Sunday, January 22, 2017

Cook, Crucifixion in the Mediterranean World

John Granger Cook, Crucifixion in the Mediterranean World. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 327. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015. Pp. xxiv, 522. ISBN 9783161537646. €69.00 (pb).

Reviewed by James H. Dee, Austin, TX (

Table of Contents

[The reviewer apologizes for the lateness of this review.]

This massive study aims to fill a longstanding gap in an area where both Classics and New Testament Studies operate. Professor Cook was invited by the late Martin Hengel, author of a 1977 monograph on the subject, to revise it for him—but Cook soon concluded that he should write his own book, which far surpasses Hengel's 99-page work.

The seven-page Table of Contents gives ample evidence of the scope of the investigation: a 50-page Introduction on terminology; Chapter One has 100 pages on crucifixion in Latin texts, Chapter Two offers 50 more on the evidence for Roman practices; Chapter Three devotes another 100 pages to Greek texts; Chapter Four occupies nearly 50 on Hebrew and Aramaic texts; Chapter Five is a 40-page discussion on the legal aspect of crucifixion as punishment; finally, Chapter Six takes a mere 30 pages to deal with the most famous (and, for many, the most significant) of all crucifixions, that of Jesus of Nazareth—a brevity which seems almost anticlimactic, especially from an author whose training and career have been exclusively on the religious studies side of the field (Ph.D., Emory; faculty appointment at LaGrange University). That background might make classicists wary and raise concerns about what might be theologically-driven interpretations. If so, their concerns are unwarranted. The monograph finds its place in an esteemed New Testament Monograph Series. Acknowledgements indicate wide consultation with experts in the field, including Harvard’s Kathleen Coleman, who has herself promised a book on Roman public execution.1

The book, among other things, collects references to crucifixion in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts. Gruesome.