Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Image of Jesus' crucifixion may be wrong, says study

PARIS, March 30, 2006 (AFP) - The image of the crucifixion, one of the most powerful emblems of Christianity, may be quite erroneous, according to a study which says there is no evidence to prove Jesus was crucified in this manner.

Around the world, in churches, on the walls of Christian homes, on crucifixes worn as pendants, in innumerable books, paintings and movies, Jesus Christ is seen nailed to the cross by his hands and feet, with his head upwards and arms outstretched.

But a paper published by Britain's prestigious Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) says this image has never been substantiated in fact.

Christ could have been crucified in any one of many ways, all of which would have affected the causes of his death, it says.

"The evidence available demonstrates that people were crucified in different postures and affixed to crosses using a variety of means," said one of the authors, Piers Mitchell of Imperial College London.

This isn't exactly a grand revelation. It's well known in scholarly circles that we really don't know much about the postures used in ancient crucifixions, and the movie The Last Temptation of Christ uses a nontraditional but possible posture, so this ought to be well known in popular culture as well. That said, this is the first I've heard of convicts being nailed to a cross by their genitals and I wonder what evidence there actually is for that. Not that I doubt the creative imagination of the ancient Romans.

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