Other than stauros
Subject: Other than stauros
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 94 12:58:47 EDT
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Evidence available to us on the NT period, indicates it was mainly
slaves and non-Romans which had been sentenced to death who were crucified
(M. Hengel, _The Zealots_, [T. & T. Clark: 1989], pp. 32, 33). This, of
course, would fit with the crucifixion of Jesus as a Palestinian Jew. It
would also fit the historical tradition about Peter having been crucified
(Eusebius 2:25). Paul, on the other hand, as a Roman citizen, would probably
not have had to endure crucifixion; and this also agrees with Eusebius's
report that Paul was beheaded (Ibid.).
Paul's use of _spendomai_ (being poured out as an offering) in 2Tim. 4:6
to refer to his imminent execution may constitute a metaphor for the
shedding of his blood that would take place at his beheading. (The word
could also have a similar meaning in Phil. 2:17.) Paul's statement that
Priscilla and Aquila "risked their own necks" (_ton heautWn trachlon
hupeQhkan_) for him (Rom. 16:4) may be a more literal than figurative
expression. Their being residents of Rome could suggest Roman citizenship.
Certain lines of archeological evidence relating to the Catacomb of
Priscilla in Rome point up the possibility of some connection between the
Acilian _gens_ and the Priscilla and Aquila of the NT (C. E. B. Cranfield,
_Romans_ [T. & T. Clark: 1986] II:784, n. 1). If they were, in fact, Roman
citizens, Paul's reference to them in Rom. 16:4 would be to their risking
beheading to save his life.
Stephen's having been stoned would be in keeping with the traditional
and biblical Jewish form of execution (Deut. 17:5-7). The witnesses whose
clothing Saul of Tarsus watched over are probably those referred to in Deut.
17:7: "The hand of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death.
. . ." According to Josephus, James the brother of the Lord was accused
before the Sanhedrin and then stoned just as Stephen had been (Ant. XX:200).
Luke's statement that Herod had James the brother of John killed by the
sword probably indicates a summary execution or assasination. John the
Baptist's death by beheading, although an anamoly within the foregoing
scenario, obviously has more to do with the dynamics operating at Herod's
party than with the customs of execution of the different peoples of NT
David L. Moore