Years ago when I was diving into learning about Christianity I spent a couple of thousand hours marking up the Bible with notes, Post-It's, and high-lighter. I thought that there were some discussions that I could find in there to bring up for honest debate/discussion. One of them is the manner of death that Jesus faced. You could argue that Jesus was executed on a Cross, the most commonly held belief, but also on a stake or pole. I'm curious as to what you think and why. Let me lay some of this out.
Deuteronomy 21:22 "If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree,you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse" I then have that cross-referenced to 1 Peter 2:24 'He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree." The Old Testament prescribes execution on a tree, then it's attested to by Peter.
Part of the problem may come from translations. The New Testament was originally written in Greek. The Greek word for pole is stauros
. Right up until the 1st century BC it clearly meant a pole with no cross beam. About this time the meaning was changed. So now we are left with multiple authors whom all could have meant different things using one word and how do you reconcile it?
Historically it's often attested that a cross beam was used about Jesus' time. However, it's also written by Josephus that "the soldiers out of hatred and rage amused themselves by nailing their prisoners in different positions" (Jewish Antiquities 5.449-51) Further, Josephus accounts for the Crucifixion of 800 Pharisee's during the Disapora but states that there were no Crucifixions in the time of Herod. (Source
pages 31 and 32 in case it doesn't display how I'd like.) So historically we are at an impasse as to which way it would have happened. Jesus death couldn't be any more in the middle of these two times.
Biblically and historically you could make an argument
either way. So what say you? What arguments have you ran across that have convinced you either way? Can we hammer this one out, or is it too muddled in history?