Jesus could have been carried lightly on down pillows and then crucified, and the world would be just as saved. He could have been flogged within an inch of his life then released and the world would now be damned. It was the cross that was the sacrifice, that made a Galilean carpenter the Lamb of God promised to Abraham, Moses and David. It was the death on the cross that ended death. All the rest was just window dressing or perhaps an attempt by the "ruler of this world" to break Jesus' human will before the final sacrifice.
Listen to what you are saying... the means of execution is the reason for the salvation? So you're saying, had all the books been different and Jesus died on the way to the cross, that his death would have meant nothing? That God said to him "you must not only die, but die on a cross, otherwise everything is void?"
You're taking this whole scenario WAY too literally. All we really know is that Jesus' sacrifice was to *give his life* to his captors (pacificism, love for one's enemies, etc.) in order to save us. The coroner's report would have been meaningless in this context, had there been such a thing back then. The point is that he gave himself up to his enemies and he did not resist their decision to end his life. That's it. In a nutshell.
Whether they had beaten him over the head with a boulder or hung him or crucified him would not have mattered, all that matters is that he gave his life to them, knowing they would end it. And so the way in which they got there (I don't think it's unfair to assume he endured some harsh abuse, if not as much as Gibson envisions) is just as relevant as the ultimate "cause of death".
Again, I agree the movie went overboard with the gore, but it's silly to imply that the act of crucifixion is what the story is all about. Crucifixion was just a means to an end, and many other means would have sufficed, had history played out differently. At least to my way of seeing things. You seem to imply that had he died (at the hands of his captors) in any other way or any earlier on, that his death would have not resulted in anyone's salvation. That's illogical even in the face of ideas predicated completely on faith (like religion).
Fellows: don't feel the need to post everything the same day. It's kind of an overwhelming thing (whether you liked it or didn't like it)... I'm sure given a night to sleep on it you'll have something to say.