Continuing from Part #2A: Linguistic of this series, "Was Jesus
[Above: Imprint of a traditional Roman cross over a charred altar in a house in Herculaneum which was buried in an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD79 (Maier, 1976, p.141). It therefore is archaeological evidence that less than 50 years after Jesus' crucifixion (in AD30 or 33), Christians were remembering that He died on a cross (Maier, 1976, pp.140-141. See also Evert, 2001, p.102; Watters, 1996a; Finegan, 1992, p.374)]
executed on a cross or a stake?", where we saw that the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society's argument based on the fact that the original meaning of the Greek word stauros "meant merely an upright stake, or pale, or a pile such as is used for a foundation" (WB&TS, 1985, "Kingdom Interlinear Translation," p.1149), failed because, as leading New Testament Greek lexicons stated, stauros had acquired a secondary meaning of "cross." And since this linguistic argument based on stauros is the centrepiece of the Society's argument that Jesus was not executed on a cross but on a stake, I could stop there. But as we shall see, there is a lot more evidence against the Watchtower Society's claim that Jesus was executed on a stake and for that He was crucified on a cross.
In this part #2B: Linguistic, we will look at the Society's arguments based on stauros in one of its other publications, "Reasoning from the Scriptures," 1989, pp.89-90:
The Greek word rendered `cross' in many modern Bible versions ('torture stake' in NW) is stau·ros'. In classical Greek, this word meant merely an upright stake, or pale. Later it also came to be used for an execution stake having a crosspiece. See part #2A on the Watchtower's inserting the word "torture" into the New Testament 27 times, when it isn't there in the original Greek! And also for the fallacy of arguing that just because a word originally meant something in "classical Greek, the form of Greek spoken between 1000 and 330 B.C." it could not change over hundreds of years to acquire a secondary meaning in a different "dialect" of Greek, which "The manuscripts of the New Testament are in" namely "Koine Greek" (Evert, 2001, p.99. My emphasis). Note also that the Watchtower has to admit that "Later" i.e. after the execution of Jesus in AD30-33, in fact "long afterwards" (see below), stau·ros "came to be used for an execution stake having a crosspiece." But since there is archaeological evidence (see above and in future Part #5 Archaeological) that Christians were already in the 1st century AD using a cross as a symbol of their faith, then the Society would have to maintain that the Romans suddenly started crucifying their enemies and criminals on a cross, almost immediately after the execution of Jesus, but with no explanation in the historical and patristic literature of such a major change!
The Imperial Bible-Dictionary acknowledges this, saying: `The Greek word for cross, [stau·ros'], properly signified a stake, an upright pole, or piece of paling, on which anything might be hung, or which might be used in impaling [fencing in] apiece of ground.... Even amongst the Romans the crux (from which our cross is derived) appears to have been originally an upright pole.'-Edited by P. Fairbairn (London, 1874), Vol. I, p. 376. " (Ibid, p.89) This is a good example of the Watchtower Society's dishonesty in omitting words that would change the quote to mean the opposite of what the Society is claiming. Here is what the full quote is, with the words in the ellipses, and immediately after the quote, added in red, in which Patrick Fairbairn (1805-1874) a leading 19th century Scottish theologian, states: 1) "a modification was introduced" to the stauros " as the dominion and usages of Rome extended themselves through Greek-speaking countries" (i.e. between 215-148BC); 2) "amongst the Romans the crux ... from the time that it began to be used as an instrument of punishment, a transverse piece of wood was commonly added"; 3) "Seneca [c. 4 BC-65 AD)] mentions ... extending their arms on a patibulum"; 4) "There can be no doubt, however, that the latter sort was the more common"; and 5) "about the period of the gospel age crucifixion was usually accomplished by suspending the criminal on a cross piece of wood." (my emphasis):
"CROSS, CRUCIFY. The Greek word for cross, stauros, properly signified a stake, an 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 most 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 more 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 crosses, not indeed of one sort, but fashioned in different ways; one sort suspending by the head persons bent toward the earth, others transfixing them through their secret parts, others extending their arms on a patibulum.' There can be no doubt, however, that the latter sort was the more common, and that about the period of the gospel age crucifixion was usually accomplished by suspending the criminal on a cross piece of wood." (Fairbairn, P., ed., "The Imperial Bible-Dictionary," Blackie & Son: Paternoster Row: London, 1867, Vol. I, p.376).
The book The Non-Christian Cross, by J. D. Parsons (London, 1896), says: The Watchtower Society is also being less than honest in not revealing to its readers that "J. D. Parsons," i.e. John Denham Parsons, was not a theologian, nor a historian, but merely a "writer" who "was a member of the Society for Psychical Research" (Wikipedia). Indeed Parsons seems to have been a non-Christian, and a pagan to boot, having authored another book, "Our Sun-God, or, Christianity before Christ: a demonstration that, as the fathers admitted, our religion existed before our era, and even in pre-historic times," London, 1895, which he wrote from "a Gnostic point of view" and in which he doubted that "Jesus ... existed" and that "a number of pagan mythologies involving the sun may have been added into the story of his life" (Parsons, 1895).
