This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

How was Christ crucified?

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Jesus
Jesus on the cross

When most Christians believe that Jesus died on two piles shaped in form of a cross, the truth can be completely different. Early Christians left various accounts.

Greek and Latin words used in early Christian sources have an ambiguous meaning. The Greek word used in the New Testament xylon – means a living tree, wood or object made of wood. Another word stauros refers to the vertical bar; but in koine (Greek dialect) it means “cross”. On the other hand, Latin word crux meant not only “cross”.

Due to the method of attaching the transverse beam, the following crosses were distinguished:

  • crux commissa – a cross in the form of the letter “T”;
  • crux immissa seu capitata; – a standard cross known to us from churches;
  • crux decussata or andreana – cross of Saint Andrew in the shape of the letter “X”.

Theodor Mommsen, in turn, considered the cross in the shape of the letter “Y” to be the earliest shape of the cross.

Archaeological findings, especially from the vicinity of Jerusalem (from 1968), dated to the first century CE, suggest that in the 1st century CE the “T” shaped cross was commonly used. This is also mentioned by Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria or Epistle of Barnabas (dated before 135 CE).

It is worth mentioning that the Roman Emperor Constantine I in the first half of the 4th century CE forbade crucifixion as a form of death penalty, as an expression of respect for the cross of Christ.

What was crucifixion in ancient Rome like?

Sources
  • Ewa Andrasz, Kara śmierci przez ukrzyżowanie w Cesarstwie Rzymskim
  • John Granger Cook, Crucifixion as Spectacle in Roman Campania, 2012
  • Martin Hengel, Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross
  • Paweł Lisicki, Ukrzyżowanie
  • Paulina Święcicka, Proces Jezusa w świetle prawa rzymskiego: Studium prawno-historyczne
  • Wikipedia

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

Your financial help is needed, in order to maintain and develop the website. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server. I believe that I can count on a wide support that will allow me to devote myself more to my work and passion, to maximize the improvement of the website and to present history of ancient Romans in an interesting form.

Support IMPERIUM ROMANUM!

News from world of ancient Rome

If you want to be up to date with news and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Roman bookstore

I encourage you to buy interesting books about the history of ancient Rome and antiquity.

Check out bookstore

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: