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The 'Reasoning' book's discussion of the 'Cross'


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The following post quotes originally came from this thread: 

Rather than take the thread totally off topic, I thought I would make some comments in a new one.

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Dear Sisters,

At the risk of starting another firestorm, (which is not my intention), I would like to include some information about the crux ansata in this discussion. 

I'm commenting on this post, likewise not to create a firestorm, but to flag up how we ought to check sources of information rather than automatically taking on trust that what is written is sound.

Regarding information on the internet, the August 15, 2011 Watchtower put forward some criteria by which we can critically assess its factuality:

"Before trusting it, ask: (1) Who published this material? What are the author’s credentials? (2) Why was this published? What motivated the writer? Is there any bias? (3) Where did the author get the information? Does he supply sources that can be checked? (4) Is the information current?" - p. 4 

It's good practice to apply these basic principles to anything we read - even material produced by the Organization. 

It's also worth remembering Christians do not claim Jesus was executed on a crux ansata or ankh-shaped cross (think of the practical problems for a start). But let's look at how the Reasoning book approaches the wider question of whether Jesus was executed on a cross at all.

 

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rs p. 89- p.93

Cross

Definition: The device on which Jesus Christ was executed is referred to by most of Christendom as a cross. The expression is drawn from the Latin crux.

Why do Watch Tower publications show Jesus on a stake with hands over his head instead of on the traditional cross?

The Greek word rendered “cross” in many modern Bible versions (“torture stake” in NW) is stau·rosʹ. 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. The Imperial Bible-Dictionary acknowledges this, saying: “The Greek word for cross, [stau·rosʹ], 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] a piece 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.

"(2) ... Is there any bias?"

Absolutely. The Reasoning book's quote from the Imperial Bible Dictionary is chopped up, and omits key information that would allow the reader to understand that, while stauros originally had one meaning, by the time of Jesus the word had evolved and was understood differently. The omitted parts from the quote are in red.

"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] 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 more prominent part."

The quote continues to cite Seneca's (4 BC-65 AD) eye-witness testimony about 3 different kinds of crucifixion regularly employed, the last of which was where the victim's arms were extended on a patibulum. The dictionary then adds:

"There can be no doubt, however, that the latter sort was 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." - p. 376

You can read the Imperial Bible Dictionary article for yourself here:

    Hello guest!

So why do Watch Tower publications show Jesus on a stake with hands over his head instead of on the traditional cross? Reading an extended quote from the Imperial Bible Dictionary makes the reason for Watchtower's divergence on this matter unclear.

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Was that the case in connection with the execution of God’s Son? It is noteworthy that the Bible also uses the word xyʹlon to identify the device used. A Greek-English Lexicon, by Liddell and Scott, defines this as meaning: “Wood cut and ready for use, firewood, timber, etc. . . . piece of wood, log, beam, post . . . cudgel, club . . . stake on which criminals were impaled . . . of live wood, tree.” It also says “in NT, of the cross,” and cites 

    Hello guest!
 and 
    Hello guest!
 as examples. (Oxford, 1968, pp. 1191, 1192) However, in those verses KJ, RS, JB, and Dy translate xyʹlon as “tree.” (Compare this rendering with 
    Hello guest!
    Hello guest!
.)

There's no problem with this section as crosses were made of wood from trees. Not only that, but trees had branches upon which arms could be outstretched either side of the body, above it, upside-down or however the executioner wanted to position the poor victim. 

Of course, the Org. no longer translates Jesus' mode of execution as 'impaling' because, well, he wasn't impaled; he was suspended from a stauros by being nailed to it. Impaling is an entirely different kind of torturous end. 

This reference, then, doesn't help explain why Watch Tower publications depict Jesus on an upright stake either.

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The book The Non-Christian Cross, by J. D. Parsons (London, 1896), says: “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. . . . 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, and to support that action by putting ‘cross’ in our lexicons as the meaning 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, and became so then, if at all, only because, despite the absence of corroborative evidence, it was for some reason or other assumed that the particular stauros upon which Jesus was executed had that particular shape.”—Pp. 23, 24; ...

"(1) ... What are the author’s credentials? ... (3) Where did the author get the information? Does he supply sources that can be checked? (4) Is the information current?" 

Not only is this another outdated source, but psychical research enthusiast J.D. Parsons does not provide references for his comments here (

    Hello guest!
). Historical, linguistic and gospel evidence contradicts him. It's a pity he didn't consult works like the Imperial Bible Dictionary before he wrote his book.

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...  see also The Companion Bible (London, 1885), Appendix No. 162.

"(3) Where did the author get the information? Does he supply sources that can be checked? (4) Is the information current?" 

This is another old work, this time one edited by E.W. Bullinger. Appendix No. 162 does supply some sources, but it also repeats some of Alexander Hislop's and others' mistaken ideas, e.g. the Babylonian sun-god cross. Not only that, but Bullinger (or whoever the author of Appendix No. 162 was) was evidently unaware of the Oxyrhyncus discoveries which showed that the understanding of stauros as being a two-pieced cross shape occurred in 2nd (and possibly 1st) century Christian writings.

See the Companion Bible entry here:

    Hello guest!

In fact, many of these old publications the Org. uses as support, and that are contemporaneous with one another, seem to feed off each other's sources, regurgitating them in their own works. The Two Babylons was published in book form in 1858. It's always good to keep this in mind when reading older references after that time because it often influenced other theologians' work - especially if their theology was less mainstream. Vine's Expository Dictionary's entry on 'Cross' is another notable example (see below).

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Thus the weight of the evidence indicates that Jesus died on an upright stake and not on the traditional cross.