`There is not a single sentence in any of the numerous writings forming the New Testament, which, in the original Greek, bears even indirect evidence to the effect that the stauros used in the case of Jesus was other than an ordinary stauros; much less to the effect that it consisted, not of one piece of timber, but of two pieces nailed together in the form of a cross .... This is simply false. There are at least five different lines of evidence in the New Testament that Jesus was executed on "two pieces" of wood "nailed together in the form of a cross":
1) The word stauros by the time of Jesus had acquired a secondary meaning of "cross", as we saw in part #2A, where leading New Testament Greek dictionaries stated that stauros also meant, "a stake sunk into the earth in an upright position" with "a cross-piece" often "attached to its upper part, so that it was shaped like a T or thus † ." (Arndt, & Gingrich, 1957, "A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament," p.772); a "cross" which "consisted of an upright with a cross-beam above it" (Kittel & Friedrich, 1971, "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Volume VII," p.572); "the Roman instrument of crucifixion, the Cross ..." (Abbott-Smith, 1937, "A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament,"pp.415-416. My emphases);
2) There were "nails" (plural) in Jesus' hands (Jn 20:25 NWT. My emphasis), which would not be the case if Jesus' hands were nailed together over His head by a single nail, as in Watchtower illustrations, and therefore this is evidence that Jesus' hands were nailed separately at each end of a cross-beam (Evert, 2001, p.100; Reed, 1996, p.86; Rhodes, 1993, p.396; Bowman, 1991, p.144);
3) The "charge against" Jesus was "posted above his head" (Mt 27:37 NWT. My emphasis), not "above his hands" which would only be the case if Jesus' arms were outstretched on either side of Him nailed to a cross-beam, but not if they were above his head nailed to an upright pole (Reed, 1996, p.86; Rhodes, 1993, p.397; Torrance, 1982b, p.253).
4) Jesus "carrying his own cross" (John 19:17) describes the Roman punishment of patibulum (cross-beam)-bearing ("Leolaia, 2005a; Watters, 1996b; Myers, 1987, p.246; Stott, 1986, p.279). Moreover, it is less likely that a scourged man could have carried the much heavier upright stipes upright pole than the lighter patibulum cross-beam (Reed, 1996, p.86), which together made up the cross.
5) Jesus predicted in John 21:18-19 that Peter's "death" would involve him "stretching out his hands," signifying Peter's death also by crucifixion (Leolaia, 2005b; Kruse, 2003, p.392 & Hendriksen, 1964, p.489). The same Greek word ekteino, according to my Parsons NT Greek-English dictionary, means "to extend:--cast, put forth, stretch-forth (out)" which includes reaching out (Mt 8:3; 14:31; 26:51; Mk 1:41; Lk 5:13), stretching out (Mt 12:13; Mk 3:5; Lk 6:10; Ac 4:30), or pointing with (Mt 12:49), one's hand.
It is not a little misleading upon the part of our teachers to translate the word stauros as `cross' when rendering the Greek documents of the Church into our native tongue, The fallacy here is that it was originally the Greek-speaking members of the Church which read "the Greek documents of the Church" in their "native tongue" and knew that the word stauros did indeed mean "cross".
and to support that action by putting `cross' in our lexicons as the meaning of stauros The Watchtower here shoots itself in the foot, because Parsons here admits that those who wrote the " lexicons" did indeed "translate word stauros as "cross"when rendering Greek documents of the Church into" their "native tongue"! That is, there are no Greek-English lexicons that do not give "cross" as one of the meanings of stauros.
without carefully explaining that that was at any rate not the primary meaning of the word in the days of the Apostles, did not become its primary signification till long afterwards, That the "primary meaning" of stauros "in the days of the Apostles" was "one piece of timber," is in fact what the "lexicons" do state :
"stauros . ... The Meaning of the Word. 1. stauros is an upright `stake' such as is used in fences or palisades. 2. The stauros is an instrument of torture for serious offenses. It may be a vertical pointed stake, an upright with a cross-beam above it, or a post with an intersecting beam of equal length." (Kittel, G. & Friedrich, G., eds., 1985, "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Abridged in one Volume," Bromiley, G.W., transl., Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, Reprinted, 1988, p.1071).
"stauros, - ou, o, l. an upright pale or stake (Hom., Hdt., Thuc., al.). 2. In late writers (Diod., Plut., al.) of the Roman instrument of crucifixion, the Cross: of the Cross on which Christ suffered ...." (Abbott-Smith, G., "A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament," , T. & T. Clark: Edinburgh, Third edition,1937, Reprinted, 1956, p.415).
