History of the Crucifixion

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Crucifixion was designed to be the most torturous and humiliating of punishments. While this terrible act is best known as the central, enduring symbol of Christianity, it was utilized throughout the Roman Empire to execute slaves and insurrectionists.

If you’ve ever wanted to know more about the history and logistics of crucifixion, here is a fascinating podcast to listen to on Easter or during Holy Week or Lent.

The Rest is History is an essential podcast for history buffs. In the 175th episode of the program, historians Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook explore the history of crucifixion, from its origins to its significance as a form of capital punishment during antiquity.

The first half of the podcast concentrates on crucifixion as punishment, the types of criminals who would be subjected to it and when and why it was used. Tom Holland is graphic in his descriptions of the manner in which men were crucified. He also discusses other known crucifixions in history, including that of Spartacus and other slaves who were famously crucified along the length of the Appian Way.

The second half of the episode looks at the most famous historical crucifixion, that of Jesus of Nazareth, and how the biblical description of Christ’s crucifixion matches up with texts about the horrific practice during Ancient Roman times. Holland even gets into how crucifixion still exists in the modern world, most recently used by the Islamic State.