The Pope’s exoneration, in time for Lent, comes on the heels of a controversial study conducted by theologians at San Narciso College, which finds that the Jewish people did not kill Jesus, as many believe. According to their research, crucifixion did. They also believe that Italians in the region during that time may have carried out the atrocious act.
There are approximately 38,000 denominations of Christianity in existence today, making it the most widely practiced religion in the world with over 2.1 billion adherents. And although each sect agrees on the fundamental assumption that Jesus Christ is the savior of humanity, the similarities end there. Between denominations, doctrinal differences have sparked considerable disagreements about which groups can properly be called Christian. Replacement Theology, embraced by various aspects of the Church for over 1,700 years, is perhaps one of the most divisive.
Replacement Theology chiefly promotes the theory that Jewish leaders were complicit in the death of Jesus. Historically, this belief helped provide the justification and fuel for European anti-Semitism.
Modern Christians cite this as one of the most polarizing ecumenical issues facing the Church. For this reason, constructive interfaith conversation about the death of Jesus is critically impaired, if not impossible.
So it should come as no surprise that the controversial findings released today by the School of Religious Anthropology at San Narciso College have again stirred bitter debate among Christian leaders around the world. Researchers claim to have discovered conclusive proof that Jesus’ death was the result of crucifixion, not religious ideology.
Italians, Not Jews, May Have Had a Larger Hand in Jesus’ Crucifixion
“To be blunt, Jesus died because he ended up nailed to two pieces of wood,” announced Welles Snarling, the professor in charge of the project. “He was crucified.”
Crucifixion is an ancient method of execution in which the condemned person is nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead.
“This was a particularly excruciating, slow, and gruesome way to expire,” said Snarling. “Moreover, it was humiliating and base. For example, the condemned hung naked and were forced to defecate and urinate on themselves in front of crowds who gathered to watch them die.”
Because crucifixion offered a plethora of deadly scenarios with a high level of public visibility, it became the most effective means for exacting justice and maintaining order.
“That said,” Snarling continued, “it should be pointed out that this was not the primary method of punishment among the Jews. This was more commonly utilized by the people of Italy. I know that sounds crazy, given that modern day Rome is the center of Catholicism, but we believe there’s a connection.”
The odds of surviving crucifixion were virtually nil. The causes of death spanned asphyxiation, blood loss, hypovolemic shock, sepsis following infection, dehydration, and the nailing process itself. The dead were often left to hang for weeks with their crosses lining the sides of public roads. The practice ultimately endured as one of history’s most efficient deterrents to breaking the law, rivaled only by the guillotine.
“It really sucked,” Snarling added. “But that’s what happened to Jesus. Crucifixion killed him, not Jewish marauders or spies or assassins or even dogma. But there’s still more of this story to be uncovered.”
Other documents being examined by Snarling’s group as part of the ongoing research seem to suggest, at least preliminarily, that a group of foreign travelers may have played some part in putting Jesus on the cross.
“Ancient records place a group of immigrant Italians in the region around the same time in history,” Snarling offered tentatively. “And they brought more than just hammers and nails. Entire armies infiltrated the area. In many ways, it seemed to be one of the largest foreign occupations in history. It had all the markings of what we today refer to as empire building. I think it’s possible that this invading military may have played a larger role in the crucifixion of Jesus, who was not likely destroyed by a religion. The guy was a Jewish rabbi. Can you imagine the backlash over saying that, for example, every Muslim is a terrorist? Ridiculous, right? Nobody would draw such a generalized conclusion.”
Snarling, however, also warned that the preserved testimonies of witnesses are often conflicting and difficult to understand. “There’s a whole book full of varying depictions of Jesus, including some pretty fantastic stuff. It seems that of the four key accounts we have access to, none of the authors can completely agree on what happened. So we just have to fill in the blanks as best we can.”