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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Crown of Thorns

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(στἐφανος ἐξ ἀκανθῶν, Matthew 27:29). Our Lord was crowned with thorns in mockery by the Roman soldiers. The object seems to have been insult, and not the infliction of pain, as has generally been supposed. The Rhamnus, or Spina Christi, although abundant in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, cannot be the plant intended, because its thorns are so strong and large that it could not have been woven (πλέξαντες ) into a wreath. The large-leaved acanthus (bear's-foot) is totally unsuited for the purpose. Had the acacia been intended, as some suppose, the phrase would have been ἐξ ἀκάνθης . Obviously some small, flexile thorny shrub is meant; perhaps cappares spinosce (Reland's Palaest. 2:525). Hasselquist (Travels, p. 260) says that the thorn used was the Arabian nulk. "It was very suitable for their purpose, as it has many sharp thorns which inflict painful wounds; and its flexible, pliant, and round branches might easily be plaited in the form of a crown." It also resembles the rich dark green of the triumphal ivy-wreath, which would give addition. al pungency to its ironical purpose (Rosenmü ller, Botany of Script. p. 202, Eng. ed.). Another plant commonly fixed upon is the "southern buckthorn," which was very suitable to the purpose. (See BRAMBLE). On the empress Helena's supposed discovery of the crown of thorns, and its subsequent fate, see Gibbon, 2:306; 6:66, ed. Milman. Smith, s.v. Treatises on the crown in question have been written in Latin by Bartholin (Hafn. 1651), Bottier (in the Bibl. Brem. 8:942), Frenzel (Viteb. 1667, 1679), Gitsch (Altdorf, 1694), Gonsager (Hafn. 1713), Lü demann (Viteb. 1679), Sagittarius (Jena, 1672), Wedel (Jena, 1696), Glauch (Lips. 1661), Hallmann (Rost. 1757), Mü ller (in Menthenii Thes. 2:230-233). (See THORN).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Crown of Thorns'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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