The facts on crucifixion, stauros, and the "torture stake"

by Leolaia 175 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • pillsbury

    sorry about the format but I couldn't get it to post all of it with it in.

  • Leolaia

    Thanks for your hard work. Meanwhile, I am struck by this amusing quote:

    The most convincing proof of all, however, comes from God’s Word. The apostle Paul says: “Christ by purchase released us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse instead of us, because it is written: ‘Accursed is every man hanged on a stake [“a tree,” King James Version].’ ” (Galatians 3:13) Here Paul quotes Deuteronomy 21:22, 23, which clearly refers to a stake, not a cross.

    What the Society omits is that this text in Deuteronomy does not refer to crucifixion (or impalement, as the Society likes to call it) either. It refers to a post-mortem hanging, such as that described in 2 Samuel 4:12: "Then David gave an order to his soldiers who put them to death, cut off their hands and feet, and hung them up beside the Pool of Hebron" (compare 1 Samuel 31:10, 2 Samuel 21:6, 12). If we were to believe that Jesus was executed exactly according to Deuteronomy 21:22-23 merely because Paul quotes this scripture and applies it to Jesus, then we would have to conclude that Jesus had already been executed and was hung up on a stake just to display his death to others. Instead, the invention of crucifixion as a mode of execution led to the reinterpretation of Deuteronomy 21:22-23, and this can be seen in the Dead Sea Scrolls as well: "you shall hang him on a tree and he will die" (11QT 64), which clearly refers to the hanging of a living person to the "tree". Just like halacha in general, the old Law was reinterpreted and applied to new circumstances. It would be a mistake to conclude that there weren't any new circumstances because the old laws were still being quoted as authoritative and pertaining to the situation.

  • TheListener

    Wowwwwwowowowowowow!!!!! That was really something. Took me a while to get through it though.

    Thank you so much for your hard work.

    I love it when this board really digs into doctrinal matters and shreds the WTS position to pieces.

  • hemp lover
    hemp lover

    Fascinating work, Ms. Leo. Thanks for writing and sharing.

    Did you come across anything in your research that referred to the cross as a phallic symbol? My mom always went on and on about that and I'm pretty sure I've seen something about it in the WTS literature.

    I never understood the big deal though. Wouldn't a stake be even more phallic than a cross? Most phalluses (phalli?) (at least the ones I've seen [in my very limited experience, of course]) don't have a crossbeam.

  • Leolaia

    Here is apparently the full text of the Companion Bible appendix:

    And a complete listing of the appendices appears here:

    The content of the appendices is quite sectarian (e.g. dispensationalism, interpreting the Bible for clues on the second advent, soul sleep, hell being only the "grave" or "state of death"), with apologetic aims in proving the Bible to be the pure, accurate Word of God. The work as a whole is credited to the Anglicist scholar Ethelbert William Bullinger (1837-1913), who was influenced by the Plymouth Brethren and elsewhere in his writings expounded on annihilationism, Darbyesque dispensationalism, and universalism. He completed the first four volumes but he died before he was able to work on the NT so the last two volumes were completed by Charles Welch, who then likely would have been the author of the appendix on the "cross" if the original piece was not written by Bullinger himself. Here are some of Welch's writings:

    Welch seems to have had similar views as Bullinger. I would willing to bet that, considering congeniality of this work to JW beliefs (except in the matter of the deity of Christ), it was likely used by them in Rutherford's time and may have had a direct influence on Rutherford as leading him to believe that Jesus' stauros was not a two-beamed cross. I also wonder what connection Bullinger may have had with W. E. Vine, who also (if I may recall correctly) endorsed soul-sleep, the view of hell as the common "grave", and other ideas in common with certan 19th-century dispensationalists....

  • Alleymom

    Leolaia ---
    Here's something else to note about Appendix 162 to the Companion Bible. There's a mistake right near the top, in item #2.
    It says:

    In the Greek New Testament two words are used for "the cross" on which the Lord was put to death.
    1. The word stauros; which denotes an upright pole or stake, to which the criminals were nailed for execution.
    2. The xulon, 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 Matthew 21:8; Revelation 7:1, 3; 8:7; 9:4, etc.