That's assuming that all the available evidence has been presented to the Reasoning book reader. As we've seen, it hasn't but has been cherry-picked from flawed, out-of-date works, which often recycle the same sources, in order to force a predetermined conclusion. When we dig into those sources a little deeper, we find that Watchtower's rejection of the cross and adoption of an upright stake to depict Jesus' execution is based on insubstantial grounds. If we research the subject more thoroughly, although we will never be certain what shape stauros Jesus died on, we will find that the weight of evidence indicates the opposite view to that of the Organization. 

 

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What were the historical origins of Christendom’s cross?

“Various objects, dating from periods long anterior to the Christian era, have been found, marked with crosses of different designs, in almost every part of the old world. India, Syria, Persia and Egypt have all yielded numberless examples . . . The use of the cross as a religious symbol in pre-Christian times and among non-Christian peoples may probably be regarded as almost universal, and in very many cases it was connected with some form of nature worship.”—Encyclopædia Britannica (1946), Vol. 6, p. 753.

What does this have to do with how Christians regard the cross? Cross shapes occur in different cultures, times and contexts. Whatever significance non-Christians placed on cross shapes (4 cardinal points, 4 year markers, 4 key stages in the Sun's apparent seasonal or daily paths around the Earth, circle of life, etc.) has nothing to do with any symbolism Christians attach to the cross Jesus was believed to have been executed on.

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“The shape of the [two-beamed cross] had its origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name) in that country and in adjacent lands, including Egypt. 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. Hence the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the cross of Christ.”—An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (London, 1962), W. E. Vine, p. 256.

"(2) ... Is there any bias? (3) Where did the author get the information? Does he supply sources that can be checked? (4) Is the information current?"

Vine's comment about the two-beamed cross's Chaldean origin actually came from Hislop (Two Babylons, p. 197-8). It is false

Hislop was rabidly anti-Catholic and grasping at anything to discredit it, no matter how outlandish. However, in doing so, he was undermining aspects of biblical Christianity too. So, yes, one could say he was biased - so much so that he imagined ancient pagan-Catholic connections everywhere. He provides no historical evidence that the Babylonian god Tammuz was represented by a Tau and besides, the Babylonians didn't write in Greek! Their writing was logographic and the signs for Tammuz (Dumuzi) don't look anything like crosses. 

03eec4c2f3500341b2c65cc3d18b9bb4.jpg
 
On the other hand, the Paleo-Hebrew script has a letter tav. Guess what it looks like:

    Hello guest!
#

Shocking, hey?

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“It is strange, yet unquestionably a fact, that in ages long before the birth of Christ, and since then in lands untouched by the teaching of the Church, the Cross has been used as a sacred symbol. . . . The Greek Bacchus, the Tyrian Tammuz, the Chaldean Bel, and the Norse Odin, were all symbolised to their votaries by a cruciform device.”—The Cross in Ritual, Architecture, and Art (London, 1900), G. S. Tyack, p. 1.

"(3) Where did the author get the information? Does he supply sources that can be checked? (4) Is the information current?"

Again, a 19th/early 20th century work. Tyack doesn't provide any sources for his statements. However the concepts seem to be from the Two Babylons book. These connections between the cross and Tammuz plus other ancient near eastern deities don't go back beyond the 1850s and Hislop's book - not that I've been able to trace, anyway.

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“The cross in the form of the ‘Crux Ansata’ . . . was carried in the hands of the Egyptian priests and Pontiff kings as the symbol of their authority as priests of the Sun god and was called ‘the Sign of Life.’”—The Worship of the Dead (London, 1904), Colonel J. Garnier, p. 226.

Around and around we go. This information is straight out of Two Babylons! Look:

    Hello guest!

Please pay particular notice to the references in the footnotes on that page.

I'll post separately about all those cross symbols and the conclusions Hislop jumps to.

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“Various figures of crosses are found everywhere on Egyptian monuments and tombs, and are considered by many authorities as symbolical either of the phallus [a representation of the male sex organ] or of coition. . . . In Egyptian tombs the cruxansata [cross with a circle or handle on top] is found side by side with the phallus.”—A Short History of Sex-Worship (London, 1940), H. Cutner, pp. 16, 17; see also The Non-Christian Cross, p. 183.

Again, what does this have to do with how Christians view the cross Jesus is believed to have died on? 

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“These crosses were used as symbols of the Babylonian sun-god, [See book], and are first seen on a coin of Julius Cæsar, 100-44 B.C., and then on a coin struck by Cæsar’s heir (Augustus), 20 B.C. On the coins of Constantine the most frequent symbol is [See book]; but the same symbol is used without the surrounding circle, and with the four equal arms vertical and horizontal; and this was the symbol specially venerated as the ‘Solar Wheel’. It should be stated that Constantine was a sun-god worshipper, and would not enter the ‘Church’ till some quarter of a century after the legend of his having seen such a cross in the heavens.”—The Companion Bible, Appendix No. 162; see also The Non-Christian Cross, pp. 133-141.

This is a quote from the same Bullinger work discussed above.

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Is veneration of the cross a Scriptural practice?

Now, this is a whole different issue.

And is it a matter of degree? Remember how obsessed many JWs are nowadays with the JW.org logo, maybe because of its associations in the JW's mind with true worship, brotherhood, divine blessings, etc. They put it on anything from tiepins to cake. Likewise, many Christians associate the cross with Jesus' love for humankind, victory over death/Satan, hope, etc., and so they like to have a symbolic reminder of that or use it as a visible expression of their faith. I guess it depends on whether one considers a line has been stepped over between expression of faith and worshipful veneration, and there is a certain level of subjectivity in that assessment.

