same man were simply tied with force to the crossbar of the cross, unlike the Lord Jesus, who was nailed.

The feet, compared to the fact that they had become pierced with nails. One of them was still holding a large nail that was long enough. Due to the position in which it is, it could be thought that the same nail would have crossed the 2 feet in the following way:

The legs were going to be a little more open and the post would come to be between the 2, the left part of the right ankle and also the right part of the left one would be supported on the sides of the transverse post, the length of this nail would mainly cross a foot from ankle to ankle, then the wooden post and then the other foot. The ordeal was such that Cicero came to describe the crucifixion as “the greatest ordeal”, “the cruelest and the most terrible ordeal”, “the worst and last of all ordeals, the one inflicted on slaves” ( In Verrem II, book V, 60-61).

However, in order to get closer to the reality of what the death of Jesus on the cross came to mean, it is not enough to get stuck in the most painful and tragic details that history is usually capable of illustrating, because the deepest reality comes to be the one who confesses “that Christ died for all our sins, according to what the Bible says in the book 1 Corinthians chapter 15 verse 3.

In his generous dedication to what was the death of Cruz, he came to manifest the magnitude of God’s great love for every human being in this world, those who had already died and for those who were to be born in the future:  “God shows his love towards us because, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8.

After the launch, blood and water came out of his side. At the ninth hour, which means at 3 in the afternoon, Jesus comes to say: “everything is finished” (This can be found in the book of John 19:30) , and he abandons himself in the hands of God saying: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Book of Luke 23:46).

Account in the Gospel, that “Jesus, giving a loud voice, expired” (Book of Mark 16:37) . This becomes, without a doubt, the last expression of expiratory force, and of a possible heart pain that was extremely acute, which could involve the breaking of the heart of Jesus.

crucifixion of jesus

Jesus’ crucifixion was in Judea, believed to have occurred in AD 30-33. C. The crucifixion of Jesus is described in the gospels and referred to in the biblical epistles. The vast majority of historians and also specialists in the New Testament are those who recognize that the death on the cross of Jesus of Nazareth becomes a type of historical fact, which is attested by the various historians and by the other non-Christian authors of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. C. that mention it.

However, there is no kind of consensus among the many historians about the many circumstances or details about the crucifixion of our beloved lord. According to the New Testament, Jesus comes to be arrested, as well as being tried by the Jerusalem Sanhedrin and later sentenced by the procurator Pontius Pilate for which he is flogged and finally crucified.

Together these events become known as “The Passion of the Christ.” Some of the many non-Christian sources, such as Josephus or Tacitus, also provide a historical image, albeit a very schematic one, of the violent death of the Lord Jesus.

Likewise, for the vast majority of experts in the study of the Bible, the presence of an inscription or a title of condemnation on the cross of Jesus of Nazareth is unanimously present in the 4 canonical gospels which constitute 1 of the most solid data of the historical character of his passion.

The suffering of Jesus and also his death are those that represent the various central aspects of what Christian theology is, among which are included the doctrines of salvation and atonement. Christians have come to theologically understand the death of Jesus on the cross as a kind of death in an atoning sacrifice.

Catholic and also Orthodox Christians come to celebrate what is known as the Eucharist as a kind of actualization or continuation, regardless of time and space, of this very sacrifice.

Details of the Crucifixion of Jesus

Now we are going to explain in a little more detail everything about the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. So we will start with the Harmonization of the New Testament Gospels.

By the “Passion of Christ” is understood the “suffering that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered before dying on the cross of Calvary”, without a necessary relationship to any particular gospel, canonical or even apocryphal, without However, some have even tried to create a kind of harmony of the 4 canonical gospels, such as Tatian as early as the 2nd century and among modern scholars such as K. Bornhäuser and P. Benoit.

This kind of narration that was never accepted as a single one, coming to be demonstrated, for example, in the disputes between the Greek Christians and also the Latin Christians about the date of the Passion of Christ.

And the Syrian Church, which came to adopt what is Tatian’s Diatessaron, which managed or agreed to harmonize the 4 canonical gospels, but then preferred to abandon it in favor of the single gospels. And already in the time of Augustine of Hippo between the years 354 and 430, the differences between the narratives of the passion of Jesus that can be read in the canonical gospels were noted, without even rejecting them for that reason.

Trial and Conviction

The trial and death of Jesus the teacher come to be narrated in ways that certain authors come to consider somewhat contradictory because the details that are usually mentioned in the gospels not only coincide with each other, but also at different times.

According to the 3 synoptic Gospels that are Matthew, Mark and Luke, the master Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by a group of officers under the orders of the high priests, the scribes and also the elders, and was identified by one of his disciples named Judas Iscariot who betrayed him with a kiss.

According to the apostle John, those who arrested Jesus became guards appointed by the high priests and the Pharisees, together with a detachment of soldiers who were commanded by a “chiliarch”, a Greek word commonly used by the Greeks. to come to refer to a Roman military tribune, which seems to present the arrest as the work of a Roman officer with the soldiers of the praetorium.

According to the Gospel of John he was first brought before Annas, who then referred him to his son-in-law Caiaphas, “The High Priest of That Year.” The Jewish tradition is that it records the cruelty of the Sadducean ruling class: “Woe to me for the house of Hanin (Annas), woe to me for his slander!”