    Stat ement #2 says that xulon is not like dendron, which is used of a living or green tree.

    But look at the following verses, all of which have xulon rather than dendron.

    --- Rev. 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

    --- Rev. 22:2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

    ---- Rev. 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

    ---- Luke 22:31 For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

    I have trouble believing that Bullinger made such an elementary mistake as that. I have a vague recollection --- and I could be wrong on this --- that he died before the whole project was finished, and it was finished by others.

    Leo, do you think you could find out anything else about that? I did a little googling and I couldn't find anything. It's just an impression I have.

    Marjorie [having a lot of trouble formatting this message]

  • Narkissos

    Here's the complete entry from the Expository Dictionary where he is slightly less assertive than Bullinger (or his successor):¯t0000616

    Edit: the direct link doesn't work, click on "C" then "Cross, Crucify".

  • Leolaia

    hemp lover....I am sure you are right that the stake is more "phallic" than the traditional cross, and as Narkissos points out, the pole itself was equally an object of adoration and idolatry in ancient times (e.g. the asherah poles). The Society unfortunately has confused the issue of what instrument Jesus died upon with the separate issue of the use of certain shapes in ancient worship.

    Alleymom....You are correct that xulon is used to refer to living trees; the 8 April 1963 Awake! tries to accommodate this by saying that the word is "at times used in the Scriptures to refer to figurative living trees," and I would guess this is meant to account for the use of xulon in Revelation (tho one could argue that because Jewish tradition pictured a literal Garden of Eden paradise in heaven, the trees are not symbolic here), but this does not really explain Luke 23:31 (which the NWT renders "if they do these things when the tree is moist, what will occur when it is withered"), as well as the usage throughout the LXX where the term clearly refers to living non-figurative trees: e.g. "fruit trees producing fruit" (kai xulon karpimon poioun karpon)" in Genesis 1:11 (LXX). It is probably true that dendron is more commonly used for living trees, and xulon is more commonly used wood products, but the two words obviously overlap a good deal.

    Narkissos....Vine seems to be completely unaware that the Romans crucified people on two-beamed crosses or even had a word for the crossbeam (patibulum), he basically attributes the whole "ecclesiastical form of the two beamed cross" to Chaldean origins as an adoption of a pagan religious symbol by Christians (is he here dependent on Hislop? I haven't heard anyone else claim that the cross symbol was used in Tammuz/Dumuzi devotion)...

  • Leolaia

    BTW, if you need to edit your posts, please be sure to delete the extra line breaks that are automatically inserted before you submit your revision. There is a new bug in the software that is inserting lots of line breaks, which make edited posts hard to read.

  • Leolaia

    The use of xulon in Revelation to refer to the "trees of life" also reflects the fact that xulon is used through Genesis 2-3 to refer to the trees of the Garden of Eden (cf. Genesis 2:9, 16, 17, 3:1-3, 6, 8, 11-12, 17, 22, 24; LXX). Other examples from the OT:

    "Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields—both men and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree (panta ta xula)" (Exodus 9:25; LXX; cf. 10:5, 15).
    "But the olive tree answered, 'Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and men are honored, to hold sway over the trees (epi tón xulón)?' Next, the trees (xula) said to the fig tree, 'Come and be our king' " (Judges 9:9-10; LXX).
    "Then the trees of the forest (ta xula tou drumou) will sing, they will sing for joy before the Lord" (1 Chronicles 16:33; LXX)
    "Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest (tois xulois tou drumou) is my lover among the young men" (Canticles 2:3; LXX)
    "All the trees of the field (ta xula pediou) will know that I, the Lord, bring down the tall tree (xulon hupsilon) and make the low tree (xulon tapeinon) grow tall. I dry up the green tree (xulon khlóron) and make the dry tree (xulon khéron) flourish" (Ezekiel 17:24; LXX).

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