"stauros ... upright pale or stake ... of piles driven in to serve as a foundation ... II. cross, as the instrument of crucifixion .." (Liddell, H.G., Scott, R. & Jones, H.S., 1883, "A Greek-English Lexicon," Seventh edition, Clarendon Press: Oxford, p.1635).
So Parsons, and the Watchtower quoting him approvingly, is simply wrong that "the primary meaning of the word" stauros "in the days of the Apostles" was "one piece of timber" and then "long afterwards" (see above on "Later") "its primary signification" changed and became "cross". That is because, as the above lexicons show, and as stated by leading modern Christian theological works, "the primary meaning of the word" stauros still is today, "one piece of timber", i.e. "an upright stake or beam":
"The Gk. word for 'cross' (stauros; verb stauroo; Lat. crux, crucifigo, `I fasten to a cross') 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 NT." (Torrance, 1982a, p.253).
The fact is that it is simply irrelevant what "the primary meaning of the word" stauros was "in the days of the Apostles," or indeed is today. This highlights the basic linguistic fallacy of Parson's, and the Watchtower's, that the primary of a meaning of a word at a particular time, must be its only meaning:
"The Greek stauros has the primary meaning of a pole or stake, as the WT points out. What they don't mention is that the word often refers to more complex constructions, such as the cross" (Watters, 1996b);
"The Witnesses say stauros `primarily denotes an upright stake or pole.' ["Reasoning from the Scriptures,"1989, p.89] They wish to suggest (and the reader to understand) that it can mean only that. In fact, the word has a broader sense. It means cross as well as stake." (Watters, 1996b; Bower, 1991).
see also The Companion Bible (London, 1885), Appendix No. 162. First, it is itself significant in itself that the Watchtower needs to resort to 19th century works, e.g. "P. Fairbairn (London, 1874)", "J. D. Parsons (London, 1896)" and now "The Companion Bible (London, 1885)", to find support for its position!
"The Companion Bible" is a King James Bible with notes and 198 appendixes written and/or edited by an Anglican clergyman, Ethelbert William Bullinger (1837-1913), whose "name has become virtually synonymous with Ultra-dispensationalism." Bullinger's ultra-dispensational views included distinguishing "between the ... Church of the Book of Acts and the ... Church of the Prison Epistles" (Allis, 1945, p.15).
The Society has elsewhere quoted from The Companion Bible (London, 1885), "Appendix No. 162" in a number of books and articles, including:
"Concerning this word and the word stauros, translated `cross' in some versions, The Companion Bible says on page 186 in the `Appendixes': `Homer [ancient Greek poet] uses the word stauros of an ordinary pole or stake, or a single piece of timber. 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 always of one piece alone. Hence the use of the word xulon [or xylon, meaning a timber] in connection with the manner of our Lord's death, ... The evidence is thus complete, that the Lord was put to death upon an upright stake, and not on two pieces of timber placed at any angle.'" ("The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society: Brooklyn NY, 1968, pp.142-143).
Again, it is fallacious to argue that just because a word meant something in "the Greek classics" it cannot have acquired a secondary meaning, in a different dialect Koine Greek, over hundreds of years (in the case of "Homer" (ca. 8th century BC) that would be eight hundred years)! And as we shall see in Part #3 Historical of this series, both Bullinger, and the Watchtower, are simply wrong, because even in "the Greek classics" the meaning of stauros came to include, "two pieces of timber placed across one another," i.e. a "cross"!
Thus the weight of the evidence indicates that Jesus died on an upright stake and not on the traditional cross." Actually, as we have seen, and will see, the exact opposite is the case: "the weight of the evidence indicates that Jesus died on" a cross, not on "an upright stake"!
To be continued in Part #2C: Linguistic. See supporting `tagline' quotes below (original emphasis italics, my emphasis bold).
