Blogging Hiatus

Just wanted to let my readers know that I will be taking longer pauses between blogging with the fall semester now in full swing.   In the meantime, I have decided to beef up my ‘Procrastination’ links, so feel free to take full advantage of them while waiting.

So feel free to pass time watching all of the videos on NASA’s website (most are awesome), and along that same subject check out Hubble’s image gallery!  Get reacquainted with the Bible in interesting ways by checking out the Brick Testament (the Old and New Testaments done in Lego! Old hat, but still fun) and the LOLCat Bible.


Also here are some other ways to kill time:

  1. Sporcle – Take a study break with these brain-bending (and addictive) quizzes. New ones are added each day.
  2. FailBlog – Have a good time looking at the pictures and videos of when something in life went a little bit wrong.
  3. Today’s Big Thing – Stop trolling the internet for the newest viral video. This site compiles the best of the web each day for you.
  4. Lifehacker – From tips on the newest Droid widgets to advice on how to make your own pimped out lofted bed, Lifehacker shares little facts that make life easier.
  5. Hipster Puppies – This site features new snarky pooches each day, dressed to look like hipsters.
  6. Pogo – From Monopoly to racing games, Pogo has a number of free video games to take your mind off of your work.
  7. FOUND Magazine – Funny shopping lists, strange photos and everything in between, this site showcases a new found item each day.
  8. Facebook Fails – See what people didn’t really mean to say with this compilation of facebook flubs.
  9. Boing Boing – With all the funny pictures, hilarious videos and strange news items you could want, Boing Boing is sure to keep you occupied for hours.
  10. Totally Looks Like – The name says it all. From trash cans that look like R2D2 and zippers that could be piranhas, this site has an endless supply of look-alike photos for your entertainment.

Most Republicans are Creationists and Climate Change Deniers…Why?

A recent article on MSNBC drew attention to a long-recognized issue these days: conservatives are conservatives in faith and political issues alike, and it is rather odd.  This phenomena is pretty obvious to anyone watching the news over the past five years.

First, let me be clear that I have no quarrels at all with one’s faith.  You are welcome to your religion and your values and your moral compass, so long as you recognize that I am also welcome to mine (see here).  But if you are running for a public office, your decisions–assuming you win–have the potential to effect me.  That means that, especially if you can’t tell the difference between a quark and ablation, you should probably not try to act as if you know more in those areas than someone who, in fact, holds several degrees in the subject.  I think of it like this; you go see a doctor because you trust that they know what they are doing.  You recognize that they went to school for a long time, paid a lot of money, and had a rough internship in order to be able to figure out your problems.  It just so happens that scientists, like doctors, also go to school for a very long time, pay loads of money, and have hands-on experience for years gather and collecting and sorting data using all sorts of expensive gadgets and equipment and instruments to figure out problems too.

When it comes to climate change, the data collected and sorted so incredibly proves that the world is heating up, and may be the results of human hands, that its incredulous to claim otherwise.   And yet people do.  Now if you’re reading this, and your decisions don’t have the potential to change millions of lives, then you can go on believing whatever it is you want.  No skin off my back.  But if you are a politician, or a policy maker, please listen up.  This is just unacceptable:

Absolutely unacceptable.  And so is this:

Yes, 40% of Americans–most Republicans–reject evolution.  You might as well also reject gravity.  The evidence for evolution is pretty concrete; only those who have never been to a museum of natural science would say something like this.  In what might as well be likened to a child failing a test and stomping away frustrated saying ‘who needs this crap anyway?’, Bachmann, Perry, and Paul have all made extremely ignorant and dangerous statements about evolution.  As the article noted above highlights:

Perry says he is a “firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect, and I believe it should be presented in schools alongside the theories of evolution.” Intelligent design is the view that the complexity seen in nature is best explained as resulting from the efforts of an intelligent designer — for example, God, or an alien civilization. But in Perry’s case, certainly God.

Bachmann says “evolution has never been proven” and believes that intelligent design should be taught alongside the evolutionary view of biological change. “What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide,” Bachmann told reporters at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans in June.

