Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jesus was executed on a cross, not a stake! #1: Introduction

As I commented under my post "Was Jesus executed on a cross or a stake? #1: Introduction":

"This series `Was Jesus executed on a cross or a stake?' is proving too `long-winded' (my last post in this series was in 2009)! I hope to summarise it in one post in the near future."

But I later realised that a one-page summary would be too brief to adequately cover the seven topics, as well as the Introduction and Conclusion.

[Above: Jesus as consistently depicted by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Jehovah's Witnesses since least 1958 (over a half-century), hanging on a single-beamed stake with his hands above his head and affixed by one nail through both hands (WB&TS, 1958, "From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained," p.141]

So here is the beginning of my new nine-part series (of no more than one post per topic), proving that Jesus was crucified on a two-beamed cross, not a one-beamed stake as the Watchtower Society claims. I will use the same headings, but put "Biblical" second after "Introduction."

[Index: 1. Introduction; 2. Biblical; 3. Linguistic; 4. Historical; 5. Patristic. 6. Archaeological; 7. Pagan; 8. Worship; 9. Conclusion]

1. INTRODUCTION [See my Was Jesus executed on a cross or a stake? #1: Introduction]

The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society (WB&TS) teaches that "Jesus Christ did not die on a cross" but on "an upright pale or stake":

"Nevertheless, true Christians do not use the cross in worship. Why not? An important reason is that Jesus Christ did not die on a cross. The Greek word generally translated `cross' is stau-ros'. It basically means `an upright pale or stake." (WB&TS, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," 2005, p.205).

"Pontius Pilate then sentenced him to death on a torture stake. He was nailed to a wooden pole and hung there upright." (WB&TS, "Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life," 1995, p.66).

"Jesus did not die on a cross. He died on a pole, or a stake. The Greek word translated `cross' in many Bibles meant just one piece of timber. ... " (WB&TS, "What Does God Require of Us?," 1996, p.23).

"The Bible shows that Jesus was not executed on a conventional cross at all but, rather, on a simple stake, or stau-ros'. This Greek word ... basically means a simple upright beam or pole ..." ("The Cross-Symbol of Christianity?," The Watchtower, November 15, 1992, p.7).

"Thus the weight of the evidence indicates that Jesus died on an upright stake and not on the traditional cross." (WB&TS, "Reasoning from the Scriptures," 1989, p.90).

"No Biblical evidence even intimates that Jesus died on a cross." (Awake!, 8 November, 1972, p.28).

"... there is nothing in the Bible that indicates that the stake on which Jesus was executed had a crossbar. In fact, the evidence is to the contrary." ("It Is Not in the Bible!," The Watchtower, November, 1, 1970, pp.645-646).

"As to the cross, the Bible indicates that Jesus was put to death on a simple upright stake or crux simplex." ("When You First Go to a Kingdom Hall," The Watchtower, October 15, 1969, p.632).

"Jesus Christ was killed on an upright stake that had no crosspiece." ("The Cross in Worship," The Watchtower, February, 15, 1960, p.126).

"Thus we see the Scriptures, the facts of history and reason uniting to testify that Christ did not die on a cross but upon an upright pole or stake ..." ("Did Christ Die on a Cross?," The Watchtower, March 15, 1957, p.168).

Moreover the Society has been teaching that Jesus was executed on a single upright stake, not a two-beamed cross, since at least 1950, i.e. over sixty years:

"Matthew 10:38 - `torture stake' ... stau-ros', Greek ... This is the expression used in connection with the execution of Jesus at Calvary. There is no evidence that the Greek word stau-ros' meant here a `cross' ... the word stau-ros' meant merely an upright stake or pale ... The evidence is, therefore, completely lacking that Jesus Christ was crucified on two pieces of timber placed at a right angle." (WB&TS, 1950, "New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures," pp.768,771).

So if the Watchtower Society has been wrong on this, for over sixty years, and `apostate' Christianity has been right all along, that Jesus was crucified on a two-beamed cross, then the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society is unmasked (yet again!) as a false teacher (2Pet 2:1 NWT):

However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among YOU. These very ones will quietly bring in destructive sects and will disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves.

and cannot be trusted in anything, let alone in JWs' eternal destiny.

And as we shall see, the Watchtower is wrong on this, and Jesus was executed on a two-beamed cross, not a one-beamed stake!

Continued in part #2: Biblical.

Stephen E. Jones.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & The Shroud of Turin

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for doing this 7 part post about this subject. This has been a question on my mind for some time :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Jones.

