Jesus Christ/Crucified on a cross
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This page is based on an answer to a question submitted to the FAIR web site, or a frequently asked question.
I have been told that in the original Greek of the New Testament, accounts of Jesus' death only say he was put to death on "a pole." Is the belief of most of Christianity on "the cross" actually misguided?
It is true that the Greek word σταυρος (stauros) used in the NT means a "pole" or "stake" driven into the ground, and not specifically a cross. Calling the upright portion a "pole" does not, however, tell us whether a crossbeam was attached to it or not.
The most common form of Roman crucifixion was to use the crux commissa, which used a permanent pole driven into the ground, to which a cross beam was attached at the time of execution. This formed the shape of a capital 'T' and therefore is also called the Tau Cross (it is also referred to as St. Anthony's Cross). This is different than the Latin cross, which has a lowered cross piece, forming the classic "cross" shape (somewhat like a lower-case 't').
Accordingly, when the scripture talks about Jesus carrying his cross to the place of execution, it probably was not a huge Latin cross as depicted in the movies (such as Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ), but a crossbeam called the patibulum, which would then be placed over the permanently entrenched stauros or stake.
Thus, it is true that the Greek does not specify a cross per se. However, historical evidence regarding the Roman practice of crucifixion makes it abundantly clear that Jesus was crucified on a type of cross, even if not quite the traditional Latin cross commonly portrayed.
FAIR wiki articles
Critics seriously understate the position of the Church of Jesus Christ with respect to the atonement. (Link)
- Crucified on a cross—
In the original Greek of the New Testament, accounts of Jesus' death only say he was put to death on "a pole." Is the belief of most of Christianity on "the cross" actually misguided? (Link)
Role of Jesus Christ
- Alpha and Omega—
What does the term "Alpha and Omega" mean, beside the beginning and the end, when referring to the Savior? What does it mean to the restored church? (Link)
Latter-day Saint view of Jesus Christ
- Brother of Satan?—
Critics claim that the LDS consider Jesus and Satan to be "brothers," thus lowering the stature of Christ, or elevating Satan. Some go so far as to imply that the LDS "really" worship or revere Satan, and are thus not true "Christians." (Link)
It is claimed that Latter-day Saints reject the "Evangelical belief" that "Christ was born of the virgin Mary, who, when the Holy Ghost came upon her, miraculously conceived the promised messiah." (Link)
- Gordon B. Hinckley states that Latter-day Saints don't believe in the "traditional" Christ—
President Gordon B. Hinckley, responding to a question regarding whether Latter-day Saints believe in the “traditional Christ,” stated: "No I don't. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the dispensation of the fullness of times." (Link)
- Worship a "different Jesus"?—
Critics claim that members of the Church worship "a different Jesus" than the Jesus worshiped by Christians. (Link)
Criticism regarding Latter-day Saint views of Jesus Christ
- Latter-day Saints aren't Christians?—
Critics claim that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not "Christian." A related claim is that the Church has only recently begun to portray itself as "Christian" in order to gain adherents. (Link)
- Lord of the Universe—
Critics claim that the LDS view of God is provincial or limited, with God simply being a ruler over "this planet." (Link)
- Relationship to Quetzalcoatl—
Critics claim that LDS scholars believe that Quetzalcoatl was Jesus Christ. However, since Quetzalcoatl's association with a "feathered serpent" constitutes "snake worship," critics claim that this association is therefore inconsistent with worship of Jesus Christ. (Link)
- Savior of other worlds?—
It would appear that there is one savior — Jesus — and that his sacrifice was the ultimate sacrifice for all of the worlds created and populated by the Father. Some critics have used the idea of each world having its own Savior against us. Is there anything written or published on either concept? (Link)
- The "Mormon" vs. the "Christian" Jesus—
Critics claim that Latter-day Saints believe in a "different" Jesus that "mainstream" Christians. (Link)
- "Two natures" of Jesus in the Book of Mormon?—
Critics claim that the Book of Mormon teaches the sectarian doctrine of Christ's "two natures," and that this represents an anachronism. (Link)
- Was Jesus married?—
Do Latter-day Saints believe Jesus Christ was married? (Link)
- Worship different Jesus?—
Evangelical critics claim that despite the Saints' witness of Christ, they worship "a different Jesus" and so are not entitled to consider themselves "Christians." (Link)
- One of many saviors?—
Critics claim that the "Jesus of Mormonism is but one of many saviors." (Link)
- Praying to—
Latter-day Saints are criticized for not praying directly to Jesus Christ. (Link)
- April 6th as the date of birth of Jesus Christ—
Do Latter-day Saints believe Jesus was born 1830 years before the Church's organization on 6 April 1830? (Link)
- Joe Zias, "Crucifixion in Antiquity: The Evidence," CenturyOne Foundation off-site. Includes archaeological remains of a 1st century crucifixion victim.