Christ probably died tied to a pole instead of nailed to a cross, claims a theologian who has pored through ancient texts. There is no mention of nailing people to crosses as punishment in Greek, Roman, and Hebrew literature from the time of Homer to the first century AD, Gunnar Samuelsson says, although various other methods of execution involving suspension are outlined. Even ancient Biblical texts, he notes, say Jesus carried a "staurus," to Calvary, which could mean either a cross or a pole.
Samuelsson—who stresses that he is a committed Christian himself—says the belief Christ died on a cross likely came from artistic depictions of the execution in later centuries and from misinterpretation of the Bible. "My suggestion is not that Christians should reject or doubt the biblical text," he tells the Telegraph. "My suggestion is that we should read the text as it is, not as we think it is. We should read on the lines, not between the lines."