Meet me at the Cross… or maybe just an Oak Tree will do?

Posted: July 8, 2010 in Above the Fold, Religion Potpourri, Testify, The Obvious Files
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But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:29 – 31 NKJV).

A cross or a tree, Jesus still died for our sins

Imagine worship without this picture in mind? Me neither.

Rappers, athletes, entertainers and Christians alike adorn themselves in bedazzled crosses or even a blinging crucifix to show how upstanding with the Lord they really are. Why? That’s the universal symbol of where Jesus gave his life for us.

Yet, thanks to this story from CNN and AOL News, we read one Swedish theologian who believes that’s not the case and perhaps the aforementioned verse in Acts is closer to the truth of Jesus’ crucifixion.

The Gospels do not say Jesus was crucified, Gunnar Samuelsson says. In fact, he argues, in the original Greek, the ancient texts reveal only that Jesus carried “some kind of torture or execution device” to a hill where “he was suspended” and died, says Samuelsson, who is an evangelical pastor as well as a New Testament scholar.

What the what?

First, I doubt dude was just doing an exegesis on the temperament of Christ, when perchance he tripped and slid his pen over to the crucifixion. No, he set out to do this and knew he would get the 10-inch headline before we had a chance to refute this hullabaloo.

So, congrats?

Anywhoo, it begs an interesting thought… although based in a wheelbarrow of bunk. Why does Paul write that in Acts? “Hanging on a tree.” I have read that verse many times and just considered it a synonym to two trees in the form of a cross. Didn’t you?

“When the Gospels refer to the death of Jesus, they just say that he was forced to carry a “stauros” out to Calvary,” he told AOL News. Many scholars have interpreted that ancient Greek noun as meaning “cross,” and the verb derived from it, “anastauroun,” as implying crucifixion.

“‘Stauros’ is actually used to describe a lot of different poles and execution devices,” he says. “So the device described in the Gospels could have been a cross, but it could also have been a spiked pole, or a tree trunk, or something entirely different.” In turn, “anastauroun” was used to signify everything from the act of “raising hands to suspending a musical instrument.”

Yeah, can’t you see every crucifixion scene in Hollywood depicting the Christ hung on a saxophone? Dimwit, of course that’s not what this instance means. Listen, crucifixion was different in different lands, nonetheless it was the death du jour for the Roman Empire. In fact, Caesar is said to line the main streets with crucified criminals … on crosses … to show the rest of the country, “Screw with Rome and do so at your peril.”

Roman crosses

Whatever the shape, a cross is all he needed.

Crosses are mainly Ts, for the Greek letter Tau. Legs had to held together and arms had to be spread apart to display surrender, helplessness and also eliminate any opportunity for preventing asphyxiation, because all that weight will certainly choke you if the pain doesn’t first.

For me, the moral of this story is this: Who cares. This should do nothing but galvanize our faith.

Jesus’ gift to us should not be relegated to a T, X or any other letter of the alphabet. Let jewelers and people who adorn the Vatican worry about that.

This guy may or may not have tried to undermine Christianity. I doubt it, but he did know this research would get his name on the theological map. Again, kudos Magellan.

Regardless of the research (and it is impressive), the end of the story is still the same.

Whether Jesus was hung on a high Tau with just “INRI” inscribed at the top, the regaled low Tau as seen in Catholic churches everywhere or even on a tree with branches flailing in either direction, the fact is irrefutable – he died, rose again and lives forevermore awaiting a triumphant return.

And for that, I’ll still wear my Christian jewelry, worship at the feet of Jesus and envision him there for me… on a cross, an X or a huge sequoia. Makes no difference to me. I’m still saved as a result.

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Comments
  1. john kelvin binungcal says:

    Excuse me, how could you carry a “Tree” from the place he was to the hill ? duh ?

  2. Cop says:

    Soooo because it wasn’t a perfectly constructed “T” are we suppose to think less of his death for our sins?

    Is that what this gentleman is trying to tell us, or is he just striking up conversation?

    I think your completely right, this man just wanted to make a nice head line for himself.

  3. David says:

    Your analysis is spot on. I looked up the passage in the Greek interlinear, and the word that translates tree, ‘xulon’ means ‘wood’, ‘that which is made of wood’, as a beam from which any one is suspended, a gibbet, a cross, a log or timber with holes in which the feet, hands, neck of prisoners were inserted and fastened with thongs, a fetter, or shackle for the feet, a cudgel, stick, staff. The second definition is ‘a tree’.

    We don’t know what the actual shape is. From the scientists who study the Shroud of Turin, they believe, based on blood trails, that Jesus’ arms were at a 45 degree angle, which is why some priests’ vestments have a long straight part, as a pole, and a V from the midsection to the shoulder caps. He could have hung that way because the weight of his body dragged him down, or the horizontal part of the cross could have been shaped in a V, as in your third example.

    Oh, and I wish rappers, and so on would quit wearing crosses and crucifixes just as jewelry. I believe you should know what you’re wearing.

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