Yesterday, the front page of CNN included a news blurb that simply read, "Was Jesus Really Crucified?" As alarming as this sounds, that was all that it was meant to do...alarm people.
I thought I would help explain a little further for those that heard about this and/or haven't read the article. It was about an evangelical Swedish scholar, Gunnar Samuelsson that simply states that in the original Greek, the texts reveal only that Jesus carried "some kind of torture or execution device" to a hill where "he was suspended" and then later died. He argues the Greek word stauroun does not necessarily mean to be nailed to a cross. In his studies, he found that the word included a variety of deaths that involved hanging and impaling.
That is all.
Samuelsson believes however, that the most likely reason early Christians thought Jesus was crucified on a cross in the traditional way we think, is that, in fact, he was. And their is compelling evidence that the Romans at the time utilized the type of crucifixion that involved nailing individuals to a wooden beam.
(heel bone of first century crucifixion victim)
We can take some things from this recent news article:
1. Anything about Jesus makes news...especially when it calls into question the truthfulness of what Christians believe and/or what has been traditionally taught.
2. Christians should not fear research. Archaeological research has only confirmed the Bible's veracity. Manuscript studies have only fortified the careful transmission of the biblical texts down over the centuries.
3. We should also be humble regarding the presuppositions we bring to the faith that aren't necessarily rooted directly in scripture--that aren't clear as night and day. Did Jesus have a white robe, blue sash...probably not. Was Jesus immersed or sprinkled at his baptism? The evidence leans towards immersion but we just don't know for sure. You get the point.
4. Nothing about his article is disputing the fact that Jesus was real man that he sacrificed himself for the sins of humanity.
It appears that Samuelsson is an evangelical pastor and doesn't seem to want to debunk the faith in any way.
As for the media, I do respectfully believe there are other motives behind publishing this article.
Pastor Adam Barton