Tree and Cross


#1

I am sorry to take the easy way out with this question but I am in the middle of researching for a talk on Holy Souls, then one on the Rosary, followed by The Year of Divine Mercy and another on Understanding the Our Father. Never mind fitting in all the admin (posters, adverts and collecting questionnaires), children’s liturgy and all the other things that crop up (including working out my itinerary for my holiday in Rome at the end of the month).

I put a pin on Pinterest The Cross v the Crucifix (“we proclaim Christ crucified” 1 Cor 1:23 and not an empty cross) from a reputable source and got a comment (which is odd for me).

Someone commented: “Thru a study of the bible, I found that the cross is actually NOT a Christian symbol but a pagan one. I was floored! (Acts 5:30; 10:39; Gal.3:13; Heb.6:6; Matt.27:41,42)”.

A quick check shows that tree is sometimes used instead of a cross but I do not know how to accurately reconcile tree and cross. There is very limited space for a reply so I need only a few lines (authoritative rather than assumption) and I can put links in, which might be better. Pinterest isn’t good for debate or fleshing things out, so I have to go on what she says.

I am sure that this question would have come up before so any help would be appreciated.

Thank you and may God bless you. :slight_smile:


#2

With all you have on you plate you really don’t need to chase down ridiculous objections like this, but in short, the word tree in these instances means the cross. It refers to:

Deut.21
1.[23] his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is accursed by God; you shall not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance.

This verse is cited in Gal. 3:13. The writer of Galatian refers to Jesus’ death on the cross by referencing Deut. 21:23.

The person you cited is reading these verses literalistically instead of reading it as intended, as referring to the shame of dying on the cross. The Hebrews and Matthew references don’t even use the word tree, which rather defeats his/her contention, doesn’t it?

If it were me I’d let it go. You can’t convince such people that their interpretation is wrong. They don’t want to hear it. You might want to respond only to deflate their influence on others, but I rather doubt the person who posted this nonsense will like it nor accept it. Indeed, it will be like casting pearls before swine in that this person will most like attack you personally for proving him/her wrong. Just saying. :slight_smile:


#3

Avila

In Judea, crucifixion became a common form of capital punishment after the country was incorporated into the Roman Empire by Pompey in 63 BC. Nobody seems to know for certain how widely it was used, if at all, in the pre-Roman era. In any case, Jews saw crucifixion as equivalent to death by “hanging on a tree” in the passage you quoted from Deuteronomy: “Anyone who is hung on a tree is under the curse of God.” This appears to have been the reason, or one of the reasons, why the cross never became a symbol for Jewish martyrdom, the way it did for the Christian Church.


#4

Those verses don’t show it to be a pagan symbol. Even if the cross was a pagan symbol, it is totally irrelevant to the reason for its being a Christian symbol. It’s because Jesus was crucified on a cross for our redemption that Christians recognize the cross as a religious symbol.

A quick check shows that tree is sometimes used instead of a cross but I do not know how to accurately reconcile tree and cross. There is very limited space for a reply so I need only a few lines (authoritative rather than assumption) and I can put links in, which might be better. Pinterest isn’t good for debate or fleshing things out, so I have to go on what she says.

I am sure that this question would have come up before so any help would be appreciated.

Thank you and may God bless you. :slight_smile:

Crosses were made of wood from a tree - that’s how I would reconcile it.
Jesus carried His cross on His shoulders. Does the person think Jesus carried a tree?

John 19:17 So they took Jesus, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha.

Luke 23:26 And as they led Him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, …, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.There are other verses that testify to it being a “cross”. vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/NY.HTM


#5

Thank you. I have put a short version of your comments down and acknowledged that Bible Study isn’t straightforward as we need to understand the language of the time, culture, history etc.

The comment is in the public arena, so I need to reply. I don’t check my Boards often because I don’t invite others to pin and am one of the admins on a set of busy Catholic Boards, so this comment sat for 5 days. If she had commented where I admin, I could have replied sooner.

It is just a bit frantic at the moment because discerning of the potential charisms of knowledge and teaching, suddenly went from about 5 to 80 miles an hour. It is a busy, varied and steep learning curve and yes, I am having the time of my life. :slight_smile:


#6

I think you already have the idea.

I would just point out two things for future reference; first, Jesus was crucified by Pagans; so as an invention, yes the Cross is a Pagan (Roman) invention. There is no reason to object to the cross having been a pagan “symbol.” It was. But it was not a pagan religious symbol – it was a sign that the Roman government was in power and that’s all.

Second, the cross is two tree trunks chopped down and lashed together. So that if there is a curse for hanging on a tree; hanging on two trees is simply a stronger way of saying the same thing.

Cheers.


#7

Thanks. I got a reply which I will not answer tonight as I will be going to a prayer group shortly and I don’t want to rush off a reply. Yesterday I was so worn out, I didn’t check the person out, now I have and she is a Jehovah’s Witness. I checked out the reference she gave and will read it more carefully tomorrow and then check out CAF again as the same google search showed a thread which mentions that the Greek in the JW article wasn’t the Greek of the Bible times. I am inclined to answer factually and politely and then close it off with a second comment stating that “Pinterest is not the best place for discussions of faith, perhaps it would be better to continue in the Catholic Answers Forum, where people of all and no faith engage in polite and friendly discussion”. I suspect the Pinterest bot put my pin in her feed because apart from her JW Board, she is only follows Boards with muscular men, Sylvester Stallone and fashion.

Here is the dialogue:

Her Thru a study of the bible, I found that the cross is actually NOT a Christian symbol but a pagan one. I was floored! (Acts 5:30; 10:39; Gal.3:13; Heb.6:6; Matt.27:41,42)

Me Dear Dianne1958, I am a bit puzzled as well. I am in the middle of researching something else so my brain is elsewhere and I have to get it finished, but, I do know where to go for some solid advice. I will be back.

