3 responses

  1. Emily K
    October 9, 2008

    Jim, what does “tied spread-eagle” mean? I’m having trouble placing that visual.

  2. Jim Burroway
    October 9, 2008

    “Spread-eagle” generally means that arms and legs are outstretched. This was how he was described in early reports, which generated some urban legends of how he was found.

    I updated the article to add the following paragraph after the “spread-eagle” reference:

    It would later emerge that Matthew hadn’t been burned, nor had he been tied “spread-eagle.” Instead, his hands were tied behind his back, and tied to the fence post just a few inches above the ground. But this early report of being tied “spread-eagle,” along with early descriptions of his being mistaken for a scarecrow, led to later images of Matthew hanging by his arms, appearing as an upright scarecrow or as someone who had been crucified.

  3. Emily K
    October 9, 2008

    In all seriousness, by all literal definitions of what execution by crucifixion is, he was indeed crucified by being tied to a wooden post and left to die of exposure after being beaten. Crucifixion is not limited to being tied arms out-stretched high above the ground, as depicted in Christian artwork.

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