Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Jesus Did Not Die on Cross Says Scholar"

Gunnar Samuelsson is in the news again. This time in The Telegraph.

Samuelsson has frequently been misunderstood by media as saying that Jesus did not die on the cross (not in The Telegraph though), but that is not what he is saying ... Now, he told me, he only gives live interviews, so he is able to clarify his position to journalists. Hear him out, four example, on DRadio Wissen (German and English).

There is also a brief piece on Samuelsson's thesis in History of the Ancient World.

See earlier reports here and here.

Update: Here also in Croatian news.

Update 2: We are being cited by this Dutch newssite.

Update 3: Samuelsson in Pravda and AOL News.


  1. I feel for Samuelsson. When I did my dissertation and suggested 100 text-critical changes to the NT text (mostly Atticism-related), one of the TV stations in Finland contacted me in order to interview a person who had proven the New Testament a forgery and shaken the foundation of Christianity. So much for objectivity in media :) I never gave an interview for them.

  2. I am very intrigued by one simple question: Why is Jesus portrayed in Christian art as being crucified in the typical manner we all know of? If Jesus was "suspended" in some kind that was not clear to anybody in the early Christian centuries, why did we end up with the representations we have? Why did everybody think that he must have been executed in a certain way which, according to Samuelsson, is not supported by any text from antiquity? Does anyone know what Samuelsson would answer to this question?
    Emanuel Contac, Romania

  3. Vaisamar, a better question first would be to ask whether Samuelsson is correct or not to begin with.

  4. Emanuel, I think Samuelsson is doing an exclusively philological investigation (although he has a few pages on archaeology), because he thinks it is methodologically difficult to judge the effect that Jesus' crucifixion has (already) had on the context of those artifacts.

    What I think Samuelsson is saying is mainly that the crucifixion was not established in all its details by the time Jesus was crucified, i.e.,maybe he did die on a cross (†) as we think of it, and like those artifacts suggest (even the staurogram in early Christian MSS).

    Samuelsson is very careful not to be anachronistic (to read into the earlier eviden the Christian understanding of the crucifixion), but, again, the examiner's argument as I understand it was that Samuelsson is instead too "atomistic" in his handling of the texts.

  5. TW: Samuelsson "thinks it is methodologically difficult to judge the effect that Jesus' crucifixion has (already) had on the context of those artifacts."

    And add art there too (sorry).

  6. Tommy, I think that he means to say that there is no way to know whether the crucifixion was established in all its details (whatever they may be).
    I agree that we cannot expect a standard procedure of execution, but neither can we expect details which were pretty obvious to the readers.
    It is very funny when you watch "Jesus of Nazareth" by Zeffirelli and see the characters lecturing one another on very common-sensical truths about the Tora, the Law etc. It is so obvious that the script is written for the average reader who is only vaguely acquainted with the historical and religious background of the story. (By the way, this is one of the reasons why I find it hard to watch movies with biblical themes). It would be rather peculiar if the same degree of "lecturing" would be characteristic of ancient sources in connection with "stauros", "satauroun" etc.
    All this being said, I hope that Samuelsson thesis will be published and that I shall be able to interact more with its argument.

  7. The same news in Arabic:

  8. Is thesis published yet? How can I purchase a copy of the same?