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  #1  
Old Apr 18, '11, 9:24 pm
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Holly3278 Holly3278 is offline
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Default Did Jesus carry the entire cross or just the cross-beam of the cross?

Hey everyone. Did Jesus carry the entire cross (which would have been incredibly heavy) or did He only carry the cross-beam (horizontal part)?
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  #2  
Old Apr 18, '11, 10:03 pm
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Default Re: Did Jesus carry the entire cross or just the cross-beam of the cross?

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Originally Posted by Holly3278 View Post
Hey everyone. Did Jesus carry the entire cross (which would have been incredibly heavy) or did He only carry the cross-beam (horizontal part)?
It has been depicted in cinema both ways. Either way, the Cross (or beam) has been depicted as a massive piece of wood.

However, it would be quite possible to construct a fully functional cross out of 1.5 of 2x4 pieces of lumber (made of the lowest quality white pine wood, such as you could buy at any Home Depot), which any man could easily carry. Jesus had been scourged before he was made to carry his Cross (most were scourged at the site of their execution), so this would have reduced his capacity to carry even a relatively light load.

The Romans were expert engineers. They surely would not waste scarce timber resources by severely over-engineering an instrument of execution. There is no Biblical, theological, or logical reason to believe that the Cross was some massive piece of lumber.

IMHO, Jesus carried his full Cross (with help from Simon). But it was not the massive thing that modern cinema has depicted.
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  #3  
Old Apr 18, '11, 11:00 pm
PatrickSebast PatrickSebast is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus carry the entire cross or just the cross-beam of the cross?

Most likely just the beam. The romans would typically just keep the post in place, the only reason he would carry both is because there wasn't a post available at the execution site.
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Old Apr 19, '11, 12:51 am
zdon011 zdon011 is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus carry the entire cross or just the cross-beam of the cross?

The Romans would tie the ends of the cross-beam to the victim's wrists with rope, and make him carry it to the execution site. The upright post would already have been set up there.
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Old Apr 19, '11, 5:12 am
patrick457 patrick457 is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus carry the entire cross or just the cross-beam of the cross?

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Originally Posted by DavidFilmer View Post
It has been depicted in cinema both ways. Either way, the Cross (or beam) has been depicted as a massive piece of wood.

However, it would be quite possible to construct a fully functional cross out of 1.5 of 2x4 pieces of lumber (made of the lowest quality white pine wood, such as you could buy at any Home Depot), which any man could easily carry. Jesus had been scourged before he was made to carry his Cross (most were scourged at the site of their execution), so this would have reduced his capacity to carry even a relatively light load.

The Romans were expert engineers. They surely would not waste scarce timber resources by severely over-engineering an instrument of execution. There is no Biblical, theological, or logical reason to believe that the Cross was some massive piece of lumber.

IMHO, Jesus carried his full Cross (with help from Simon). But it was not the massive thing that modern cinema has depicted.
You do have to remember that they didn't have plywood planks as we now do back then (as they often show it in art, the cross seem to be made of rather thin wooden boards! ), and I doubt that they would have spent effort to smoothen the wood. They would have either just cut the wood and used it as it was, or at least chiseled it out. But I don't think it likely that they wasted energy trying to plane the timber smooth.

Also, a cross should be manufactured so that it would (1) be sturdy and thick enough to support the weight of a single man, and (2) last for multiple executions (wood, like iron, was a precious commodity and so they would not have wasted it - crosses would have probably been reused over and over until it wore out!) In one reconstruction, the cross made in such a fashion would have weighed around 340 pounds, too heavy for a man to even drag!
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Old Apr 19, '11, 7:14 am
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Default Re: Did Jesus carry the entire cross or just the cross-beam of the cross?

the evidence from archeology suggests wooden uprights were permanent placements at the execution sites, and the convict had the crossbeam roped to his shoulders to carry to the site. remember crucifixions were carried out en masse in Roman occupied Judea all throughout their occupation.
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Old Apr 19, '11, 11:24 am
patrick457 patrick457 is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus carry the entire cross or just the cross-beam of the cross?

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the evidence from archeology suggests wooden uprights were permanent placements at the execution sites, and the convict had the crossbeam roped to his shoulders to carry to the site. remember crucifixions were carried out en masse in Roman occupied Judea all throughout their occupation.
I was also thinking: having the vertical posts (stipes) fixed on the ground is practical for a number of reasons.
  • If you fix the patibulum onto the stipes with the victim still bound to it, the victim's head would get in the way if you're trying to make a Latin cross.
  • Fixing the patibulum to the stipes with nails would be practical only if it was laid totally flat on the ground - assuming that the terrain was rough, there would be a bit of a difficulty driving the nails.
  • The weight of the victim PLUS the weight of the cross should be taken into consideration. Such a load would require quite a lot of manpower: you'd need men who will (1) push the cross up into the vertical position, (2) who will pull ropes that are attached to the side of the cross, and (3) fill in the hole with things such as dirt and rocks to stabilize the cross. At a minimum, one would require somewhere around five to six men to do the job. This is probably the reason why in many Jesus movies, you see a lot of soldiers during the Crucifixion.
  • Crucifixions were not rare events - as you mentioned, they were a very common part of daily life. Most nails from the crucifixion were probably reused over and over again due to the cost of iron; the same may have happened with crosses due to the dearness of wood - they were also probably used and reused until they were too worn out to be used. Considering this, it is rather impractical to dig up, take down, and dismantle a cross just to reassemble, erect, and fix it to the ground once again later!
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  #8  
Old Apr 19, '11, 12:41 pm
pablope pablope is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus carry the entire cross or just the cross-beam of the cross?