Paul says “nobody has concrete proof” for evolutionary theory, although he acknowledges that “it’s a pretty logical theory.” In his view, the intelligent-design concept has more to do with personal beliefs rather than science. “In a libertarian society these beliefs aren’t nearly as critical. When you have government schools, it becomes important,” he said. “‘Are you fair in teaching that the earth could have been created by a creator or it came out of a pop, out of nowhere?’ In a personal world, we don’t have government dictating and ruling all these things; it’s not very important.”

There may very well be a reason, though, why certain people reject both evolution and climate change–it’s because of an ignorance of both science and the value of a good education, and also a clear disrespect for the scientific method.  It is a fact that these sorts of rejections are connected. After all, evolution means that we are all, in a lot of ways, equal, and it is easy to understand why that would scare some conservatives (who probably do not want to be associated with ‘socialists’ or Muslims, or minorities, for example).  And that would mean that gays are equal to conservative Christians, which means they require the same sorts of rights.  And for some that is a scary thought, especially when they read the Bible in a manner that seems to prohibit equality in this case, and even commands them to not just shun homosexuality but potentially put homosexuals to death.  Science also informs us that our fossil fuels are millions of years old, not 6,000 years old, so our resources do not seem as replenishable.   So of course some republicans will claim that climate change is all a hoax, that carbon dioxide is a “harmless gas“(!!!).  Facts are pesky things that get in the way of certain types of faith; it is just unfortunate that the sorts of people who follow this sort of faith are also deciding policy in our government.

And it may be, as well, that many feel that science is a secular-person’s game and not for the religious.  If you believe that, fine.  But do us all a favor and don’t run for office.  What politicians like Rick Perry and talking heads like Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin don’t seem to understand is that one can be religious without it interfering with public policy.   My issues with Perry, et al, are that they seem to think one has to do with the other.  It does not.  The more Perry talks, for example, the more interested in Mitt Romney I become.  And I’m not Republican (frankly, I think all politicians are liars regardless of party), but if I ever felt the urge to elect one, Romney is at least taking a step in the right direction (talking the talk) to earn my vote.  I can see past his religious convictions because he recognizes that science and faith ask and answer different questions.  On evolution, Romney states:

“I believe that God designed the universe and created the universe,” Mr. Romney said in an interview this week. “And I believe evolution is most likely the process he used to create the human body.”

“In my opinion, the science class is where to teach evolution, or if there are other scientific thoughts that need to be discussed,” he said. “If we’re going to talk about more philosophical matters, like why it was created, and was there an intelligent designer behind it, that’s for the religion class or philosophy class or social studies

On climate change and global warming, Romney said:

“I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that,” Romney said. “I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer.

“No. 2, I believe that humans contribute to that,” he continued. “I don’t know how much our contribution is to that, because I know there’s been periods of greater heat and warmth than in the past, but I believe we contribute to that. And so I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and global warming that you’re seeing.”

What this boils down to is his recognition of the differences between church and state, the good of the many vs. the wants of the few.  He said, and I agree:

“I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith … I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.  …If I am fortunate enough to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest … A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States.”

Republicans can learn a thing or two from Romney.  Hopefully Romney maintains his convictions.  Either way, I hope he continues on and gets the ticket.  I think it would make for a great presidential race.  And frankly, the Republicans deserve a better candidate like him.

Note: Joel Watts has an apt perspective on the recent anti-Gay stance that some Republicans have taken.

Question of the Day: Did the Author(s) of Job Believe in God?

I think this question is important, as the author(s) of Job seem to have a multifaceted approach to theology–one of necessity but also of indifference towards it.   Is it just so easy to lump the author(s) of Job in with the authors of Genesis?  Can we say, wholly, that the authors of the books which make up the Bible had the same strong belief in God?  I don’t think it’s that easy.  So this is my question to my fellow Bibliobloggers: Did the author(s) of Job believe in a God?  If you believe so, in what way do you think they viewed God? What sort of believer would we say the author(s) of Job is (are)?  If not, what drove them to write the narrative?

Fundamentalist Christians ‘Spanked’ Daughter to Death

A travesty and a tragedy.  I just don’t have the words.