There are differences even between the 3 Synoptics about the interrogation of Jesus by the authorities of the Jews. Mark and Matthew go on to speak of a first meeting that same night of the entire Sanhedrin, which came to decide that Jesus deserved the death penalty for blasphemy, and a 2nd meeting of the Sanhedrin the next morning, which sent him to Pilate.


Flogging by means of the whip called flagrum taxillatum or also flagra was a legal preamble of the Romans to any execution. A journal of the American Medical Association, called “The Journal of the American Medical Association”, goes so far as to describe the Roman practice in this way:

“Generally, the instrument used was a short whip (flagellum) with many loose or braided leather strips, of different lengths, which had tied at intervals some kinds of small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bone […] When Roman executioners or soldiers vigorously whipped the victim’s back again and again, the iron or lead balls caused deep bruises, and the leather strips with the sheep’s bones tore the skin and all subcutaneous tissues that were exposed. they found in their path.

Then, as the victim continued to be whipped, the wounds reached into the underlying skeletal muscles and eventually produced the quivering strips of bleeding flesh.”

Seasons or Falls

According to the synoptic gospels, as soon as he was taken out to be executed, he was forced to carry the cross to a man named Simon of Cyrene. In the gospels it is never mentioned that the Lord Jesus fell to the ground because of the weight of the cross or that a woman named Veronica wiped his face with a cloth:

Such arguments are traced back to later ecclesiastical tradition. In contrast, the Gospel of John stops short of mentioning Simon of Cyrene, instead describing Jesus carrying his own cross to the place of execution.

In the Gospels, Jesus was led to a place which was called Gólgotha ​​(Aram.: Gûlgaltâ), which means, in the Aramaic language, “Place of the Skull”. The Gospel of Mark goes so far as to describe that Jesus was crucified at the third hour, which corresponds to 9 in the morning, while the Gospel of John mentions that this event happened at the sixth hour, which corresponds to 11 in the morning. or at 12 noon.

Jesus dies on the cross

Obviously, he did not shout to get anyone’s attention, but as a consequence of this he reflects the instantaneous perception of a type of pain of very strong and ineffable intensity, which is caused by a type of massive infarction even, as it has come to be said, with a rupture of the myocardial wall.

This kind of rupture can be produced by a coagulopathic valve disease (which is known as a type of abnormal closure of a heart valve due to a blood clot), although this type of phenomenon requires a kind of cardiac wall that is extremely weakened.

The entire Creation trembles before the cry of Redemption: “At that very moment, the veil of the Temple is torn in about 2 parts, from top to bottom; the earth trembled and the rocks broke” (Matthew 27:51).

After about 3 hours of darkness, the strong voice of Jesus must have impressed everyone. “When the centurion and those who guarded Jesus saw the earthquake and what was happening, they were very afraid and said: «Truly this was the Son of God»” (Matthew 27:51).

Post Registration

Together with the sentenced person, on many occasions, a kind of title is given, which in the Greek language is: τίτλος, titles or a kind of inscription of the position. The use of this type of signs on the position is recorded in the Historiæ Romanæ, by Dion Casio.

The gospels narrate that a similar kind of inscription was placed on Jesus, however, only the Gospel of John manages to declare that the title was written in about 3 languages, which are:

  • Hebrew
  • Greek
  • Latin

In order to get to be read by the multitudes of foreigners who came to flock to Easter. The Gospel of John goes so far as to say that Jesus’ cargo sign went so far as to say “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews.” In the most concise version of the apostle Mark, he only says the following:

  • “The King of the Jews”

In the case of the book of the apostle Luke, it is described that the inscription goes so far as to say:

  • “This is the king of the Jews”

In the case of the book of the apostle Matthew, it is described that the inscription goes so far as to say:

  • “This is Jesus the King of the Jews”

Only the apostle John is the one who comes to mention in the same way the objection of the chief priests, who came to ask that the inscription be changed to say:

  • “He said: I am king of the Jews.”

So Pilate came to reject this request by answering “I have written what I have written”, you can see this in the book of John 19:22.

Exploitation and Death

It was very common for the execution groups to be made up of about 4 soldiers and 1 centurion, and that they could claim all the victim’s assets as part of their salary. In effect, the Bible goes so far as to narrate that, after being crucified, the soldiers divided his garments in bets.

Also, contrary to what is typically represented in Christian art, Professor Josef Zias, who is a leading anthropologist at Rockefeller University and also a former curator of the Department of Antiquities and the Israel Museums, goes so far as to suggest that the crucifixions in the Judean regions would not have been on very high or large crosses.

This in view of the fact that the wood that was most available for the executions was going to be the olive tree and these types of trees do not become very tall, which the professor even suggests that all the sentenced ones who were crucified were placed ” at eye level of the observer.

