This blogpost is meant to be very specific and will not have wide distribution. For those who are Jehovahs Witnesses or those who work reaching out to them, this will be of great interest. The Pop Star Prince talks about 'stauros' in an attempt to communicate his JW background beliefs, so there may be a wider audience than perhaps I think. Most of the material below is not mine, I make no apologies for that, sometimes rather than writing ones own material promoting another persons work is the best way forward. I may condense this into a shorter pamphlet soon. Enjoy.........!
As is widely known, the Watchtower Society insists that Jesus did not die on a two-beamed cross but on a single-timber "torture stake". I agree with most people that this issue is pretty pointless and amounts only to a historical curiosity. As most Christians of faith would say, "It doesn't matter what he died on; it matters that he died for us". The purpose of this discussion is not to detract from that theological issue but instead to show that this subject is yet another instance of the Society's intellectual dishonesty and failure to represent the sources they quote. It will also provide a fairly interesting survey of what is historically known about the most heinous form of capital punishment in the Roman world.
The principal argument the Society furnishes is a linguistic one: that the Greek terms stauros and xulon and the Latin term crux (which translates stauros in the Latin Vulgate) did not mean "cross" in the first century. If the words used by the Bible writers referred only to a simple single-timber stake, then Jesus would not have died on a stake that had a crossbeam. So where Christendom get the idea that Jesus was put to death on a cross? The Society claims that the early Catholic church imported the cross symbol from neighboring pagan religions as part of its apostasy from original apostolic Christianity and their use of the cross in worship led them to claim that Jesus had in fact died on one. Of course, if Jesus did die on a cross (or was believed to have done so by the earliest Christians), then the use of the cross symbol by later Christians is certainly intelligible. The following quotation from the Society's literature is quite typical:
***w92 11/15 p. 7 The Cross-Symbol of Christianity? ***