Cross or a Stake - which was it?
by KAYTEE 120 Replies latest watchtower bible
Falsifying your cross vs stake hypothesis is too easy. You correctly acknowledge the scholarship on this subject by Martin Hengel in his Crucifixion in the ancient world and the folly of the cross. I have a copy of this book which I read years ago now in response to your challenge I reread it through this morning because it is a small book of some 100 pages. A close and critical of the main text with careful attention paid to the copious footnotes in fact destroys your thesis on several grounds. In this post I am not going to write up a lenghty reply on the matter but will draw to your attention various issues raised by Hengel in regard to this subject. Hengel discusses the subject matter indepth covering the Jewish, Roman and Greek methods of crucifixion or more correctly impalement.
In fact, I take issue with the title of his book because of the nature of Hengel's discussion for to be more correct it should have been titled 'Impalement' in the ancient world rather than the other. Further, the illustration on the cover page designed by a artist well illustrates the problem of impalement/crucifixion in the ancient world and I am somewhat surprised that the illustration of the Christ is shown not hung on a cross but in fact a tree-like structure, an instrument which could not have been the one the Gospel writers witnessed. Agreed?
This means that both the title and cover of Hengel's book already has undermined your dogmatic view that Jesus died on a cross. When you respond to these comments then I will go through with you the contents of Hengel's book which in fact contains absolutely no information as to the instrument of Jesus' death. Hengel gives only a a sparing treatment of the meaning of stauros which can only mean a stake. I await your reponse.
Scholar, for every post you make, I`m getting more and more sure you are just a troll:
Besides these simple facts without engaging in the historical debate there is the problem that the cross is a pagan symbol and it would be a violation of the sacred for Jesus to be associated with a pagan thing.
You got to be kidding: Basically you`re saying that Jesus actually had a say in the matter? They dragged him up to the execution place, stood his beaten and whipped body up in front of a cross, and Jesus then said: "ho ho ho, easy there, roman soldier-dude. You can`t nail me up on that thing, it`s a pagan symbol. Nah, bring me an old-fashioned stake, please". Do you really think the romans would give a damn what Jesus felt? Also, even on religious grounds (that almighty God would have seen to it, that he was killed on a "non-pagan" symbol), your claim that Jesus "couldn`t have been killed on a pagan symbol", doesn`t hold ground, because you are here trying to tell us what GOD has in mind for humanity, and that`s just bs. If God wanted to see his son killed on a "pagan symbol", he could have had his reasons for that. Also, the symbolic value of "things" is not constant. It changes. A hundred years ago, the swastika didn`t mean "horror" or "evil", it meant "luck" and "fortune". Today it means evil.
The simple facts are that Jesus died on a stake because this is what the eyewitnesses saw, they saw a stauros which means a pole , stake or whatever
What eyewitnesses? The only eyewitness accounts are the ones in the Bible. And all the eyewitness accounts mention the word "stauros", which is the word, and it`s meaning we are discussing here, you dummy!
You frankly are a stupid womanStfu, Bethel-boy!
Pseudo-Scholar has read a book. D -
For a passing grade, Pseudo-Scholar is going to have to do some original research. I wait with bated breath.
I've learned that there's really no point in discussing anything with you because you won't be honest enough to acknowledge an opposing valid point. And the childish name-calling doesn't say much for you either.
You simply don't want to admit the errors of your idol (WTS), and so ignore the historical evidence as well as how the words in question had different meanings at different points in time.
If I were to say in front of a whole bunch of people today, that were you were extremely gay, how would they understand it?( I didn't choose this term as a passive aggressive way to rile you - honest ). Well I should think you'd take it as a compliment....because the original meaning of the word is such a nice thing to be called.....you strike me as a cheerful poster.
So, the cross is a pagan symbol and Jesus died on a tree stake, buried, then MIA when the tomb was opened.
You need to check out when that story comes from. It's the God Attis. Celebrated for many years before Christ.
Upright stake...no pagan symbolism or significance...hmm...Obelisks, sacred poles, phallic statuary. Used predominately in fertility worship and serpent worship, but present in many other sacred rites as well.
Still not much of a scholar, Scholar. I hope you wake up, but it is doubtful. Take a gander.
Last but certainly not least (and you should know this one) the Maypole. Celtic fertility ritual. Get real! No pagan significance?
Don't know if this will be significant to you or not-
(NWT) John 20:25 ..."Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and stick my finger in the print of the nails..."
Thomas's words would appear to indicate there was more than one nail used in Christ's hands. Notice "nails" is plural. As if his hands were seperate when nailed. This isn't the depiction we get from the WT artists. Usually they portray him with one nail through the wrists. Hmmmm. Maybe this has bearing on the issue...maybe not.
It is getting very tedious dealing with someone so disingenuous and it frankly isn't worth the time to write this.
I have a copy of this book which I read years ago now in response to your challenge I reread it through this morning because it is a small book of some 100 pages. A close and critical of the main text with careful attention paid to the copious footnotes in fact destroys your thesis on several grounds.
