This will appear in the Farmerville Gazette, Farmerville, Louisiana, USA, week of 4/6/2015.

When I was in elementary school I had heard the story of the crucifixion of Jesus. The body of Jesus, nailed to a cross, looking down with blood flowing from a crown of thorns was branded into ones brain.
Crucifixion is a very painful and slow method of execution. It not only tortures the person being executed but it also has a psychological impact on the local population. The public display of a human hanging from a cross while fighting to live sends shock and terror to the civilians that are intended to be oppressed.
The universal belief of crucifixion depicts a person on a cross with nails driven through the hands and feet. This in fact is an incorrect image. If nails are driven through the hands the flesh would tear and not support the weight of the body. Many may say that this contradicts the accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus. In fact it does not. The Greek word for hand actually means the forearm and the hand together. When translating from one language to another and then from an ancient language to a modern language much can be lost in translation. It is most likely the nails were driven into the wrists and this would be referred to as the hand.
As horrific as driving nails through the body is, that is not the cause of death unless a person would suffer a heart attack. After a person is hoisted upon the cross the punished will remain alive for several hours to several days. When a human has the arms spread and the body is hung from the arms it is extremely difficult to inhale. The unfortunate person on the cross must try to lift himself to breath. Eventually exhaustion takes over and the condemned dies of asphyxiation within a few minutes. The fight to live is over. On occasion they would break the legs of the crucified person to prevent them from lifting themselves and thus hasten death. There was nothing humane nor forgiving about this method of execution. There is a story of Spartacus, a Roman slave that led a slave rebellion that threatened the future of mighty Rome. He was camped near a Roman legion and dared them to attack which the Romans refused to do. Spartacus crucified a physically fit Roman soldier in front of the Roman Legion. For days the Romans watched their soldier suffer in agony as he died in front of them.
Crucifixion began hundreds of years before the Romans began the practice. Persians, now Iran; and Carthaginians, now Tunisia; used crucifixion prior to the Romans but it was the Romans that took it to a new level. Carthage would even crucify its’ own generals if they would lose a major battle. Alexander the Great, conqueror of the majority of the known world, crucified 2,000 survivors from the Phoenician city of Tyre.
The Romans took a leaf from the book of crucifixion as a psychological weapon. Crucifixion was supposedly a death to be used for lower classed citizens and slaves. When Spartacus’s army of slaves was finally defeated the Romans took the 6,000 captives and crucified all of them along the Appian Way, the road leading into Rome. When Jesus was crucified the fact that this type of execution was to be used for the lowest of Rome’s population displays the contempt felt toward the religious leader. It was considered to be a disgraceful manner of death.
The Romans took joy in the executions and turned the concept into an art. Many times the convicted would be beaten in a method known as scourge. This beating would tear deep gashes in the back and the prisoner would be near total shock. So good were the Romans that they knew when to stop the beating less the prisoner would. Contrary to popular belief, the entire cross was not taken to the execution location. Instead the prisoner would carry the horizontal piece to the execution location. A four-man specialized execution team carried out the grizzly final parts of the crucifixion to include attaching the horizontal arm of the cross to the vertical member. Rome’s Constantine, the first Christin Emperor abolished crucifixion in Rome in AD 335 due to Jesus’s death by that manner.
When the person died the remains were brought down and the nails removed for future use. The body usually decayed on the cross before the nails were removed. Until 1968 no archeological evidence existed proving crucifying existed. That year the foot bone of a man that had been buried by his family was found with a nail through the bone and attached to a part of a cross.
Unfortunately Crucifixion has now returned to our planet. ISIS has been reported as crucifying Christians in certain parts of Iraq and Syria.


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