Gunnar Samuelsson

Senior Lecturer

Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and
Visiting address
Renströmsgatan 6
412 55 Göteborg
Room number
Postal address
Box 200
40530 Göteborg

About Gunnar Samuelsson

New Testament Studies

I defended my doctoral thesis Crucifixion in Antiquity – An Inquiry into the Background of the New Testament Terminology of Crucifixion ( in 2010. It was a study of the punishment of crucifixion from mainly a philological perspective. The source material comprised texts in Greek, Latin and Hebrew/Aramaic from the age of Homer up to the turn of the first century AD. The thesis sparked a immense interest in international new media (


  • Born 1966
  • Götabro Mission School, the Theological Seminary of Helgelseförbundet 1989-1992
  • Dept of Religious Studies at the University of Gothenburg 1992-1997
  • BA 1997
  • MTh 1997
  • Stockholm School of Theology 1998
  • Ordained minister in Mission Covenant Church of Sweden 1998
  • Dept of Classical Philology at the University of Gothenburg 1999-2002
  • MA 2000
  • PhD student in New Testament Studies at the Dept of Religious Studies, Theology and Classical Philology at the University of Gothenburg 2000-2007
  • Lecturer in New Testament Studies at the Dept of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion at the University of Gothenburg 2005-2010
  • ThD 2010
  • Senior lecturer in New Testament Studies at the Dept of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion at the University of Gothenburg 2010-

Fields of Research

  • The punishment of crucifixion
  • The Ancient World and its literature
  • Classical philology
  • James the Just
  • Etymology

Comments on Crucifixion in Antiquity

”The usual recognition afforded to most of the good PhD theses is that they are published in a monograph series (such an the excellent series of which this volume is part) and then if they have anything worthwhile to say they are cited in the works of other New Testament scholars. Gunnar Samuelsson has a rare distinction, for his work received attention, perhaps even notoriety, prior to its publication. Apart from the reports on subject specific blogs, the content of this thesis was being communicated through global media outlets such as CNN and Pravda... The breadth of primary data assembled will be of great benefit to subsequent generations of scholars.”

Paul Foster in The Expository Times 123 (3), 122-124.

”This study pursues the claim that Jesus never died on the cross. Though sensationalistic (especially in the hands of the media), the claim is ultimately anticlimactic and sober. Samuelsson investigates every instance of the language of crucifixion in ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew sources: Homer and Aesop, classical historians and philosophers, playwrights and orators, Hellenistic and Roman historians, ancient papyri, Roman philosophers and poets, as well as texts from the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Jewish literature, and finally the NT... This study is highly persuasive.”

Zeba Crook in Religious Studies Review • Vol. 38 • Num 2 • June 2012.

”In the summer of 2010 there was a brief international media storm, with headlines like 'Jesus did not die on cross, says scholar' or 'Evidence shows: Jesus never crucified'. We now have the thesis that provoked those headlines, so that we can judge for ourselves... It soon becomes clear that this will be primarily a study of terminology. If you thought you knew what a 'cross' was, or if you thought there was a simple correspondence between Greek stauros, Latin crux and English 'cross', be prepared to be surprised... Many will no doubt feel uncomfortable with the author's terminological minimalism, and will wish to claim that many of the ancient texts do in fact provide evidence for something very like what we call 'crucifixion', but at least we can no longer plead that we were not warned how slippery the ancient vocabulary for 'suspension punishment' actually is.”

R. T. (Dick) France in Evangelical Quarterly Jan 2013, Vol. 85 Issue 1, p. 72-74.

”Samuelsson hat sein Quellenmaterial fleißig recherchiert und herausgekommen ist eine kompendienartige Sammlung aller einschlägigen Texte zum Thema... Das Buch eignet sich als exzellentes Nachschlagewerk, um sich einen Überblick über die antiken Quellen zu verschaffen.”

Michael Hölscher in Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt 37 (2012), 276-281.

”Once again, it turns up that even the views of internationally acknowledged scholars could be challenged by a young Ph.D student... The book is fascinating reading for should find itself on the desk of all Biblical scholars those who so often speak or write more theologically than factually about the crucifixion of Jesus for the general audience. It is surprising that such a common term as crucifixion has never before been dealt with so thoroughly and so convincingly by a classical or Biblical scholar. We congratulate Dr Samuelsson on a well-chosen subject for his dissertation and wish him success in continuing his research to establish a basis “for colorful depiction of the death of Jesus” (p. 307). Mohr Siebeck Publishers should be thanked for making the dissertation so promptly accessible.”

Zdzislaw Kapera in The Polish Journal of Biblical Research 11 (2012), 162-163.

”Ab sofort wird man beim Studium der einschlägigen Texte nicht mehr die gängigen Übersetzungen und Nachschlagewerke benutzen, sondern vorrangig Samuelssons gründliche philologisch-semantische und durch die Register vorzüglich erschlossene Studie... Das Buch ist in formaler Hinsicht vorzüglich gestaltet und nahezu fehlerfrei geschrieben.”

Günter Röhser in Theologische Revue Nr. 1, Jahrgang 109 (2013), 23-25.

”I believe that many of my general statements about the employment of the Greek and Aramaic terms by Josephus and the Targums as strictly applicable to crucifixion would be strongly contested by the Swedish scholar Gunnar Samuelsson, author of a very learned, not to say pedantic, recent doctoral dissertation on the subject published in 2011. Crucifixion in Antiquity: An Inquiry into the Background and Significance of the New Testament Terminology of Crucifixion presents a full survey of the entire Greek, Latin and Hebrew, biblical and early Jewish literature, from Homer (c. 8th century BCE) to Josephus and the New Testament (c. 100 CE).”

Geza Vermes in Standpoint Magazine, April 2013.

Present Research

My present research focuses on volume two of my thesis. This project takes up the study of crucifixion where my doctoral thesis left off, around the turn of the first century AD. It will also study pictorial contributions to our knowledge of the punishment of crucifixion. The project will be published in an anthology; coauthored by Prof. Shimon Gibson (archeaology) and Prof. Israel Hershkovitz (anathomy and anthropology).


I teach New Testament Greek and New Testament Studies in general at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Prior to my PhD studies, I taught Old Testament and history of the Ancient World, which have influenced the structure and content of several of the courses in our department. The theme of contextualisation of New Testament texts is a trademark of my classes.

Specialist areas

  • The death of Jesus and the punishment of crucifixion in general
  • The New Testament and New Testament Greek
  • The Ancient World, its literature and languages
  • Homosexuality and the Bible
  • Classical philology


  • The Swedish Bible Society
  • European Association of Biblical Studies
  • Society of Biblical Literature
  • Swedish Exegetical Society