"The non-Christian cross" by John Denham Parsons, is a work that is still used by the Watchtower Society as a "proof" that the Greek word stauros does not mean cross. Here a portion of this work:
Now the Greek word which in Latin versions of the New Testament is translated as crux, and in English versions is rendered as cross, i.e., the word stauros, seems to have, at the beginning of our era, no more meant a cross than the English word stick means a crutch.
It is true that a stick may be in the shape of a crutch, and that the stauros to which Jesus was affixed may have been in the shape of a cross. But just as the former is not necessarily a crutch, so the latter was not necessarily a cross.
What the ancients used to signify when they used the word stauros, can easily be seen by referring to either the Iliad or the Odyssey.1
It will there be found to clearly signify an ordinary pole or stake without any cross-bar. And it is as thus signifying a single piece of wood that the word in question is used throughout the old Greek classics.2
The stauros used as an instrument of execution was (1) a small pointed pole or stake used for thrusting through the body, so as to pin the latter to the earth, or otherwise render death inevitable; (2) a similar pole or stake fixed in the ground point upwards, upon which the condemned one was forced down till incapable of escaping; (3) a much longer and stouter pole or stake fixed point upwards, upon which the victim, with his hands tied behind him, was lodged in such a way that the point should enter his breast and the weight of the body cause every movement to hasten the end; and (4) a stout unpointed pole or stake set upright in the earth, from which the victim was suspended by a rope round his wrists, which were first tied behind him so that the position might become an agonising one; or to which the doomed one was bound, or, as in the case of Jesus, nailed.
That this last named kind of stauros, which was admittedly that to which Jesus was affixed, had in every case a cross-bar attached, is untrue; that it had in most cases, is unlikely; that it had in the case of Jesus, is unproven.
Even as late as the Middle Ages, the word stauros seems to have primarily signified a straight piece of wood without a cross-bar. For the famous Greek lexicographer, Suidas, expressly states, "Stauroi; ortha xula perpégota," and both Eustathius and Hesychius affirm that it meant a straight stake or pole.
The side light thrown upon the question by Lucian is also worth noting. This writer, referring to Jesus, alludes to "That sophist of theirs who was fastened to a skolops;" which word signified a single piece of wood, and not two pieces joined together...
However, Parsons misleads his readers by misusing quotes, not understanding that a word in Homer's age could have improved its meaning. Furthermore, Parsons omitted some quotes of the first and the second century where the writers clearly mentioned that stauros has the same shape as the greek letter Tau.