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Stake or Cross? How did Jesus die? What proof do we have?

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I've used this argument at the door and with Bible studies, too: that supposedly Christians, even if they claim they are not worshiping the item, should still find it wrong to carry around a model of

Interesting stuff, especially the difference between Chi Rho and Tau Rho. Howeve,r he states: "2)............the earliest uses of the tau-rho are not as such free-standing symbols, but form

The PDF linked earlier, "Jehovah's Witnesses and the Cross" Leolaia, 1990, speaks of semantic restriction by which some Watchtower doctrines have developed by focusing on only the simplest etymologica

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On 11/9/2018 at 3:10 PM, JOHN BUTLER said:

“We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands, and put my finger where the nails have been, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe.

Perhaps he meant; " unless I see the nail marks in his hands * (one nail would put marks in both) and put my finger where the nails have been in his hands and feet and put my hand into his side"...?

*apparently the Greek word for hand also includes the wrist.


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1 hour ago, JOHN BUTLER said:

@Outta Here still doesn't want to see truth.  but I've said it above for all to see. 

If you are referring to yourself as a source of spiritual truth, well yes indeed, I cannot see it.

However, the fact you have had a pretty miserable experience early on in your life does come across pretty truthfully, and I feel sorry that you have had that.  ?

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2 hours ago, JOHN BUTLER said:

NOT WRIST WITH ONE NAIL.  HANDS  NAILS...    It could not be any clearer. 

FWIW, I believe Jesus was much more likely nailed to a two-piece stauros. If so, it would have looked like a "T" or a "t" or a "+".  Since it's more likely, it's therefore my personal preference to think it was a "cross" in the typical sense. But its physical appearance is not important to the overall understanding of the Bible. It's even less important to the understanding of what the symbolic meaning of the "cross" should be to Christians.

The fact is that it could have been an upright pole. That's a piece of information very few people know about, and it might be good to point that out to people just so such facts might "jar" them into realizing that not everything we grew up believing is necessarily so. (This is true of those who grew up on Watchtower doctrines, too, as several surprising changes to those doctrines should have recently made clear.) We should keep in mind that there are always new facts to learn and some of them will be more important than others.

I think Anna is right that the WTS chose the idea of an upright stake to differentiate itself from Christendom, or perhaps almost as likely, to differentiate itself from Bible Students who followed Russell.

The scripture in John 20:25 could be an important piece of evidence. The Watchtower has used exactly such types of scriptural evidence to adjust other doctrines in the past, even the very recent past. It might also be important to note that the WT publications rarely imply that we know for sure. It's usually not very dogmatic on the point. But I have to admit that in these discussions of whether it was a one-piece or two-piece stauros, the John 20:25 scripture is rarely mentioned, which implies that the WTS realizes this evidence is damaging to the theory.

But we also have to give the WTS position a fair shot before dismissing it as impossible. For example, what if it was thought for years that stauros had been a single upright pole, and Christendom had always pictured it this way. Let's say that a new organization called the Watch-Tau-er came along and said it was in the shape of the letter "Tau" (T). There was a ton of archaeological evidence against them but they pointed out that this verse in John 20:25 says nails and appears to refer only to the hands. The established church and many fundamentalists would come along and say that the Watch-Tau-er was misinterpreting this and the reference was to the nails, plural, but that one of these nails was stuck in the hands and one was stuck in the feet. Or that multiple nails could have been used and still they were stuck in the hands on an upright stauros. Taking any stand against the norm results in a lot of defensiveness for the position that might seem obvious, but is really based on a preconception or bias from the majority, and from having seen 1,000 pictures that showed the same thing.

However, where some Witnesses make a mistake is to say that there is no evidence that the cross ever was associated with early Christians until 300 years, or even 400 years after the first century CE. In fact, there is probable evidence that it was already associated with Christians as early as the very next century after Jesus Christ. There is excellent and, to my mind, unimpeachable evidence that the two-piece cross was in use as early as 200 years after the first century. If something of that time period is discovered in multiple places 200 years after the first century, we don't automatically assume we have discovered the first instance that evidence, but assume that it's evidence of a developing usage, and that there were very likely some earlier instances of it yet undiscovered.

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15 hours ago, Space Merchant said:

I think it should be noted that Cross came many, many years after Jesus' death

I think the idea that the the Stauros might have been just an upright pole also came many, many years after Jesus' death, long after Christendom had already taken up a two-piece Stauros as a symbol.

In another thread you mentioned that it was 400 years after Jesus' death. Did you have a specific piece of evidence in mind?

I'll bring that statement over here for reference:

On 11/9/2018 at 5:20 PM, Space Merchant said:

Stauros is an upright pole, the cross came into Christendom 400 years or so after the Christ. Stauros is deemed a upright stake of torture by many because of how vile and crazy Roman executions were, which was still in practice later later on. They added torture stake because it, ironically enough and to your surprise, with the Strong's. It is no different from the use of upright stake or tree.