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In ancient Israel, unfaithful Jews wept over the death of the false god Tammuz. Jehovah spoke of what they were doing as being a ‘detestable thing.’ (

    Hello guest!
) According to history, Tammuz was a Babylonian god, and the cross was used as his symbol. From its beginning in the days of Nimrod, Babylon was against Jehovah and an enemy of true worship. (
    Hello guest!
    Hello guest!
) So by cherishing the cross, a person is honoring a symbol of worship that is opposed to the true God.

Here we go again. An allusion to Hislopian baloney.

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As stated at 

    Hello guest!
, apostate Jews also ‘thrust out the shoot to Jehovah’s nose.’ He viewed this as “detestable” and ‘offensive.’ Why? This “shoot,” some commentators explain, was a representation of the male sex organ, used in phallic worship. How, then, must Jehovah view the use of the cross, which, as we have seen, was anciently used as a symbol in phallic worship?" End of quotation.

And an upright stake is NOT phallic?

'Some commentators' - who? The Reasoning book doesn't enlighten us.

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So dear sisters, let's be careful to keep our worship to Jehovah clean and free from any influence of pagan worship that is detestable to him. I hope you all agree. :)

While I agree that idolatry is against biblical principles, the Org's reluctance to entertain at least the possibility that Jesus historically died on a cross is based on deeply flawed, outdated, and circular reasoning.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Regarding Hislop's discussion of various cross shapes on p. 197 of the Two Babylons book:

Fig. 43 shows 5 different cross shapes.

No. 1 is the familiar crucifix shape and comes from Kitto's Biblical Cyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 495 (viewable online - as with all of these references, just Google). This reference is just a discussion of 'Cross' and Lipsius' various pictures/descriptions of this means of execution.

No. 2 is similar to No. 1 but slanted. The pic comes from Sir W. Betham's Etruria, Vol. 1, p. 54 (viewable online). This references the Etruscan alphabet. Hislop's picture is just one of the letters he's picked out.

No. 3 is like No. 1 except with a slightly curved crosspiece. This is from Bunsen's Egypt's Place in Universal History, Vol. 1, p. 450 (viewable online). Hislop's picture is one of the Coptic letters of the alphabet - a tei. He doesn't bother with the other cross-shaped letters in the Coptic alphabet on pp. 448-450 - not even the tau on p. 449!

No. 4 is similar to an ankh. Hislop thinks it's a cross (the sign of Tammuz) attached to the circle of the sun (p. 198). He provides no reference for this one.

No. 5 is a cross within a circle. This is used as another example of Tammuz being associated with the sun and the picture comes from Stephen's Incidents of Travel in Central America, Vol. 2, p. 344, Plate 2 (viewable online) where an indigenous person's belt is decorated with the symbol.

Hislop uses these sources and cobbles together isolated cross symbols - an instrument of execution, letters of the Etruscan and Coptic alphabets, an ankh and the belt decoration of a Central American Indian. These all form the basis of his argument that,

a) The Christian cross is not a Christian emblem.

(He only establishes that cross shapes occur in all sorts of places and contexts.)

b) The cross originates from the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians.

(An unsupported assertion pulled out of the air - none of his examples are linked to Chaldea.)

c) The letter T is "the initial letter of Tammuz - which, in Hebrew, [is] radically the same as ancient Chaldee" (p. 197).

(It's already been discussed on this thread that, while Paleo-Hebrew indeed has a cross-shaped Tav, the Babylonians wrote in cuneiform and their logographic signs making up the word Dumuzi/Tammuz do not resemble a cross.)

d) Tammuz was identified with the sun.

(Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Babylonian deities knows that Shamash was the god identified with the sun and Marduk may also have had solar connections - not Tammuz. Tammuz was a shepherd-god of agriculture, fertile lands, food and vegetation.)

Hislop's conclusions about how the Christian cross originates in Babylonian worship are therefore founded on ... nothing.

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Actually, it is not known on the basis of current evidence. So it is really a hiding to nothing or, more graphically, like flogging a dead horse to try and prove definitively what the instrument was on the basis of current evidence. Heroic attempts however, and ingenious argument all round!!

The following post quotes originally came from this thread:  Rather than take the thread totally off topic, I thought I would make some comments in a new one. I'm commenting on this post, likewise not to create a firestorm, but to flag up how we ought to check sources of information rather than automatically taking on trust that what is written is sound. Regarding information on the internet, the August 15, 2011 Watchtower put forward some criteria by which we can critical

I can see similarities in the use of jw.org logos as trinkets or ornaments or badges in the way that others might use crosses without religious significance. However, I can't really see a similarity between the way many witnesses view trinkets and cakes etc. bearing the jw.org symbol and the way in which the cross is treated religiously by diverse members of Christendom. The links below might illustrate my point: Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hi

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Thanks for the interesting research which is very relevant, particularly on cherry picking of quotes., However, there's nothing here to say that Jesus was not nailed to an upright stake, or that the symbol does not have pre-christian, pagan association.

Although the Society's illustrations still depict Jesus death on an upright stake, our current view is this:

    Hello guest!

9 hours ago, Ann O'Maly said:

Remember how obsessed many JWs are nowadays with the JW.org logo, maybe because of its associations in the JW's mind with true worship, brotherhood, divine blessings

I'm not sure how this correlates to Christendoms veneration of the cross no matter how tacky the uses of what is simply part of a url. 

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8 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

However, there's nothing here to say that Jesus was not nailed to an upright stake, ...