CNN’s Gary Tuchman reported Monday on a fundamentalist Christian couple who killed their 7-year-old adopted daughter while practicing a violent form of discipline.

They reportedly beat their nine children regularly because they thought God wanted them to. Both parents were jailed after pleading guilty to the crime and the surviving children are now in foster homes.

via Fundamentalist Christians ‘spanked’ daughter to death | Raw Replay.

Craig A. Evans – Doubting Morton Smith and Secret Mark

Craig A. Evans has an interesting, if not thought-provoking, discussion of Secret Mark that is worth reading.  I am not sure where I stand on this debate.  I know James Tabor and Joe Hoffmann both have different opinions about Smith, and they would know better than I would (and probably better than Evans, since they were students).  But I can say I don’t accept Secret Mark as anything more than a fabrication (possibly ancient, possibly modern); I don’t believe this was part of the Markan tradition.   Either way, I suspect there will be another article soon enough arguing the opposite.  here is a snippet:

At the 1960 annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Morton Smith (1915–91) announced that while examining a number of old books and papers in the Mar Saba Monastery in the Judean Desert in 1958 he discovered three pages of hand-written Greek in the back of a 1646 edition of the letters of Ignatius. These pages purport to be a lost letter of Clement of Alexandria (c. 150–215), written to one Theodore, in which a longer, mystical (or “secret”) Gospel of Mark is discussed. Two passages of this work are quoted, one of which describes Jesus teaching a young man, wearing a linen sheet over his “naked” body, the “mystery of the kingdom of God.” In 1973, Smith published his find, now known as the “Secret Gospel of Mark,” in a lengthy, learned volume (Harvard University Press) and in a briefer, popular version (Harper). Although a number of scholars were willing to accept the find as authentic, or at least were willing to accept Smith’s account, a number of other scholars suspected the find was a hoax and that perhaps Smith himself was the hoaxer. The matter continues to be debated.

About half of the participants view Smith’s find with suspicion, if not as an outright hoax. These include Chilton, Jeffery, Piovanelli, and me. The other half of the participants, including the hosts, remain convinced that Smith told the truth. (The authenticity of the find itself, of course, is another matter.) On his blog, Tony has chronicled his thoughts, explaining why after hearing the papers and the discussion he still thinks Smith indeed made the discovery and that Smith was not involved in any way in a hoax.

via The Bible and Interpretation – Doubting Morton Smith and Secret Mark.


Defining Mythicism: Post Compilation of Articles on Jesus

Some have expressed interest in a compilation blog post combining all my articles on mythicism and the figure of Jesus from this site.  So below I have compiled a list of blogs I’ve written for the series ‘Defining Mythicism’.

Below are articles on the figure of Jesus which are not a part of the ‘Defining Mythicism’ series:

Below are articles on Zeitgeist and Acharya S/Dorothy Murdock.

Where is Jim West Now? Well…

…he’s committing depraved acts as a politician…

The 11-year-old learned scholar who became “mayor for a day” of a Dallas-area city knows what her his first major act in office will be: Renaming part of Main Street for teen heartthrob Justin Bieber.

A temporary sign for “Justin Bieber Way” went up Tuesday during a ceremony in Forney, Texas.

City Manager Brian Brooks says the request came from 11-year-old Caroline Gonzalez the pastor and Baptist, Jim West. She He won a contest meant to get young people interested in municipal government. She He‘s active in student council, recycling and community service projects.

Brooks says city officials weren’t able to reach Bieber to invite him to Forney, which is about 15 miles east of Dallas.

via Texas mayor for day, 11, renames street for Bieber – US news – Weird news –

The horror!

Defining Mythicism: The Signs Gospel and the Figure of Jesus

James McGrath highlights a post by the blog Synoptic Solutions on the Signs Gospel and the figure of Jesus.  I tend to think the post is a little ridiculous.  Here is the offending snippet:

In the Signs Gospel, Jesus is not being portrayed as a god on earth. Instead, he is portrayed as very human–a miraculous human, but a human nonetheless. Like the rabbis, he is not quite historical, yet he is not mythical, either. Instead, he is legendary. And so I propose that this is the correct model for understanding the historical Jesus. He is a legendary figure–but that does not mean he is an imaginary figure. Indeed, it means just the opposite: it means that he was most certainly historical.

