[Right (click image to enlarge): WB&TS, 2003, "Learn from the Great Teacher," p.188.
Yet another un-Biblical (see part #2) Watchtower Bible & Tract Society illustration of Jesus on a single-beamed stake, with His hands above His head, affixed by one nail (not "nails" as in Jn 20:25 NWT) and with the charge against Him above His hands (not "above His head" as in Mt 27:37 NWT) !]
3. LINGUISTIC [See my Was Jesus executed on a cross or a stake? Linguistic #2A, #2B, #2C]
The Watchtower's linguistic argument to support its claim that Jesus was executed on a single-beamed stake, not a two-beamed cross, is as follows: 1) "The Greek word translated `cross' is stauros"; 2) "It basically means `an upright pale or stake'"; 3) Therefore "Jesus Christ did not die on a cross":
"... 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, 2005, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" p.205).
But this argument is not only fallacious, it is dishonest. It is fallacious because the basic meaning of a word is not its only meaning. It can be readily granted that the basic meaning of stauros is "an upright pale or stake." Quite clearly the stauros as "an upright pale or stake" came first and then using it as part of an instrument of torture and execution came later.
"The Witnesses say stauros `primarily denotes an upright stake or pole.' ... They wish ... 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":
"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., "Cross or Torture Stake?," This Rock, Vol. 2, No. 5, October 1991).
"To argue that ... stauros could be used only for that form [a simple upright stake with no crosspiece], is ... a naive restriction of the term to its original or simplest meaning":
"Cross or Stake? The Jehovah's Witnesses fail to point out that the Greek word stauros was used to refer to a variety of wooden structures used for execution in ancient days. Robert Bowman notes that stauros as a wooden structure could represent shapes `similar to the Greek letter tau (T) and the plus sign (+), occasionally using two diagonal beams (X), as well as (infrequently) a simple upright stake with no crosspiece. To argue that only the last-named form was used, or that stauros could be used only for that form, is contradictory to the actual historical facts and is based on a naive restriction of the term to its original or simplest meaning.' [Bowman, R.M., "Understanding Jehovah's Witnesses," Baker: Grand Rapids, 1991, p.143]" (Rhodes, R., 1993, "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Harvest House: Eugene OR, p.396. Emphasis original).
The dishonest part of the Watchtower's linguistic argument is it must know, but fails to tell its followers, that all New Testament Greek lexicons give "cross" as a secondary (and one even the primary) meaning of stauros in the New Testament (my emphasis red):
"stauros ... 1. an upright pale or stake .... 2. In late writers ... of the Roman instrument of crucifixion, the Cross...." (Abbott-Smith, G., 1937, "A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament," T & T. Clark, p.415. My transliteration).
"stauros ... the cross ... in the sense 'upright pointed stake' or `pale' ... the instrument by which the capital punishment of crucifixion was carried out ... a stake sunk into the earth in an upright position; a cross-piece was oft ... attached to its upper part, so that it was shaped like a T or thus † ..." (Bauer, W., Arndt, W.F., Gingrich, F.W. & Danker, F.W., 1979, "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament," University of Chicago Press, p.764. My transliteration).
"stauros ... upright pale or stake, ... II. cross, as the instrument of crucifixion ..." (Liddell, H.G., Scott, R. & Jones, H.S., 1883, "A Greek-English Lexicon," Clarendon Press, p.1635. My transliteration).
"stauros [cross] ...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. , 1988, "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Abridged in one Volume," Eerdmans, p.1071. Word in square brackets original).
"stauros ... 1. an upright stake ... 2. a cross; a. the well-known instrument of most cruel and ignominious punishment ..." (Thayer, J.H., 1901, "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament," T&T Clark, p.586. My transliteration).
"stauros ... A cross, a stake, often with a cross-piece, on which criminals were nailed for execution." (Zodhiates, S., 1992, "The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament," AMG, pp.1308-1309).
Moreover, even by the Watchtower's own admission above, the word stauros does not mean "torture stake," but just "an upright pale or stake." So "There is no justification for inserting the word `torture', the Greek phrase used is simply `en stauros'":
"Paul showed that we should proudly boast about Jesus death on the cross. Its use is constant reminder of the importance of the ransom to our everlasting existence. Galatians 6:14 `Never may it occur that I should boast, except in the torture stake [cross] of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been impaled [crucified] to me and I to the world.' [New World Translation. ... There is no justification for inserting the word `torture', the Greek phrase used is simply `en stauros']" (Grundy, P., 2008, "Cross or Stake," Facts About Jehovah's Witnesses, 18 February).
So (as we saw in my last post) the Watchtower is here guilty of inserting the word "torture" into Scripture, when it isn't there in the Greek, the 27 times that stauros appears in the New Testament. This is putting words into God's mouth, thus making God conform to Watchtower doctrine, not the other way around.
To be continued in part #4 Historical.