I converted to Jehovah's Witnesses

Caritas

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Hi @Caritas and welcome

I've always questioned why Jehovah's Witnesses believe Jesus was crucified on a stake, not on a cross as commonly believed.

The cross was the Roman method, and the term 'crucifixion' refers to a cross, not to a stake?
 
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Hi @Caritas and welcome

I've always questioned why Jehovah's Witnesses believe Jesus was crucified on a stake, not on a cross as commonly believed.

The cross was the Roman method, and the term 'crucifixion' refers to a cross, not to a stake?

Hi RJM, thanks for the question.

Maybe Jesus was executed on a cross, or maybe he wasn’t.

But the fact is that the original words used for the instrument of the death of Jesus mean ‘tree’ (xylon) or ‘pole’ (stauros). It says nothing about its shape, so Jehovah’s Witnesses stand by the text:


Though what it looked like really is unimportant. What's important is that Christ gave his life for us.
 
I can't read that without enrolling for a free trial, which involves giving my card number, so I cannot check on the credentials of the scholar. However 'crux' means cross in Latin, which was the language of Rome.

'Stauros' is a Greek word that can mean either an upright pale or stake, a cross, as the instrument of crucifixion, or a pale for impaling a corpse.

On the balance it is clear that Jesus was crucified on a cross, not on a stake -- like all other Roman victims of crucifixion.

Staurolite mineral comes in cross shaped crystals.

Staurolite-2.jpg

I believe the real reason JW's reject the cross is because they regard the cross as a pagan symbol?
 
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I can't read that without enrolling for a free trial, which involves giving my card number, so I cannot check on the credentials of the scholar. However 'crux' means cross in Latin, which was the language of Rome.

'Stauros' is a Greek word that can mean either an upright pale or stake, a cross, as the instrument of crucifixion, or a pale for impaling a corpse.

On the balance it is clear that Jesus was crucified on a cross, not on a stake -- like all other Roman victims of crucifixion. I believe the real reason JW's reject the cross is because they regard the cross as a pagan symbol?

Sorry, here's a screenshot of a passage from the article
1709114486313.png


Stauros and Xylon did not originally mean cross, as you can see with these referrences:

Strong’s Greek Dictionary:
4716. Stauros

"A stake or post (as set upright), i.e. (specially), a pole or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment) Appears 28 times in the NT."

The Anchor Bible Dictionary defines "Crucifixion" as:
The act of nailing or binding a living victim or sometimes a dead person to a cross or stake (stauros or skolops) or a tree (xylon)"

The New Catholic Encyclopaedia:
"Crucifixion developed from a method of execution by which the victim was fastened to an upright stake either by impaling him on it or by tying him to it with thongs..."

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines "Crucifixion" as:
"The method of torture and execution used by the Romans to put Christ to death. At a crucifixion the victim usually was nailed or tied to a wooden stake and left to die..."

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:
"Stauros denotes, primarily, an upright pale or stake. On such, malefactors were nailed for execution..."

A Dictionary of the Bible, Dealing With Its Language, Literature And Contents, Including the Biblical Theology, in New Testament usage:
"[Stauros] means properly a stake…"

Hastings' Dictionary Of The Bible states:
"The Greek term rendered 'cross' in the English NT is stauros, which has a wider application than we ordinarily give to 'cross,' being used of a single stake or upright beam as well as of a cross composed of two beams."

The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1980
"The Greek word for 'cross' (stauros) means primarily an upright stake or beam, and secondarily a stake used as an instrument for punishment and execution. It is used in this latter sense in the New Testament."

The Catholic Encyclopaedia
"The cross originally consisted of a simple vertical pole, sharpened at its upper end."


In actuality, Romans executed people with a variety of methods, probably including the cross. But the Bible is silent regarding Jesus' case.

1709114813714.png


Here's an example of a stauros at the Louvre museum:

1709114859881.png



We don't necessarily regard the cross as a pagan symbol. Decades ago, JWs did find evidence that it was adopted from pagan culture. Maybe they were right, maybe they were mistaken. But that was not the primary reason why we avoid the cross. We reject it because it can lead to idolatry.
 
Though what it looked like really is unimportant.
It has metaphysical importance. The cross is the meeting of the vertical Spirit axis -- eternal and unchanging -- with the horizontal axis of Nature, limited by time and space and bound to death. The living symbol of Christ crucified has infinite layers of meaning, which the pole does not?

Regardless of other instances Crux in Latin means a cross, not a stake, in terms of how Jesus died.
Whether JWs reject it or not, imo
 
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Scholars have long known that the Latin word crux did not uniquely mean a cross.
Not uniquely perhaps. But in all reality the meaning of crux indicates a cross -- as in crossroads, etc.
The Latin word for stake is palus

I believe it is disingenuous to argue otherwise simply because JWs don't like the idea of it leading to idolatry
 
@Caritas
You say you converted to Jehovah's Witness.