There are several problems with this statement overall (e.g., the so-called Signs Gospel itself, the certainty of the claims being made about the Signs Gospel, portrayal of Jesus, the problems associated with Gos. of John, claims about the historicity of the figure of Jesus, and so on). First, and most importantly, the ‘Signs Gospel’ is hypothetical.  Like the sayings Gospel ‘Q’, the Signs Gospel is little more than a collected group of events (re: miraculous works) compiled by certain scholars (some who fall into line with confessional theology) as to seemingly avoid the problems associated with dependency (that is to say, that the Gospels are not independent traditions based upon eyewitness testimony); and we all know there are several very good (I would say ‘unassailable’) reasons to stop pretending ‘Q’ exists (ahem…).  For those unfamiliar with the Signs Gospel and the proposed value of the Gos. of John in historical Jesus studies, according to D. Moody Smith remarks (Johannine Christianity, p. 63):

“It is now rather widely agreed that the Fourth Evangelist drew upon a miracle tradition or written source(s) substantially independent of the synoptics, whether or not he had any knowledge of one or more of those gospels. Since the epoch-making commentary of Rudolf Bultmann, the hypothesis of a semeia– (or miracle) source has gained rather wide acceptance.”


“Whether such a miracle source can be precisely isolated and identified, as Bultmann and some who follow him think, is a question we need not decide here. The demonstration of the existence of a source (or sources) is not entirely dependent upon the possibility of isolating it with certainty and precision throughout the Gospel.”

The problem with D.M. Smith’s statement is that I am not so sure it is as ‘widely agreed’ that John used the Signs Gospel as he makes it appear (I will also not get into his other apologetic-esque comments here; Crossley does a good job of that in the article mentioned below).   I am not sure what is taking place with the John, Jesus, and History Project (JJH) via the SBL, but just judging from James Crossley’s paper (forthcoming in my volume with Thomas L. Thompson) it seems that suggesting that Jesus was a historical figure based upon this Gospel is a difficult task indeed (if not entirely futile, despite what the JJH project suggests).  One has to make gross presuppositions about the state of the evidence (i.e. you have to start from the conclusion that the Gospels present accurate representations of the historical Jesus first, which is a position that runs rather counter to historical-critical methods).   In addition, the Gos. of John might actually not have been composed until sometime in the early second century (but no later than the p52’s terminus ad quem, c. 150 CE), rather than at the turn of that century as it was once thought.

Though, even if it had been written earlier, like around the turn of the second century CE, it does not follow that one can judge the figure of Jesus, let alone propose a whole new model (!), based solely on a single narrative and hypothetical document.  It seems rather presumptuous, if not downright arrogant, to suggest firmly (and with such certainty!) that Jesus was indeed historical from the most miraculous, ludicrous, and late of the canonical Gospels.  And to top it off, the author begs us to presume the existence of a hypothetical document as secondary evidence for his position!

While it might be that the Gospels are legendary, mythologized narratives about a historical person, it is folly to ignore all existing narratives besides the Gos. of John whilst making the outrageous claim that Jesus was a historical figure, mythologized.  This is nothing more than begging the question: if all of these factors (Signs Gospel did exist as a source for John, John did have source material from an eyewitness, tradition stemmed from a historical core, John is the primary witness to historical tradition, etc…) are true, Jesus was a historical figure, mythologized (essentially amounting to nothing more than the Chewbacca Defense: “Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about it; that does not make sense!”).  But as the song goes, “well, that’s a far cry from the truth.”  We can only say so much from the evidence.  And when one is proposing a hypothetical document, even one that is largely accepted, the proposal can only be hypothetical (as a conclusion can only be as strong as the evidence).  To a large extent, this does prove, quite directly, that there are instances of bias in historical Jesus scholarship and with the question over historical value of the canonical Gospels.

Although there is hardly much need for additional evidence; it is clear that historical Jesus scholarship has its own share of failings.  Crossley notes, for example (and do read the whole article):

[T]he study of the historical Jesus is overwhelmingly concerned with fact finding, description and descriptive interpretation in its various forms, with little concern for questions such as why the Jesus movement emerged when and where it did and why this movement subsequently led to a new religion. By Eric Hobsbawm’s standards (see epigraph) most of these historical Jesus writers would come perilously close to being guilty of ‘antiquarian empiricism’ and more than one historical Jesus scholar might be guilty of writing what Hobsbawm dismissed as the ‘Victorian tome’ so typical of biography.

Aside from these challenges, there are numerous other problematic oversights in the post.  The author blogs the similarities of the miraculous signs from Greco-Jewish traditions but ignores those similar motifs found in the Hebrew Bible.  Where is the discussion or even mention of the same trope found in Ps. 107:23-30?

Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
they saw the deeds of the LORD,
his wondrous works in the deep.
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.

I would note as well that Ps. 107 contains other miraculous forms of redemption, through healing of the sick, and the feeding of the multitude (part of the ‘Signs’ which some believe came from this hypothetical source):

Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.

And of course, one cannot forget the play of the Elisha/Elijah narratives at work in the miracle scenes.  The calming of the storm also has roots in Elijah’s challenge to the Baal worshipers, where Yahweh is portrayed as a God who has control over the storms, in direct conflict with Baal, another storm God.  The feeding of the multitude motif can also be found in the Elisha/Elijah narratives (2 Kings 4:38-41 with Elisha’s magic flour, and with Elijah 1 Kings 17:8-16), as is the healing of the sick/resurrection of the dead miracle stories (i.e., 1 Kings 17:17-24 where Elijah raised the widow’s son and Elisha and the Shunamite woman’s son in 2 Kings 4:18-37).  These miracle stories need not come from another hypothetical source (as fictional as it might indeed be), but from long-held tropes and motifs found in ancient Jewish literature.  John’s ability to take Mark’s Gospel and build upon it is not unknown.

On the subject of absorbing Mark wholly, the author also uses a bit of hyperbole when he states “since we know the Markan author used SG as a source.”  In fact, since these miracles are found in the Hebrew Bible, Mark’s source is probably also the scriptures.  There is no need to fabricate an entirely hypothetical Gospel just to account for the motifs.  And John need only have a copy of Mark, Matthew, and Luke to build upon the scenes (which many believe he did).  The best example for this is the scene at the tomb of Jesus.  Richard Carrier explains it (go to the link for a footnoted version):

So we start with Mark. It is little known among the laity, but in fact the ending of Mark, everything after verse 16:8, does not actually exist in the earliest versions of that Gospel that survive. It was added some time late in the 2nd century or even later. Before that, as far as we can tell, Mark ended at verse 16:8. But that means his Gospel ended only with an empty tomb, and a pronouncement by a mysterious young man that Jesus would be seen in Galilee–nothing is said of how he would be seen. This was clearly unsatisfactory for the growing powerful arm of the Church a century later, which had staked its claim on a physical resurrection, against competing segments of the Church usually collectively referred to as the Gnostics (though not always accurately). So an ending was added that quickly pinned some physical appearances of Jesus onto the story, and for good measure put in the mouth of Christ rabid condemnations of those who didn’t believe it. But when we consider the original story, it supports the notion that the original belief was of a spiritual rather than a physical event. The empty tomb for Mark was likely meant to be a symbol, not a historical reality, but even if he was repeating what was told him as true, it was not unusual in the ancient world for the bodies of heroes who became gods to vanish from this world: being deified entailed being taken up into heaven, as happened to men as diverse as Hercules and Apollonius of Tyana, and Mark’s story of an empty tomb would simply represent that expectation.

A decade or two passes, and then Matthew appears. As this Gospel tells it, there was a vast earthquake, and instead of a mere boy standing around beside an already-opened tomb, an angel–blazing like lightning–descended from the sky and paralyzed two guards that happened to be there, rolled away the stone single handedly before several witnesses–and then announced that Jesus will appear in Galilee. Obviously we are seeing a clear case of legendary embellishment of the otherwise simple story in Mark. Then in Matthew a report is given (similar to what was later added to Mark), where, contrary to the angel’s announcement, Jesus immediately meets the women that attended to his grave and repeats what the angel said. Matthew is careful to add a hint that this was a physical Jesus, having the women grovel and grab his feet as he speaks.

