SALT LAKE CITY, UT (GlossyNews) — 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.
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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 the University of Utah have again stirred bitter debate among Christian leaders around the world. Researchers at the university claim to have discovered conclusive proof that the Jews did not kill Jesus.
“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.
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. 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 with hammers and nails in that area around the same time,” Snarling offered tentatively, warning that the preserved testimonies of these witnesses are often conflicting and difficult to understand. “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.”