"John 19:17 `Jesus was led away, and carrying the cross by himself (bastazón hautó ton stauron), went out to what is called the Place of the Skull'. This is the decisive text, and it is one that is almost never mentioned in discussions on the cross in Watchtower literature. But it is very important because it is an explicit reference to the Roman practice of patibulum-bearing. Note that the verb bastazón `carrying' is the same verb used by Chariton (i.e. `taking up [bastazón] his cross') and Artemidorus to refer to the same thing (i.e. `the man who is to be nailed carries [bastazei] it beforehand'), and Artemidorus was quite explicit that the same victim who carries the stauros would hang from a two-beamed stauros. The Latin sources mentioned earlier, which more clearly distinguish the patibulum from the cross by having a distinct term for each, are quite explicit that it is the crossbeam that is carried and not the stipes (upright pole). In fact, nowhere in ancient sources is a prisoner ever described as dragging a pole without a crosspiece, and such a practice would have nothing to do with the well-attested ancient Roman practice of forcing prisoners or slaves to bear a patibulum while walking through the city or a public area. The synoptic gospels also refer to cross-bearing but claim that Simon of Cyrene carried Jesus' cross. The original version in Mark 15:31 (cf. also Matthew 27:32) says that Simon lifted Jesus' cross (aré ton staurou autou), but the Lukan version has a more elaborate depiction of the event: `And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and laid on him the cross (epethékan autó ton stauron), to carry it (pherein) behind Jesus' (Luke 23:26). The verb pherein `to be bearing' was also used by Chariton and Plutarch to refer to cross-bearing, and the verb epethékan `placed upon' is especially suggestive of a patibulum placed squarely upon the victim's back (as Plutarch described it) or across his chest and shoulders (as Dionysius of Halicarnassus put it). Compare with the use of the same verb in Luke 15:5, describing a shepherd placing his lost sheep on his shoulders (epitithésin epi tous ómous), or its use elsewhere to refer to the soldiers placing the crown of thorns on Jesus' head (Matthew 27:29, John 19:2) or the people putting their garments on a donkey so Jesus could sit on it (Matthew 21:7). Since the Watchtower writers believe that Jesus's cross was a crux simplex, they have no choice but to surmise that it lacked the transverse beam that would have made it more carryable. The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived book (chapter 124, p. 3) in fact illustrates Simon pulling Jesus' stake by holding onto one end with both hands and dragging the pole over his right shoulder, lumberjack-style. This scenario is nothing like the stauros-bearing described by Plutarch (who described it as placed over the victim's back), and of course nothing like it can be found in ancient literature or art; no classical or ecclesiastical writer of antiquity ever described the condemned man as carrying a stipes without a crossbeam. Even the popular Christian conception of Jesus bearing the entire crux compacta over one of his shoulders appears rather late in Christian art (cf. Yves Christe's Art of the Christian World, pp. 51, 482; the earliest known representation is from c. AD 430), and is probably unhistorical. The practice that is instead attested is the carrying of the patibulum across one's shoulders or back, but the Watchtower rules out this scenario a priori by their denial that stauros could refer to a cross with a crossbeam." (Leolaia, 2005a, "The facts on crucifixion, stauros, and the `torture stake'," Jehovah's Witnesses Discussion Forum, 11 June).
"John 21:18-19 The last text under consideration is the most ambiguous and does not even refer to Jesus' crucifixion but it is important because it a kind of death or execution involving a `stretching of the hands': ` 'Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands (ekteneis tas kheiras sou), and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.' This he said to show by what kind of death (poió thanató) he was to glorify God. And after this he said to him, 'Follow me' `. As we saw above, the word ekteneis `you will stretch out' here is the same verb that Epictetus used to refer to refer to men who have been crucified (estauromenoi) (Dissertationes, 3.26.22), and Artemidorus (Oneirocritica, 1.76) mentioned that those who will be `crucified' (staurothesetai) have `outstretched hands' (tón kheirón ektasin). We have also seen similar phrases used by Lucian, Plautus, and Seneca. Since the death being described in John 21:18-19 is that of Apostle Peter, and since Christian tradition otherwise claims that Peter was crucified upside down (Acts of Peter 36-37; Tertullian, De Praescriptione Haericorum 36.12, Scorpiace 20, Adversus Marcion 4.5; Lactantius, De Mortibus Persecutorum, 2; Origen, Commentary on Genesis, 3; Eusebius, De Theophania, 5.31, Ecclesiastical History, 2.25.5; compare Seneca, De Consolatione 20.3, which refers to upside-down crucifixions), the understated text in John 21:18-19 would appear to refer to crucifixion as involving a `stretching of the hands'." (Leolaia, 2005b).
"[John 21:18-19]. Following the reinstatement of Peter, Jesus said to him, I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. This enigmatic statement contrasts Peter's experience during his youth when he dressed himself and went wherever he pleased, with what was to happen to him when he grew old. His independence would be stripped away. He would be forced to stretch out his hands and others would 'clothe' him and lead him to a place he would not wish to go. Stretching out the hands is an allusion to the way those to be crucified were forced to stretch out their arms and bear the cross beam to the place of execution (cf. Barnabas 12:4; Justin, I Apology, 35). The evangelist leaves us in no doubt about the intention of this saying: Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Peter is known to have suffered a violent death (1 Clement 5:4) by crucifixion (Tertullian, Scorpiace xv.3), and 21:18-19 is the earliest testimony to his martyrdom by this means."(Kruse, C.G., 2003, "The Gospel According to St. John: An Introduction and Commentary," The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester UK, pp.392-393).
