Crucifixion

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blasf
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Crucifixion

Post #1

Post by blasf »

In absolute terms, what guarantees are there that Jesus was crucified?
And if so, why then crucifixion?
Why not another/different, less violent form of death?

danus
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Post #11

Post by danus »

blasf wrote:Christians go for the reward their faith cynically promises, nothing else. It is opportunism mixed with fear.
In fact, a God with a holy character would have sorted out the originally small problem with a better solution.
That's my strongest conviction.
I don't buy the notion that the so-called [man-invented] Trinity is that product you or dogma sells.
It is TOO infantile and ridiculous to consider genuine.
Besides, the Christian Faith is a mediocre propaganda of fanatics throughout its 2000 years of existence.
No dignified God would resort to such an infamous and condemning form of plan, where a son had to be crucified to satisfy a father!
It is very brutal and animal.
If some God would go so insane, without a better plan, that God would be finished in judgement.
So again, why do you ask questions about that which you don't believe? Seems a waste of your time. Or, could it be that you don't fully believe in what your saying or what you think you believe?

Arguing with Christians about what you believe will not prove anything to you abut Christ. Only God and you can do that together. All I can do is answer your your questions about Christianity and what we believe.

I already know your struggle with Christianity. I was once there myself for many years. If I can help a nonbeliever see just one bit of biblical truth that would be great, but it's a waste of my time pondering what you think against what I know.

So, in the spirit of this Easter season, please know that the bible makes it very clear that Christ was God. He was 100% man and a 100% God. He came here to identify with YOU and he willingly paid the ultimate sacrifice for YOU, so that YOU and him could understand each other; could have a relationship with each other and so that YOU might have eternal life. He understands we are not perfect; we are not what we should be, but it's OK. There is nothing you can do to earn salvation. He is offering it to you for free despite ourselves.

As a Christian my self I am no better than you. In the eyes of God you and I and Billy Graham or even Hitler are of the same except that I and Billy Graham have accepted the gift of salvation and follow Christ. (Not sure about Hitler) If you want to phooo phoo that, not try and understand that, call it all "hog-wash' you have that choice. He gives you that choice while you still stand.

So, with that I'll let you guys tear what I'm saying up for your own amusement since there is obviously no real question here to answer.

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Post #12

Post by Goat »

danus wrote:
goat wrote:
danus wrote:
blasf wrote:"The crucifixion of Jesus is historically accurate, not just from a biblical stand point. There are sufficient records that back up the biblical account."

It is not historically accurate.
You would be trying to sell a fake product.
In theology, the crucifixion was God's will to kill Jesus.
That means God is a cruel being.
To call Father to such an evil being is offensive.
There were available better and more humane forms of killing a son.
I can mention some to you, if you ask me.

Have a sunny afternoon.
...
Religion is a brain by the power of a weaker one.
Thanks I would love to have a sunny afternoon, but I'll have to settle with the rain today.

One thing I should point out to you is that in our belief Christ was God. In Christianity God is made up of 3 separate but equal entities that we call the trinity. God the father, God the son (Jesus), and God the Holly spirit. The 3 are separate but one.

So, with that God is the one who made the sacrifice. Further, it was mankind who killed Jesus.
But it was 'God the father' that needed the death of 'God the son' to forgive Man and protect man from God the father.
Gibberish. There is nothing Biblical about your statement, it makes no biblical sense whatsoever, and has nothing to do at all with the teachings or solid understanding of Christianity. It's of your own conception. .......Just so we are clear that you don't mix that thought in with what Christianity teaches. Even the most confused Christian would not make a statement like that.
Isn't it?? How many times have I heard 'The blood of Jesus covered you for the remission of your sins'? A large section of Christianity obsesses with the blood sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

Steven Novella

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Post #13

Post by danus »

goat wrote:
danus wrote:
goat wrote:
danus wrote:
blasf wrote:"The crucifixion of Jesus is historically accurate, not just from a biblical stand point. There are sufficient records that back up the biblical account."

It is not historically accurate.
You would be trying to sell a fake product.
In theology, the crucifixion was God's will to kill Jesus.
That means God is a cruel being.
To call Father to such an evil being is offensive.
There were available better and more humane forms of killing a son.
I can mention some to you, if you ask me.