The evidence suggests that an upright stake is the least likely option. But as was said, we cannot be certain what shape stauros Jesus died on. The problem is how the Org. has made it look as if the upright stake was the most likely (or only) option and ignored the rest of scholarship on the matter that demonstrates the opposite likelihood.

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... or that the symbol does not have pre-christian, pagan association.

Various depictions of cross shapes exist in all sorts of cultures, past and present, Christian and non-Christian. So? 

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Although the Society's illustrations still depict Jesus death on an upright stake, our current view is this:

    Hello guest!

 

 

The Bible doesn't describe it directly, but there are hints. Unfortunately, the rest of the Society's article stumbles into the same pitfalls as the Reasoning book does. 

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I'm not sure how this correlates to Christendoms veneration of the cross no matter how tacky the uses of what is simply part of a url. 

I thought I explained. What is it you are unclear on?

 

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2 hours ago, Ann O'Maly said:

I thought I explained. What is it you are unclear on?

I can see similarities in the use of jw.org logos as trinkets or ornaments or badges in the way that others might use crosses without religious significance.

However, I can't really see a similarity between the way many witnesses view trinkets and cakes etc. bearing the jw.org symbol and the way in which the cross is treated religiously by diverse members of Christendom.

The links below might illustrate my point:

    Hello guest!

    Hello guest!

    Hello guest!

Anyway, I apologise for deviating a bit from your topic which I note is about the quality of research in the 1985 Reasoning Book article on the Cross. I am sure this line of discussion will come up more appropriately somewhere else so will leave it until then.

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On 2/9/2017 at 11:16 PM, Eoin Joyce said:

I can see similarities in the use of jw.org logos as trinkets or ornaments or badges in the way that others might use crosses without religious significance.

Or even with religious significance ... as the Organization has religious significance to the JW, does it not?

On 2/9/2017 at 11:16 PM, Eoin Joyce said:

However, I can't really see a similarity between the way many witnesses view trinkets and cakes etc. bearing the jw.org symbol and the way in which the cross is treated religiously by diverse members of Christendom. ...

[links to pics of people kissing crosses, etc.]

Give it time. ;)

Anyway, I was suggesting, in response to 'Is veneration of the cross a scriptural practice?', that veneration (or great respect, reverence) for an object of religious significance can occur in many forms. So I posed the question of whether it was a matter of degree to which one venerates a religious artifact and where the line might be drawn before scriptural principles are seen to be violated. Yes, maybe another thread.

On 2/9/2017 at 11:16 PM, Eoin Joyce said:

Anyway, I apologise for deviating a bit from your topic ...

It's OK. I'm not cross (geddit?). :) 

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You say either and I say either
You say neither and I say neither
Either, either neither, neither
Let's call the whole thing off
You like potato and I like potahto
You like tomato and I like tomahto
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto
Let's call the whole thing off
You say laughter and I say larfter
You say after and I say arfter
Laughter, larfter after arfter
Let's call the whole thing off
You like vanilla and I like vanella
You saspiralla, and I saspirella
Vanilla vanella chocolate strawberry
Let's call the whole thing off
I say father, and you say pater
I saw mother and you say mater
Pater, mater uncle, auntie let's call the whole thing off
I like bananas and you like banahnahs
I say havana and I get havahnah
Bananas, banahnahs havana, havahnah
Go your way, I'll go mine
So if I go for scallops and you go for lobsters
So all right no contest we'll order lobseter
For we know we need each other so we
Better call the calling off off
Let's call the whole thing off

 

Cross or Stake .....................................So what ! Did Jesus die ? Surely that's the important question !

So Lets call the whole thing .......Orff !

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On 2/25/2017 at 5:57 AM, INTREPID TRAVELLER said:

Cross or Stake .....................................So what ! Did Jesus die ? Surely that's the important question !

Indeed. But the focus of this thread is on how historical and linguistic scholarship can be misused or ignored to influence readers to a preordained conclusion (namely, that Jesus didn't die on a cross). The shape of the stauros Jesus died on shouldn't be an issue, but the Org has stuck its neck out and made it one.

 

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The Org. did not make it an issue, we are doing that by all this fluffing arguing. Why? The REAL issue, is of JESUS death, is dying shedding his blood, correct? How, is not a priority. That he died, he fulfilled his purpose for,his Father. We are fussing over .gnats in the wine and missing out on the dinner prepared for us! Don't think the host has more wine!?! 

Remember Peter's words..."Only you have words of everlasting life."

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We cannot be dogmatic about the shape, size or other physical characteristics of the instrument on which our Lord was hung but the linguistic, biblical and historical evidence favours the stake as the most likely form. This is what the eyewitnesses saw on that occasion and it was a stauros  which simply means a stake even though at that time the word evolved into a different shape, a cross. WT writers have certainly used older sources to support our argument but this is simply due to the fact that scholarship has not had much to say on this subject with the exception of Gunnar Samuelson's thesis that Jesus was hung on a suspension device which differed to the traditional 'cross'.

scholar JW

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I don't know, but has it occurred to anyone that because the Romans were pagan, and it was the Romans who executed Jesus, that perhaps they may have used a pagan symbol, or at least the type of torture device that was popular in those days for THEM, and if the cross was what was popular in those days, then there is no reason why it couldn't have been a cross. Really, it is irrelevant whether it was a cross or something else since it wasn't Jesus or Jehovah who were deciding.

