Argument Against the Resurrection of Jesus – Part 24

In Joseph “Rick” Reinckens’s webpage A Lawyer Examines the Swoon Theory we get a short snippet from Origen that allegedly confirms a Roman practice of stabbing victims of crucifixion with a spear: 

In his Commentary on Matthew, Origen, one of the early Church Fathers, says the lance thrust to Jesus was administered “according to Roman custom, below the armpit.”  (See Humber, Thomas.  The Sacred Shroud. New York, Pocket Books, 1977) 


In my last post on this topic (Part 23), I identified the passage that I believe Humber was referencing, in an early Latin translation of Origen’s Commentary on Matthew.  Here is an image of the relevant passage (GCS, His Origenes Werke, v. 11, p. 290):



I paid a Latin-translation service to translate the portion of the text circled above, and here is the translation I received:

Looking up he was amazed and said: ‘Truly this man was the son of God’. Yet according to the second interpretation it would be the case that since perhaps Pilate wished to surpass the wishes of the entire people who had said: ‘Crucify, crucify him’, and since he was afraid of unrest among the entire people, he did not follow the Roman custom in respect of those who are crucified and order Jesus to be pierced below the armpits. This [i.e. not piercing] is done at times by those who condemn those who have been found guilty of more serious crimes (since those who are not pierced after being fastened to a cross suffer greater torture, and live longer while suffering the greatest torture, and at times survive for the whole of the night and even for the entire day which follows). Jesus therefore, since He had not been pierced and it was hoped that by hanging on the cross for a long time He would suffer greater torments…  

Assuming this translation (from Latin to English) to be accurate,  the passage does appear to speak of a Roman custom of piercing (stabbing? spearing?) a crucified person in order to either kill them off or to hasten their death, as an act of mercy, or (perhaps) in order to bring the death sentence to it conclusion more rapidly (so soldiers would not need to stand guard for two or three days).
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INDEX to Argument Against the Resurrection of Jesus posts:
http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/2012/05/argument-against-resurrection-of-jesus_03.html

The Logic of the Resurrection - Part 4
What is Faith? - Part 7
What is Faith? - Part 8
The Logic of the Resurrection - Part 2
About Bradley Bowen

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