I recently was told by a Protestant pastor that we now know that in Jesus’ day, whips rarely if ever had bits of bone, metal, or glass in them. In all likelihood, he mentioned, it was just leather.

I, in turn, asked him why a neo-historical critical interpretation trumped 2000 years of Church history. He asked for extra-biblical/patristic material.

I’m stumped. Any help?:smiley: :smiley: :smiley:


Is this part of a scheme to rehabilitate the ancient Romans? After all, if the world has decided to make Christianity the enemy, then all of Christianity’s enemies must be remade in a kinder, gentler image.


What is his evidence? And don’t you think being whipped in any way is pretty barbaric? Remember the Romans were punishing Jesus as a political criminal (hence the crowning with thorns) - they wouldn’t have been lenient on him in any way.

After all, slaveowners in the American South didn’t use bone or anything in their whips either, but there are photographs of whip-welts on the bodies of slaves and former slaves that make clear they were severely and permanently injured by them.


I happen to have my “History of Torture” by Brian Innes handy (cleaning out some books).

Here’s what it has to say on pg 21:

“The Roman flogging whip, the flagellum, was feared by all. It’s thongs, made of ox-leather and sometimes weighted with lead, could cut deep into the flesh. According to Horace, certain judges were so sadistic that they ordered whippings of such length that the executioner was forced to desist, from sheer exhaustion, before the sentence was completed. Many Roman slaves died in the course of their flogging. Lesser penalties were carried out with the scutica, a whip with thongs of parchment, or the ferula, a flat leather strap.”

It should also be noted that the only thing the Bible tells us Jesus Christ made, carpenter’s son that he was, was a whip. (Scifi author and Catholic Gene Wolfe pointed this out in an interview).


[size=]In the Roman Empire, flagellation was often used as a prelude to crucifixion, and in this context is sometimes referred to as scourging. Whips with small pieces of metal or bone at the tips were commonly used. Such a device could easily cause disfigurement and serious trauma, such as ripping pieces of flesh from the body or loss of an eye. In addition to causing severe pain, the victim would be made to approach a state of hypovolemic shock due to loss of blood. The Romans reserved this torture for non-citizens, as stated in the lex Porcia and lex Sempronia, dating from 195 and 123 BC. The poet Horace refers to the horribile flagellum (horrible whip) in his Satires, calling for the end of its use. Typically, the one to be punished was stripped naked and bound to a low pillar so that he could bend over it, or chained to an upright pillar as to be stretched out. Two lictors (some reports indicate scourgings with four or six lictors) alternated blows from the bare shoulders down the body to the soles of the feet. There was no limit to the number of blows inflicted— this was left to the lictors to decide, though they were normally not supposed to kill the victim. Nonetheless, Livy, Suetonius and Josephus report cases of flagellation where victims died while still bound to the post. Flagellation was referred to as “half death” by some authors and apparently, many died shortly thereafter. Cicero reports in In Verrem, “pro mortuo sublatus brevi postea mortuus” (“taken away for a dead man, shortly thereafter he was dead”). Often the victim was turned over to allow flagellation on the chest, though this proceeded with more caution, as the possibility of inflicting a fatal blow was much greater.


Nothing was more terrible than the Roman scourge, except for the Roman cross. Consider the following:

Such scourging was hideous torture. The Roman scourge consisted of a short wooden handle to which several thongs were attached, the ends equipped with pieces of lead or brass and with sharply pointed bits of bone. The stripes were laid especially (not always exclusively) on the victim’s back, bared and bent. The body was at times torn and lacerated to such an extent that deep-seated veins and arteries–sometimes even entrails and inner organs–were exposed. Such flogging, from which Roman citizens were exempt, often resulted in death. --William Hendriksen, John, p. 414

Stripped of clothes, the victim was forced to bend over a low pillar, while a short-handled whip with several leather thongs studded with sharp objects was used to lash and lacerate the back. Roman law laid no limits on the number of blows to be administered. --D.Edmond Hiebert, Mark, p. 384

A scourge is a Romans implement for severe bodily punishment…So hideous was the punishment that the victim usually fainted and not rarely died under it.
–International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Vol. IV, p. 2704 (“Scourge”)

Link to n-C source.


Thanks folks.


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