"Watchtower publications show Jesus on an upright stake instead of on a traditional cross because stauros in classical Greek meant merely an upright stake, or pale. The cross is an ancient pagan sign, a Tau, for the Babylonian god Tammuz. It was adopted by Christendom after the great apostasy in order to curry favor with the pagans. ["Reasoning from the Scriptures," Watchtower Tract & Bible Society: Brooklyn NY, 1985, pp.89-93]. The Watchtower's use of the phrase `classical Greek' will sound scholarly to the unsuspecting reader, who will assume that the Watchtower has again provided him with the ancient truths of the Bible that apostate Christendom has lost. But one significant fact is omitted here: The New Testament was not written in classical Greek, the form of Greek spoken between 1000 and 330 B.C., so it does not matter what stauros meant in that dialect. The manuscripts of the New Testament are in Koine Greek-which is Hellenistic rather than classical Greek-in which stauros can be translated as (1) an upright stake with a cross-beam above it, (2) two intersecting beams of equal length, or (3) a vertical, pointed stake. [Kittel, G. & Friedrich, G., eds., "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament," Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, 1971, p.7:572]" (Evert, J., 2001, "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses," Catholic Answers: El Cajon CA, p.99).
"Aside from the Greek evidence, the New Testament provides further support for the Crucifixion. For example, if Jesus was impaled through both palms with one nail-as Watchtower literature depicts-Scripture would not say that he had prints of the nails in his hands (John 20:25). If the Lord had been executed on a `torture stake' (this is how the NWT renders the word stauros), the Roman soldiers would not have used two nails to pierce his hands. Two nails would only be necessary if his arms were outstretched on a crossbeam." (Evert, 2001, pp.100-101).
"Consider yet another factor. Only thirty years after the death of Christ, St. Peter was also crucified. This event was spoken of in the second century by Tertullian, and again by Origen: `Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downwards, as he himself had desired to suffer.' [Eusebius, "Ecclesiastical History," 2:i Tertullian adds: `If you are near Italy, you have Rome, where authority is ever within reach. How fortunate is this Church for which the apostles have poured out their whole teaching with their blood, where Peter has emulated the Passion of the Lord, where Paul was crowned with the death of John [the Baptist]." [Tertullian, "The Prescription against Heretics," 35]. In another work he again mentions Peter's crucifixion: `The budding faith Nero first made bloody in Rome. There Peter was girded by another, since he was bound to the cross." [Tertullian, "Antidote for the Scorpion's Sting," 15] Clearly these examples confirm that a cross, not a torture stake, was used as the instrument of Christ's death. [Witnesses cannot respond that the word stauros is being mistranslated as `cross,' since Tertullian's surviving writings are not in Greek but Latin, from which we get the words cross (crux) and crucify (crucifigere).] (Evert, 2001, pp.102-103).
"Additional archaeological evidence to support Christ's death on a cross includes an example from the latter part of the first century. Recently unearthed in the city of Herculaneum is a primitive Christian oratory in the upper room of the so-called `House of Bicentenary' at Herculaneum. A whitish stuccoed panel shows the imprint of a large cross, probably metallic, that had been removed.... Before it are the remains of a small wooden altar, charred by lava from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. [Maier, P.L., "First Christians: Pentecost and the Spread of Christianity," Harper & Row: New York, 1976, 141] Because of the date of the volcanic eruption, the image of the cross must have been painted [sic] within fifty years of the Crucifixion. Again, it is unreasonable to think that the shape of the instrument of Christ's death was forgotten or misrepresented so soon after the Crucifixion." (Evert, 2001, p.102).
"Which instrument of execution fits the biblical accounts of Christ's death? Thomas said, `Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails...' indicating that there was not just a single nail in Jesus' hands as in Watchtower illustrations, but two or more nails such as would be needed to pin his hands to the opposite ends of a crossbeam. (John 20:25 KJV) Matthew also notes, `Above his head they placed the written charge against him.. .' (Matthew 27:37 NIV) If Christ had been nailed to an upright stake with his hands above his head as in Watchtower illustrations, Matthew would more likely have said that the written charge was placed above his hands; since he actually did say `above his head,' this would imply that Jesus' hands were someplace else-at the ends of a crossbeam. In addition to the above, Scripture indicates that Jesus set out for Calvary `carrying his own cross.' (John 19:17 NIV) A man could not carry the massive cross that illustrations sometimes show Christ nailed to. Nor could a man carry the Watchtower's `torture stake'-any more than a man could carry a telephone pole. But a man could, with great difficulty, carry a crosspiece that he would be nailed to and that would then be hoisted by ropes onto an upright piece that was permanently set in the ground. This, according to scriptural and archaeological evidence, is the sort of instrument on which Christ died." (Reed, D.A., 1996, "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses: Subject by Subject," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, Second printing, 1998, pp.86-87).
