[quote="smichhertz, post:10, topic:236624"]
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:
- 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.
- 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? :shrug:
- 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.
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. :shrug: