Friday, January 17, 2014

Longinus, And His Spear of Destiny!

“But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water.  And he that saw it, hath given testimony; and his testimony is true.  And he knoweth that he saith true;that you may believe.  For these things were done, that the scripture might be fulfilled:  You shall not break a bone of him.   And another scripture saith:  They shall look on him whom they pierced. (John 19:34 -37)

The Spear of Destiny as it is more commonly called, was the spear which lanced Jesus side at the end of his crucifixion.  It has become the source of legend, with Kings and dictators seeking it.  Believing it will give victory to whom possesses it.  The question is was there a spear which pierced Jesus side, and is there historical evidence for a Roman Centurion who carried the spear? 

The apocryphal work, “Acts of Pontius Pilate” also called the “Gospel of Nicodemus” gives us a reference. 

“Then Longinus, a certain soldier, taking a spear, pierced his side, and presently there came forth blood and water.”  Nicodemus 7:8

While the book itself may not be from Nicodemus, it does date from the third century.  It does give us the name for the Roman Centurion, Longinus.  Now that name does exist in a historical writings!  The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus mentions some Roman soldiers that had the name.  The first one was “Titus Pompeius Longinus, the son of Titus” (Antiquities 14.10.13 {229}); who was listed as a witness to the acts of Lucius the Consul upon Jews living in Ephesus.  Another one is “Cornelius Longinus” (Antiquities 14.10.13 {238}), also listed as a witness to the decrees of Lentulus in regards to the Jews living in Ephesus again.  The next one is Cassius Longinus who held the title of President of Syria!

 “Upon the death of King Agrippa, which we have related in the foregoing

book, Claudius Caesar sent Cassius Longinus as successor to Marcus, out of regard to the memory of King Agrippa.”  (Antiquities 20.1.1 {1})  

  Now none of these can be proven to have been in Israel at the time of Christ.  But, it does show that this name was common enough among the Romans that someone named Longinus could have been there. Those listed appear to have had good rank and power in the Roman Army.   This is important, for it provides the possibility of an influential family that might have kept the spear in the family.  In fact Josephus has another one that is in Jerusalem around the right time.  During the Jewish War and siege of Jerusalem by Titus, there was a notable soldier named … Longinus!  

“And now, as the Jews were about this time standing in array before the wall, and that in a strong body, and while both parties were throwing their darts at each other, Longinus, one of the equestrian order,  leaped out of the army of the Romans, and leaped into the very midst of the army of the Jews;  and as they dispersed themselves upon this attack, he slew two of their men of the greatest courage; one of them he struck in his mouth, as he was coming to meet him; the other was slain by him with that very dart that he drew out of the body of the other, with which he ran this man through his side as he was running away from him; and when he had done this, he first of all ran out of the midst of this enemies too his own side. So this man signalized himself for his valor, and many there were who were ambitious of gaining the like reputation.”  (Wars of the Jews 5.7.3 {312 – 314})

  He was in the mounted order (equestrian), and appears to be very proficient with a spear.  Is this bold Longinus the same one that was bold enough to lance the crucified one?  The image of a Roman soldier on horseback approaching the crucified Jesus.  Looking into Jesus eyes and thrusting the spear through him, seems to fit this Longinus.  So it can be shown that there was a Longinus, in the Roman Army, a spear man, in Jerusalem around the time of Jesus death. Since he served under Titus, we may wonder if Titus had a hidden hand in the crucifixion? As a victor in the Jewish war the spear might have been kept in the family of Longinus  as a war relic, and relic of the crucified Jewish troublemaker. Josephus has provided circumstantial evidence that supports the Crucifixion story, and the possible existence of the Spear of Destiny.


The Lost Books of the Bible  (1926)
Edited by William Hone, Translated by Jeremiah Jones and William Wake
Dover Publications
The Lost Books of the Bible

The Holy Bible – Douay Rheims, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc.

The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (1987)
Translated by William Whiston,  A.M. ; Published by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.
The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged 

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