Crucifixion in the Ancient Mediterranean World
When the magistrate (“public” crucifixions) has to execute an individual by crucifixion the law mentions pitch and wax, which were used to torture the victims with fire. In classical Latin texts, incidentally, the individual to be crucified never carried a crux (vertical beam or entire cross) but only the patibulum (horizontal piece). When a criminal carried the patibulum, the crux (vertical beam, in this case) was already set in place. That implies that in John 19:17 Jesus only carried the horizontal member of the cross to Golgotha, since Pilate would have followed Roman procedure.
See Also: Crucifixion in the Mediterranean World (WUNT 327, Tübingen, 2014).
By John Granger Cook
Professor of Religion
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