The Cruci-Fiction of Jesus

Was Jesus tortured and executed?

Was Jesus tortured and executed?

This question demands exploration of several related quandaries, as internal contradictions pervade the Bible, and the holy scriptures conflict fiercely with known history. Even the Gospels themselves disagree on all the important aspects of the Christ story.

There are geographical errors and contradictions with the law in Judea—there’s no way the Romans would have crucified someone accused of blasphemy against the Hebrew god; even if they did, they never would have let “Joseph of Arimathea” recover the body.

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Moreover, if the Jews were involved in executing Jesus, they would not have used crucifixion. Everything about Jesus’ supposed crucifixion stinks to high and exalted heaven.


We know the stories claim Jesus was crucified during the Passover weekend, but what do the Gospels say in detail? The Gospel of John (13:1 and 18:28) has Jesus dying before Passover, while Matthew 26 claims that he died the day after he shared the Passover meal with his followers. Mark 15:25 asserts that the crucifixion was in the third hour, while John 19:14 says the sixth hour. 

Luke 24 and Mark 16 claim Jesus was transported to heaven immediately after his resurrection. But John 20:26, Acts 1:3, and Acts 13 have Jesus beaming up anywhere from eight to forty days afterward. The best of historical scholarship places Jesus’ supposed crucifixion somewhere between the years 25-36 C.E. 

His supposed age at his death, thirty or so, poses inescapable problems for Christian belief because of what John 8:57 says: “The Jews, therefore, said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old.” From such a statement, one logically infers Jesus was in his forties, and early churches claimed just that—he was forty-nine upon his death, in stark contradiction to the Gospels. 

In that case, he died c. 45 or 55 C.E. In his book Orpheus, a History of Religions, Salomon Reinach observed that “the founder of the library in Jerusalem, about 210 [C.E.], even contended that Jesus had died in 58 [C.E.] under Nero!” 


Let us examine some Gospel passages side-by-side and compare their stories. This is something that Christians obviously do not do or they would see the contradictions. 

The anonymous author of Matthew claims that while Jesus was nailed to the cross he screamed, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (27:46). So the omnipotent son of god was helpless against mere mortals with spears and a crown made of thorns? 

This is as strange as it is unbelievable. In fact, the writer of Matthew lifted this phrase directly from Psalm 22:1 virtually word for word: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” 

Similarly, in Luke 23:46, Jesus says, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” just before he dies. This is plagiarism of Psalm 31: “Into thine hand, I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” Then we must address the claim of zombies in Matthew 27:52-53, unsupported by any historian: “And tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.” 

Further regarding Jesus’ execution, the original Gospel of Mark actually ends at 16:8, where some women discover that Jesus is no longer in his tomb: “They went out quickly, and fled from the sepulcher; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they anything to any man; for they were afraid.” If the women told nobody what they saw, how could anybody write of what happened? 

At some point late in the second century, some scribes realized the blunder and added verses 9-20, which were concocted to include the post-death appearance of Jesus, a casting out of seven “devils” from Mary Magdalene, and Jesus’ appearance “in another form.” 

Fortunately, today there is no intelligent person who believes in devils.


Ask a Christian where Jesus was crucified, and they will probably say, Nazareth. Not only does that particular narrative hold no water, but you would no doubt also get differing answers from various Christians when asked where Jesus magically reappeared. 

In Luke 4:29, Jesus is taken into Nazareth “unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built.” Yet Nazareth always and even today has occupied a meager and shallow desert valley, not a hill. The writer of Luke clearly had never been to Nazareth. 

Matthew 28:16 has Jesus appearing post-crucifixion to his disciples on a mountain in Galilee. Luke 24, Mark 15-16, and John 20 all set his appearance in Jerusalem, some one hundred miles to the south. Regarding his supposed birthplace, there was no active settlement in the tiny borough of Nazareth during the early first century.