To add more fuel to the fire, such a device by the Romans is used to torture even kill those hung from such a thing, they even break the legs of people to hasten ones death.

As a side note, look into The Torture/Torment  of Marsyas, he himself was on an upright stake the same one of which he was torture on.



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3 hours ago, Outta Here said:

I was just looking for a reference on that. Can you share it? ?

"The Greek word translated “hands” is cheir, which means literally “hands.” There is no Greek word for “wrists” in the New Testament, even though some versions translate Acts 12:7 to say that the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. But the Greek word in this verse is also cheir"

Of course this assumption is not 100% fool proof either....

Also there is an interesting debate here including an interesting comment "If one wants to get anatomically picky, the eight bones of the human wrist are counted among the 27 hand bones".

I can verify that in some languages there is no distinction between the whole arm or just the hand. In order to specify what one means you have to say either arm*, or forearm. Usually the context clarifies what one means; for example "wash your hands" wouldn't mean wash your whole arm, but it can get confusing  if you say you broke your arm, because that could mean your hand. Of course there are exact terms for the parts of the upper limb just as there are in English: shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand. But as you can see the word arm* in English could include all those parts, excluding the hand xD. When I fractured my knee, people would say I broke my leg. Languages are interesting!

@JOHN BUTLER Bones of the hand include the wrist xD



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2 hours ago, JW Insider said:

In fact, there is probable evidence that it was already associated with Christians as early as the very next century after Jesus Christ.

It is interesting to note that the (presumably) earliest forms of Christian art (Catacombs in Rome) date from late 2nd century and there is no depiction of a cross. But there is no depiction of a upright stake either (!) It has been argued that this omission could be because the early Christians didn't want to depict anything to do with Jesus' instrument of death for fear of idolatry. Which says a lot about the "Christians" that came after. They did a 180 degree turn and put crosses everywhere.


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8 hours ago, Anna said:

Also there is an interesting debate here including an interesting comment "If one wants to get anatomically picky, the eight bones of the human wrist are counted among the 27 hand bones".

This was very interesting. The reference to Matt.22:13 particularly because it says "bind him hand and foot". Now when hands are bound as a restraint, we assume it is the wrists that are tied becuse it would be easy to slip out of literal hand ties. (Similarly with feet and ankles) So this seems confirm that,  in the lack of a specific word for "wrist", the Greek word for hand has a broader application.

I like the comment that said :

"And it’s true that Luke and John imply that Jesus was nailed in His “hands,” but then again the Bible also says that Rebeka wore bracelets on her “hands” (Genesis 24:22,30, 47), that the chains fell off of Peter’s “hands”(Acts 12:7), that when Nebuzaradan declared Jeremiah freed: “I release you today from the chains on your hands” (Jeremiah 40:4), that “the ropes that were on [Samson’s] arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands” (Judges 15:14) If you’re reading a more literal translation, that is.

In Hebrew and biblical Greek, bracelets and fetters are something put on someone’s yad/cheir ‘hands’, though we might be more precise and say ‘wrist’ or ‘forearm’. (Also see Ezekiel 16:11 “And I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck”; 23:42 “And they put bracelets on the hands of the women and beautiful crowns on their heads”)

I mean, even today, handcuffs are put on the wrists, right?"

Seems that some advocates point to the "Shroud of Turin" as evidence in this matter.  ?

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15 hours ago, Anna said:

It has been argued that this omission could be because the early Christians didn't want to depict anything to do with Jesus' instrument of death for fear of idolatry.

In the first century, the Christian congregation was largely Jewish, and all the Christian Bible writers were identified as Jewish. So the longstanding tradition was to follow the practice of no images of any kind. So we might not have even expected a symbol of a fish to spread around in the first century. Some of the Christian-associated writers and books that appear to have come from the second century were also identified as Jewish. (Letter of Barnabas, Didache, Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Thomas, Egerton Gospel, the Christian redaction of Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, etc.) This could include as many as half of the 100 or so writings that many scholars think originated in the second century. See especially column 2 of the list here: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/

The Jewishness of the early Christians is indicated by the extended time period of Jewish-centered writings. And, rather than attacking Judaizers, there is a pro-Jewish perspective seen in the last book of the Bible, which is quite possibly from the year 100 CE, and which would place it in the second century, too:

  • (Revelation 2:9) . . .and the blasphemy by those who call themselves Jews and really are not, but they are a synagogue of Satan.
  • (Revelation 3:9)  Look! I will make those from the synagogue of Satan who say they are Jews yet are not, but are lying—look! I will make them come and bow before your feet and make them know that I have loved you.