Me Dear Diane1958, I am not sure where you came to conclusion that the cross is pagan. Jesus was crucified on a cross, which the Jews saw it as the equivalent to death by “hanging on a tree" which was very shameful, hence the use of tree instead of wooden cross or cross. Scott Hahn’s Bible Dictionary or a Catholic Commentary will help with putting the language into context of the culture and traditions of the time. Hope this helps.

Me By the way, if you came away with this from an organised Bible Study, I would steer clear as someone is leading people astray. Studying the Bible isn’t easy (and I have completed 2 Great Adventure courses), because we also need to learn the history, culture and politics of the time, never mind what some words meant at the time, instead of how they are used today. E.g. To pray means to ask (prithee, pray tell) yet today some people think it can only refer to asking God. May God bless you.

Her Yes, I agree that we need to understand the history & culture of people’s when studying the bible. That’s why I’m so grateful 4 the many research tools available, especially THE MAIN textbook, God’s Word. Re: the Jews & crosses, they never used them becuz they were pagan symbols. - THE CROSS IN RITUAL, ARCHITECTURE, & ART, London,1900, G.S. Tyack, pg.1.; EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT WORDS (London, 1962, W.E.Vine, pg.256) And there’s many more. Interesting!

Her Re:1st century Christians, HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH says: "There was no use of the crucifix & there was no material rep. of the cross. "- NY, 1897, J.F. Hurst, vol.1, pg. 366.


#8

Oh. I ought to have guessed it was a J.W. just by the objection…
Jehova witnesses deny that Jesus was crucified on a cross, but claim he died on a “stake”.

:smiley:

I would just point out, that in every bible I have read, that the JEWS said “Crucify him.”; Mark 15:13. The word crucify means to use a cross. So, even if Jews didn’t create crosses, they VERY clearly DID actively participate in the use of them in the 1st century. That’s part of the point when scripture says that Jews replied to Pontius Pilate,“We have no king but Caesar.” The Jews accepted the pagan death penalty, eg: the cross, for Jesus.

It’s hardly surpirsing that Jews don’t use the cross as a symbol. The Romans later destroyed the Jewish temple, and any friendship between the Jews and Rome was ruptured. Secondly, they don’t believe in Jesus, the Christ. But for us Christian’s, the cross is the true device of God precisely because it was a scandal. 1Corinthians 1:23. By Carrying a crucifix, Catholic Christians preach the scandal of the cross; and the very fact Jews and JW’s believe it is foolishness is just proving that we have a very effective symbol.


#9

As to the historicity of the crucifix, St. Paul himself may have referenced the use of them:

Gal. 3:1 O senseless Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been set forth, crucified among you?

It’s not “proof”, but then we Catholics do not use the Scriptures as a prooftext for what we want to believe, as some others do. We follow what Christ’s Church tells us the Scriptures mean and the history she has given to us, trusting fully in her authority to do so, given to her by Christ himself. We are not “people of the book” but the Body of Christ, after all. :slight_smile:


#10

It is true that crucifixion was a means of tortuous execution used by pagan cultures. The Romans used it for slaves and the lowest of criminal elements, for insurrectionists, like Barabbas. If I remember my history correctly, it comes out of Persia.
The Japanese used it as a form of execution for many Christians including St, Miki and the 200.

Because of its symbolism, St. Paul says that Christians are often seen as fools. After all we are not taken from the highest stations but often from the lowest of professions. We are not chosen for our intelligence, but for our faith in the risen Christ, one who was willing to suffer even the most demeaning death, to overcome death, and who was raised again. Jesus is Lord! Oh, death where is your sting?


#11

Thanks for your replies. Pinterest only gives 500 characters to reply, so I just went for:

“Stauros can mean upright stake, but that is not the word’s only meaning. Kittel’s Theological Dictionary says of a stauros: “In shape we find three basic forms. The cross was a vertical, pointed stake (skolops, 409, 4 ff.), or it consisted of an upright with a cross-beam above it (T, crux commissa), or it consisted of two intersecting beams of equal length (†, crux immissa).” We use the word pole to describe utility poles, yet they are shaped like a cross.”

and then added a 2nd comment:

“Pinterest is not the best place for discussions of faith, perhaps it would be better to continue in the Catholic Answers Forum, where people of all and no faith engage in polite and friendly discussion.”

I also received another comment (on Amazon this time) to a review I wrote a year ago (which was easily and quickly dealt with) but seems to me that it is no co-incidence that this and a few other things are all cropping up while discerning the potential charism of teaching (so loving it and growing spiritually). :slight_smile:


#12

Avila

Following on from what you say about stauros, here’s what my very ancient Smith’s Shorter Latin-English Dictionary gives under crux (just the first few words of the entry):

*a cross (which might be of various forms, either simply an upright pole, or with a piece of wood across it): tollere in crucem, to crucify, Cic. … *


#13

Thank you that is interesting. At least the lady who posed the question offered more than a “hit and run” comment, so whilst she may not agree, she will read the words. The very sight of my 100% Catholic Pinterest Boards, compared to her one JW Board should have sent her running to the hills. God works in mysterious ways.


#14

Now this is interesting, she replied “Oh, I’ve been to the forum you mentioned. Thank you 4 the invite. I don’t mind some small discussions here on Pinterest. But if you’d rather not, that quite alright. I hope you’ll continue digging. - Prov.2:4 (JW.ORG)”.

So I closed off by saying “Thank you. I would prefer not to. It is a limited media and I have a lot of Bible and other studying to do which is fascinating and fun but it all takes time and prayer. May God bless you.” On this side of the pond, it is bed time, so goodnight and God bless. :slight_smile:


#15

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