"In 1939 excavations at Herculaneum, the sister city of Pompeii (destroyed in 78 A.D. [sic] by volcano) produced a house where a wooden cross had been nailed to the wall of a room. According to Buried History, (Vol. 10, No. 1, March 1974 p.15): `Below this (cross) was a cupboard with a step in front. This has considered to be in the shape of an ara or shrine, but could well have been used as a place of prayer ... . If this interpretation is correct, and the excavators are strongly in favor of the Christian significance of symbol and furnishings, then here we have the example of an early house church." (Watters, R., 1996a, "Refuting Jehovah's Witnesses," Bethel Ministries: Manhattan Beach CA," Reprinted, 4 July 2007).
"The Greek stauros has the primary meaning of a pole or stake, as the WT points out. What they don't mention is that the word often refers to more complex constructions, such as the cross. The Latin word crux usually translated `cross,' was also at times used to refer to a mere stake. What the WT specifically ignores is that the Romans DID execute prisoners on crosses--an issue they are careful to sidestep in their presentation. The horizontal bar of such crosses was called the patibulum, and the slaves to be executed were customarily made to carry the patibulum to the place of execution. (Seneca, De Vita Beata 19:3; Epistola 101:12; Tacitus, Historiae, IV, 3) Authoritative lexicons give the definition of stauros as a `stake sunk into the earth in an upright position; a crosspiece was often attached to its upper part.'" [Arndt & Gingrich, "A Greek-English Lexicon," p.772]." (Watters, 1996b).
"To support the view that Jesus died on a cross and not a stake, you might want to ask the Jehovah's Witness to open the New World Translation and read aloud from John 20:25: `Consequently the other disciples would say to him: `We have seen the Lord!' But he [Thomas] said to them: `Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and stick my finger into the print of the nails and stick my hand into his side, I will certainly not believe' (emphasis added). Now, if Jesus was crucified not on a cross but on a stake, then only one nail would have been used for His hands. Our text, however, says that nails were used (one for each hand). [Bowman, R.M., "Understanding Jehovah's Witnesses," Baker: Grand Rapids, 1991, p.144] This verse is extremely problematic for the Watchtower position-especially since their own New World Translation has the plural form of `nails.'" (Rhodes, R., 1993, "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Harvest House: Eugene OR, Reprinted, 2006, pp.396-397).
"It is also significant that when Jesus spoke of Peter's future crucifixion, He indicated that Peter's arms would be outstretched, not above his head. [Grieshaber, E. & J., "Redi-Answers on Jehovah's Witnesses Doctrine," Grieshaber Ministries: Tyler TX, 1979), p.8]. Jesus told Peter: `'I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.' Now Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God' (John 21:18,19, emphasis added)." (Rhodes, 1993, p.397).
"In keeping with a cross-crucifixion instead of a stake-crucifixion, we read in Matthew 27:37, `Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS' (emphasis added). If Jesus had died on a stake, the text would have said, `Above His hands.' But it clearly says, `Above His head,' showing that a cross-crucifixion is meant." (Rhodes, 1993, pp.397-398).
"Since the word stauros could refer to a cross, the upright part of a cross, the crossbeam, or to an upright stake with no crossbeam, there is no basis in the word itself for the Jehovah's Witnesses' contention that Jesus did not die on a cross. The question now is, does the Bible tell us anything else of relevance to this question? The answer is yes. In John 20:25 the apostle Thomas, in expressing his doubt concerning Jesus' resurrection, said, `Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and stick my finger into the print of the nails...' (NWT). According to Thomas, then, more than one nail was used to impale Jesus' hands to the stauros. The most natural conclusion is that two nails were used, one for each hand, and that therefore the hands were separated on a crossbeam of some sort. (It might be helpful to keep in mind here that the word nail might better be rendered `spike,' since we are not talking about a thin little nail.) Once this fact is noticed, the conclusion seems unavoidable that Jesus died on a cross." (Bowman, R.M., Jr., 1991, "Understanding Jehovah's Witnesses: Why They Read the Bible the Way They Do," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, p.144. Emphasis original).
"As further humiliation for the victim and as a deterrent to potential offenders, the person condemned to crucifixion was first flogged, then ordered to carry the horizontal crossbeam to the place of execution, where it was hoisted onto the vertical pole. Accordingly, Jesus carried his own crossbeam (John 19:17), though he was later relieved by Simon of Cyrene (Matt. 27:32 par. Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26)." (Myers, A.C., ed., 1987, "Cross, Crucifixion," in "The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary," Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, Reprinted, 2000, p.246).
"The Romans had made crucifixion a common sight in all their colonized provinces, and Palestine was no exception. Every rebel condemned to crucifixion was compelled to carry his cross, or at least the patibulum (the cross beam), to the scene of his execution. Plutarch wrote that `every criminal condemned to death bears his cross on his back'. [Plutarch, "On the Delays of Divine Vengeance," Moralia, 554 A/B] So John wrote of Jesus that `carrying his own cross, he went out to The Place of the Skull' (19:17)." (Stott, J.R.W. , 1986, "The Cross of Christ," Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester UK, p.279).