This is meant mostly as an explanation of why we have so few images of anything from the first two centuries of Christianity. And, any solution that might overcome the lack of images, we might therefore expect to come from writing, descriptions, word pictures, or even pictographs made from written characters. If the writers had consistently gone out of their way to give special attention to the letter T, for example, this might have been evidence of a T shaped Stauros.

First of all, the Letter of Barnabas, dated 80 CE to 120 CE actually does give special attention to the letter T. And, yes, the "Letter of Barnabas" ties the letter T directly to the Stauros.

You might remember that I went so far as to contact someone at the British Museum to suggest resources on this same topic. I was told that I must read the books they had from a scholar named Larry W Hurtado, Professor Emeritus at University of Edinburgh, who studied at the the Ancient History Documentary Research Centre, at Macquarie University. I have 4 of his books including, "The Earliest Christian Artifacts -- Manuscripts and Christian Origins" (2006).

This book shows that the first symbol for the Stauros actually was drawn from characters for writing, a pictogram made up of alphabetic characters. This is what we would expect from a culture that allowed no images, per se.

The topic is fascinating. First of all, there were certain words that were given special treatment in the earliest known texts of Christianity, especially the "New Testament" Bible texts themselves. The "Divine Names" (nomina sacra) were treated with a special type of abbreviation and a kind of halo over them that connected the first and last letters of the word. The primary words that got this treatment were: God, Jesus, Lord, and Christ. In the Egerton Gospel (70 - 120 CE) we see these already in use, plus a a few more. By the 300's words like Son, Savior, Spirit, and Stauros were already treated as "Divine Names" (nomina sacra).

The oldest manuscripts of the Gospel of Thomas, Acts of Peter, Acts of John, contain them, as do all of our major Bible texts, including fragments from the second century. Even "Old Testament" texts that were copied through Christian hands were copied with consistent examples of the "nomina sacra."  The nomina sacra for "Jesus" was already discussed in both the Letter of Barnabas and by Clement of Alexandria, both from the second century, with a chance that Barnabas was written in the first century. [Epistle of Barnabas (9.7-8) and Clement of Alexandria (Strom. 6.278-80)]. So we know that the practice goes back possibly as early as the earliest Christian writings. As mentioned earlier, Barnabas discusses it with reference to T (tau) being the symbol for the "cross" or stauros, for no other reason than its shape.

But there is much more on this. Stauros got the most special kind of treatment beyond that of any other "nomina sacra."  (To be continued in another post).

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@Outta Here Quote "I fail to see the relevance of your GB jibes in this.They are like a sort of phonic tic that keeps appearing in your postings, regardless of subject matter."

I am proving that the GB are not the 'faithful and discreet slave' and therefore they cannot give the true spiritual food at  the right time. 

Myself and others on this forum are showing quite clearly that the GB very often get things wrong. it is only people such as yourself that worship the GB by not questioning them, that cannot see truth in front of your own eyes.  

Myself and others here have shown that the GB at times deliberately 'get things wrong' or more likely, deliberately tell lies. They deliberately make misquotes trying to prove false points. 

That is not just the opinion of one person (myself) but of many ex Jw's and current JW's. 

