This is a follow up to several recent previous posts on the issue of crucifixion terminology. I am at Tyndale House, Cambridge, England where I was able to see a copy of Crucifixion in Antiquity and look it over.
The dissertation from Sweden argues that there was no terminology for crucifixion as meaning death on a crossbeam. Rather the terms simply meant suspension executions so that one could have died on a cross or be impaled or even be suspended after a death. The chief complaint is against lexica and commentators and other writers on the topic that are too specific in defining the terms. To determine what kind of death is present. One has to go passage by passage, and most texts do not tell us enough for us to know. The lexical point is fair enough. The term refers to all types of public executions. The shape of what one could be hung on where T, t, X, or I. This actually has been known and discussed for some time. The lexical work is carefully done. Context is key. So we take the next step into the context.
Here the key may be appearance texts. Luke 24:39 ask for people to look at Jesus' hands and feet, which seems to assume nails there. The same type of scene is in John 20:27. This would appear to limit the options to T, t or X. So then is the term crucify still a good one? It would still seem so, not because the term by itself automatically means death on a cross, but a public death/execution by suspension in which the victim's hands and feet were nailed. The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same after all (but with distinct reasoning). In sum, for all the hype, the dissertation makes a simple point, but not quite up to all the hype that came with it. This hype is not the fault of Gunnar Samuelsson, the author of the study who is clear about what he is and is not saying. Rather it is the media hype in headlining and spinning his claims where the fault lies. So watch what you read. Nothing beats going to the source.