Appointment With Destiny The Crucifixion Of Jesus
the ancient period of execution by crucifixion has been called by some the first period of automatic euthanasia. the victim was left to die of suffocation. the absence of any medical knowledge of anatomy or physiology in the ancient world implies that death from crucifixion came swiftly. but not only was there no knowledge of respiration, there was also no knowledge of circulation. the victim needed outside aid just to remain alive.
before the process could begin, the victim’s hands and feet were encased in manacles and attached to the cross. then, with a rope tied around his waist and secured to the cross, he was hoisted up to the beam. it was common practice for the victim to have to take the weight of his own body as he was hoisted up by the neck and body. he was then left dangling on the beam for a period of hours while the sun cooked him. after a long period of exposure, as the sun disappeared and the night drew in, the victim was lowered again and left on the cross to await the next day. this process was repeated until the victim died.
the most common cause of death from crucifixion was exhaustion, followed by cardiac arrest and exposure. exposure produced hypothermia that gradually brought on death. the victim’s legs could be castrated to hasten the process.
the victim was left on the cross with no shelter from the elements, no means of relieving his various bodily needs, and no medical attention. he was exposed to the elements, the flies, and the weather for a period of hours, days, or even weeks. the victim was often left on the cross for several days, and sometimes several weeks. this was a very common punishment in palestine, especially in the region of jerusalem. if the victim survived, he was probably taken off the cross, either because the punishment was deemed complete or because a judge wanted to “put the fear of god into the rest of the crowd.”
the problem with the grail is that it is a myth which has many potential meanings for many different individuals. its ubiquity in the mythos of antiquity means that it has been adopted by many different cultures and given many different political meanings. even within christendom, it has often been used to justify violence and conquest. the grail has been a symbol of both power and deprivation.
one of the most unusual aspects of our tale is the fact that at the moment of death, crucifixion victim was not generally a popular victim in the roman world. the romans had little use for a man who had no power or prestige and was therefore hardly worth the trouble of killing (569).
although there is some evidence that crucifixion was not universally condemned, the fact remains that it was condemned in many circles and was simply one of the forms of punishment that a roman governor might employ. the cross was probably unknown to the early christians, but the romans had been using the cross for centuries and it was the obvious means of execution. on cross, christ was given a brief trial, confessed to his crime, and was given the opportunity to enter into death, and so his death became the occasion for a wide range of celebrations and mythologizing. the gospels give us very little information about the events surrounding jesus’ death, and it is clear that they were later additions to the story. the crucial points of the story came from the gospel of mark, who lived in the mid-70s ad, and who was aiming to rival the importance of the passion narratives in the gospels (569).