Have a sunny afternoon.
...
Religion is a brain by the power of a weaker one.
Thanks I would love to have a sunny afternoon, but I'll have to settle with the rain today.

One thing I should point out to you is that in our belief Christ was God. In Christianity God is made up of 3 separate but equal entities that we call the trinity. God the father, God the son (Jesus), and God the Holly spirit. The 3 are separate but one.

So, with that God is the one who made the sacrifice. Further, it was mankind who killed Jesus.
But it was 'God the father' that needed the death of 'God the son' to forgive Man and protect man from God the father.
Gibberish. There is nothing Biblical about your statement, it makes no biblical sense whatsoever, and has nothing to do at all with the teachings or solid understanding of Christianity. It's of your own conception. .......Just so we are clear that you don't mix that thought in with what Christianity teaches. Even the most confused Christian would not make a statement like that.
Isn't it?? How many times have I heard 'The blood of Jesus covered you for the remission of your sins'? A large section of Christianity obsesses with the blood sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
If that's what you are hearing then no wonder.

The blood of Christ (God) was for your SALVATION. Because we are all sinners, and all are helpless to escape sin.

Again the crucifixion of Christ was for your salvation. That's the gift God made of HIMSELF for you. It is in NO WAY saving you from God, it is saving you from SELF; YOURSELF.

It is not God that "sends you to hell" as much as it is yourself that places you in that situation simply by not accepting Christ. Jesus Christ is the escape from a self destructive condition without God. You and I are helpless on our own otherwise. That is another way to look at what we understand of our belief.

You don't have to fully understand Christ to accept Christ and be saved. You can wrestle with the enigma and all the bible has to say of Christ and still be a Christian; still be saved. There are NO perfect Christians. I know some of us make a big deal of ourselves, but we are all fallible people just trying to make it like you, only we do that following the teachings of Christ.

It is rejecting Christ that condemns you and that is by your own choosing. However, if you accept Christ and start getting into the word of God with an open heart, you will see the greater logic of it all.

I grew up in the church and hated it. I spent many years looking at Christians and laughing my head off about how goofy and crazy Christians are.......I know. I know the stories in the bible can seem totally bizarre.....I know. But, when I finally accepted Christ, studied the word of God and put it to work in my life, I finally understood. I learn more every day. It's a like a never ending blooming flower. I see the word of God in all it's truth.

I am one of the crazy Christians, but I still know and understand what I once thought when I was an atheist. I'm not here to take your money or trick you into something, but it is my hope that someone might see or read this and give Christ a shot so that they may see what I see and have the joy and understanding I was able to find. I'm not selling Christ as much as I am trying to Give it away for free. I make no commission here. I don't speak in crazy tongues, or handle snakes or raise my hands in a trance at church, or scream at homosexuals. I still cuss from time to time, I enjoy cigars and fine wine. People know me as a pretty cool Christian guy that does not judge them based on the sins they are struggling with.

Here is what I do know; People here (Atheist and agnostics especially) posting arguments against Christianity are not fully convinced of what they think they believe. They wrestle with their logic against Christ and are wanting someone to give them a counter argument so that they might believe. I'm here to tell you; you will not find God by looking for the arguments. You can keep those arguments, but they should arguments that you and God have. God can and will give you the counter argument.

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Post #14

Post by Question Everything »

danus wrote: Here is what I do know; People here (Atheist and agnostics especially) posting arguments against Christianity are not fully convinced of what they think they believe. They wrestle with their logic against Christ and are wanting someone to give them a counter argument so that they might believe.

I'm still waiting.
"Oh, you can''t get through seminary and come out believing in God!"

current pastor who is a closet atheist
quoted by Daniel Dennett.

cnorman18

Post #15

Post by cnorman18 »



MODERATOR COMMENT


You are making a lot of assertions here that are essentially your own unsupported opinion, and that are frankly inflammatory without even the pretense of actually debating. Calling Christian beliefs "infantile and ridiculous" and "mediocre propaganda of fanatics" is clearly intended only to enrage and provoke, and that's not what we do here; that's not debating.