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      SI C’EST le cas, rassurez-vous : le Jour du Jugement est une disposition pleine d’amour qui apportera de grands bienfaits à la famille humaine, y compris aux morts (Matthieu 20:28 ; Jean 3:16). Mais pourquoi est-il nécessaire ? Et que se passera-t-il réellement pendant ce “ jour ” ?
      Pourquoi le Jour du Jugement est nécessaire
      Lorsque Dieu a placé les humains sur la terre, il ne la destinait pas à n’être qu’un lieu d’épreuve en vue d’une existence dans un autre monde. Il a créé les humains pour qu’ils y vivent éternellement. Bien que parfaits physiquement et mentalement, Adam et Ève, le premier couple, se sont rebellés contre Dieu. Ils ont alors perdu la perspective de la vie éternelle pour eux-mêmes, et ont transmis le péché et la mort à tous leurs descendants. — Genèse 2:15-17 ; Romains 5:12.
      Le Jour du Jugement sera une période de mille ans durant laquelle les hommes auront la possibilité de retrouver ce qu’Adam et Ève ont perdu*. Remarquez que, selon Actes 17:31, cité plus haut, ce “ jour ” concerne les personnes qui vivent sur “ la terre habitée ”. Celles qui recevront un jugement favorable vivront sur la terre, éternellement et dans des conditions parfaites (Révélation 21:3, 4). Le Jour du Jugement contribue donc à l’accomplissement du dessein originel de Dieu pour l’homme et pour la planète.
      Le Juge que Dieu a établi est Christ Jésus. La Bible révèle qu’il va “ juger les vivants et les morts ”. (2 Timothée 4:1.) Qui sont “ les vivants ” qui seront jugés ? Comment les morts vont-ils revenir à la vie sur “ la terre habitée ” ?
      Jésus juge “ les vivants ”
      Nous sommes maintenant proches de la fin annoncée du présent système de choses, où Dieu va détruire tous les éléments de la société humaine corrompue et supprimer les méchants. Les personnes qui réchapperont seront “ les vivants ” qui seront jugés. — Révélation 7:9-14 ; 19:11-16.
      Durant la période de jugement qui durera mille ans, Christ Jésus ainsi que 144 000 hommes et femmes ressuscités pour vivre dans les cieux dirigeront la terre. Exerçant les fonctions de rois et de prêtres, ils dispenseront les bienfaits du sacrifice rédempteur de Jésus et amèneront progressivement les humains fidèles à la perfection physique et mentale. — Révélation 5:10 ; 14:1-4 ; 20:4-6.
      Pendant le Jour du Jugement, Satan et ses démons ne seront plus libres d’influencer l’activité humaine (Révélation 20:1-3). Toutefois, à la fin de ce “ jour ”, Satan sera autorisé à éprouver la fidélité de tous les humains alors en vie. Ceux qui resteront fidèles à Dieu passeront avec succès l’épreuve à laquelle Adam et Ève ont échoué. Ils seront jugés dignes de recevoir la vie éternelle sur la terre redevenue un paradis. Ceux qui décideront de se rebeller contre Dieu seront détruits pour toujours, de même que Satan et ses démons. — Révélation 20:7-9.
      Le jugement des “ morts ”
      On lit dans la Bible qu’au Jour du Jugement les morts “ se lèveront ”. (Matthieu 12:41.) Jésus a dit : “ L’heure vient où tous ceux qui sont dans les tombes de souvenir entendront sa voix et sortiront, ceux qui ont fait des choses bonnes, pour une résurrection de vie, ceux qui ont pratiqué des choses viles, pour une résurrection de jugement. ” (Jean 5:28, 29). Il n’est pas question ici des âmes désincarnées des défunts. Ces derniers sont totalement inconscients et n’ont pas d’âme qui survive à la mort (Ecclésiaste 9:5 ; Jean 11:11-14, 23, 24). Jésus relèvera sur la terre tous ceux qui se sont endormis dans la mort.
      Seront-ils jugés sur la base de ce qu’ils ont fait avant leur mort ? Non. Les Écritures enseignent que “ celui qui est mort a été acquitté de son péché ”. (Romains 6:7.) Ainsi, tout comme les survivants de la fin du système actuel, les ressuscités pour la vie sur la terre seront jugés “ selon leurs actions ” au cours du Jour du Jugement (Révélation 20:12, 13). En fonction de l’issue de leurs actions, leur résurrection se révélera aboutir soit à l’éternité, soit à la destruction. Nombre de ces ressuscités découvriront Jéhovah Dieu et ses exigences pour obtenir la vie. Ils auront la possibilité de se conformer à la volonté de Dieu et de recevoir la vie éternelle sur la terre.
      Aucune raison d’avoir peur
      Le Jour du Jugement ne sera pas seulement un temps d’instruction divine, mais aussi un temps où tous les vivants appliqueront ce qu’ils apprendront et en verront les bienfaits. Imaginez la joie que vous ressentirez quand vous retrouverez vos chers disparus et progresserez à leurs côtés vers la perfection !
      Imaginez la joie que vous ressentirez quand vous retrouverez vos chers disparus.
      Au terme du Jour du Jugement, Dieu permettra à Satan d’éprouver la fidélité des êtres humains. Il n’y a cependant pas lieu d’être inquiet ou d’avoir peur. Tous seront alors solidement armés pour faire face à cette dernière épreuve. Ainsi, le Jour du Jugement est une étape dans l’accomplissement du dessein divin qui effacera toutes les conséquences de la rébellion originelle contre Dieu dans le jardin d’Éden.