Causes of Death

The cause of death of Jesus responds to various types of factors, however, the most affected system becomes the cardiorespiratory system due to:

  • The great emotional tension and the intense nervous discharge that causes tachycardia, and the redirection of blood flow.
  • A hypovolemic shock which is caused by the hemorrhages and, perhaps in part, septic (infectious).
  • For cardiac arrhythmias, due to a high tachycardia, which overloads the heart and the alteration of potassium in the blood.
  • A heart failure that produces secondary pericardial and pulmonary edema (which is a kind of fluid spill) that could progressively reduce gas exchange in the lung and heart contractility.
  • By Asphyxiation which is caused by pulmonary edema and also by the position of the crucified that limits the class of efficiency of the respiratory cycle.
  • The presence of circulating thrombi that can even obstruct the arteries of vital organs cannot be forgotten. It is very likely the establishment of a myocardial infarction and also of an alteration of the heart valves due to the presence of a clot, which can increase the risk of rupture of the cardiac septum.

Other causes that do not directly affect the cardiorespiratory system are renal failure, hyperbilirubinemia, and hyperuremia with serious effects on the central nervous system.

Nail Layout

According to the Gospel of John, it says that Jesus got his hands nailed. However, the Greek word for hand, used in the gospel, which is “χείρ (kheír)”, which comes to refer to both the forearm and the hand.

This same word is used in the gospels which is translated as “hand” which also appears in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, where it is narrated that Peter’s chains fell from “his hands”, being that they must have been on the wrists.

The launched

As soon as he expired, Jesus’ body became livid, white with the symptoms of muscular rigidity which are typical of rigor mortis: the face becomes stretched and the nose lengthens, while the cheekbones themselves they sink. His eyes could have been half-open and his mouth half-closed, his lips livid, probably showing a part of his tongue that was possibly sore.

The wrists and feet collapsed due to the dead weight of Jesus’ body, and probably, the knees were able to bend and the legs turn, both to the same side, around the nail, when they hit the instep the total weight of the body.

“One of the soldiers even pierced his side with a spear, and at the same moment blood and water came out of the hole” (John 19:33). Roman soldiers were specially trained to attack the right chest of the criminal or adversary with the spear. They knew that if they could get through that area of ​​the human body, a kind of very severe hemorrhage would occur.

The tip crosses first the pleural and pericardial spaces, and then the right heart, a wall that is relatively thin and into which the venous blood flows, which comes from the 2 venae cavae. Only from this part of the thorax can a very abundant blood flow be obtained due to the perforation.

The spear could very well have passed through the 4th or 5th intercostal space, from the bottom to the top, without breaking any of the ribs. Saint John comes to narrate in his gospel that first the blood came out of his body and then the water, which was establishing a sequence that had a very special meaning for that young, brave and in love disciple of Jesus, the only one of the apostles. that after the Last Supper with the Lord he was present at his Crucifixion.

The apostle John comes to point out in a very clear and graphic way the delivery of Jesus: even the “last drop” of His blood was the one that He shed. From a more physiological point of view, if the pressure of the right atrium of the heart and of the venae cavae had become greater than the same pressure of the edematous fluids of the extensive pulmonary and cardiac interstitial spaces, it is reasonably perfect that, when the spear was withdrawn, the blood would come out first and then the water.

On the other hand, the cadaveric rigidity itself could have caused a large volume of blood, which comes from the lower extremities and also from the abdomen in an intense way, which were contracted by rigor mortis, which caused it to move towards the extensive venous spaces, above all, to the large cavas and, of course, to what is the right atrium.

Possible Causes of Death

Some researchers have come to believe that Jesus’ death may have come about as a kind of “heartbreak” result, because of the gospel story of water and blood flowing from Christ’s wound. According to them, the cardiac rupture would have been associated with previous myocardial damage that could have occurred due to a blow to the chest during his execution.

The story regarding the blood and water could simply come to be treated according to scientists as a type of symbolism or “miraculous” story which is devoid of forensic meaning.

One of the various theories is the Pierre Barbet theory which states that the typical cause of death on the cross was suffocation. Well, since all the weight of the body was simply supported by the arms that were stretched out, the condemned man had serious problems inhaling, due to the hyperexpansion of the intercostal muscles and also of the chest.

Because of this, the executioners even broke the legs with iron mallets if they wanted to accelerate the death of the crucified, since in this way the victim was left without any sustenance to be able to get up and continue breathing.

However, the renowned Dr. F. Zugibe, of Columbia University, has come to include, after having carried out many types of experiments on volunteers since 1980, that when someone is supported with the arms of about 60 ° at 70° from the vertical, although breathing difficulties may occur, it cannot be impossible.

And you notice that the experiments from before, in which a collapse could occur in only about 6 minutes, were carried out on people who were suspended by the wrists less than about 40 inches, which is the same as 1 meter in height. distance one from the other.

You can also observe that Jesus ended up being suspended for a few hours, and not just 10 minutes. Zugibe goes so far as to assure that the crurifragium was used only as a kind of “knockout blow”, causing a severe traumatic shock or also a fat embolism, however, it was in no way intended to induce death by suffocation.

Currently it is believed that death on a cross could occur for a number of reasons, such as hypovolemic shock due to the hemorrhage that was caused by the many lashes and nails; or sepsis that was generalized from infected wounds.

It could also occur due to the combination of a series of many causes such as dehydration, sunstroke, or even chronic fatigue, which could eventually lead to cardiac arrest, etc. For all this it would be truly unfair to affirm that the death of Jesus came to be for a single cause.