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    • Hallucinations?  Not that it matters, but it's closer to 11 miles. The claim you made that Borsippa was much further than Babylon from Jerusalem turned out to be a false claim. But I never cared, and never struggled with it, and never made any point about it. If you are trying to make a point that the king was far away from Jerusalem in 588, so what?  Rather than confusing you, it could merely be thought of as a further agreement with the Bible's account. Notice that there is a difference between the Bible accounts related to Nebuchadnezzar's 18th and/or 19th year attack on Jerusalem, and the Bible accounts related to Nebuchadnezzar's 7th and/or 8th year attack on Jerusalem. See if you can spot the difference: Here are some references to the 7th/8th year: (2 Kings 24:8-12) . . .Je·hoiʹa·chin was 18 years old when he became king, . . . During that time the servants of King Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city came under siege. King Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar of Babylon came to the city while his servants were laying siege to it. King Je·hoiʹa·chin of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, along with his mother, his servants, his princes, and his court officials; and the king of Babylon took him captive in the eighth year of his reign.  (Jeremiah 52:28-30) . . .These are the people whom Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar took into exile: in the seventh year, 3,023 Jews.  In the 18th year of Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar, 832 people were taken from Jerusalem.  In the 23rd year of Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar, Neb·uʹzar·adʹan the chief of the guard took Jews into exile, 745 people.. . . And here are the references to the 18th, then the 19th year  (Jeremiah 32:1, 2) . . .The word that came to Jeremiah from Jehovah in the 10th year of King Zed·e·kiʹah of Judah, that is, the 18th year of Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar.  At that time the armies of the king of Babylon were besieging Jerusalem,. . . (2 Kings 25:1, 2) . . .In the ninth year of Zed·e·kiʹah’s reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, King Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem. He camped against it and built a siege wall all around it,  and the city was under siege until the 11th year of King Zed·e·kiʹah.  (2 Kings 25:8, 9) . . .In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, that is, in the 19th year of King Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar the king of Babylon, Neb·uʹzar·adʹan the chief of the guard, the servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned down the house of Jehovah, the king’s house,. . . Nebuchadnezzar is said to be explicitly interacting with Jerusalem in his 7th/8th year, which astronomy evidence places around 597. Then about 10 years later, which would be about 587, Nebuchadnezzar comes to Jerusalem again, for a long nearly two-year siege. Does he stay for the entire siege? Is he the one who takes the exiles this time, as Jeremiah says he had done in this 7th year? In fact, about 10 years later, per the Bible's record, this time the city may have been under siege for between 1 and 2 years. Does the king have to sit around with them outside the city for all those months? Or does it become the responsibility of his army and his chief, Nebuzaradan, to come to Jerusalem to take the city when it is finally weakened to the point of surrender? Per astronomical records the entire siege could have included 589, 588, and 587. Does that mean that Nebuchadnezzar could not order the death of someone in Borsippa, just because a siege of Jerusalem was going on at the time? Did you think the army of an empire like Babylon could not wage wars on several fronts at the same time?  But all of this argument of yours is nonsense -- it's MOOT -- because it is YOU who are trying to create the confusion. The astronomical records indicate that the 37th year of Babylon is 568, not 588. So this is long AFTER Jehovah has allowed Nebuchadnezzar to "take care" of Jerusalem. You don't even need to know the BC/BCE years involved. Very explicitly the tablet says this is the 37th year. And the 37th year is long after the 18th and 19th years.
    • That was convoluted and strange. I assume it was that way on purpose. I have not tried to refute anything from VAT 4956. My "acceptance" of the evidence from VAT 4956 is not the same thing as "refuting" it. Unless you are doing that thing again where you say you can use words to mean whatever you want. Now you are doing that thing again where you hope to imply that the stance of 100% of the current "authorities" and "experts" the Watchtower has quoted just happen to agree with COJ. So, in order to make it easier to dismiss the conclusions of all those experts, you need to point out that those experts agree with COJ, therefore you can dismiss their conclusions.  This is not just stupid. It's dishonest because you have done it before. It's also hypocritical because you have never once ever been able to point out even one sentence from his GTR book that was wrong. When you finally did attempt to prove he was wrong about something, you picked his reference to Nabopolassar's years mentioned in the "Chronicles," you ended up inadvertently showing that COJ was perfectly accurate. That must have been embarrassing. As you know, COJ has nothing to do with this discussion. From now on, instead of referring to COJ directly, I think we should just refer call him, "the person that George88 has shown to be accurate." In fact, until you can show even one inaccurate sentence, that's how I will refer to "COJ, the person that George88 has shown to be accurate."
    • Try not to manipulate my words with your usual tactics. I said: "I’m sure you know by now that there is absolutely nothing in the diary indicating the year 588." I said this in direct response to your claim that the events on the tablet indicated 588. You said that the events on the tablet indicated 588. You said: "You can reference VAT 4956." . . .  "Why is this so significant? Pay extremely close attention to the language inscribed on this tablet" . . . "Year 37 of Nebukadnezzar, King of Babylon. Month I," . .  "Additional reports in this Diary include . . . Borsippa, . . . .This indicates that the conflict in that region in 588 . . . " No, you didn't actually say that. Besides I have no argument about 587. I only point out that ALL the astronomical evidence from the entire period shows that this was Nebuchadnezzar's 18th year. You have never made an argument (either valid or invalid) that "my argument about 587 can also be interpreted as 588."  Not that it matters in the least, but Borsippa is NOT way further in distance from Jerusalem. It's about 10 miles CLOSER "as the crow flies" and nearly the same distance using the usual travel routes of the time. Perhaps that's why no one mentioned it before. However, even here, I have already posted the entire contents of the tablet, including the reference to Borsippa. Not that it matters.  I certainly hope so!
    • That's completely false. You invariably attempt to weasel your way out of your false statements by claiming that someone has distorted your words. You make false claims about them and claim that they are the ones in the wrong. Then you bluster with some barely-related material hoping it impresses someone (or yourself) into thinking you are some kind of expert or authority. That barely-related material you make use of invariably says nearly the opposite of what you had claimed, which you should have known had you just read the context, or understood what you were reading.  I'll get to the specifics at a later time on this particular point, but it is nearly the same as with almost all these matters. I have learned to expect you to NEVER admit an error, no matter how much evidence is shown. I don't expect you to admit your error on these recent points, but your "style" provides a revealing display of the lengths people will go to, in order to support a pseudo-chronology.   
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