"CROSS, CRUCIFIXION. The Gk. word for 'cross' (stauros; verb stauroo; Lat. crux, crucifigo, `I fasten to a cross') 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 NT. The noun occurs 28 times and the verb 46. The crucifixion of live criminals did not occur in the OT (stauroo in the LXX of Est. 7:10 is the Heb. tala, meaning `to hang'). Execution was by stoning. However, dead bodies were occasionally hung on a tree as a warning (Dt. 21:22-23; Jos. 10:26). Such a body was regarded as accursed (hence Gal. 3:13) and had to be removed and buried before night came (cf. Jn. 19:31). This practice accounts for the NT reference to Christ's cross as a `tree' (Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; 1 Pet. 2:24), a symbol of humiliation." (Torrance, J.B., 1982a, "Cross, Crucifixion," in Douglas, J.D., et al., eds., "New Bible Dictionary," , InterVarsity Press, Leicester UK, Second edition, Reprinted, 1988, p.253).
"Apart from the single upright post (crux simplex) on which the victim was tied or impaled, there were three types of cross. The crux commissa (St Anthony's cross) was shaped like a capital T, thought by some to be derived from the symbol of the god Tammuz, the letter tau; the crux decussata (St Andrew's cross) was shaped like the letter X; the crux immissa was the familiar two beams +, held by tradition to be the shape of the cross on which our Lord died (Irenaeus, Haer. 2. 24. 4). This is strengthened by the references in the four Gospels (Mt. 27:37; Mk. 15:26; Lk. 23:38; Jn. 19:19-22) to the title nailed to the cross of Christ over his head." (Torrance, 1982b, p.253).
"Christians were already established at Puteoli-Paul's fame had preceded him there-and the missionaries were invited to stay with them for a time. In an extraordinary concession Julius allowed Paul a week in Puteoli [Acts 28:13-15], unquestionably a favor in return for Paul's crucial services on the voyage. It may be from this early congregation that the faith expanded around the Bay of Naples, because there were Christians in nearby Herculaneum shortly afterward. One of the houses in that resort town, today liberated from its lava burial by Mt. Vesuvius, shows the clear outlines of a metal cross that had been set in the wall over a charred prie-dieu in an upstairs room. The cross evidently is just as old a Christian symbol as the fish." (Maier, P.L., 1976, "First Christians: Pentecost and the Spread of Christianity," Mowbrays: London, p.140).
"A primitive Christian oratory in the upper room of the so-called `House of the Bicentenary' at Herculaneum. A whitish stuccoed panel shows the imprint of a large cross, probably metallic, that had been removed or possibly used as a stamping device. Before it are the remains of a small wooden altar, charred by lava from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D." (Maier, 1976, p.141).
"In Italy the town of Herculaneum lies at the foot of the volcano Vesuvius and, like the city of Pompeii ten miles to the east, was destroyed by the eruption of that volcano in A.D. 79. Here in an upper room of the so-called Bicentenary House attention was attracted by the wall mark shown in the present photograph. It is a depression in a stucco panel and could be where an object of the same shape had been affixed to the wall and then removed. There are nail holes in the depression and also elsewhere in the panel. One theory sees the shape of the depression as that of a Latin cross (cf. p. 352), and supposes that if a wooden cross had been nailed to the wall at this point, then removed and a wooden covering nailed over the area, it would account for what can still be seen. In that case the upper room with this cross could have been a sort of private Christian chapel, and the removal of the cross and the covering over of the area could have been done either by the Christians themselves or by others, and a likely time for this might have been during persecution such as that by Nero in A.D. 64. ... THE PIECE of wooden furniture shown in this photograph stood against the wall beneath the panel with the cross-shaped mark in the upper room in the Bicentenary House at Herculaneum. When found it was entirely covered with the deposit of the volcanic eruption of A.D. 79. If the mark in the wall above is taken as a cross, then the stand below could be explained as a sort of altar." (Finegan, J., 1992, "The Archeology of the New Testament: The Life of Jesus and the Beginning of the Early Church," , Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, Revised edition, pp.374-375. Emphasis original).
"Jehovah's Witnesses insist stauros can mean only stake. They conclude that, since the New Testament says Jesus died on a stauros, he did not die on a cross but on a single vertical beam, with his hands nailed together directly over his head. ... The Witnesses say stauros `primarily denotes an upright stake or pole.' ["Reasoning from the Scriptures," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, Second edition, 1989, p.89] They wish to suggest (and the reader to understand) that it can mean only that. In fact, the word has a broader sense. It means cross as well as stake. If you pick up a dictionary and look up the word `square,' you find diverse senses of the word; the dictionary does not confine itself to a single Euclidean definition. (By the way, notice that the Witnesses refer to `classical Greek.' The New Testament was not written in classical Greek, but in Koine Greek, which has a sense of its own, just as American English has a sense of its own, distinct from that of British English--but the difference between the two Greeks is greater.)" (Bower, C.F., Jr., 1991, "Cross or Torture Stake?," This Rock, Vol. 2, No. 5, October).
