Friday, April 2, 2021

Was Jesus Crucified on a Cross or Stake?

 1.) According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Lord Jesus was crucified on a torture stake and not the cross.  Their view is not based on the latest historical work. It seems to be based on a simplistic idea about a Greek word.

* "Stauros can often mean a T-shaped object (or something silimar)..." (Crucifixion in the Mediterranean World by John Granger Cook).

* The standard work is now Ancient Jewish and Christian perceptions of Crucifixion:
“However, the "fundamental" references to an upright pole in σταυρός and its cognates, and to pointy objects in σκόλοψ and its cognates, does not rightly imply such that terminology in antiquity, when applied to crucifixion, invariably referred to a single upright beam. This is a common word study fallacy in some populist literature.  In fact, such terminology often referred in antiquity to cross-shaped crucifixion devices. For example, Lucian, in a brief dialogue that employs most Greek crucifixion vocabulary, refers to the "crucifixion" of Prometheus, whose arms are pinned while stretched from one rock to another. Such a cross-shaped crucifixion position in the Roman era may actually have been the norm; nevertheless, the point to be sustained at this stage is that this position was not the only one to be designated with these Greek terms… In addition to recognizing the broader semantic ranges of these terms, it is helpful to note that different authors prefer certain terminology. Thus, while Philo knows “stauros” as a "cross." (Ancient Jewish and Christian Perceptions of Crucifixion, David W. Chapman, Baker Academic, 2010, p. 11).


*  Thus, falling prey to the etymological fallacy, some assume that σταυρός can only designate a single upright pole, as does W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, 4 vols. (London: Oliphants, 1939), s.v.

2.) On page 147 of the book written by Bible scholar, Larry Hurtado entitled, “The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins,” he clearly stated, “We have other evidence confirming that the Greek letter "tau" was viewed by Christians in the second century CE as a visual symbol of the cross of Jesus. Indeed, Justin Martyr (1 Apo. 55) indicates that second century Christians could see visual allusions to Jesus' cross in practically any object with even the remote shape of a T.

3.) In Luke 14:27 of Papyrus 75 we can read the Greek words bastazei ton stauron or “carry the cross.” The staurogram merges the Greek letters tau-rho representing parts of the Greek words for “cross” (stauros) and “crucify” (stauroō) in Bodmer papyrus P75. Staurograms are the earliest images of Jesus on the cross. They predate other Christian crucifixion images by 200 years.

4. It fits with the tradition that Jesus carried his cross: that would be the cross bar. The most common form of crucifixion involved a crossbeam. The upright beam was often left in the ground at the location and it was the cross beam that was carried to the site by the criminal, so they fact Jesus carried a cross points to a cross beam.

Monday, March 22, 2021

My Short Review about THE UNHOLY Trailer

 At this stage, all I would want to say would be this:

1.) This is a piece of movie fiction, not theology or preaching; it is not made to be religious literature, but entertainment.  It is meant to be a scary movie, not a theological statement.  It is not a theological treatise, even though the author seems to be drawing on things Catholic writers have argued for a long time.  So I would urge people not to see this as presenting a genuine vision of Christian.

2.) People do sometimes claim to have visions of saints, of Mother Mary, of supernatural persons and events.  Events are claimed to be miraculous, when we can't explain them.  But the Church is very reluctant to give any of these things its official stamp of approval.  It's a horror movie that draws on religious themes, and uses them to scare people  who want to be scared.  It focuses not on faith, but on people's superstition.

3.) In the case of a movie like this, we need to remind people to look at it critically as a piece of spooky fiction, and not to see it as being religious literature in any sense.  It is secular entertainment.

4.) If people don't do that, the danger is  that will begin to confuse superstition with faith, and see both as simply works of the imagination.  Faith is not belief in fiction, but a conviction about what is most fundamentally real, based on Biblical revelation.   So we need to keep telling people, "If you do go to see this movie, remember it is made-up entertainment, not a proclamation of our faith.  Don't get taken in!" 

I don't think it's a good idea to give too much attention to this trailer or the film itself, basically because it isn't making any obvious statements about our faith.  The most important thing to do is remind people that this is not about the content of the Church's faith. And don't lead them to distrust the Church's tradition of devotion to Mother Mary and the saints.

With more recent apparitions of saints and of scenes connected with the Scriptures, my understanding is that the Church when it  gives its approval of what is reported (which is rare!), is really giving approval to the message being conveyed, rather than offering an interpretation of exactly what the visionary saw.  Was the visionary seeing something physical?  Was he or she simply having an internal experience, which convinced them they were seeing objects or people?  We don't know for certain.  But when the Church approves of the vision, as with Bernadette at Lourdes or the children at Fatima, it is simply saying that the message given through this person and event to the rest of us is a message from God  that God is at work here, that God has used this person and event to convey his word to us, however it actually happened.

What happens is that when someone claims  to have seen an apparition that comes from a divine source, and this attracts attention among a large number of the faithful, the local bishop appoints well-trained theologians to begin an investigation.  Often they come to no decision, or even say that the vision was not genuinely caused by God.  But in those rare cases where the local bishop is convinced this is not explainable by any other means, and that the message does seem to agree with revelation and Church teaching, the bishop gives permission for the faithful to carry out devotional practices at the site, and for the visionary to promote the "message" he or she has received.  A Christian is not bound to accept it as revelatory of God, however it is not seen as part of divine revelation.

A good, reliable book on Marian apparitions, which gives the history of the main ones in the 19th and 20th centuries and offers well-informed theological assessments of them, is Sandra Zimdars-Swartz, Encountering Mary.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Answering Nehemiah Gordon: Scribes wrote "Yehovah" when Samuel Anointed Saul

Here is the manuscript used from the Aleppo Codex and for  Nehemiah Gordon the Hebrew word in the manuscript is “Yehovah.”  

My Comment:

The Masoretes pointed all Tetragrams with vocalization of Adōnāy, to remind readers to substitute Lord for the name.

In this case, it looks like two dots over the 2nd and 3rd letters, but they may not be õ because they are lower than the regular ô points. 

Notice also there is a third dot farther up. Confirming that these are not õ is the fact that BHS (= MT-L) does not have õ here.

No one should even transliterate it as Yehovah, since that is not a name but a joining of the consonants of YHWH with the vowels of Adōnāy.

Was Jesus Crucified on a Cross or Stake?

 1.) According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Lord Jesus was crucified on a torture stake and not the cross.  Their view is not based on the la...