Crucifixion of Jesus - An Accurate Portrayal
The crucifixion of Jesus is detailed in all four of the New Testament Gospels. Not only do these four accounts accurately portray this historical event, they graphically depict a Roman practice that has been absolutely confirmed by the archaeological evidence.
Crucifixion of Jesus - The Roman Practice
In 1968, the historical veracity for the crucifixion of Jesus took another leap forward. A mass gravesite in Israel was uncovered that contained 35 male bodies, each of which died a brutal death around the time of the Jewish revolt against Rome in 70 AD. An inscription identified one of the men as Yohan Ben Ha'galgol. Studies of his bones performed by specialists from the Hadassah Medical School determined this man was in his late 20's and stood five feet six inches tall.
Dramatically, these studies also showed that the man had been crucified in a manner resembling the crucifixion of Jesus. A large spike had been driven through both feet, which were turned outward so the nail could be hammered inside the Achilles tendon. Spikes were also driven through his lower forearms, just below the wrists. The bone studies also revealed that the man's legs were crushed below the knees. In John 19:31-33, we read that Roman executioners expedited the death of crucifixion victims by breaking their legs - this caused them to suffocate quickly because they could no longer push up with their legs to inflate their lungs.
Another archaeological find dating to the first century AD is an unidentified heel bone discovered in a Jerusalem gravesite. Now held by the Israel Antiquities Authority and displayed in the Israel Museum, this dramatic fossil actually has a huge spike still imbedded in the heel. It appears that the executioners hit the bone when they nailed this victim to the cross, and couldn't remove the spike when they removed the body for burial.
Crucifixion of Jesus - More Indirect Evidence
The crucifixion of Jesus isn't mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls, but the ancient texts reveal that both Jews and Romans hated the practice of crucifixion because of its extreme cruelty. The scrolls also explain that crucifixion was a form of capital punishment reserved for slaves and those who were a threat to Rome. This explains why Pontius Pilate chose crucifixion as the penalty for Jesus Christ, since Jesus claimed a form of "Kingship" that threatened those in religious and political power.
In 1878, a stone inscription was found in Nazareth containing a decree from Emperor Claudius of Rome. The official decree announced that graves must not be disturbed, nor bodies removed. The punishment for violators was death. Interestingly, this stone slab is dated to about 50 AD, and prior to this time, grave-robbing was not considered a capital offense. Claudius probably issued the decree as a result of the turmoil caused by the early preaching of the resurrection of Jesus, which actually caused major riots in 49 AD, when non-believing Jews declared that the body of Jesus had been stolen by his followers.
Crucifixion of Jesus - The Verdict
The crucifixion of Jesus as presented in the New Testament Gospels is totally consistent with the discoveries highlighted in this brief article. These finds provide indirect support for all the other direct evidence of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.