"[John 20:18-19]18. I most solemnly assure you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and to walk where you wished (to walk); but when you will have become old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish (to go). ... Now Jesus says, as it were, `In your younger days, whenever you wished to go out, you used to gird yourself (literally, `you used to put on your belt,' but here probably somewhat broader: `You used to get dressed for travel') and would walk wherever you desired to walk.' The implication is that, on the whole, Peter did much as he pleased when he was younger. ... This description of Peter's past uninhibited conduct is in sharp contrast with the prediction which immediately follows: `But when you will have become old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish (to go).' In his old age the moment would arrive when, far from enjoying freedom of movement, Peter would have to raise his arms, so that a rope could be tied around him (or possibly: so that he could be fastened to a cross; thus Tertullian). Contrary to the wish of the flesh, he would then be brought to the place of execution. In this connection it is interesting to note that the expression `to stretch out the hands' is often used by Greek authors and by the early fathers to indicate crucifixion. 19. (This he said to signify by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) The passage clearly indicates that when it was written Peter had already passed from the scene of history. In his death God had been glorified (an expression also used with reference to Christ's own passion and death, 18:31, 32), for in this apostle's willingness to suffer martyrdom for the cause of Christ God's grace was magnified. The manner of Peter's death is related by the church-fathers, as follows: Eusebius: `But Peter seems to have preached in Pontus and Galatia and Bithynia and Cappadocia and Asia, to the Jews of the Dispersion, and at last, having come to Rome, he was crucified head downward, far so he himself had asked to suffer' (The Ecclesiastical History III, i). Tertullian: `At Rome Nero was the first who stained with blood this rising faith. Then is Peter girt by another when he is made fast to the cross' (Antidote for the Scorpion's Sting XV). Cf. also Origen, Against Celsus II, xlv)." (Hendriksen, W., 1964, "A Commentary on the Gospel of John: Two Volumes Complete and Unabridged in One," , Banner of Truth: London, Third edition, pp.489-490).
"Ultra Dispensationalism While the Scofield Reference Bible has been largely influential in spreading and popularizing Dispensational teachings, especially in America, there is another type of teaching which has quite as much right to the name Dispensationalism as have the followers of Darby and Scofield. No one could be more emphatic than was E. W. Bullinger (1837-1913) that `rightly dividing the word of truth' means to divide it dispensationally. But Bullinger carried this method to such an extreme, a logical extreme we believe, that his teachings have been roundly denounced by what we may call the Scofield party; and Bullingerism has been stigmatized as `ultra' Dispensationalism. One of the most important differences has to do, quite naturally, with the Church. Bullinger distinguished between the Pentecostal Apostolic Church of the Book of Acts and the Mystery Pauline Church of the Prison Epistles. He called the one the `bride church' and the other the `body church.' He held further that the church referred to in Matt. xvi., which Jesus called `my church,' is distinct from both of these and will be a Jewish remnant church of the future. Bullingerism has not attained any such widespread popularity as that enjoyed by the Darby-Scofield type of Dispensationalism. We shall concern ourselves with it only in so far as its teachings serve to illustrate the extreme positions to which Dispensationalism logically forces those who seek to carry it out to its ultimate conclusions." (Allis, O.T., 1945, "Prophecy and the Church: An Examination of the Claim of Dispensationalists," Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co: Philadelphia PA, Third printing, 1964, p.15).
"Many would dismiss the idea of Christianity before Christ as being ridiculous without looking at any evidence. Yet some church fathers have admitted that the Christian religion did in fact exist before the Christian era, including St. Augustine himself who said, `The very thing which is now called the Christian religion existed among the ancients also, nor was it wanting from the inception of the human race until the coming of Christ in the flesh, at which point the true religion which was already in existence began to be called Christian.' This is an important book for those interested enough to look at valid research. It approaches the subject from a general church view and a Gnostic point of view, plus chapters on The Hebrew Scriptures, Non-Jewish Evidence, The Sun-God of the New Testament, and Sun-God Worship in the Days of the Fathers. A man named Jesus may still have existed, but a number of pagan mythologies involving the sun may have been added into the story of his life in order to bring the more stubborn pagans of the time into the Christian fold. This timeless story should not diminish Christianity, but should enhance it with a deeper spiritual value for those willing to shed a strict dogmatic viewpoint. It can be difficult to fully understand our older religions because of their age and the changes that occur over time, but this book goes back to uncover some of the more interesting elements that are shown to exist. It fits well for the more modern world, as we continue to gain a better understanding of ourselves and the origins of our beliefs." ("Book Description," Parsons, J.D., 1895, "Our Sun-God: Or Christianity before Christ," Book Tree: San Diego CA, 2007).