There are, however, people who come to defend what is the hypothesis that Jesus could not have died on the cross of Calvary, but simply fell into a state of mental unconsciousness.

Crucifixion Date

According to the synoptic gospels, Jesus would have been executed on the same day as the Jewish Passover, while in the Gospel of John it was on the eve of that same feast. The Encyclopedia Judaica goes so far as to explain:

“We have to assume that Jesus celebrated what was the festival of the day before, according to what was the Galilean custom, in the event that the festival had to coincide with the Sabbath. For according to the concept of [the Pharisaic school of Shamay], which is revalent in Galilee, the sacrifice of the Passover lamb became a particular type of sacrifice and was not admissible on the Sabbath day.”

Astronomical aspects

The 4 gospels are the ones that mention that the crucifixion happened around noon. Those of Matthew in chapter 27 verse 45 and the book of Mark chapter 15 verse 33, even say that there were about 3 hours of darkness. The book of Luke chapter 23 verse 45 uses a type of term that can come to mean that the sun was eclipsed (this is the supposed crucifixion eclipse).

However, a type of solar eclipse could not occur on the 14th day of Nisan (or on a very close date), since on that date of the Jewish calendar, every year, the moon appears in its full phase ( that is, when the earth is between the moon and the sun) and the type of astronomical phenomenon only came to be produced when there is a new moon (that is, when the moon is between the earth and the sun).

On the other hand, a solar eclipse does not last more than 3 hours. In the film entitled “Barabbas” by director Richard Fleicher and also by producer Dino De Laurentiis, the scene of the crucifixion part and the death of Jesus was filmed on February 15, 1961 during an eclipse real solar, to get to reflect as the book of Luke 23:45 says.

The film begins with the criminal Barrabás being released in place of Jesus, and a short time later Barrabás arrives to attend the crucifixion of Jesus. By minute 13 of the film, darkness begins, and Laurentiis shot in real time to the eclipse over the course of the 3 1/2 minutes of darkness.


From the theological exegesis of a man named Julius Wellhausen with the phrase: “Without his death, Jesus would not have become historical” which is supported by modern historiography; even the criticism that has been more radical according to the consensus of the scholars of the Jesus Seminar as a type of “accidental fact, but something historical in the end” goes so far as to give the crucifixion of Jesus a kind of authentic support without precedent for an ancient character.

The baptism of the Lord Jesus and also his crucifixion come to be considered about 2 factual facts about the Lord Jesus for what James Dunn states:

“That there are some 2 facts in the life of Jesus: the baptism of Jesus and also the crucifixion of Jesus that come to claim almost universal acceptance” and that “stand out with great prominence… among the facts that are impossible to doubt or to arrive at to deny… on the scale of great historical events”

Which generally become the starting points in the study of the historical Jesus. Bart Ehrman goes so far as to state that the crucifixion of Jesus by the mandate of Pontius Pilate becomes the most reliable fact that we have about the Lord Jesus.

descent from the cross

Before reaching down the body of the cross, it was something of great custom of the Jews to wrap the head of the deceased with a shroud or a cloth, especially if it was especially disfigured.

Upon placing the corpse of Jesus in a horizontal position, and greatly favored by the cadaveric rigidity itself, it becomes very possible that a part of the fluid from the pulmonary and pleural edema came out through the area of ​​the mouth and from the nostrils, which were wetting the shroud placed around the head.

This type of liquid could have some blood particles, which becomes very common in people who were dead due to a very acute pulmonary edema (which is known as pulmonary flooding).

When Joseph of Arimathea was lowering the Lord Jesus from the Cross and the already inert body of Jesus descended to the ground, he came to hold it in his arms, for which he removed the crown of thorns, and perhaps from the neck. and in the areas of the shoulders of Jesus he could perceive the pleasant aroma of legitimate tuberose, of great value, that a woman generously spilled on his hair a few days before the Passion occurred, this can be corroborated in the book of Matthew 26:7.

Joseph of Arimathea, with the help of Nicodemus and also the apostle John, manage to place the body of the Lord Jesus in the tomb, remove the shroud according to Jewish custom, and wrap it in about 2 planes (front and back), the body of Jesus with a kind of new sheet, says the Gospel of Matthew 27:59, completely impregnated with myrrh and also with aloes, book of John 19:39.

The forensic observation of the body of Jesus was going to reveal, therefore: the typical signs of hypoxia; as well as massive hemorrhage and hypovolemic shock; paleness of the mucous membranes and internal organs such as, for example, the lungs, liver, kidneys, and large arteriovenous vessels; these are the signs of suffocation in the brain and lungs consistent with prolonged agony.

If it is taken into account that the spear that went through the lung and also the right heart of Jesus was produced after the Lord had already died, so the scarcity of mortal injuries would be verified in the corpse , this means, injuries that by affecting a vital organ would cause death instantly.

The death of Jesus becomes the result of a very long agonizing process that has lasted at least 12 or even 13 hours, approximately from 2 in the morning on Thursday night, which was when the song of the rooster and Pedro’s denial is around three in the morning and the Agony of the Garden happened a short time before, until noon, which was the ninth hour of the following Friday.

