Stress Positions And The Crucifixion

Several e-mailers have made this point about stress positions:

"Stress postions" may will win the award for the most obfuscatory euphemism.  If one gives attention to the actual method, as opposed to the Orwellian terminology, then the most casual student of ancient history -- and of the New Testament -- will see an immediate parallel with crucifixion.

To be sure, the Romans -- as well as other ancient practitioners of this form of torture -- often embellished the method with scourging, the breaking of the condemned's legs and the like, but the basic outline is quite similar.  The condemned is suspended, usually with the arms outstretched or overhead, with some of his weight being transferred to the lower body either by means of a platform below the feet (as one sees in many depictions of Christ's crucifixion) or by means of sort of cushion below the rump, a sedile, which is like a gruesome parody of a 'misericord' (lit. "act of mercy") the semi-seat one sees on the underside of choir seats in medieval churches, which allowed those in the choir to rest ther hindquarters while appearing to stand through the service.

But I digress.   While it is true that modern "stress positions" have done away with the use of nails through the wrists or arms (depictions of Christ with nails through his hands are based on a mistranslation from the Greek; a hand is not strong enough to support the weight), and are not intended, so far as we know, as a means of execution, the general aim is the same:  "Experiments by Frederick Zugibe have revealed that, when suspended with arms at 60° to 70° from the vertical, test subjects had no difficulty breathing, only rapidly-increasing discomfort and pain."

Another reader adds:

The crucifixion is a “stress position” torture.  The Roman would bind their victims’ hands above and outward.   They would become so tired over a period of days that they would eventually suffocate to death.  It was not a pleasant way to die.  Actually, as awful as this sounds, the Romans took mercy on Jesus and killed him after only three hours.  Our merciful Christianists should know this already.