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Originally Posted by puzzleannie View Post
the evidence from archeology suggests wooden uprights were permanent placements at the execution sites, and the convict had the crossbeam roped to his shoulders to carry to the site. remember crucifixions were carried out en masse in Roman occupied Judea all throughout their occupation.
I attended a talk on this one years ago. Indeed, the archeological evidence is it was the crossbeam only. That is why, when Jesus fell, the beam was on His shoulders and could have fell on the back of his head, flattening his face on the ground. I think this is further evidenced in the Shroud, when the nose is disfigured, I think.
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  #9  
Old Apr 20, '11, 1:20 am
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Default Re: Did Jesus carry the entire cross or just the cross-beam of the cross?

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Originally Posted by patrick457 View Post
You do have to remember that they didn't have plywood planks as we now do back then (as they often show it in art, the cross seem to be made of rather thin wooden boards! ), and I doubt that they would have spent effort to smoothen the wood. They would have either just cut the wood and used it as it was, or at least chiseled it out.
They DID actually have saw-blades back then. I don't claim that they plained the lumber (so no chisel ever touched it), but they were certainly capable of cutting pieces which closely approximate a modern 2x4 (which is actually 1.5" x 3.5") and which would be perfectly serviceable for any number of executions (lumber does not "wear out" with use, but is somewhat diminished by exposure to the elements, mainly moisture, which - ahem - is not much of a problem in a desert region). And this assumes white-pine (a pretty ****** wood, but used in most US home construction) - they would have been using poplar, or olive, or (even) cedar - MUCH more durable (cedar, with its long, strong fibers, is practically bomb-proof, and highly resistant to weather. I know of only one more durable wood (Purple Heart)).

There is absolutely no reason to believe the Cross was constructed out of lumber similar to railroad ties in cross-section. That's absurd (but it's what many cinematic productions have depicted).
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  #10  
Old Apr 20, '11, 6:15 am
smichhertz smichhertz is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus carry the entire cross or just the cross-beam of the cross?

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Originally Posted by Holly3278 View Post
Hey everyone. Did Jesus carry the entire cross (which would have been incredibly heavy) or did He only carry the cross-beam (horizontal part)?
Good question! I think this is an interesting discussion.

The above posters are correct in that the typical criminal being executed by crucifixion would have only carried the cross beam rather than the full cross. But I believe Jesus did carry the full cross for several reasons:

1. Typically, the horizontal beams were put in place ahead of time, after they knew how many were to be executed. Jesus was condemned very late in the day of his execution, they would not of had time to erect the horizontal beam that quickly.

2. There is an old tradition that the Jews, not wanting to delay his crucifixion until after the Sabbath (no one could be left hanging on the cross alive after the Sabbath) made Jesus' cross during the night and gave it to the Romans after Pilate gave permission for Jesus to be crucified.

3. The traditional view is that Jesus carried the full cross. It has been passed down from generation to generation for a long time. It is the closest thing we have to what the Apostles originally witnessed.

I admit, I don't have very strong evidence to back this up. Just more speculation. I'll look into this and post back on this thread later if I can find any information on it. But I think the big problem with those that say He carried only the cross beam is that they assume that Jesus was crucified the same as everyone else, and it ignores the greater tradition surrounding it. I'd be interested to see if there is any more specific evidence on Jesus' death.
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Old Apr 20, '11, 6:50 am
smichhertz smichhertz is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus carry the entire cross or just the cross-beam of the cross?

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1. Typically, the horizontal beams were put in place ahead of time, after they knew how many were to be executed. Jesus was condemned very late in the day of his execution, they would not of had time to erect the horizontal beam that quickly.
Correction: This should say "vertical beams" not horizontal
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Old Apr 20, '11, 12:35 pm
patrick457 patrick457 is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus carry the entire cross or just the cross-beam of the cross?

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Originally Posted by smichhertz View Post
Good question! I think this is an interesting discussion.

The above posters are correct in that the typical criminal being executed by crucifixion would have only carried the cross beam rather than the full cross. But I believe Jesus did carry the full cross for several reasons:

1. Typically, the horizontal beams were put in place ahead of time, after they knew how many were to be executed. Jesus was condemned very late in the day of his execution, they would not of had time to erect the horizontal beam that quickly.
Have you considered the possibility that the vertical posts were ALREADY in place at Golgotha? It was an execution site, after all, and such things would have already been set up. And as I've mentioned before, wood was a precious commodity and crucifixions were regular events - in fact, a part of the normal sea of civilization, if one considered to be so obscene that no decent person would even talk of it - so they wouldn't have spent too much time making new crosses, if old ones are still serviceable. After all they may have done it with nails due to the cost of iron (if people did not steal them and make amulets out of them, that is). Having the vertical posts remain erect in situ, ready to be used for multiple crucifixions, is more efficient than say, digging it up and re-erecting it at a later time, or throwing it away - despite it still being sturdy enough - and making a new one.