Okay, and what is my thesis? As pseudo-scholar misrepresents it:
This means that both the title and cover of Hengel's book already has undermined your dogmatic view that Jesus died on a cross.
In fact, as I've stated several times already in this thread, I do not hold such a dogmatic view. On the matter of Jesus himself, I have stated that the evidence is ambiguous and a definitive answer cannot be given, but there is on balance much more evidence in favor of crucifixion on a crux compacta than on a crux simplex. In probabilistic terms, there is a much greater likelihood that Jesus' stauros was not single-beamed than otherwise. This is not a dogmatic view that it is 100% certain that what Jesus died on was a two-beamed cross.
I distinguish this "thesis" from my other one: that the words crux and stauros did not ONLY mean simple stakes by the Roman period. Here the evidence is absolutely clear that the words were not so restricted in meaning, and that two-beamed crosses were indeed widely used by the Romans. The Society claims otherwise, that "cross" was only later a meaning of stauros, and you hold this position too:
Hengel gives only a a sparing treatment of the meaning of stauros which can only mean a stake.
And in earlier posts:
The simple facts are that Jesus died on a stake because this is what the eyewitnesses saw, they saw a stauros which means a pole , stake or whatever.
The testimong does not suggest a stake with a crossbeam or another piece of wood affixed to it, they did not see two or three or four pieces of wood but a simple, single piece of wood described by the word stauros.
The simple observation must be made that the Gospel eyewitnesses saw a stauros upon which Jesus was impaled and according to the lexicon a stauros means a stake.
If in fact the eyewinesses saw sommething other than a stake, a take with a crosspiece in the shape of a cross, then why did not theu use that specific Geek word. The very fact that stauros which means stake was the instrument sighted overules can such concocted theories of special pleading.
So does Hengel "destroy" my twin theses, or does he conflict with yours? Regarding the first one, Hengel does not elaborate on the shape of Jesus' cross. He is much more concerned with the meaning of crucifixion and the general revulsion to it in the ancient world. There are just two pages on "Crucifixion among the Jews" and he gives no support to your claim that there was a particular style of crucifixion among the Jews that eschewed the use of crossbeams and was limited only to simple stakes. In fact, he says: "The excessive use of crucifixion by the Romans in the pacification of Judaea meant that from the beginning of direct Roman rule crucifixion was taboo as a form of the Jewish death penalty" (p. 85). Crucifixion, as it was performed in Judea, was a Roman penalty dealt by Roman -- not Jewish authorities: "The imposition of the penalty of crucifixion upon robbers and revels in the provinces was under the free jurisdiction of the local governor, based on his imperium and the right of coercitio to maintain peace and order. Roman provincial administration had no separation between the authority of the army and the police and legal power" (p. 49), "Crucifixion was and remained a political and military punishment. While among the Persians and Carthaginians it was imposed primarily on high officials and commanders, as on rebels, among the Romans it was inflicted above all on the lower classes, i.e. slaves, violent criminals and the unruly elements in rebellious privinces, not least in Judaea" (pp. 86-87). That Jesus' crucifixion was a Roman military affair is indicated by the references to centurions and soldiers putting Jesus to death in the Gospels. This flies in the face with your claim that Jesus was put to death by Jewish Law according to local Jewish practices. According to Hengel, Jesus would have been executed according to Roman law at the discretion of the Roman governor or prefect and the crucifixion carried out by the Roman army, imposed on the Jewish people to keep them in line. As for the shape of the cross used by the Romans, Hengel does not limit it to any specific kind. He notes that it was variable and potentially unlimited in form:
"A particular problem is posed by the fact that the form of crucifixion varied considerably....Even in the Roman empire, where there might be said to be some kind of 'norm' for the course of the execution (it included a flogging beforehand, and the victim often carried the beam to the place of execution, where he was nailed to it with outstretched arms, raised up and seated on a small wooden peg), the form of the execution could vary considerably: crucifixion was a punishment in which the caprice and sadism of the executioners were given full reign. All attempts to give a perfect description of the crucifixion in archaeological terms are therefore in vain; there were too many different possibilities for the executioner. Seneca's testimony speaks for itself: 'I see crosses there, not just of one kind but made in many different ways: some have their victims with head down to the ground; some impale their private parts; others stretch out their arms on the gibbet [patibulo]' " (p. 24-25).
Thus, nothing at all in Hengel rules out the possibility (or probability) that Jesus' stauros was a crux complex. That you point to the cover illustration of Hengel's book as "undermining" my so-called "dogmatic view" is quite hilarious because it illustrates a crux complex composed of three timbers, with each arm nailed to the two outer beams and the titilus and feet nailed to the central beam. The whole point of my original post was to show that Jesus' cross was not necessarily of one beam (as claimed by the Society) and that the word stauros was not limited to one beam (as you and the Society claim), so how is a picture illustrating a cross made of multiple beams supposed to "undermine" what I wrote? Although I find it unlikely that the drawing represents the probable form of Jesus' cross (since the use of a single patibulum was clearly and most frequently attested), it does illustrate the author's contention that Roman crucifixion could involve a wide variety of different forms. The illustration proves that the author did not think that the form of Jesus' stauros could ONLY have been a single-beamed crux simplex.