What faith or religion did you convert from, if you don't mind me asking -- and how long ago?
 
Not uniquely perhaps. But in all reality the meaning of crux indicates a cross -- as in crossroads, etc.
The Latin word for stake is palus

I believe it is disingenuous to argue otherwise simply because JWs don't like the idea of it leading to idolatry

I never said crux doesn't mean cross though. I said that, according to scholars, it doesn't *only* mean cross:

"Professor Robin M. Jensen, in her book entitled The Cross: History, Art, and Controversy, says that "stauros (Latin = crux) did not necessarily imply [a cross]. Historically both Greek and Latin words simply referred to an upright stake to which those condemned to death might be bound or tied until they suffocated to death."

Also, the Bible wasn't originally written in Latin, so...

What faith or religion did you convert from, if you don't mind me asking -- and how long ago?

I had no religion before, I converted in 2017 by baptism to show Jehovah and Jesus that I appreciate everything they have done for me
 
Even if a JW didn't agree that Jesus was impaled on a stake but died on a cross instead, it wouldn't change anything.

Early Jehovah's Witnesses actually thought he died on a cross by the way. Then in the 1930s, further linguistic research gave evidence that Jesus may not have died on a cross, but a stake.

But as I said, what matters is that Jesus died and thanks to his sacrifice, we can attain everlasting life through faith and obedience.
 
But what the article really says is:

"Most Christian denominations present the Christian cross in this form, and the tradition of the T-shape can be traced to early Christianity and the Church fathers. Nonetheless, some late-19th century scholars maintained that it was a simple stake (crux simplex). In 2011 Gunnar Samuelsson concluded that there is not enough evidence in pre-Christian ancient texts or in the New Testament writings themselves to resolve the ambiguity of the terms referring to the instrument on which Jesus was executed.

On the other hand David W Chapman argues that to take one single Greek word and conclude that it has one universal and unchanging meaning like the word stauros “is a common word study fallacy in some populist literature. In fact, such terminology often referred in antiquity to cross-shaped crucifixion devices. For example, Lucian, in a brief dialogue that employs most Greek crucifixion vocabulary, refers to the "crucifixion" of Prometheus, whose arms are pinned while stretched from one rock to another. Such a cross-shaped crucifixion position in the Roman era may actually have been the norm."


My colour emphasis

Also, the Bible wasn't originally written in Latin, so...
But Jesus was crucified by Romans
I had no religion before, I converted in 2017 by baptism to show Jehovah and Jesus that I appreciate everything they have done for me
God bless. I hope you remain open to other ideas as well
 
But what the article really says is:

"Most Christian denominations present the Christian cross in this form, and the tradition of the T-shape can be traced to early Christianity and the Church fathers. Nonetheless, some late-19th century scholars maintained that it was a simple stake (crux simplex). In 2011 Gunnar Samuelsson concluded that there is not enough evidence in pre-Christian ancient texts or in the New Testament writings themselves to resolve the ambiguity of the terms referring to the instrument on which Jesus was executed.

On the other hand David W Chapman argues that to take one single Greek word and conclude that it has one universal and unchanging meaning like the word stauros “is a common word study fallacy in some populist literature. In fact, such terminology often referred in antiquity to cross-shaped crucifixion devices. For example, Lucian, in a brief dialogue that employs most Greek crucifixion vocabulary, refers to the "crucifixion" of Prometheus, whose arms are pinned while stretched from one rock to another. Such a cross-shaped crucifixion position in the Roman era may actually have been the norm."


My colour emphasis


But Jesus was crucified by Romans

God bless. I hope you remain open to other ideas as well

The main meaning of stauros and xylon is pole or stake, as one can read in lexicons. I agree with you that it can refer to a cross, but that's not what it originally means.

The Companion Bible, Appendix 162:
"In the Greek N.T. two words are used for 'the cross' on which the Lord was put to death: 1. The word stauros; which denotes an upright pale or stake, to which the criminals were nailed for execution. 2. The word xylon, which generally denotes a piece of a dead log of wood, or timber, for fuel or for any other purpose. It is not like dendron, which is used of a living, or green tree, as in Matt.21:8; Rev.7:1, 3; 8:7; 9: 4, &c. As this latter word xylon is used interchangeably with stauros it shows us the meaning of each is exactly the same. The verb stauroo means to drive stakes. Our English word 'cross' is the translation of the Latin crux; but the Greek stauros no more means a crux than the word 'stick' means a 'crutch'. Homer uses the word stauros of an ordinary pole or stake, or a simple piece of timber.[footnote, Iliad xxiv.453. Odyssey xiv.11] And this is the meaning and usage of the word throughout the Greek classics. It never means two pieces of timber placed across one another at any angle, but of always one piece alone. Hence the use of the word xylon (No.2 above) in connection with the manner of our Lord's death and rendered 'tree' in Acts 5:30."

