Did Jesus carry his crossbar or his entire cross?

Every good Christian is familiar with the story of the Passion of Jesus Christ. If you are not a Christian, but have seen the movie, Passion of Christ, it’s hard to forget the gruesome parts: his brutal punishment, the arduous walk to the cross, and the horrific crucifixion. Most media, from early medieval paintings to modern movies, depict a weary, hunched-over Jesus carrying the wooden cross to Golgatha (the site of the skull) where he was crucified. However, many scholars believe that Christ only carried the crossbar to which his wrists were nailed. Many others are traditionalists who agree that art confirms the “total” cross-cutting vision. Incredibly, the Bible never says that Jesus carried his own cross, except in the Book of John.: Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (called Golgotha ​​in Aramaic) (John 19:17, NIV). All the other gospels include Simon of Cyrene as the reluctant man who helps Jesus on the way to Golgatha. However, I believe that Christ carried the full or partial weight of the cross.

In my opinion, the Shroud of Turin is the famous large cloth that is the true linen on which the temporarily dead body of Christ lay for three days. It bears the imprint of the body of Jesus. Through careful analysis of the biological and forensic evidence, we can learn about how Jesus suffered.

Jesus was so weak from the scourging that he could barely carry the crossbar. Two large straight and diagonal abrasions are marked on the back of the Shroud from the right shoulder blade to the left. Jesus’ arms and hands were tied to the crossbar. He would have to be heavy for a person who had not been severely beaten, like Simon of Cyrene, to carry Jesus’ crossbar. According to Dr. Pierre Barbet, one of the first innovative authors of A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ Described by a Surgeon, the crossbar called pittabulum would have weighed about 125 pounds and the large upright pole, the stems would have weighed 250 pounds. (Rent 861, Kindle)

To make matters worse, Jesus’ arms and hands were tied to the crossbar. Therefore, he could not have walked half a mile to Golgatha without falling because he walked barefoot over rough and uneven ground. The Shroud reveals evidence that Christ’s nose appears to be broken and his right cheek swollen—injuries consisting of one or more falls while he carried the crossbar for as long as he did. Under microscopic analysis, the Shroud shows dirt and lime particles on his face.

When Jesus and Simon arrived at the crucifixion site, the Pitabbul and Jesus were placed on the ground. Roman soldiers then hammered nails into his wrists. Afterward, they hoisted the Pitábulo and Jesus onto a wedge placed in the middle of the estípites (sticks) that had already been driven into the ground. They then hammered a nail into his feet. This type of cross is known as a “T” shaped “tau” cross.

On the other hand, many of today’s Shroud scholars believe that Christ carried the entire cross. According to Andrè Marion and Gerard Lucotte, French authors of the groundbreaking 2006 book, The Shroud of Turin and the robe of Argenteuil, Jesus carried the whole cross. Using computer models, which analyzed the back of the Shroud, they discovered that there were more than two abrasion marks on the Shroud; there were nine blood marks that correspond to the robe that Jesus wore (John 19:23-24). The markings on the tunic indicate a cross pattern, created by the pressure of the entire withers (pitabule and stipes) on his back, even though the tunic cushioned the bruises.

What about the two diagonal bruise marks on his back? The new computerized data clearly shows more bruises forming a perpendicular criss-cross pattern from his bruised shoulders to where the stipes meet the pitabulum between and below both shoulder blades. Marion’s analysis of the Shroud and Robe of Argenteuil suggests that the top of the vertical beam was carried over the left shoulder, while the entire weight of the horizontal beam fell on the right shoulder. This could have dislocated his shoulder.

But Jesus could not have carried a cross that weighed 350 pounds. However, for Jesus to have carried the entire cross, the stipes (vertical post) and the pitábulo (crossbar), it would have weighed much less. According to legend, in AD 326, Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine of Rome, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to find the location of the cross of Christ. Witnesses commented that she not only found the cross of Jesus in an area under Golgatha, but also the crosses of criminals. She could not determine which cross belonged to Jesus, so a terminally ill woman touched each cross until she placed her hand on which she miraculously made her illness disappear.

Helena brought the relics related to the crucifixion to Rome. In the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, the pitábulo of the good thief is exhibited. It measures 180 cm long x 13 cm wide x 13 cm high. His weight is 20 kg or 45 pounds. It is estimated that the stipes measured 250 cm long x 11.5 cm wide x 11.5 cm high. His weight is 25 kg or 55 pounds. So the total weight of Jesus’ cross would be about 90 pounds. (From an anonymous article, Why Jesus carried the whole cross and not just the scaffold.) Interestingly, this evidence supports the fact that the bruise marks were the same size, between 11 and 13 cm long.

Jesus would have had serious problems walking, confined to a 45-pound scaffold mounted only on his shoulders with his hands and arms tied to him. By carrying the entire 90-pound cross, he would have had his hands free, while dragging some of his weight behind him. So if Jesus carried a much lighter full cross, it would have been the traditional “Latin” cross: a “t”.

It has also been speculated that Jesus had to carry the entire cross, because the dirty, used stipes covered in blood and feces were dug out of their holes in the ground and stored. This was probably done because in and around a holy place like Jerusalem, religious law prohibits anyone from touching anything unclean. So, Jesus and the two thieves crucified with him had to carry both the stipes and the pitábulo. In more secular parts of the Roman Empire, the foul stipes lay on the ground waiting for their next victim. So, traditionally the tau cross was used and not the Latin cross, exclusive to Jesus.

Early experts who analyzed the Shroud of Turin believed that the doomed Messiah only wore the Pitabule because only two abrasion marks were visible on the upper right back and lower left back. Today, using the latest computer technology, more evidence that Jesus carried the entire cross has emerged by re-examining the Shroud of Turin, the robe of Argenteuil, and the good thief’s cross. The robe worn by Jesus at the crucifixion overlapped the markings on the Shroud. Measurements of the good thief’s crossbar indicate that it weighed much less than previously thought, as did the stipes. With this evidence, it is more likely that Jesus carried the entire cross, with the help of Simon of Cyrene, to the crucifixion site, validating the traditional artistic view of Jesus carrying the entire cross.

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