You might want to review the Forum Rules before you continue posting. Continuing in this manner will get you warned, placed on probation, and eventually banned. We're not here to throw rocks at each other, but to exchange ideas and debate in a civil and respectful manner.

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blasf wrote:Christians go for the reward their faith cynically promises, nothing else. It is opportunism mixed with fear.
In fact, a God with a holy character would have sorted out the originally small problem with a better solution.
That's my strongest conviction.
I don't buy the notion that the so-called [man-invented] Trinity is that product you or dogma sells.
It is TOO infantile and ridiculous to consider genuine.
Besides, the Christian Faith is a mediocre propaganda of fanatics throughout its 2000 years of existence.
No dignified God would resort to such an infamous and condemning form of plan, where a son had to be crucified to satisfy a father!
It is very brutal and animal.
If some God would go so insane, without a better plan, that God would be finished in judgement.

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Mercy

Post #16

Post by Burninglight »

In a way I think hell is God's mercy for those that are hell bound. Even though there is no mercy in hell, it would appear that it was merciful compared to a reprobate being in the presence of an all powerful God. The light of God would be a consuming fire that is worse than hell's fires for the unregenerated soul.

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Re: Crucifixion

Post #17

Post by tomcat3443 »

blasf wrote: In absolute terms, what guarantees are there that Jesus was crucified?
And if so, why then crucifixion?
Why not another/different, less violent form of death?
I'm new to this form and wish not to offend anyone, Christian or otherwise. I am hear to give infromatiom to help people to reason on matters and come to the truth on subjects being discussed. If your happy in your beliefs then that all that matters to me. On the subject of the cross this is what I have. - CROSS vs. STAKE
All scriptural references are from the King James Version unless otherwise noted



INTRODUCTION

There are varying beliefs regarding the device used for Christ's execution. Some believe Christ was killed using a simple, upright pole, others believe he was executed on a cross, and still others believe he was killed on an actual living tree. Each group presents evidence in support of their chosen belief.





DIFFERENCES IN DOCTRINE

To start with, in the New Testament most Bibles refer to "The Cross" as the device Messiah / Christ was killed on. Some of the places in which this is mentioned is at Matthew 10:38, Matthew 27:32, 42 and Mark 8:34. Other Bible versions use the term "Stake" instead. Versions that use the word "stake" include: The Complete Jewish Bible, The Scriptures (ISR), The New World Translation, and The Sacred Scriptures Bethel Edition. The Bible also refers to Jesus Christ as having been hung on a tree (Galatians 3:13) (also Acts 5:30 and 1 Peter 2:24 in King James Version). Since there isn't complete agreement among the various Bible versions, it is important to check the original language used in the Bible in order to know which meaning is originally intended. This is where we need to use an interlinear Bible text.


TRANSLATION MAKES A DIFFERENCE

We used the Interlinear Bible at www.Biblestudytools.com/interlinear-Bible/ with their King James Strong's Version to look up the original Greek word for "cross" in the New Testament using the Strong's Concordance. We saw this information:

#4716. stauros stow-ros' from the base of 2476; a stake or post (as set upright), i.e. (specially), a pole or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment); figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial; by implication, the atonement of Christ:--cross.

We also looked up the word "crucify" with the Strong's Concordance, and found this:

#4717. stauroo stow-ro'-o from 4716; to impale on the cross; figuratively, to extinguish (subdue) passion or selfishness:--crucify.

Next we looked up the word "tree" in the Strong's Concordance, and this is what we found:

#3586. xulon xoo'-lon from another form of the base of 3582; timber (as fuel or material); by implication, a stick, club or tree or other wooden article or substance:--staff, stocks, tree, wood.

We searched through the interlinear Bible at www.Scripture4all.org to see the various instances in which xulon was used. In Scripture, xulon was used for a variety of meanings, all of which matched any one of the above definitions for "xulon". The word was used when speaking of staves/clubs (Matthew 26:47,55), the device of the Messiah's death (Acts 5:30, Galatians 3:13, 1 Peter 2:24), and stockades (Acts 16:24), as well as trees (Luke 23:31).