With reference to your calculations regarding the length (~4.8m) of the pole on witch Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, I suppose you should also consider what The New Catholic Encyclopedia writes,

"As was their custom with more notorious criminals, the Romans raised Jesus on a rather high stake, so that He could be seen by everyone; it was in fact so high that, when the soldiers wanted to put a sponge soaked in wine to His lips, they first had to put it on the end of a stick (Mk 15.26; Mt 27.48; Jn 19.29)." (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd Ed, Vol. 04, "Crucifixion", page 390, Gale, 2003)

So the final length of that pole could have been even greater than your calculated value.
With your method of calculation, the 0.5m distance (above the ground) would have been easily "recovered" by a soldier by simply raising the hand. Since they had to use a stick to reach Him, I suppose Jesus was about 2m above the ground, or maybe even higher in order to be seen by everybody (as customary for all notorious criminals).

Thank you.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Anonymous

>With reference to your calculations regarding the length (~4.8m) of the pole on witch Lord Jesus Christ was crucified,

Thanks. This was in my second post of this series, "Jesus was executed on a cross, not a stake! #2: Biblical"

---------------------------------
For an up to 6ft (1.8 m) man to be stretched out on a stake, with his hands fixed above his head (~1 m), and then a charge fixed above his hands (~0.5 m), allowing for his feet not touching the ground (~0.5 m) and the stake being firmly set in the ground (~1 m), it would need a stake of about 4.8 metres, not "3.5 m. ... long"! But then instead of the stake weighing "little more than 45 kg (100 lb)" it would then weigh 4.8/3.5 x 45 = ~62 kgs or ~136 lbs!
---------------------------------

>I suppose you should also consider what The New Catholic Encyclopedia writes,
>
>"As was their custom with more notorious criminals, the Romans raised Jesus on a rather high stake, so that He could be seen by everyone; it was in fact so high that, when the soldiers wanted to put a sponge soaked in wine to His lips, they first had to put it on the end of a stick (Mk 15.26; Mt 27.48; Jn 19.29)." (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd Ed, Vol. 04, "Crucifixion", page 390, Gale, 2003)

Thanks for pointing this out. But your first reference should be Mk 15.36, not Mk 15.26:

Mk 15:36 (ESV). And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.”

Mt 27:48. And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink.

Jn 19:29. A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.

Also the passers by insults for Jesus to "come DOWN from the cross":

Mt 27:40 (ESV).. and saying, "You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross."

Mt 27:42. "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.

Mk 15:30. save yourself, and come down from the cross!"

Mk 15:32. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.

imply that Jesus on the Cross was high above them. Otherwise they would have said "come OFF the cross."

As do the statements that the women disciples were "looking on from a DISTANCE":

Mt 27:55. (ESV) There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him,

Mk 15:40. There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.

Lk 23:49. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

>So the final length of that pole could have been even greater than your calculated value.

Agreed.

>With your method of calculation, the 0.5m distance (above the ground) would have been easily "recovered" by a soldier by simply raising the hand.

Agreed.

>Since they had to use a stick to reach Him, I suppose Jesus was about 2m above the ground, or maybe even higher in order to be seen by everybody (as customary for all notorious criminals).

Agreed. It only makes the Watchtower's single stake argument even MORE untenable.

>Thank you.

Thank YOU!

Stephen E. Jones

Anonymous said...

You read all the evidence in the Bible...and it plainly shows that he died on a stake....you yourself read it ...and still don't believe it...that's a statement Jesus quoted...shame on you.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Anonymous

>You read all the evidence in the Bible...and it plainly shows that he died on a stake....

No it doesn't. See my next post in this series, "Jesus was executed on a cross, not a stake! #2: Biblical."

>you yourself read it ...and still don't believe it...

The WB&TS itself didn't believe that from 1879 to 1931. That's why The Watchtower magazine's logo was a Cross and Crown. And the founder of the WB&TS, Charles Taze Russell has a cross and crown logo on his grave.

Then in 1936, the WB&TS's second President, Judge Rutherford, after originally writing that Jesus died on a cross, changed his mind and claimed that Jesus died on a tree.

It was only in 1950, after 71 years of its existence, the WB&TS changed its position again and began teaching that Jesus died on a stake.

>that's a statement Jesus quoted...shame on you

No He didn't. And the ETERNAL shame will be on you, if you don't repent, and believe the BIBLE, not the WB&TS.

Stephen E. Jones