      · 0 replies
    • Eric Ouellet

      Chantons avec coeur et allégresse 
      Psaumes
      146 Louez Jah!
      Que tout mon être loue Jéhovah !
       2 Je veux louer Jéhovah toute ma vie.
      Je veux chanter des louanges à mon Dieu aussi longtemps que je vivrai.
       3 Ne mettez pas votre confiance dans les princes,
      ni dans un fils d’homme, qui est incapable de sauver.
       4 L’esprit de l’homme sort, l’homme retourne au sol ;
      ce jour-là, ses pensées périssent.
       5 Heureux celui qui a pour secours le Dieu de Jacob
      et dont l’espoir est en Jéhovah son Dieu,
       6 Celui qui a fait le ciel et la terre,
      la mer, et tout ce qui s’y trouve,
      celui qui reste fidèle pour toujours,
       7 celui qui garantit la justice aux spoliés,
      celui qui donne du pain aux affamés.
      Jéhovah libère les prisonniers ;
       8 Jéhovah ouvre les yeux des aveugles ;
      Jéhovah relève ceux qui sont courbés ;
      Jéhovah aime les justes.
       9 Jéhovah protège les résidents étrangers ;
      il soutient l’orphelin de père et la veuve,
      mais il contrecarre les projets des méchants
      10 Jéhovah sera Roi pour toujours,
      ton Dieu, ô Sion, de génération en génération.
      Louez Jah !

      · 0 replies
    • REDROCHA  »  T.B. (Twyla)

      Thank you Sister !!!!
      · 0 replies
    • Eric Ouellet

      LES QUALITÉS D'UN BERGER ET LES ASSISTANTS DE L'ASSEMBLÉE 

      PREMIÈRE LETTRE DE TIMOTHÉE

      3 La parole suivante est digne de foi : Si un homme aspire à être un responsable, il désire une belle œuvre. 2 Il faut donc qu’un responsable soit irréprochable, mari d’une seule femme, modéré dans ses habitudes, réfléchi, ordonné, hospitalier, capable d’enseigner, 3 que ce ne soit pas un ivrogne ni un homme violent, mais un homme raisonnable, non querelleur, non ami de l’argent, 4 un homme qui dirige d’une belle façon sa propre famille, qui tienne ses enfants dans la soumission en toute dignité 5 (car si un homme ne sait pas diriger sa propre famille, comment prendra-t-il soin de l’assemblée de Dieu ?), 6 que ce ne soit pas un homme récemment converti, de peur qu’il se gonfle d’orgueil et tombe sous le coup de la condamnation portée contre le Diable. 7 D’autre part, il faut aussi qu’il reçoive un beau témoignage des gens extérieurs à l’assemblée, afin de ne pas tomber dans le déshonneur et dans un piège du Diable.
      8 De même, il faut que les assistants soient des hommes dignes, qu’ils n’aient pas un langage double, qu’ils soient modérés dans la consommation de vin, non avides d’un gain malhonnête, 9 attachés au saint secret de la foi avec une conscience pure.
      10 De plus, qu’ils soient d’abord mis à l’épreuve quant à leurs aptitudes ; puis, s’ils sont exempts d’accusation, qu’ils servent comme ministres.
      11 De même, il faut que les femmes soient dignes, non calomniatrices, modérées dans leurs habitudes, fidèles en toutes choses.
      12 Les assistants doivent être maris d’une seule femme et diriger d’une belle façon leurs enfants et leur propre famille. 13 Car les hommes qui servent d’une belle façon acquièrent une belle réputation et une grande confiancepour parler de la foi en Christ Jésus.
      14 Je t’écris ces choses, bien que j’espère venir bientôt chez toi, 15 pour que, au cas où je serais retardé, tu saches comment tu dois te conduire dans la maison de Dieu, qui est l’assemblée du Dieu vivant, colonne et soutien de la vérité. 16 Oui, il faut avouer qu’il est grand, le saint secret de l’attachement à Dieu : « Il a été manifesté dans la chair, a été déclaré juste dans l’esprit, est apparu aux anges, a été prêché parmi les nations, a été cru dans le monde, a été enlevé dans la gloire. »





      · 0 replies
    • Eric Ouellet

      Bergers, imitez les Grands Bergers
       
      Christ [...] a souffert pour vous, vous laissant un modèle pour que vous suiviez fidèlement ses traces » (1 PIERRE 2:21)