Comparing the gospels to one another side-by-side also produces conflicting accounts regarding who went to the tomb of Jesus. John 20 says it was Mary Magdalene. Mathew 28:1 says Mary Magdalene and another girl peeked inside. 

Mark 16:1 claims it was Mary Magdalene, Salome, and another girl. Luke 23:49 says “the women” went there. Regardless of who took a gander inside, what they found inside is nothing consistent. Matthew 28:2 says it was an angel. Mark 16:5 says there was a young man. 

Two men are in the tomb according to Luke 24:4. Who’s there in John’s gospel? No one! 


Christian mythology holds that god sent his only son to perform suicide by cop—or perhaps suicide by a centurion. With that being the case, Judas should be honored by Christians for betraying Jesus and allowing him to be martyred. If Jesus is not crucified, his mission to save us is an utter failure. 

As Paul admits in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” Thus Judas is the good guy, an indispensable character supporting the pivotal plot point in the Christian story. 

Jesus’ entire plan from the very beginning was that he be killed and then revered forever. Without Judas, Jesus would have to die after living a full life on Earth, never martyred, and never adored as savior and sacred scapegoat. Judas is the hero of Christianity. 

Paul, by the way, would also have been inculcated with belief in Sandan, the mythical founder of his hometown of Tarsus. 

Sandan was another son of god who was supposedly resurrected after his death. In reality, the Romans would never have crucified Jesus or even considered the matter, as they had not the slightest interest in Hebrew theological disputes. 

Roman authorities may have allowed the Jews to stone Jesus for blasphemy under the Hebrew law outlined in Leviticus 24:14: “Take the blasphemer outside the camp, and tell all those who heard the curse to lay their hands on his head. Then let the entire community stone him to death.” 

But then, that is not the story presented in the New Testament. Roman rulers were concerned with the visual effects of the punishment of crucifixion as a deterrent against future crimes. 

As a Roman author, M. Fabius Quintilianus wrote in the first century, “When we crucify criminals, the most frequented roads are chosen, where the greatest number of people can look and be seized by this fear. 

For every punishment has less to do with the offense than with the example.” Romans were uninterested in granting dead felons any tomb. They left bodies on trees or poles for days and even weeks as an example to would-be criminals. Then, after mangy buzzards had picked the meat away, they would simply dispose of the fallen bones with neither ritual nor respect. 

The Gospel of Mark says that Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body. While the tale has Pilate granting Joseph’s appeal, the real Pilate would not have wasted his time even speaking to Joseph. 

After chastising the guard who let Joseph inside his private quarters, Pilate would have ordered that Jesus be left where he was to rot. 

The “logic” behind Christianity speaks for itself. “Kill me,” Jesus says, “and I’ll forgive everyone for something that Adam and Eve did in the booby-trapped Garden of Eden.” Such is a Christian belief. 

More from the author:


By Michael Paulkovich

Michael B. Paulkovich is a columnist for American Atheist, an aerospace engineer and freelance writer who also contributes to Free Inquiry and Humanist Perspective. He is a contributing editor for The American Rationalist and the author of No Meek Messiah. His next book, Beyond the Crusades, was published in 2015 by American Atheist Press.


  1. Harwood, William, Complete Proof That the Earth is Flat—Or That the Bible is Fiction (Independent Custom Press, 2012).
  2. Henderson, Jeffrey, Quintilian: The Lesser Declamations (Harvard University Press, 2006).
  3. Hengel, Martin, Crucifixion (Fortress Press, 1977).
  4. Maccoby, Hyam, The Mythmaker (Barnes & Noble Books, 1998).
  5. Price, Robert M., Deconstructing Jesus (Prometheus Books, 2000).
  6. Reinach, Salomon, Orpheus, a History of Religions (Liveright, 1933).

First published on American Atheists Magazine 2015 (3rd quarter). Republished on Fadewblogs courtesy to the author.

Jesus' photo by Alem Sánchez from Pexels

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