Then, maybe a little later still, Luke appears, and suddenly what was a vague and perhaps symbolic allusion to an ascension in Mark has now become a bodily appearance, complete with a dramatic reenactment of Peter rushing to the tomb and seeing the empty death shroud for himself. As happened in Matthew, other details have grown. The one young man of Mark, which became a flying angel in Matthew, in this account has suddenly become two men, this time not merely in white, but in dazzling raiment. And to make the new story even more suspicious as a doctrinal invention, Jesus goes out of his way to say he is not a vision, and proves it by asking the Disciples to touch him, and then by eating a fish. And though both Mark and Matthew said the visions would happen in Galilee, Luke changes the story, and places this particular experience in the more populous and prestigious Jerusalem.

Finally along comes John, perhaps after another decade or more. Now the legend has grown full flower, and instead of one boy, or two men, or one angel, now we have two angels at the empty tomb. And outdoing Luke in style, John has Jesus prove he is solid by showing his wounds, and breathing on people, and even obliging the Doubting Thomas by letting him put his fingers into the very wounds themselves. Like Luke, the most grandiose appearances to the Disciples happen in Jerusalem, not Galilee as Mark originally claimed. In all, John devotes more space and detail than either Luke or Matthew to demonstrations of the physicality of the resurrection, details nowhere present or even implied in Mark. It is obvious that John is trying very hard to create proof that the resurrection was the physical raising of a corpse, and at the end of a steady growth of fable, he takes license to make up a lot of details.

I had thought we were moving away from such cut-and-paste mentalities in scholarship; how is the Signs Gospel that much different than Thomas Jefferson’s New Testament?  Sure, we can make Jesus anything we want just by trimming out the miraculous bits and combining all the instances where a particular motif or trope holds sway, calling it the hypothetical ‘Whatever Gospel’, and get people to sign off on the idea.  The problem with this is quite simple: it removes context and as I have shown it allows for the collector of these verses, the redactor of this new hypothetical text, to ignore very important subcontexts, narrative functions, and intertextuality in the original text.

‘Gladiators’ Arrested Outside Colosseum


Some 20 “gladiators” or “centurions” have been arrested outside some of Rome’s most famous tourist sites, in an undercover sting by police aimed at breaking up a violent racket targeting tourists, according to reports.

The AFP news agency said police had disguised themselves as gladiators, garbage men and members of the public to make the arrests.

The detained people are alleged to have attacked and intimidated competitors, the AFP said.

via ‘Gladiators’ arrested outside Rome’s Colosseum – World news – Europe –

Dorothy King: A Crucified Man from 1st Century Jerusalem

An interesting read!  Quite fascinating!  Go read it now.  Here is a snippet:

In 1968 a tomb was excavated at the French Hill, Jerusalem, better known now as Givat ha-Mivtar. Because of pressure from religious Jews, all the bones found in the tomb were re-buried soon after. A right calcaneus or heel with evidence of crucifixion was found there. The nail is made of iron and was 4.5 inches long – it’s not clear if it bent when Jehohanan was being crucified, or when his family were trying to remove the nails from his body. Givat ha-Mivtar turned out to be a rich Jewish burial ground in use from the second century BC until AD 70.


Given how many tens even hundreds of thousands of people we know were crucified, it’s perhaps surprising more archaeological evidence of them has not been found. There are two sensible reasons for this – some were crucified using rope rather than nails, and many of those crucified under the Romans were the poor or slaves, whose bodies were then tossed onto rubbish heaps rather than buried.

One other reason is that both Christians and Jews assigned magical healing properties to nails used in crucifixions. In fact they were one of the few items Jews were allowed to carry on the Sabbath (Mishnah Shabbat 6.10):

via Dorothy King’s PhDiva: A Crucified Man from 1st century Jerusalem.

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