GATHERING IT TOGETHER

So far, now, this is what we have: The words "stauros" and "xulon" are both used for references to the device of the Messiah's murder. Both refer to singular wooden devices in some manner. Stauros means stake, pole, or cross; Xulon means beam, stocks, staff, or tree. In the various Bible versions, Jesus is referenced as being put on a cross, stake, or tree. At this point though, there is still no proof as to whether Jesus was nailed to a simple stake, a living tree, or a two beamed cross. Therefore, let's investigate this further.


SCIENTIFIC PROOF

As for death resulting from being nailed up, the most popular thought is that the Messiah would die of suffocation/asphyxiation. Frederick T. Zugibe, (Adjunct Associate Professor of Pathology at Colombia University College of Physicians and Surgeons), performed extensive experiments to test this theory: He took volunteers and crucified them (they weren't actually nailed, they were suspended by belts and straps on a sturdily constructed cross). He conducted two variations of crucifixion: One with a suppedaneum (a wooden block upon which toes would be supported, helping a victim stay supported on a cross/stauros ) and one without a suppendanuem. The results can be read here. These experiments show that a man on a cross would NOT suffocate to death, with or without a suppedaneum.

By way of comparison, Hermann Moedder, a doctor of radiology from Austria, carried out an experiment in the 1940's in Cologne, Germany, with medical students. He strapped them with their wrists directly above their heads Within minutes the students grew pale, their lung capacity and blood pressure dropped significantly, and their pulse rates increased. Moedder concluded suffocation would occur in minutes if they were not able to stand and rest. Though we don't have complete information about this experiment, it appears that a suppedaneum wasn't used, neither was a sedile (a block of wood attached to the stauros to support the buttocks slightly). This makes a difference because such devices can act as supports that the victim on the stauros could use for support in the breathing issues involved.

Now this is where the comparison of the two experiments is interesting: According to the Bible, a crucified man's legs were broken in order to hasten death (John 19:31-32). This would indicate, according to the results of the above mentioned experiments, that Jesus Christ and the two robbers were killed on singular poles . Breaking their legs would take away the usefulness of the suppedaneum's support, thus hastening their deaths by suffocation. This would not happen on a cross, according to Dr. Zugibe's experiments.



WHAT ABOUT THE SIGN POSTED ON THE BEAM?

Now we have the matter of the sign posted above the Messiah's head as stated at Matthew 27:37. If the sign was posted above his head, then that would imply a cross, otherwise it would be above his hands, right? According to Scripture, the sign said something to the effect of "Jesus the Nazarene the King of the Jews". This sign was written in three languages: Hebrew, Latin, and Greek (John 19:19-20). Therefore, this couldn't have been a tiny sign. However, we need to understand that we, the readers, are simply assuming what the position of the sign was. All the Bible says is that it was above his head, no indication of postion otherwise. It is plausible that Jesus was nailed with his hands straight up, and the sign placed above his head, as indicated by the Scriptures, but slipped in behind his arms.


WHAT ABOUT THE NAILS?

What about the number of nails that were driven into his hands/wrists? (John 20:25). If Jesus were nailed to a stake, then only one nail would be used to nail his hands/wrists, right? Not necessarily. It's reasonable to say that a single nail won't support the weight of an adult male. Either the nail would rip out of the pole, or the man's hands would rip off from the nail from his own body weight. It's necessary to use multiple nails in order to have a secure hold.


WHAT ABOUT THE WEIGHT OF THE CROSS?

The Bible shows that victims carried the beams to the execution site (Luke 23:26). Although this would also do away with the idea of Jesus being nailed to a living tree, most people still believe that this was actually just a patibulum - a cross beam for the cross - not the entire cross. But this isn't sensible, because Jesus told us, according to the interlinear Bibles, that we have to carry our own "stauros" (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 14:27). If we are to translate "stauros" to mean "cross" then to carry solely the patibulum would be carrying only a part of it, not the entire thing. This would significantly reduce the impact of what Jesus was trying to convey. Also, if "stauros" were to be translated as an entire cross, according to some this could weigh approximately 200 - 300 pounds (about 91-136 kilograms) with the main beam weighing in at about 125 -175 pounds (57 - 80 kilograms). This could probably be managed with the two men, however Scripture shows that Simon the Cyrene actually took the stauros to carry on his own (Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26) (Note, the Scriptures say he actually bore the stauros, not just simply helped carry it).However, having just a single stake would be much more manageable weight-wise. Of course, people in those days were much hardier because they had more physical labor to perform on a day-to-day basis, but still, 300 pounds is an awful lot for such a man to carry on his back through the streets of Jerusalem and up a steep hill to Calvary.