The cross of Christ

The renowned researcher named Raymond Edward Brown went so far as to affirm: The term “cross” comes to condition the concept of it, because it is the one that transmits the kind of idea of ​​2 lines that come to be cut. However, neither the Greek word “stauros” nor the Latin word “crux” necessarily have the same meaning.

The original word that is used in the Bible to refer to this same instrument of death, staurós, primarily only meant “post”, “stake” and later came to be used, long before Christ, to refer to a extensive range of crosses that came to be used by the Romans in classical antiquity.

This same Brown researcher was the one who stated that, despite the kind of impossibility of knowing for sure, on the sole basis of what is the meaning of the word “σταυρός”, what was the specific way of the cross in which the Lord Jesus came to die, this can be concluded from the fact that Simon of Cyrene himself or even the Lord Jesus himself carried the cross to the place of execution, which must refer to the patibulum that was to be executed. to serve as a kind of crossbar for the execution cross.

In this way, therefore, Jesus died on a compact crux. Clear evidence of the shape of the cross can be found in the interpretation given by early Christians to their position on prayer. For the Odes of Solomon (from the end of the 1st century to the beginning of the 2nd century AD), the praying position, with the arms extended, which were taken by the first Christians at the moment of praying, represented what which was the position of Jesus on the cross.

The representation of the figure of the praying man, which is constantly found in the catacombs, cryptically evoked for Christians, then under persecution, the cross and the crucifixion of Jesus in a way that the uninitiated did not understand. In this way, the Christians prayed with their arms outstretched, holding them in the shape of a cross, while in the case of the pagans they prayed with their hands raised above their heads.

Tertullian was the man who declared that Christians not only came to raise their hands, but in the same way extend them and confess Christ imitating what was the Lord’s passion in prayer. So he observed a type of reflection of this Christian way of praying in the birds that “soar towards the sky and extending the cross of their wings instead of hands say something that seems to be a prayer”

Minutius Félix (between the years 150 and 270) also came to compare the shape of the cross (crux) to that of a man who comes to pray with his hands outstretched and to other types of similar objects: «Well, we see the sign from the cross, as is natural, in a ship carried with full sails or gliding with outstretched oars; and when the crossbar is raised it is the sign of the cross; and when a man with outstretched hands comes to worship God with a pure mind.”

Crux Commissa

The so-called crux commissa, which means “Cross Tau” or “Cross of Saint Anthony” becomes the form of the cross of Christ present in what is the earliest paleochristian art, and in some of the oldest writings about what It refers to the cross of Jesus. On the other hand, according to the Greek and Latin sources, this became a more common form and is the one that was generally used for crucifixion in the Roman Empire.

It would not be necessary to have to lower the crossbar to be able to place the position sign, since an attachment could be incorporated for this, or simply increase the angle of the arms to thus leave a space above the head.

The use of the crux commissa became so common in the Roman Empire that with the passing of time it was popularly considered the most natural form of a cross, this form coming to resemble the word itself. For example, Lucian of Samosata, the writer of Syrian/Greek origin of the 2nd century AD. C., in his work entitled “The Judgment of the Vowels”, confirmed the popularity of this type of cross:

“Thus he reviles men (the letter Τ) as to words; and in fact, how he comes to outrage them! Lamenting all the men, they deplore their misfortune and come to curse Cadmus for having come to introduce the Tau (Τ) in the Guild of letters. They say that the tyrants came to take it as a model and imitated it in terms of its shape to get to carve the timbers under the same type and fix men on a cross on them.

And that its infamous name comes from this kind of infamous machine. I believe that no lesser penalty can be imposed on her in justice than to condemn her to the execution of herself, so that in her own figure she can expiate her crime, since the cross was formed for her and for her equally. men named it that way.

This relationship between what is the word “stauros” and the letter “Tau” does not imply that etymologically “stauros” comes to mean “fix in Tau”, but it is a simple play on words that comes to reflect the natural way and usual in which men came to evoked this type of instrument of death. Regarding the Christian writers of the first centuries who come to attribute this shape to the cross of Christ, this is based on the comparison they make with the letter Tau.

Crux Immissa

The most general version in Christian iconography is the crux immissa (which is the one with the crossbar lowered). The Gospel of Matthew goes so far as to say that the title that was placed “above and above” the head of Jesus, from the preposition “above” and “above”, while the book of Luke 23:38 goes so far as to say “about him”.

According to the expert named Raymond E. Brown, it is to this last description that the representation of the cross is due in the form of a crux immissa instead of a kind of crux commissa. If Jesus had been fixed on a crux simplex, the title would have been placed on his hands or at a height that would have made it difficult for him to stand up to breathe.

Professor JH Bernard goes so far as to indicate that this same statement in the book of Matthew goes so far as to “suggest that the cross was of the form called crux immissa, with a kind of crossbar for the arms, as painters have often represented it to be.” The “International Standard Bible Encyclopedia” makes the same kind of observation:

“The form that is normally seen in the paintings, the crux immissa (Latin Cross “†”), is all that in which the right post is projected with a much shorter crossbar. From the mention of the inscription nailed over the head of Jesus, it may be safely inferred that this becomes the form of the cross on which he died.”

