Jesus is said to have been “hanged” (Greek kremamenos in Gal. 3:13), as were the two males killed at the same time (Greek kremasthentōn in Luke 23:39). While the term “crucified” is a much more common reference to this event,^40 “hanged” is a variant expression of the same fate.
From this passage in the Talmud we learn about (1)the fact of Jesus’ death by crucifixion and (2)the time of this event, which is mentioned twice as occurring on the eve of the Jewish Passover. We are surprisingly told (3)that for forty days beforehand it was publicly announced that Jesus would be stoned. While not specifically recorded in the New Testament, such is certainly consistent with both Jewish practice and with the report that this had also been threatened on at least two other occasions (John 8:58–59; 10:31–33, 39). It is related (4)that Jesus was judged by the Jews to be guilty of “sorcery” and spiritual apostasy in leading Israel astray by his teaching. (5)It is also stated that since no witnesses came forward to defend him, he was killed.
38 Bruce, Christian Origins, pp. 54–55.
39 This quotation was taken from the reading in The Babylonian Talmud, transl. by I. Epstein (London: Soncino, 1935), vol. III, Sanhedrin43a, p. 281.
40 Greek stauros, as in such references as Matt. 27:31; Mark 15:13, 14, 20, 27, etc.
It is interesting that there is no explanation as to why Jesus was crucified (“hanged”) when stoning was the prescribed punishment. It is likely that the Roman involvement provided the “change of plans,” without specifically being mentioned here.
Another early reference in the Talmud speaks of five of Jesus’ disciples and recounts their standing before judges who make individual decisions about each one, deciding that they should be executed. However, no actual deaths are recorded.^41 From this second portion we can ascertain only (6)the fact that Jesus had some disciples and (7)that some among the Jews felt that these men were also guilty of actions which warranted execution.