SO, NOBODY DIED ON A CROSS?

We aren't saying that crosses were never used for execution, as execution methods varied according to time period and location. Archaeological finds have shown that sometimes a cross was actually used instead of a simple, singular beam. One of the most famous of these finds was that of a man named "Yehohanan, son of Hagakol" found in Jerusalem in 1968.



SO, COULDN'T JESUS / YESHUA HAVE BEEN ON A CROSS?

No. If he and the other men with him were killed on a cross, they would have taken days to die (probably from dehydration) according to the above mentioned scientific information. However, Scripture tells us they were dead within hours, not days (Mark 15:25-37). It is also notable that, in order to hasten death, the legs of the criminals were to be broken (John 19:31-33). If they were on a cross, according to the above mentioned science, broken legs wouldn't have made a difference in time of death; that would only work when a victim is nailed to a singular pole.



CONCLUSION

So this is what we have here: A full cross would be too heavy for a man to carry all the way to Calvary, whereas a singular beam would be much more manageable. Scientific evidence also supports the use of a simple stake instead of a cross in the case of Jesus Christ's murder. Since a cross would take days to kill, and Scripture states that death happened within mere hours, this also points to a simple stake or pole. Couple these things with the original language used in Scripture, the evidence shows clearly that the true instrument of the Messiah's execution was a simple stake or pole.



DOES IT MATTER?

No, it does not really matter whether Jesus Christ died on a singular pole or a two beamed cross in the end. The more important matter is the fact the Jesus Christ actually died for our sins, paving the way to our Salvation and reconciliation with God.

May God's peace rest upon you all.







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Post #18

Post by McCulloch »

tomcat3443 wrote: I'm new to this form and wish not to offend anyone, Christian or otherwise. I am hear to give infromatiom to help people to reason on matters and come to the truth on subjects being discussed. If your happy in your beliefs then that all that matters to me. On the subject of the cross this is what I have.
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Re: Crucifixion

Post #19

Post by tomcat3443 »

blasf wrote: In absolute terms, what guarantees are there that Jesus was crucified?
And if so, why then crucifixion?
Why not another/different, less violent form of death?
Was It a Cross?

According to Greek scholar W. E. Vine, stauros′ “denotes, primarily, an upright pale or stake. On such malefactors were nailed for execution. Both the noun and the verb stauro�, to fasten to a stake or pale, are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed cross.�

The Imperial Bible-Dictionary says that the word 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.� The dictionary continues: “Even amongst the Romans the crux (Latin, from which our cross is derived) appears to have been originally an upright pole.� Thus, it is not surprising that The Catholic Encyclopedia states: “Certain it is, at any rate, that the cross originally consisted of a simple vertical pole, sharpened at its upper end.�

There is another Greek word, xy′lon, that Bible writers used to describe the instrument of Jesus’ execution. A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament defines xy′lon as “a piece of timber, a wooden stake.� It goes on to say that like stauros′, xy′lon “was simply an upright pale or stake to which the Romans nailed those who were thus said to be crucified.�

In line with this, we note that the King James Version reads at Acts 5:30: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree [xy′lon].� Other versions, though rendering stauros′ as “cross,� also translate xy′lon as “tree.� At Acts 13:29, The Jerusalem Bible says of Jesus: “When they had carried out everything that scripture foretells about him they took him down from the tree [xy′lon] and buried him.�

In view of the basic meaning of the Greek words stauros′ and xy′lon, the Critical Lexicon and Concordance, quoted above, observes: “Both words disagree with the modern idea of a cross, with which we have become familiarised by pictures.� In other words, what the Gospel writers described using the word stauros′ was nothing like what people today call a cross. The Complete Jewish Bible uses the expression “execution stake.�

Origin of the Cross

If the Bible does not really say that Jesus was executed on a cross, then why do all the churches that claim to teach and follow the Bible—Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox—adorn their buildings with the cross and use it as a symbol of their faith? How did the cross come to be such a popular symbol?