Quote:
2. There is an old tradition that the Jews, not wanting to delay his crucifixion until after the Sabbath (no one could be left hanging on the cross alive after the Sabbath) made Jesus' cross during the night and gave it to the Romans after Pilate gave permission for Jesus to be crucified.
Source? Not to be offensive, but to be honest, I kind of have a gut feeling that this is one of those medieval folk stories about the Passion, like the one about the Gypsy who made (or stole) the nails that was going to be used on Jesus, or the horizontal beam of the cross being Aaron's rod.

Besides, let me just ask: why are the Jews making a Roman execution device?

Quote:
3. The traditional view is that Jesus carried the full cross. It has been passed down from generation to generation for a long time. It is the closest thing we have to what the Apostles originally witnessed.
This is where things are a little unclear. While we have a few depictions of crucifixions dating from the time when it was still in practice (and before orthodox Christianity finally got the courage to depict its Crucified Lord openly), we have no contemporary depictions of victims carrying their crosses. Admittedly, the earliest ones - dating from the 4th-5th centuries AD - do show victims carrying the full cross, but it kind of seems that the depiction is meant to be more symbolic than literal: the cross there is small (too small for a person to fit in it!), and it is carried only in one hand, almost like a standard.

And besides, just because it has become a 'tradition' (small t), or more properly, a convention, to depict something in a particular manner does not automatically mean that it is unquestionable. Take for example the Western tendency to depict Jesus pierced with three nails: it was actually something that developed only in Western Europe, in the medieval period. The former artistic tradition, still seen in Eastern icons even today (one that may be supported by the earliest depictions and possibly, archaeology) has Jesus' feet separate.

Quote:
I admit, I don't have very strong evidence to back this up. Just more speculation. I'll look into this and post back on this thread later if I can find any information on it. But I think the big problem with those that say He carried only the cross beam is that they assume that Jesus was crucified the same as everyone else, and it ignores the greater tradition surrounding it. I'd be interested to see if there is any more specific evidence on Jesus' death.
Jesus was put to death, as His placard says, for being "King of the Judaeans." His crime was not really above the ordinary: in the eyes of the law, He was a public nuisance - maybe a seditionist even, what with His talks about "the kingdom of God" within Caesar's Empire. I doubt the Romans would have given Him special treatment than anyone else.
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Old Apr 20, '11, 9:27 pm
gurneyhalleck1 gurneyhalleck1 is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus carry the entire cross or just the cross-beam of the cross?

This would negate then the traditional view of the Stations of the Cross in which Jesus carries the whole Cross and Simon helps him. How could Simon help Jesus if the only part Jesus had was on his back? I'm trying to picture that? Maybe Simon just helped Him keep it upright?

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Originally Posted by pablope View Post
I attended a talk on this one years ago. Indeed, the archeological evidence is it was the crossbeam only. That is why, when Jesus fell, the beam was on His shoulders and could have fell on the back of his head, flattening his face on the ground. I think this is further evidenced in the Shroud, when the nose is disfigured, I think.
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Old Apr 21, '11, 3:53 am
patrick457 patrick457 is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus carry the entire cross or just the cross-beam of the cross?

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This would negate then the traditional view of the Stations of the Cross in which Jesus carries the whole Cross and Simon helps him. How could Simon help Jesus if the only part Jesus had was on his back? I'm trying to picture that? Maybe Simon just helped Him keep it upright?
I'm thinking of something like the picture below. "And as they led him away, having taken hold on Simon, a certain Cyrenian, coming from the field, they put on him the cross to bear behind Jesus." If we take Luke here literally, the reading would imply that the soldiers gave the cross(beam) to Simon to carry wholesale - rather unlike what some Western art shows, where he just lifts the back of the cross while Jesus continues to carry it. The Gospels' use of stauros ('cross') is not an absolute guarantee of the whole cross being carried either: it could easily be an example of synecdoche.

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Old Apr 21, '11, 10:12 am
gurneyhalleck1 gurneyhalleck1 is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus carry the entire cross or just the cross-beam of the cross?

Thanks for the post, patrick. Very plausible. Blessings to you and yours this Lent..

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Originally Posted by patrick457 View Post
I'm thinking of something like the picture below. "And as they led him away, having taken hold on Simon, a certain Cyrenian, coming from the field, they put on him the cross to bear behind Jesus." If we take Luke here literally, the reading would imply that the soldiers gave the cross(beam) to Simon to carry wholesale - rather unlike what some Western art shows, where he just lifts the back of the cross while Jesus continues to carry it. The Gospels' use of stauros ('cross') is not an absolute guarantee of the whole cross being carried either: it could easily be an example of synecdoche.

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