Crux Simplex

Another way to imagine what the cross of Christ is is that of a “crux simplex ad affixionem” or a type of vertical pole without a crossbar, with the hands directly above the head, held by some scholars and religious in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Pastor Hermann Fulda wrote in 1878:

“There were no trees at that time available in every place that was chosen for the realization of a public execution. For this reason, a simple iron beam was sunk into the ground. To this, with the hands raised towards the top, and the feet constantly in the same way, the outlaws were tied or nailed.”

Apparently in the effects on several occasions the Romans could get to use the form of simple crucifixion without the crossbar, even directly on live trees, in this regard Joe Zias comes to declare in his opinion that: “The number of people who were crucified, in fact, may have determined the manner in which the execution took its form. 

Thus, as in the case of the account of the more than 6,000 prisoners of war who came to be crucified along the Appian Way between what were the cities of Rome and Capua [when the Spartacus rebellion occurred] , as a sort of victory celebration, it seems plausible that the much quicker and more efficient way would come to be employed.

That would amount to simply having to tie the victim to the tree or cross with their hands suspended directly above their head”. Zias does not get to pronounce on the death of Jesus, at which time the condemned came to be 3, and not 6,000.

An objection that has been presented to this kind of hypothesis comes to be referred to the case of Jesus is the description of the Gospels of the Bible, where it is understood that there is a plurality of the nails that are used in the hands of Christ. Likewise, the mention that the cargo sign was on Jesus’ head, and not on his hands, which would present a kind of refutation of this thesis.

A drawing of a crucifixion in a Crux Simplex ad Affixionem that Hermann Fulda himself came to consider in 1878 as “the most probable crucifixion of the Savior” shows the hands nailed independently without resorting to a crossbar.

Another objection is that, as has been observed, the Christians of the second century, at the same time of the composition of all the Gospels, knowing the most usual way of Roman crucifixion, never come to describe the cross of Christ as a Crux Simplex but as a kind of patibular cross that is composed with a crosspiece.

cross tree

Finally, there is also a hypothesis that Jesus could have been pinned to a living tree. Echoing the eventual scarcity of wood, the number of prisoners to be executed, or the haste in the executions, there is the thesis proposed by, among others, Professor Joe Zias that the Romans on several occasions could get to crucify victims directly into trees. Zias, as has already been said, does not pronounce on the execution of Jesus.

It is in television programs that documentarians, such as Jean-Claude Bragard and Bryan Bruce, have come to affirm that Jesus could also have been executed on a living tree, and Bruce attributes this same opinion to Zias.

Also the evangelical pastor named John D. Keyser, from the “Hope of Israel” church, came to affirm that the Lord Jesus died on a patibulum which was fixed to a tree and that the 2 thieves who were crucified with him came to be tied to the same tree. He says this by citing the book “The Secrets of Golgotha” by Ernest L. Martin, which says that the set of tree and gallows was a stauros in the broad sense that this word had come to assume in the 1st century AD. c.

On the other hand, in addition to the scarcity of wood in the region of Israel in the days of Jesus, another of the bases of the proposals for this kind of idea is that in certain Biblical texts of the New Testament specifically in the books of Acts; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24, the Greek word ξύλον (xylon) is used to refer to the cross of Christ, a word that among many other meanings has a meaning of “tree”.

The possibility of the meaning of “tree” for the word ”xylon” is confirmed in Xenophon’s Anabasis, 6.4-5, and in the book of Revelation 22:14. However, it has been refuted that the generic meaning of the word “wood” for what the word xylon is refers to the material from which it was built, and not its shape.

This same use of the word xylon, to come to refer to the cross of Christ, which has existed for many centuries, without having come to mean a living tree. Already in early Christian literature this kind of word was used as in the Odes of Solomon:

The Odes of King Solomon (from the end of the 1st century to the beginning of the 2nd century AD): “I stretched out my hands and brought them close to my Master, for the spread of my hands is His sign: My expansion is the xylon (tree / cross) extended, which was erected in the path of the Just. (Ode 42:1-2).

And in this way, as the word xylon is constantly used to come to refer to the cross of Christ in the Greek liturgy, and yet the orthodox church at all times has come to conceive of the cross of Christ as a kind of common patibular cross .

Archaeological Finds of Representations of the Crucifixion of Jesus

The earliest early Christian art became rich in symbology. Some kinds of representations appear as:

  • The Good Shepherd
  • the praying
  • Dove
  • The fish
  • The Anchor etc.

However, strangely, the sign of the cross appears late, and the image of Christ in it even more so. In any case, there are certain interesting findings that could mean, according to their dating and their interpretation, the representations of the death of Christ even older, and therefore, could throw some clues about the earliest traditions. regarding his crucifixion.

Ossuary Crosses and Jewish Inscriptions

In the year 1873 a renowned French scholar named Charles Clermant-Ganneau reported the discovery of a kind of burial cavern on the Mount of Olives. Inside there were about 30 ossuaries, many of them had cruciform signs next to the names that were so common for that same time, such as John or Jesus.

Later, in 1945, a kind of family tomb was discovered in “Talpiot”, located in Jerusalem, by Professor EL Sukenik belonging to the “Museum of Jewish Antiquities of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem”. About 2 ossuaries have the name “Jesus” in the Greek language. The second also has 4 large crosses drawn on it.