The answer is that the cross is venerated not only by churchgoers who claim to follow the Bible but also by people far removed from the Bible and whose worship far predates that of “Christian� churches. Numerous religious reference works acknowledge that the use of crosses in various shapes and forms goes back to remote periods of human civilization. For example, ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and depictions of their gods and goddesses often show a cross in the shape of a T with a circle at the top. It is called the ansate, or handle-shaped, cross and is thought to be a symbol of life. In time, this form of the cross was adopted and used extensively by the Coptic Church and others.

According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, “the primitive form of the cross seems to have been that of the so-called ‘gamma’ cross (crux gammata), better known to Orientalists and students of prehistoric archæology by its Sanskrit name, swastika.� This sign was widely used among Hindus in India and Buddhists throughout Asia and is still seen in decorations and ornaments in those areas.

It is not known exactly when the cross was adopted as a “Christian� symbol. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words states: “By the middle of the 3rd cent. A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols,� including the cross.

Some writers point to the claim by the sun-god worshipper Constantine that in 312 C.E., while on one of his military campaigns, he had a vision of a cross superimposed on the sun along with the motto in Latin “in hoc vince� (by this conquer). Some time later, a “Christian� sign was emblazoned on the standards, shields, and armor of his army. Constantine purportedly converted to Christianity, though he was not baptized until 25 years later on his deathbed. His motive was questioned by some. “He acted rather as if he were converting Christianity into what he thought most likely to be accepted by his subjects as a catholic [universal] religion, than as if he had been converted to the teachings of Jesus the Nazarene,� says the book The Non-Christian Cross.

Since then, crosses of many forms and shapes have come into use. For example, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary tells us that what is called St. Anthony’s cross “was shaped like a capital T, thought by some to be derived from the symbol of the [Babylonian] god Tammuz, the letter tau.� There was also the St. Andrew’s cross, which is in the shape of the letter X, and the familiar two-beamed cross with the crossbar lowered. This latter type, called the Latin cross, is erroneously “held by tradition to be the shape of the cross on which our Lord died.�

What First-Century Christians Believed

The Bible shows that in the first century, many who heard Jesus became believers and accepted the redeeming value of his sacrificial death. After the apostle Paul preached to the Jews in Corinth, proving that Jesus is the Christ, says the Bible, “Crispus the presiding officer of the synagogue became a believer in the Lord, and so did all his household. And many of the Corinthians that heard began to believe and be baptized.� (Acts 18:5-8) Instead of introducing some religious symbol or image into their worship, Paul instructed his fellow Christians to “flee from idolatry� and from any other practice drawn from pagan worship.—1 Corinthians 10:14.

Historians and researchers have found no evidence to validate the use of the cross among the early Christians. Interestingly, the book History of the Cross quotes one late 17th-century writer who asked: “Can it be pleasing to the blessed Jesus to behold His disciples glorying in the image of that instrument of capital punishment on which He [supposedly] patiently and innocently suffered, despising the shame?� How would you answer?

Worship acceptable to God does not require objects or images. “What agreement does God’s temple have with idols?� Paul asked. (2 Corinthians 6:14-16) Nowhere do the Scriptures suggest that a Christian’s worship should include the use of a likeness of the instrument used to impale Jesus.—Compare Matthew 15:3; Mark 7:13. Do your own research and see for yourself. All I ask is that you keep an open mind. God Bless

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Re: Crucifixion

Post #20

Post by tomcat3443 »

blasf wrote: In absolute terms, what guarantees are there that Jesus was crucified?
And if so, why then crucifixion?
Why not another/different, less violent form of death?
The Imperial Bible-Dictionary says that the word 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.� The dictionary continues: “Even amongst the Romans the crux (Latin, from which our cross is derived) appears to have been originally an upright pole.� Thus, it is not surprising that The Catholic Encyclopedia states: “Certain it is, at any rate, that the cross originally consisted of a simple vertical pole, sharpened at its upper end.�

There is another Greek word, xy′lon, that Bible writers used to describe the instrument of Jesus’ execution. A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament defines xy′lon as “a piece of timber, a wooden stake.� It goes on to say that like stauros′, xy′lon “was simply an upright pale or stake to which the Romans nailed those who were thus said to be crucified.�

