4

In Hebrews 11:35–37 the author writes:

...Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

The narrative "sawn in two" sounds too cruel a punishment to be meted out to a human being. Does the Catholic tradition speak of any martyr who was given that punishment? Or, was St Paul using a figurative expression in order to suggest something else? What is the Catholic Church's view on the punishment of 'sawn in two' as used by the writer of Hebrews?

  • 2
    Just a note, the context of the verse is talking about the faith of those before Christ came. The faithful suffered similar treatment before they had the label Christian. – L1R Jul 23 '18 at 16:21
  • 2
    Concerning "too cruel a punishment to be meted out to a human being": Look at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanged,_drawn_and_quartered for another cruel punishment, apparently used in England until the 17th century. – Andreas Blass Jul 23 '18 at 16:36
12

Was any martyr of the Church sawn in two, as mentioned in Hebrews?

The short answer is yes.

The term "death by sawing" indicates the act of sawing a living person in half, either sagitally (usually midsagitally), or transversely. Thus, decapitation by sawing or dismemberment by sawing are tangential sub-themes, though some ambiguous cases might be included. Death by sawing was a method of execution reportedly used in different parts of the world. Some of the reviewed examples are legendary. - Death by sawing

Some believe that the Prophet Isaiah was sawn in half: The Martyrdom of Isaiah.

Several early Christians are credited with being martyred by means of a saw. The earliest, and most famous, is the obscure apostle of Jesus, Simon the Zealot. He is said to have been martyred in Persia, and that the express mode by which he was executed was to be hanged up by the feet, as in the woodcut illustration. - Death by sawing

Illustration by Lucas Cranach the Elder of St. Simon sawn in two

Illustration by Lucas Cranach the Elder of St. Simon sawn in two.

St. Tarbula

Virgin and martyr, also listed as:, Tarba or Tarbo. The sister of St. Simeon, the Persiar" bishop and martyr, she was consecrated a virgin and met her own martyrdom soon after the death of he"' brother. Accused of practicing witchcraft and of causing sickness to befall the wife of the ardently anti-Christian Persian king Shapur, she was condemned and executed by being sawed in half.

Believe there are more examples.

What is the Catholic Church's view on the punishment of 'sawn in two' as used by the writer of Hebrews?

It is a cruel martyrdom.

  • 1
    +1 for a clear answer. I'd -1 for the stomach-turning vulgarity of the act... but that's not your fault. There are people in the world who have a lot to answer for before God. – JBH Jul 23 '18 at 18:14
  • 2
    They must surely have had the words " Be thou faithful until death: and I will give thee the crown of life" at heart. – Sola Gratia Jul 23 '18 at 19:19
  • Was just about to answer this, but you hit all my marks. – matheno Jul 26 '18 at 2:45

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.