Prof. Sukenik concluded that the inscriptions and also the crosses were associated, being them the “expressions of sorrow for the crucifixion of Jesus”. In the light of paleographic studies, these same inscriptions, which would date from the 1st century BC. C., to the 1st century AD. C.​

However, the most current opinion of all archaeologists is usually to rule out the Christian attribution to this type of mark, which actually appears in 40% of all ossuaries found in Israel, even in those prior to the days of Christ, since it has been concluded that it was used simply to align the lid in the shape of the mason’s marks.

This kind of interpretation is confirmed by the presence of a type of asterisk on the same side of the lid of all the ossuaries. This becomes the opinion of archaeologists like LY Rahmani and the Kloner Amos. Rahmani calls them “Direction Mark”. This kind of conclusion comes to be shared by the investigation into alleged Christian cross markings on a series of Jewish ossuaries of the so-called Professor RH Smith.

In Pompeii and Herculaneum

The discovery in the Pompeii and Herculaneum regions of many crosses, including one that was made of plaster on the wall of the so-called “Casa Pansa” and the imprint of another found on the wall of a bakery in the so-called ” House of the Bicentennial”, have come to be interpreted as proof of an early cult of the Christian cross and the testimony of the way in which the Lord Jesus Christ came to die, prior to the year 79 AD. c.

The existence of the graffito of the Domus of 22 in Pompeii, which Bovius Audit Christianos goes so far as to say, which means in its translation “Bovio listens to the Christians”, which seems to reinforce this same hypothesis.

In comparison, Professor José María Blázquez, in the work entitled “Primitive Christianity and Mystery Religions”, goes so far as to state that “it is somewhat doubtful that it would become a type of Christian symbol at a very early date, since the cross as a symbol Christian is attested from the fourth century, as in the sarcophagi no. 171 and no. 169 found in the Lateran Museum, already from more or less in the middle of that century, or no. 106 of this same museum, from the end of the century”.

In this same line, the professor named Antonio Varone also comes to rule out the Christian adjudication. He writes that in order to find “a true type of worship of the cross as a kind of object, one must wait until the fourth century, when the conversion of the emperor and also of all the masses of pagans would make such a form of worship come into being.” much more in keeping with his spirituality.”

So Varone also adds the following: “Even in the second and third centuries and until the times of Emperor Constantine it is very rare to find such a symbol in a connection that is clear with Christianity.”

In the same way, he states that, apart from the doubts about what is the identification of this symbol that is supposed to be a kind of Christian cross, “there is the great discovery in the same bakery of the painting of a divinity with a snake, and certain extremely obscene finds that are equally very difficult to reconcile with the alleged Christian spirituality of the bakery owner.

It is well known that since the dawn of civilization, even before it became a type of symbol of redemption, the cruciform emblem was used with a very clear magical and ritual meaning. In ancient times it was believed that the cross had the power to protect from evil influences or destroy them, and served mainly as an amulet.

The Alexamenos Graphite

In the year 1856, on a wall of the rooms used by the Praetorian Guard, in the ruins of the imperial palaces of the city of Rome, a kind of inscription was found in which a kind of cross of the hanging an ass In front of this is a man with open arms in a prayerful position that comes to contemplate the cross.

A Greek language inscription reads αλεξαμενοϲ ϲεβετε θεον, Alexámenos sébete Theón, “Alexámenos venerates God”. Palatine graffito is thought to date from the days of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, between 161-180 AD. C., however, some have come to date it as late as in the course of the reign of Alexander Severus, between the years 222 and 235 AD. c.

Professor JM Blázquez is the one who states that “the presence of the cross seems to indicate that it is a kind of anti-Christian mockery. Which is widespread and that there was the accusation that the Jews once worshiped the head of an ass, according to Flavio Josef.

The verification of anti-Christian ridicule that are similar at that same time has led the vast majority of the many scholars to be consulted to believe that this type of graffiti was going to be a kind of anti-Christian blasphemy. The Christian writer Tertullian in his Apologetics went on to write the following:

“A new representation of God that is very recent has been published in this city, which started by a certain criminal who is hired to avoid all the wild beasts in the arena. He unfolded from a drawing with this same inscription that reads: “Onokoites, the god of the Christians”.

The figure came to have the ears of an ass, a foot that was broken and was dressed in a kind of toga and carrying a type of book. In the same way, the lawyer and Christian apologist named Minutius Félix confirmed this when he quoted the pagan opponent Cecilio, who came to pick up the accusation that Christians at all times worshiped an ass’s head.

First Representations

Some of the scholars such as Eric C. Smith and also Richard Viladesau come to believe that the representation of the praying, which is a type of iconographic theme which is present in the early Christian art of the catacombs, a kind of posture of the prayer known since ancient times by the pagans and also by the Jews, which took a special meaning for the first Christians when it came to evoke the cross and the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The truth is that all the Christians of the first centuries came to see in that way of being able to pray a kind of representation of the crucifixion of Jesus: “not only do we raise our hands, but we raise them in the same way, and when we reach to imitate the passion of the Lord, and at the moment of praying, we always confess Christ”.

According to what he says, it was exactly because Christians came to interpret what was prayer with outstretched arms as some kind of reference to the crucifixion of the Messiah that all Jews abandoned this kind of posture of a previously traditional prayer in the Jewish liturgy.

