Tidningen Dagen skrev i våras om en ny doktorsavhandling som ifrågasätter om Jesus avrättades genom korsfästning. Avhandlngens författare Gunnar Samuelsson säger i intervjun: ”Poängen är att vi utifrån texterna inte vet att korsfästelser har ägt rum. Något slags upphängningsprocedur har skett, men hur den tog sig form är väldigt oklart.”
Nu har professor Chrys C. Caragounis skrivit en analys och förödande kritik av avhandlingen på sin blogg: Was Jesus Crucified?
Den grundläggande kritiken formulerar han här:
The basic problem with Samuelsson’s dissertation is his strange methodology. He makes his point of departure modern definitions of crucifixion (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Oxford English Dictionary,Webster’s Third International Dictionary, etc. pp. 53-55), and then examines each one of his texts to see whether the Greek texts contain every item found in the definition and explanation of crucifixion in modern works. A crucifixion is supposed to include the following elements: 1.the vertical pole was already fixed on the ground; 2.the condemned person was scourged; 3.he then bore the horizontal part of the cross (the patibulum) to the place of execution; 4. he was undressed and scourged (if he had not been scourged before); 5. he was nailed to the horizontal piece of wood (the patibulum) with arms outstretched; 6. the patibulum with the nailed person was then lifted up and nailed on the vertical pole somewhat higher than the ground; 7. there was a kind of seat or a projection half way up for the support of the body, so the strain on the wrists was somewhat alleviated; 8. the possibility that there was sometimes a support for the feet; 9. the death of the crucified one was witnessed as a result of the loss of blood or of exhaustion (usually after one or more days). Since Greek authors content themselves with merely stating the fact that some one or a number of persons were “crucified” without mentioning all these details, Samuelsson jumps to the conclusion that the text in question is not describing crucifixion, but some other kind of suspension, that Samuelsson has no idea what it is.
This simplistic way of interpreting ancient texts, which no philologist worth his salt would ever dream of applying, inevitably and predictably leads Samuelsson to reject everyone of the Greek texts that he takes up, apart from plausibly but not certainly 3 examples (Chariton, Chaereas and Kallirhoe, III. 4.18; VIII. 7.8; IV. 3.3-10), because they appear to contain a detail or two more (p. 194).
This arbitrary way of evaluating ancient evidence can be better understood if I use a modern analogy. Suppose that a Stockholm morning paper reports that the previous night some one was “shot dead”. Samuelsson would not accept that the person in question was killed as a result of being shot, unless the newspaper described in detail 1. that the perpetrator approached the victim, say, 2-3 meters, 2. what kind of gun he held in his hand, 3. what kind of bullets were in the gun, 4. that the gunman actually pulled the trigger, 5. that a sound was heard and smoke came out of the gun, 6. that the bullet struck the victim in the head or the heart, 7. and that the victim fell to the ground bleeding and dead. Only then, according to Samuelsson, would the newspaper be describing a murder by a gun shot. Because Greek authors did not have in mind Samuelsson’s expectations when relating a crucifixion, writing as they were for people who were acquainted with what a crucifixion was, Samuelsson arbitrarily draws the conclusion that they do not describe crucifixions!
It should be understood that any details that we have about the various elements that belonged to the crucifixion process were given quite incidentally by various ancient authors, and it becomes quite apparent that it was not their intention to describe for modern readers how exactly crucifixion went. Its procedure was well-known. It would, therefore, be the height of folly on our part, if we make the mention of all these details each time the verb ìcrucifyî occurs the condition that ìcrucifyî actually means crucify! Moreover, the use of various expressions is wholly in line with Greek linguistic standards, which recommend variation in expression. This is rather in considerable contrast to the Swedish language, which tends to use the same expression. At this point Samuelsson errs, who thinks that variation proves that the texts do not speak of crucifixion. No one who has a feeling (i.e. Sprachgefühl) for Greek would question this.
Hans slutsats är därför:
This book is not as important as it may seem at first sight. – – This dissertation has interest primarily for the mass media, which are hungry for the scandalous, the populistic and whatever lacks seriousness. Sober and knowledgeable New Testament scholarship will see through its threadbare character and set it aside as another attempt to create impressions. – – The book will need to be radically reworked in order to arrive at an interpretation that is consonant with the linguistic evidence on crucifixion.
Så har det också varit i svensk press. Dagen gjorde en rejäl nyhet av Samulessons avhandling, medan kritiken av den inte fått nyhetsutrymme.
För att följa debatten, se Evangelical Textual Criticism, som förövrigt är en av de intressantaste sajterna om Nya testamentets historiska tillförlitlighet.