From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Sep 21 1997 - 08:39:31 EDT

At 6:45 AM -0500 9/21/97, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>In "Breaking the Code", Bruce Metzger writes:
>>In Greek there are two words that can be translated "crown."
>>One is diadema, which means a royal crown; the other, which
>>is used here, is stephanos, which usually has something to
>>do with joy and victory. John is referring to the garlands
>>that were presented to the winners at the Olympic and other games.
>But the crown of thorns was a STEFANOS, and seems to be used as a royal crown:
>Matt 27:29 (NASU) And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it
>on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him
>and mocked Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!"
>Is Metzger's observation accurate?

More or less--rather more than less. My sense is that the DIADHMA was of
metal interlaced like a STEFANOS, the STEFANOS made of flowers or plants
interlaced--parsley in the STEFANOI at Olympia, laurel at Delphi. Perhaps
the STEFANOS of thorns is so called because of the material of which it was
composed, but the story of the crown of thorns does seem to indicate that
it was a mark of royal dignity, like the reed cane. I've sometimes wondered
whether Mark (I assume Marcan priority for the narrative, without being
able to prove it) knew and had in mind the indications reported in Tacitus
that the praetorian guard in Rome found Claudius hiding after the
assassination of Caligula and originally made him emperor as a joke, then
let it stand.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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