Likewise, it is believed that in the early Christian symbology of the I and II centuries AD. C., the sign of the anchor or the “ancora” was a very veiled form for the cross of Christ, with the intention of hiding his faith in the many times of persecution.

From the third century begin what are the most explicit representations, such as a jewel in the carnelian that comes to show the crucifixion of Christ together with the 12 apostles, from the third century or the fourth century AD. C., which is from the photographic collection and also from the annotations of the classical archaeologist named John Beazley.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, under the section “Veneration of Images”, describes the representation of the body of Christ on the cross: “The crucifixes that are oldest known are those of the wooden doors of Santa Sabina in the city of Rome and a carving on ivory material in the British Museum.

Both date from the 5th century. One type of Syriac manuscript from the 6th century contains a miniature depicting the crucifixion scene. There are other kinds of representations that are similar until the seventh century, after which the custom of being able to add the figure of our Lord to the crosses becomes usual; the crucifix came to take possession everywhere.”

The most referenced illuminated manuscript is the so-called Rabula Gospel, which comes to represent the Crucifixion and also the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which was probably written around the year 586 AD. C. It is the only type of manuscript that is illuminated by early Syriac Christianity that has survived to the present day. It is preserved in the Biblioteca Medicis Laurentiana, in Florence.

Hypothesis on Syncretic Origin of the Ecclesiastical Cross

It has been speculated as to why there are no undoubted Christian representations of the crucifixion of Jesus in pre-fourth-century early Christian art. The most general hypothesis is that this same omission could be related to the Christian beliefs that are rooted in Judaism, which prohibits the use of images of the Death of Jesus .

Minutius Félix, the lawyer and also a Christian heterodox writer of the 2nd century AD. C. does not refer clearly or with the terms of veneration to the cross, but rather limits himself to saying that the cross “is a type of signum that is found at the foundation of all things of human nature ” for which he wrote in his work entitled “the Octavius” the following:

“You are very far from the truth when they attribute a criminal to them as the object of our worship and next to their cross, when they think that we have come to be able to take a guilty man or a mortal for God… We do not get to honor nor do we want torture . You are the ones who consecrate the wooden gods, and you are the ones who adore the wooden crosses as part of your idols” (This is an answer from Octavio to Cecilio about the adoration of the Cross).


For modern Christian exegesis (especially in the Catholic branch) the many hypotheses of “syncretism” in the symbol of the cross become “deliberately unfounded”.

Coming to consider fundamentally that most of these come to be from the book “The Two Babylons” by the theologian of Scottish origin named Alexander Hislop which was published in 1858, it has come to be described by many critics as such as Bill Ellis as a kind of “conspiracy theory propaganda”, as a product of the mixture of the various “rudimentary knowledge about the ancient Middle East and a vivid imagination.”

And Ralph Woodrow, who by the year 1997 came to publish “The Babylon Connection?” where he made a retraction on the much of the information exposed before by Hislop that would come to serve as a bibliographical base for what is the work of “Babylon Mystery Religion” in the year 1966; In the section he refers to the cross for what he states:

“The cross becomes a symbol of the death of Christ, which is used everywhere by almost all Catholic Christian denominations. However, Hislop goes so far as to claim that the cross actually came from Babylon, and that it is usually the symbol of Tammuz.

The same sign of the cross that now the city of Rome comes to worship, was used in the Babylonian mysteries, some have come to suppose that the Babylonians came to worship a cross, they put some crosses that are suspended in the neck, and who displayed crosses in their temples. All this in honor of Tammuz. This is not simply a truth. That the cross design came to be used in the ancient world?

It does not come to be any kind of surprise, in the same way that the crescents, the circles, the squares, the curves, the rulers, the lines, in the same way the wavy lines, the angles, the triangles and finally the combinations. The book of decorative designs from all over the ancient world confirms this type of point with approximately 3,064 drawings. There is no reason to suppose that the design of the cross was more prominent than others.

As the Encyclopedia of “Hasting Religion and Ethics” has come to express in its texts: “The truth that Jesus came to suffer his death on the cross, has come to turn this kind of infamous figure into a symbol of resurrection. and also of salvation.

However, the vast majority of the most modern researchers are inclined rather to consider that the first Christians always preferred the use of what is a religious of the patibular cross because this was simply the most frequent way of the Roman crucifixion of his day.

The Crucifixion of Jesus from Theology

According to theology, the figure of the crucifixion of Jesus was prefigured in the Old Testament a few centuries earlier. In the above, figures such as the Bronze Serpent can be found in the book of Numbers 21: 8, which is placed on a pole, it was in the middle of the healing for the Israelites who were bitten by snakes, or the blood of the immolated lamb, this can be seen in the book of Exodus 12:7, which is printed on the 2 posts and also on the lintel of the houses of the Hebrews, those who preserved them from the plague of death .

Likewise, this same mark that is found in the book of the prophet Ezekiel, which was placed on the forehead of the people who remained faithful, saving them from complete death, can be seen in the book of Ezekiel 9:4. The Hebrew word for mark becomes the same as the last letter of the alphabet (Tav), which is handwritten in the shape of a cross. In the Greek language it is Tau (T), one of the most possible forms of the cross on which Jesus died .

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