I’m gonna talk about a very minor topic here (as I always do). But first, an intro.
Vivid descriptions of the physical passion of Jesus is one popular trend / cliche among modern Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant. (All the more so around this time of year!) I think most of us at some point in our lives have heard a sermon or read a book, an article or a webpage or heard a radio show narrating in graphic detail how Jesus was supposedly scourged and crucified, how He was nailed, and speculating just what Jesus’ cause of death was (usually attributed to either asphyxiation or hypovolemic shock). For example, stuff like that 1986 paper On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ written by two physicians from the Mayo Clinic and a United Methodist pastor, and books like Pierre Barbet’s A Doctor at Calvary and Frederick Zugibe’s The Crucifixion of Jesus. This is not something limited to these ‘for the general Christian public’ works; scholarly papers and articles often themselves indulge in sometimes vivid descriptions of how crucifixions were carried out.
Now here’s a word of advice about these descriptions. Most of these articles or books are written in a matter-of-fact way: the ‘standard procedures’ of crucifixion in the ancient world they describe are established as fact. But in reality, much of what we supposedly ‘know’ about crucifixion is actually 90-95% conjecture. These modern descriptions of crucifixion - particularly the medical ones - are actually a mish-mash of various ancient texts describing people who were hung on a crux or a stauros (texts which while having some common elements between them, also have differences that cannot be harmonized smoothly), the Shroud of Turin (while many people - including me - believe that it is likely Jesus’ burial cloth, the issue is still far from settled; because of its ambiguous status the Shroud is not really the best artifact to build a foundation on if you’re doing historical work), and pure conjecture (just what was the ‘regular’ height of a cross? How were crosses erected? etc.)
There are really only a few elements the ancient texts agree on. There is disagreement on most other details, from which we can infer that there was probably no ‘standard procedure’ for crucifixion other than that the victim should be hung in some way on a ‘cross’ (crux / stauros). (In fact, a recent scholar named Gunnar Samuelsson had argued based on this lack of agreement that there was probably no single method of execution called ‘crucifixion’ in ancient times, but rather a family of related ‘suspensionary punishments’ - i.e. execution methods that involved the hanging or suspension of the victim - that while sharing common terms like crux or stauros are not identical with each other. In other words, no two hangings or ‘crucifixions’ were the same; each were unique ‘suspensionary punishments’ in their own right.)
Guess what one of the few elements that appear across various ancients texts describing crucifixion (either explicitly mentioned or implied) was. It is that the person to be executed was beaten or whipped before he was crucified.