Yes, Jesus was crucified by Romans, and Romans used different shapes for their instruments of torture.

The very first explicit mention of Jesus dying on something that resembles a cross comes from the NON CANONICAL Epistle of Barnabas.
The author justifies that Jesus was on a cross by saying that the Bible describes Abraham as having circumcised three hundred and eighteen men of his household.
Then it derives special significance from a Greek-letter cipher for 318, namely, IHT. The writer of this apocryphal work claims that IH represents the first two letters of “Jesus” in Greek. The T is viewed as the shape of Jesus’ death stake.

Justin Martyr followed along with this convoluted explanation and then other church fathers like Clement of Alexandria, but in the Bible itself it doesn't say it had the shape of a cross.

So the reason why JWs don't depict a cross in their illustrations is because we want to stick to what the original word says. I don't know why non-Jehovah's Witnesses attach so much importance to this. It's not important to us.
 
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So the reason why JWs don't depict a cross in their illustrations is because we want to stick to what the original word says.
The GREEK word. But the 'crucifixion' of Jesus by Romans in all probability was upon a cross, although they may have sometimes used other devices.
I don't know why non-Jehovah's Witnesses attach so much importance to this. It's not important to us.
It really does seem to be

Shall we let it go now?
 
Welcome aboard!

This is an age-old debate, so for brevity I've trimmed the wiki account it to a few salient details:

1: Koine Greek terms – stauros (σταυρός) and xylon (ξύλον), can refer to many different things, dependent on context, they are not precise terms, and one can't determine what's what beyond doubt.

The Romans followed no standard technique. They might use a cross with nails or ropes, or fix to, or impaled on, a stake.

2: Gunnar Samuelsson, in his book Crucifixion in Antiquity, whilst arguing that we cannot assert a cross from the Biblical account, nevertheless declares "Mark used the noun it could have meant 'cross' in the sense in which the Church later perceived it. [...] The Gospel accounts probably show that σταυρός could signify "cross" in the mentioned sense, but they do not show that it always did so."

In a Q&A page he adds: "The non-detailed accounts of the Gospels do not, however, contradict the traditional understanding. So the traditional understanding of the death of Jesus is correct, but we could acknowledge that it is more based on the eyewitness accounts than the actual passion narratives."
I think this is telling – the cross shape is founded on oral tradition from witness testimony.

3: Dionysius of Halicarnassus (60-7BC), living close to the birth of Jesus, described how those condemned to crucifixion were led to the place of execution: "The men ordered to lead the slave to his punishment, having stretched out both his arms and fastened them to a piece of wood which extended across his breast and shoulders as far as his wrists, followed him, tearing his naked body with whips." (Roman Antiquities, VII, 69:1-2)

The mid-2nd-century diviner Artemidorus spoke of crucifixion as something that occurred on a cross that had breadth as well as height: "Since he is a criminal, he will be crucified in his height and in the extension of his hands" (Oneirocritica 1:76).

Lucian of Samosata (121–180AD) describes the crucifixion of the mythical Prometheus by nailing him to a precipice on the Caucasus "with his hands outstretched (ἐκπετασθεὶς τὼ χεῖρε) from crag to crag."

The Alexamenos graffito, which was once thought to be the earliest surviving pictorial representation of a crucifixion and has been interpreted as mockery of a Christian, shows a cross as an instrument of execution. Its date is uncertain: some have posited for it a date as early as 85, but it may be as late as the 3rd century, and even thus prior to AD 300.

What now appears to be the most ancient surviving image of a Roman crucifixion is a graffito found in a taberna (an inn for wayfarers) in Puteoli, dating from the time of Trajan (98–117) or Hadrian (117–138). The cross has the T shape.

So there is strong archeological evidence for the use of a T-shaped cross.

4: From what I gather, the Jehovah's Witnesses perhaps believed the cross was promoted as a Christian symbol by Emperor Constantine the Great in 312AD?
If so, this is mitake – the emblem was the ChiRho, an early Christogram, formed by superimposing the first two (capital) letters Chi and Rho of the Greek word ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ (Christos) – it's not an emblem of the cross as such.

That aside, the ChiRho was used prior to Christ, as a shorthand margin mark to indicate a valuable or relevant passage in a text, being the abbreviation of chrēston (good). Some coins of Ptolemy III Euergetes (r. 246–222 BC) were marked with a Chi-Rho, so that might factor into the decision.

+++

Again, hello!
 
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