      QUAND un berger s’intéresse de près au bien-être de son troupeau, les moutons se portent bien. Selon un manuel sur l’élevage ovin, « l’homme qui se contente de mener le troupeau au pré puis n’y prête plus attention risque fort, en quelques années, d’avoir de nombreuses bêtes malades qui ne rapportent rien ». Par contre, quand les moutons reçoivent l’attention voulue, le troupeau prospère.
      La qualité des soins et de l’attention que les bergers du troupeau de Dieu prodiguent à chaque brebis dont ils sont responsables influera sur la santé spirituelle de toute la congrégation. Tu te souviens peut-être que Jésus a eu pitié des foules parce qu’« elles étaient dépouillées et éparpillées comme des brebis sans berger » (Mat. 9:36). Pourquoi se trouvaient-elles en si piteuse condition ? Parce que les hommes chargés d’enseigner la Loi de Dieu au peuple étaient durs, exigeants et hypocrites. Au lieu de soutenir et de nourrir les membres de leur troupeau, les guides spirituels d’Israël posaient sur leurs épaules de « lourdes charges » (Mat. 23:4).
      Les bergers chrétiens d’aujourd’hui, les anciens, ont donc une lourde responsabilité. Les brebis du troupeau sous leur garde appartiennent à Jéhovah ainsi qu’à Jésus, qui s’est présenté comme « l’excellent berger » (Jean 10:11). Les brebis ont été « acheté[e]s à un prix », que Jésus a payé avec son propre « sang précieux » (1 Cor. 6:20 ; 1 Pierre 1:18, 19). Jésus aime tellement les brebis qu’il a bien voulu sacrifier sa vie pour elles. Les anciens ne devraient jamais oublier qu’ils sont des sous-bergers sous la surveillance du Fils bienveillant de Dieu, Jésus Christ, « le grand berger des brebis » (Héb. 13:20).
      Comment les bergers chrétiens devraient-ils traiter les brebis ? Les membres de la congrégation sont exhortés à « obéi[r] à ceux qui [les] dirigent ». De leur côté, les anciens ne doivent pas « commande[r] en maîtres ceux qui sont l’héritage de Dieu » (Héb. 13:17 ; lire 1 Pierre 5:2, 3). Alors comment peuvent-ils diriger le troupeau sans le commander en maîtres ? Autrement dit, comment peuvent-ils répondre aux besoins des brebis sans abuser de l’autorité dont Dieu les a investis ?
      « IL LES PORTERA SUR SON SEIN »
      Parlant de Jéhovah, le prophète Isaïe a déclaré : « Comme un berger il fera paître son troupeau. De son bras il rassemblera les agneaux ; et sur son sein il les portera. Il conduira doucement celles qui allaitent » (Is. 40:11). Cette comparaison montre que Jéhovah se soucie des besoins des membres de la congrégation faibles et vulnérables. De même qu’un berger connaît les besoins particuliers de chaque brebis de son troupeau et se tient prêt à les combler, Jéhovah connaît les besoins des membres de la congrégation et est heureux de leur apporter le soutien voulu. À l’image d’un berger qui, si nécessaire, porte un agneau nouveau-né dans le pli de son vêtement, « le Père des tendres miséricordes » nous portera, ou nous consolera, quand nous serons durement éprouvés ou rencontrerons un besoin particulier (2 Cor. 1:3, 4).