As for the second "thesis", you say that "Hengel gives only a sparing treatment of the meaning of stauros which can only mean a stake", and while his discussion is quite terse, Hengel by no means suggests that the word stauros was limited to a crux simplex. How disingenuous of you to claim otherwise! Hengel presents exactly the same evidence I presented, including a few additional passages I had missed:
"According to Lucian, the letter T was given its 'evil significance' by the 'evil instrument', shaped in the form of a tau, which tyrants erected to 'hang men on': 'I think we can only punish Tau by making a T of him.' [FOOTNOTE: Iudicium vocalium 12: ... 'For they say that their tyrants, following his figure and imitating his build, have fashioned timbers in the same shape and crucify men upon them; and that it is from him that the sorry device gets its sorry name.' (cf. stauros < tau, N.B.)] In the treatise on dreams by Artemidorus, to dream that one is flying among the birds can only be of ill omen for criminals, 'for it brings the death penalty to criminals, and very often through crucifixion [FOOTNOTE: Oneirocriticon 2.68 ... dia stauron]'. (pp. 8-9)
I had previously pointed out how Artemidorus described the stauros as shaped like a ship's mast; here too Hengel points out a text when crucifixion with the stauros is compared to "flying among the birds" (i.e. with outstretched arms). Then a few pages later, Hengel mentions the Lucian text on Prometheus:
"When describing how his hero is fastened to two rocks in the Caucasus, Lucian uses all the technical terms of a crucifixion: Prometheus is to be nailed to two rocks above a ravine in the sight of all, in such a way as to produce the effect of 'a most serviceable cross' (epikairotatos ... ho stauros) [FOOTNOTE: Prometheus 1: ... We must not crucify him low and close to the ground ... crucify him above the ravine with his hands stretched out]." (p. 11)
It hardly needs to be asked what shape of stauros Lucian had in mind in depicting Prometheus' hands as individually nailed to two rocks on either side of a ravine. Then, as quoted above, Hengel discussed the fact that "crucifixion was a punishment in which the caprice and sadism of the executioners were given full reign" and thus "there were too many different possibilities for the executioner" (p. 25). He then goes on to quote Seneca on the variety of shapes of the cross (including one in which the arms are stretched out on a patibulum or transverse beam) and then Josephus on how the Romans during the Jewish Revolt nailed victims to "crosses" (stauroi) in "different postures" (p. 26). In no logical sense could Hengel be thought as limiting the word stauros to simple stakes! His whole point is that the form of the cross was variable and executioners tried and experimented with all sorts of different forms of crucifixion -- not just one single kind -- and he cites Josephus' use of the word stauros as evidence of this. If the device used in crucifixion varied beyond that of the basic crux simplex, and if stauros was the word for this device in Greek, then most naturally stauros would not be limited to just one kind of cross....just as the texts of Lucian and Artemidorus already show.
Thus Hengel in no sense limits the practice of crucifixion to "impalement" on a simple stake, or indicates that impalement on a stake was the form usually used, as you suggest below:
Hengel discusses the subject matter indepth covering the Jewish, Roman and Greek methods of crucifixion or more correctly impalement. In fact, I take issue with the title of his book because of the nature of Hengel's discussion for to be more correct it should have been titled 'Impalement' in the ancient world rather than the other.
Rather he indicates a great variety of forms beyond that of a simple stake, in particular a composite cross (crux compacta), as indicated by his citations of Lucian, Artemidorus, Seneca, and others. The crux simplex was one option out of many. Most sources do not indicate the form of the instrument at all: "We have very few more detailed descriptions and they come only from Roman times: the passion narratives in the gospels are in fact the most detailed of all. No ancient writer wanted to dwell too long on this cruel procedure" (p. 25).
I have to wonder about your reading comprehension.
When I was told by the Jehovah's Witnesses that Jesus was 'impaled on a torture stake' and not crucified, I collected information from their periodicals, checking all statements made against the original sources.
I discovered that portions of sentences had been lifted from the original sources by the authors of those periodicals and printed by them in order to 'support' the 'torture stake' theory adopted and advanced by the organisation.
But what perturbed me greatly - and it has been admirably illustrated by Leolaia - was that these quotations were not 'faithful' to the original sources, but were a 'pick'n'mix', reproduced 'unfaithfully' and scattered with ellipses [...], indicating omitted sections, which, I discovered, were not sympathetic to the 'torture stake' theory.
I have asked a number of Jehovah's Witnesses the following questions and I would be very glad if you could shed any light on them as my queries remain unanswered -
Why does the NWT add the word 'torture' to its translation of 'stauros'?
Why does the organisation suggest Jesus was IMPALED (on a 'stauros') when this indicates that the 'stauros' pierced his body?