In line with this, we note that the King James Version reads at Acts 5:30: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree [xy′lon].� Other versions, though rendering stauros′ as “cross,� also translate xy′lon as “tree.� At Acts 13:29, The Jerusalem Bible says of Jesus: “When they had carried out everything that scripture foretells about him they took him down from the tree [xy′lon] and buried him.�

In view of the basic meaning of the Greek words stauros′ and xy′lon, the Critical Lexicon and Concordance, quoted above, observes: “Both words disagree with the modern idea of a cross, with which we have become familiarised by pictures.� In other words, what the Gospel writers described using the word stauros′ was nothing like what people today call a cross.



If the Bible does not really say that Jesus was executed on a cross, then why do all the churches that claim to teach and follow the Bible—Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox—adorn their buildings with the cross and use it as a symbol of their faith? How did the cross come to be such a popular symbol?

The answer is that the cross is venerated not only by churchgoers who claim to follow the Bible but also by people far removed from the Bible and whose worship far predates that of “Christian� churches. Numerous religious reference works acknowledge that the use of crosses in various shapes and forms goes back to remote periods of human civilization. For example, ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and depictions of their gods and goddesses often show a cross in the shape of a T with a circle at the top. It is called the ansate, or handle-shaped, cross and is thought to be a symbol of life. In time, this form of the cross was adopted and used extensively by the Coptic Church and others.

According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, “the primitive form of the cross seems to have been that of the so-called ‘gamma’ cross (crux gammata), better known to Orientalists and students of prehistoric archæology by its Sanskrit name, swastika.� This sign was widely used among Hindus in India and Buddhists throughout Asia and is still seen in decorations and ornaments in those areas.

It is not known exactly when the cross was adopted as a “Christian� symbol. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words states: “By the middle of the 3rd cent. A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols,� including the cross.

Some writers point to the claim by the sun-god worshipper Constantine that in 312 C.E., while on one of his military campaigns, he had a vision of a cross superimposed on the sun along with the motto in Latin “in hoc vince� (by this conquer). Some time later, a “Christian� sign was emblazoned on the standards, shields, and armor of his army. Constantine purportedly converted to Christianity, though he was not baptized until 25 years later on his deathbed. His motive was questioned by some. “He acted rather as if he were converting Christianity into what he thought most likely to be accepted by his subjects as a catholic [universal] religion, than as if he had been converted to the teachings of Jesus the Nazarene,� says the book The Non-Christian Cross.

Since then, crosses of many forms and shapes have come into use. For example, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary tells us that what is called St. Anthony’s cross “was shaped like a capital T, thought by some to be derived from the symbol of the [Babylonian] god Tammuz, the letter tau.� There was also the St. Andrew’s cross, which is in the shape of the letter X, and the familiar two-beamed cross with the crossbar lowered. This latter type, called the Latin cross, is erroneously “held by tradition to be the shape of the cross on which our Lord died.�



The Bible shows that in the first century, many who heard Jesus became believers and accepted the redeeming value of his sacrificial death. After the apostle Paul preached to the Jews in Corinth, proving that Jesus is the Christ, says the Bible, “Crispus the presiding officer of the synagogue became a believer in the Lord, and so did all his household. And many of the Corinthians that heard began to believe and be baptized.� (Acts 18:5-8) Instead of introducing some religious symbol or image into their worship, Paul instructed his fellow Christians to “flee from idolatry� and from any other practice drawn from pagan worship.—1 Corinthians 10:14.

Historians and researchers have found no evidence to validate the use of the cross among the early Christians. Interestingly, the book History of the Cross quotes one late 17th-century writer who asked: “Can it be pleasing to the blessed Jesus to behold His disciples glorying in the image of that instrument of capital punishment on which He [supposedly] patiently and innocently suffered, despising the shame?� How would you answer?

Worship acceptable to God does not require objects or images. “What agreement does God’s temple have with idols?� Paul asked. (2 Corinthians 6:14-16) Nowhere do the Scriptures suggest that a Christian’s worship should include the use of a likeness of the instrument used to impale Jesus.—Compare Matthew 15:3; Mark 7:13.

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