      Quel exemple admirable pour un berger chrétien ! Comme son Père céleste, il lui faut être attentif aux besoins des brebis. S’il est au courant des difficultés qu’elles rencontrent et des besoins qui méritent une attention immédiate, il sera en mesure d’offrir l’encouragement et le soutien nécessaires (Prov. 27:23). Il doit donc bien communiquer avec ses compagnons chrétiens. Tout en respectant la vie privée de chacun, il s’intéresse à ce qu’il voit et entend dans la congrégation, avec amour, il se rend disponible pour « venir en aide aux faibles » (Actes 20:35 ; 1 Thess. 4:11).
      Parlons de la mentalité de bergers que Jéhovah a désapprouvés. Aux jours d’Ézékiel et de Jérémie, Jéhovah a dénoncé ceux qui auraient dû s’occuper de ses brebis, mais ne le faisaient pas. Quand personne ne surveillait les brebis, le troupeau devenait la proie de bêtes sauvages et se dispersait. Ces bergers exploitaient les brebis et, plutôt que de les faire paître, « ils se paissaient eux-mêmes » (Ézék. 34:7-10 ; Jér. 23:1). Le reproche que Dieu leur a fait est tout aussi valable pour les chefs de la chrétienté. Mais il souligne également combien il est important qu’un ancien s’occupe avec sérieux et amour du troupeau de Jéhovah.
      « JE VOUS AI DONNÉ L’EXEMPLE »
      En raison de l’imperfection humaine, certaines brebis peuvent être lentes à comprendre ce que le Berger suprême attend d’elles. Elles ne se conforment pas toujours à un conseil biblique ou ont un comportement trahissant un manque de maturité spirituelle. Comment les anciens doivent-ils réagir ? Ils devraient imiter la patience qu’a eue Jésus envers ses disciples quand ils cherchaient à savoir qui parmi eux serait le plus grand dans le Royaume. Au lieu de perdre patience, Jésus a continué à les enseigner et à leur donner des conseils bienveillants sur la pratique de l’humilité (Luc 9:46-48 ; 22:24-27). En leur lavant les pieds, il leur a fait une démonstration d’humilité, qualité que les surveillants chrétiens sont tenus de manifester (lire Jean 13:12-15 ; 1 Pierre 2:21).
      Le point de vue de Jésus sur le rôle du berger n’était pas le même que celui que Jacques et Jean ont un jour manifesté. Ces deux apôtres cherchaient à s’assurer une place en vue dans le Royaume. Mais Jésus a rectifié cet état d’esprit ainsi : « Vous savez que les chefs des nations dominent sur elles, et que les grands usent d’autorité sur elles. Il n’en sera pas ainsi parmi vous ; mais quiconque voudra devenir grand parmi vous sera votre serviteur » (Mat. 20:25, 26, Bible de Darby). Les apôtres devaient résister à l’envie de « commander en maîtres » leurs compagnons ou de « dominer sur » eux.
      Jésus tient à ce que les bergers chrétiens traitent le troupeau comme lui le traitait. Ils doivent être disposés à servir leurs compagnons, pas les dominer. Paul a manifesté une telle humilité. Il a dit en effet aux anciens de la congrégation d’Éphèse : « Vous savez bien comment, depuis le premier jour où j’ai mis le pied dans le district d’Asie, j’ai été avec vous tout le temps, travaillant comme un esclave pour le Seigneur, avec la plus grande humilité. » L’apôtre souhaitait que ces anciens soutiennent les brebis avec dévouement et humilité. Il a ajouté : « Je vous ai montré en toutes choses que c’est en peinant ainsi que vous devez venir en aide aux faibles » (Actes 20:18, 19, 35). Il a par ailleurs dit aux Corinthiens qu’il ne dominait pas sur leur foi. Il était plutôt leur humble compagnon de travail, pour leur joie (2 Cor. 1:24). C’est un bel exemple d’humilité et de courage pour les anciens de notre époque.
      « FERMEMENT ATTACHÉ À LA PAROLE FIDÈLE »
      Un ancien doit être « fermement attaché à la parole fidèle pour ce qui est de son art d’enseigner » (Tite 1:9). Mais il le sera « dans un esprit de douceur » (Gal. 6:1). Un bon berger chrétien ne force pas une brebis à agir de telle ou telle façon. Non, il réfléchit à la manière dont il stimulera son cœur. Il attirera peut-être son attention sur les principes bibliques à considérer avant de prendre une décision importante. Il reverra avec elle ce que les publications ont dit sur la question. Il l’exhortera à réfléchir aux conséquences de tel ou tel choix sur ses relations avec Jéhovah. Il pourra aussi insister sur l’importance de demander à Dieu sa direction avant de prendre une décision (Prov. 3:5, 6). Ensuite, il la laissera prendre elle-même sa décision (Rom. 14:1-4).
      La seule autorité que les surveillants chrétiens détiennent leur vient des Écritures. Alors ils doivent absolument se servir de la Bible avec habileté et adhérer à son contenu. Ils se garderont ainsi d’un éventuel abus de pouvoir. Car ils ne sont que sous-bergers ; chaque membre de la congrégation est responsable devant Jéhovah et Jésus de ses propres décisions (Gal. 6:5, 7, 8).
      « DES EXEMPLES POUR LE TROUPEAU »
      Après avoir déconseillé aux anciens ( prêtres )« commander en maîtres ceux qui [leur] sont échus en partage », l’apôtre Pierre les exhorte à « devenir des exemples pour le troupeau » (1 Pierre 5:3, note). De quelle façon sont-ils des exemples pour le troupeau ? Prenons deux des choses requises d’un frère qui « aspire à une fonction de surveillant ». Il lui faut être « sain d’esprit » et « présider de belle façon, sa propre maisonnée ». S’il a une famille, il doit la présider de manière exemplaire, car « si quelqu’un [...] ne sait pas présider sa propre maisonnée, comment prendra-t-il soin de la congrégation ( assemblée) de Dieu ? » (1 Tim. 3:1, 2, 4, 5). Il doit également être sain d’esprit, c’est-à-dire comprendre clairement les principes divins et savoir comment les appliquer dans sa propre vie. Il est calme et équilibré et se garde de porter des jugements hâtifs. Autant de qualités qui inspirent confiance aux membres de la congrégation.
      Les surveillants donnent également l’exemple en prenant la tête dans l’œuvre de prédication. Jésus lui-même leur a donné l’exemple à cet égard. La prédication de la bonne nouvelle du Royaume a occupé une grande partie de son activité terrestre. Il a montré à ses disciples comment il fallait l’accomplir (Marc 1:38 ; Luc 8:1). Qu’il est encourageant, de nos jours, de prêcher aux côtés des anciens, de constater leur zèle pour cette œuvre salvatrice et d’apprendre de leurs méthodes d’enseignement ! Leur détermination à consacrer du temps et de l’énergie à la prédication malgré un emploi du temps chargé insuffle du zèle à toute la congrégation. Enfin, les anciens donnent l’exemple en préparant les réunions de la congrégation et en y participant, mais aussi en prenant part à des activités comme le nettoyage et la maintenance de la Salle du Royaume (Éph. 5:15, 16 ; lire (Hébreux 13:7) 
      « SOUTENEZ LES FAIBLES »
      Quand une brebis se blesse ou tombe malade, un bon berger vole à son secours. Pareillement, quand un membre de la congrégation souffre ou a besoin d’une aide spirituelle, les anciens doivent réagir rapidement. Un chrétien âgé ou malade a sans doute besoin d’une aide pratique, mais il a surtout besoin d’un soutien spirituel et d’encouragements (1 Thess. 5:14). Les jeunes rencontrent peut-être des difficultés. Résister aux « désirs de la jeunesse » en est une (2 Tim. 2:22). Le berger doit donc rendre régulièrement visite aux membres de la congrégation dans le but de comprendre les épreuves qu’ils traversent et de les encourager par des conseils bibliques bien choisis. Quand ces visites pastorales sont faites au bon moment, beaucoup de problèmes peuvent être résolus avant qu’ils ne s’aggravent.
      Et si les difficultés d’un chrétien s’aggravent au point de menacer sa santé spirituelle ? « Quelqu’un parmi vous est-il malade ?, a demandé le rédacteur biblique Jacques. Qu’il appelle à lui les anciens de la congrégation, et qu’ils prient sur lui, l’enduisant d’huile au nom de Jéhovah. Et la prière de la foi rétablira celui qui est souffrant, et Jéhovah le relèvera. De plus, s’il a commis des péchés, il lui sera pardonné » (Jacq. 5:14, 15). Même quand un chrétien « souffrant » « appelle à lui les anciens », ces derniers doivent lui venir en aide dès qu’ils sont au courant de son état. Les anciens qui prient avec sont là pour le fortifier et aussi tout frères en difficulté, et ils les soutiennent, se révèlent une source de réconfort et d’encouragement (lire Isaïe 32:1, 2).
      Dans tout ce qu’ils font au sein de l’organisation de Jéhovah, les bergers s’efforcent d’imiter « le grand berger », Jésus Christ. Grâce à l’aide de ces hommes dignes de confiance, le troupeau se fortifie et prospère. Tout cela nous réjouit profondément et nous pousse à louer le plus Grand Berger sans pareil,  notre Dieu Jéhovah



      · 1 reply
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