- The sayings of the crucified Jesus as recorded in the four gospels. They are of forgiveness, consolation, love, and desolation (Luke 23:34—though omitted by some MSS; John 19:26–7; Matt. 27:46); but also of thirst, of triumph (John 19:29, 30), and a quotation from Ps. 31:5 commending his soul to God (Luke 23:46). However, these seven ‘words’ cannot be regarded as a historical sequence; they represent the theological interpretations of the evangelists. They are alternative explanations of the event: the cry of desolation expresses a sense of the total abandonment by God (Mark 15:34) but is changed by Luke, who replaces the terror of Mark's narrative by a note of serenity supported by its being a quotation from Ps. 31:5. The notion of the ‘seven words’ from the cross became widely established after Roman Catholic Jesuits instituted a popular Good Friday service based upon them, following the Lima earthquake of 1687, which continued in regular use even into the 21st cent.
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