I thought I'd dig up some of the references made in the
"Did Jesus Really Die on a Cross?", Watchtower 2010, Mar pp.18-20
Interestingly 2 references are honestly quoted, but the other 2 are misquoted.
What are your thoughts on the credibility of each reference source used and why? I noticed that the references that assert that 'stauros' was only a pole or stake in the 1st century did not include any references to back them up.
My impression so far is that the t shape cross was likely already in use by the 1st century and Jesus may have dies on a pole, or maybe a cross (though I'm not sure how one guy could have carried that friggin long pole by themselves). Whether or not it was a stake or a cross doesn't really matter at all because their shouldn't be idols of either... anyways here's the references (the direct quote is in bold):
"Did Jesus Really Die on a Cross?", Watchtower 2010, Mar pp.18-20
- 'The Imperial Bible Dictionary' (p.18)
- "Cross", Reverend Patrick Fairburn, The Imperial Bible Dictionary, London, 1866, p.376
- The Greek word for cross, oravpos, properly signified a stake, and upright pole, or piece of paling, on which anything might be hung, or which might be used in impaling a piece of ground. But a modification was introduced as the dominion and usages of Rome extended themselves through Greek-speaking countries. Even amongst the Romans the crux (from which our cross is derived) appears to have been originally an upright pole, and this always remained the prominent part. But from the time that it began to be used as an instrument of punishment, a transverse piece of wood was commonly added; not, however, always even then. For it would seem that there were mored kinds of death than one by the cross: this being sometimes accomplished by transfixing the criminal with a pole, which was run through his back and spine, and came out at his mouth. (adactum per medium hominem, qui per os emergat, stipitem, Seneca, Ep. XIV) In another place (Consol, ad Marciam, xx.) Seneca mentions three different forms: "I see", says he, "three rent ways: one sort suspending by the head persons bent towards the earth, others transfixing them through their secret parts, others extending their arms on a paibulum." There can be no doubt, however, that the latter sort was the more common, and that abou the period of the gospel age, crucifixion was usually accomplished by suspending the criminal on a cross piece of wood.
- 'A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament' (p.18)
- "TREE", E. W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, pp.818-819
- wood i.e. for fuel, timber; 'then' anything made of wood; 'here' a piece of timber, a wooden stake (a) ['used here for the oravpos' on which Jesus was crucified. Both words disagree with the modern idea of a cross, with which we have become familiarised by pictures. The oravpos was simply 'an upright pole or stake' to which the Romans nailed those who were thus said to be crucified, 'Eravpow, merely means to drive through stakes.' It never means two pieces of wood joining each other at any angle. Even the latin word 'crux' means a mere stake. The initial letter X (chi) of Xpioros (Christ) was anciently used for his name, until it was displaced by the T, the intial of the Pagan God Tammuz, about the end of cent. iv.]
- 'The Catholic Encyclopedia' (p.19)
- "Cross and Crucifix in Archæology", The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1914 ed. Jan 9 2011, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04517a.htm
- The penalty of the cross goes back probably to the arbor infelix, or unhappy tree, spoken of by Cicero (Pro, Rabir., iii sqq.) and by Livy, apropos of the condemnation of Horatius after the murder of his sister. According to Hüschke (Die Multa, 190) the magistrates known as duoviri perduellionis pronounced this penalty (cf. Liv., I, 266), styled also infelix lignem (Senec., Ep. ci; Plin., XVI, xxvi; XXIV, ix; Macrob., II, xvi). This primitive form of crucifixion on trees was long in use, as Justus Lipsius notes ("De cruce", I, ii, 5; Tert., "Apol.", VIII, xvi; and "Martyrol. Paphnut." 25 Sept.). Such a tree was known as a cross (crux). On an ancient vase we see Prometheus bound to a beam which serves the purpose of a cross. A somewhat different form is seen on an ancient cist at Præneste (Palestrina), upon which Andromeda is represented nude, and bound by the feet to an instrument of punishment like a military yoke -- i.e. two parallel, perpendicular stakes, surmounted by a transverse bar. Certain it is, at any rate, that the cross originally consisted of a simple vertical pole, sharpened at its upper end. Mæcenas (Seneca, Epist. xvii, 1, 10) calls it acuta crux; it could also be called crux simplex. To this upright pole a transverse bar was afterwards added to which the sufferer was fastened with nails or cords, and thus remained until he died, whence the expression cruci figere or affigere (Tac., "Ann.", XV, xliv; Potron., "Satyr.", iii) The cross, especially in the earlier times, was generally low. it was elevated only in exceptional cases, particularly whom it was desired to make the punishment more exemplary or when the crime was exceptionally serious. Suetonius (Galba, ix) tells us that Galba did this in the case of a certain criminal for whom he caused to be made a very high cross painted white -- "multo præter cætteras altiorem et dealbatam statui crucem jussit".
- 'Greek Scholar W.E. Vine' (p.18), 'Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words' (p.19)
- "Cross, Crucify [Noun], W.E. Vine, 'Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words', 1997, Thomas Nelson, pp.248-249
- stauros denotes, primarily, "an upright pale or stake." On such malefactors were nailed for execution. Both the noun and the verb stauroo, "to fasten to a stake or pale," are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed "cross." The shape of the latter had its origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name) in that country and in adjacent lands, including Egypt. By the middle of the 3rd cent. A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the "cross" of Christ.
- As for the Chi, or X, which Constantine declared he had seen in a vision leading him to champion the Christian faith, that letter was the initial of the word "Christ" and had nothing to do with "the Cross" (for xulon, "a timber beam, a tree," as used for the stauros, see under TREE).