Monday, June 21, 2010

Gunnar Samuelsson:
Τι Γνωρίζουμε στην Πραγματικότητα σχετικά με τη Σταύρωση του Ιησού; /
What do we Really Know about the Crucifixion of Jesus?



Gunnar Samuelsson
Crucifixion in Antiquity: An Inquiry into the Background
of the New Testament Terminology of Crucifixion

[Η Σταύρωση στην Αρχαιότητα: Έρευνα στο Υπόβαθρο
της Ορολογίας της Καινής Διαθήκης για τη Σταύρωση
],
thesis at Gothenburg University.


«This study investigates the philological aspects of how ancient Greek, Latin and Hebrew/Aramaic texts, including the New Testament, depict the practice of punishment by crucifixion. A survey of the ancient text material shows that there has been a too narrow view of the “crucifixion” terminology. The various terms are not simply used in the sense of “crucify” and “cross,” if by “crucifixion” one means the punishment that Jesus was subjected to according to the main Christian traditions. The terminology is used much more diversely. Almost none of it can be elucidated beyond verbs referring vaguely to some form(s) of suspension, and nouns referring to tools used in such suspension. As a result, most of the crucifixion accounts that scholars cite in the ancient literature have to be rejected, leaving only a few. The New Testament is not spared from this terminological ambiguity. The accounts of the death of Jesus are strikingly sparse. Their chief contribution is usage of the unclear terminology in question. Over-interpretation, and probably even pure imagination, have afflicted nearly every wordbook and dictionary that deals with the terms related to crucifixion as well as scholarly depictions of what happened on Calvary. The immense knowledge of the punishment of crucifixion in general, and the execution of Jesus in particular, cannot be supported by the studied texts
Η μελέτη αυτή ερευνά τις φιλολογικές πτυχές του τρόπου με τον οποίο αρχαία ελληνικά, λατινικά και εβραϊκά/αραμαϊκά κείμενα, περιλαμβανομένης και της Καινής Διαθήκης, απεικονίζουν την πρακτική της τιμωρίας μέσω σταύρωσης. Μια διερεύνηση του υλικού των αρχαίων κειμένων δείχνει ότι υπήρξε μια υπερβολικά στενή θεώρηση της ορολογίας περί "σταύρωσης". Οι διάφοροι όροι δεν χρησιμοποιούνται απλώς με την έννοια του "σταυρώνω" και "σταυρός", αν κάποιος με τον όρο "σταύρωση" εννοεί την τιμωρία στην οποία υποβλήθηκε ο Ιησούς σύμφωνα με τις κύριες χριστιανικές παραδόσεις. Η ορολογία χρησιμοποιείται πολύ πιο ευρύτερα. Σχεδόν κανένας όρος δεν μπορεί να διασαφηνιστεί περαιτέρω πέρα από ρήματα που αναφέρονται ασαφώς σε κάποιας μορφής κρέμασμα, και από ουσιαστικά που αναφέρονται σε όργανα που χρησιμοποιούνται στο κρέμασμα αυτό. Ως αποτέλεσμα, οι περισσότερες αφηγήσεις σταύρωσης που παραθέτουν οι λόγιοι από την αρχαία γραμματεία θα πρέπει να απορριφθούν, και να κρατηθούν μόνο λίγες. Η Καινή Διαθήκη δεν εξαιρείται από αυτή την ασάφεια της ορολογίας. Οι αφηγήσεις του θανάτου του Ιησού είναι εξαιρετικά πενιχρές. Η κύρια συνεισφορά τους είναι η χρήση της εν λόγω μη ξεκάθαρης ορολογίας. Η υπερβολική ερμηνεία, και πιθανώς ακόμη και η καθαρή φαντασία, έχει πλήξει σχεδόν κάθε λεξιλογικό εγχειρίδιο και λεξικό που ασχολείται με τους όρους που σχετίζονται με τη σταύρωση καθώς και τις απεικονίσεις που έγιναν από λόγιους των γεγονότων στον Γολγοθά. Η τεράστια γνώση σχετικά με την τιμωρία της σταύρωσης γενικότερα, και την εκτέλεση του Ιησού ειδικότερα, δεν μπορούν να υποστηριχθούν από τα κείμενα που μελετήθηκαν».]


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What do we really know about the crucifixion of Jesus?
Helena Aaberg
(Information Office)
University of Gothenburg
14.06.2010 09:13
institution
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«The many different accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus find little support in historical sources. The reason is that antique sources generally lack descriptions of crucifixions, says Gunnar Samuelsson, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, who recently finished his doctoral thesis on the topic.
Encyclopaedias, monographs and bible commentaries generally agree on the type of punishment Jesus had to endure on Golgotha in Jerusalem.There is an ample amount of very colourful accounts of crucifixions in the literature, and researchers from all kinds of disciplines seem to endorse them.

'The problem is that descriptions of crucifixions are remarkably absent in the antique literature,' says Samuelsson. 'The sources where you would expect to find support for the established understanding of the event really don't say anything.'

The 400 page thesis offers the reader samples of antiquity's most terrifying texts and gives examples of mankind's amazing resourcefulness in terms of mind-boggling cruelty against fellow human beings. Samuelsson has studied the available ancient Greek, Latin and Hebrew/Aramaic literature all the way from Homer to the first century A.D. While the texts indicate a vast arsenal of suspension punishments, they do not say much about the kind of punishment the Christian tradition claims Jesus was forced to endure.

The thesis clearly shows that although the studied texts are full of references to suspension of objects and the equipment used to this end, no reference is made to 'crosses' or 'crucifixion'. Samuelsson therefore concludes that the predominant account of the destiny of Jesus is not based on the antique texts, but rather on for example the tradition of the Christian church and artistic illustrations.

'Consequently, the contemporary understanding of crucifixion as a punishment is severely challenged. And what's even more challenging is that the same can be concluded about the accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus. The New Testament doesn't say as much as we'd like to believe', says Samuelsson.»


* Helena Aaberg,
"What do we really know about the crucifixion of Jesus?"
Informationsdienst Wissenschaft, 14.06.2010.

* "Jesus did not die on cross, says scholar",
Telegraph.co.uk, 23.06.2010.

* «Ο Χριστός μπορεί να μην σταυρώθηκε τελικά» [!]
Cosmo.gr, 24.06.2010.

2 comments:

Samwell said...

Dear Friends,

If you want further information about my doctoral thesis, Crucifixion in Antiquity, please visit my website http://www.exegetics.org.

Regards,
Gunnar Samuelsson

digiSapientia said...

Dear Mr Samuelsson,

Thank you very much for sharing this information with us.