New OFS candidate question about Tau


#1

I joyfully received my tau necklace and was officially welcomed as an OFS candidate yesterday (Sunday.) I have since been researching the origin of the tau, and I’m slightly confused about one point.

Most sources refer to the fourth Lateran Council, pope Innocent, and Ezekiel 9:4. I get all of that except for one point: the Hebrew letter tov/taw is not exactly the same as the tau. In middle Hebrew (Davidic Hebrew) it was more like an x, and in ancient Hebrew more like our lower case t. In modern Hebrew it’s nothing like a t or x, but Ezekiel would have been written in middle/Davidic Hebrew.

I love the tau for its connection to Saint Francis, who loved the symbol. I would love to be able to make the connection with the mark of the righteous in Ezekiel 9. I just don’t see why it’s the Greek tau instead of one of the forms of the Hebrew letter tov/taw. Any information on this topic you have would be appreciated.

Admin: if this is in the wrong forum, please move it. My search showed that the tau has been discussed in this sub-forum before, but the threads are closed and this particular point was never addressed that I saw.


#2

God Bless you on your Candidacy!!! I am so happy for you, God Bless the rest of your journey with Francis to Profession.

As for your question, I dont know, its a good one. I do know that the Tau is supposed to look exactly what the Cross looked like that Jesus was crucified on. Maybe thats why St.Francis and the Pope went with a T instead of an X or lower case t??? Something interesting to look into.


#3

The symbol changed over the years. There are a lot of sources for old Hebrew alphabets online - here’s one: ancient-hebrew.org/alphabet_letters_tav.html


#4

Here is a good webpage that explains this pretty well.

rhinoweb.org/the-tau-cross-2


#5

Thank you. That essentially answered the question. I wondered if it might have something to do with the Septuagint and the Diaspora. This article suggests as much. The Greek alphabet is based on the Phoenician, which has shared roots with the Hebrew alephbet (alphabet.) So, at least there’s a relationship. Since Ezekiel was pre-diaspora, I’m sure he envisioned the mark as the middle Hebrew character which was more like an “x,” but the relationship to the cross of Christ and the lack of Hebrew sources for Ezekiel makes sense of the choice of the Greek letter “Tau.” I think since the Greek alphabet and the Hebrew alephbet are related, the form isn’t too different (two crossed sticks) joined with the relationship with the Cross of Yeshua; it contains a lot of deep meaning, and still remains reflective of the mark of the righteous in Ezekiel.

I’m curious to find first or second century uses of the Tau cross or crucifix. It seems the crossed beams “t” cross is most common in art. Most Tau cross/crucifix art still around is after pope Innocent and Saint Francis; 13th century and later. If you know of early Christian Tau cross/crucifix art, please share some links. (I don’t question that early Christians used the Tau, I’m just highly interested in early to medieval Christian art and iconography.)

I have a new appreciation and understanding of the Tau. Again, thank you.


#6

St Francis signed with the Tau.

There is a very short letter/blessing to Brother Leo that shows it clearly. :cool:


#7

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