Christ and the cross.


History shows that the cross was used centuries before Christ. For example, in the British Museum is a statue of the Assyrian king Samsi-Vul, son of Shalmaneser. Around his neck is an almost perfect Maltese cross. On an accompanying figure, that of Ashur-nasir-pal, is a similar cross.

The ancient Greek goddess Diana is pictured with a cross over her head, in much the same way the “Virgin Mary” is represented by many medieval artists. Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, is often pictured wearing a headdress adorned with crosses. Different types of crosses were used in Mexico centuries before the Spaniards arrived. The Egyptians used cross symbols in abundance, as did the Hindus.

The surprising thing is that the Christian use of the cross did not begin until the time of Constantine, three centuries after Christ. Archaeologists have not found any Christian use of the symbol before that time. According to one writer (W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, article “Cross”), the cross as a “Christian” symbol was taken directly from the pagans.

A standing stone from 4th century AD found in ireland, shows the maltese cross:

Keltic Priest Stone Slab Monument

Late Fourth Century A.D.

Found on a Mountainside in Southern Ireland

The New Testament does not specifically describe the instrument upon which Christ died, though Acts 5:30; 10:39; and 13:28-29 refer to it as a “tree.” The Greek word xulon, translated “tree” in these verses, can mean a stick, club, tree, stake, or other wooden articles.


Where was Jesus put on when he was crucified?


Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi (MENJ) has invested his creativity into creating the following little problem:

In Mark 15: 32, we are told that Jesus was put on a “cross” to be crucified:

Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

The word for “cross” here in Greek is “stauros”, which James Strong defined as:

(4716) from the base of 2476; a stake or post (as set upright), i.e. (specifically) a pole or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment); figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial; by implication, the atonement of Christ: –cross.[1]

Yet in I Peter 2:24, we are told that Jesus was crucified on the “tree”:

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

The word for “tree” in Greek is “xulon”, and is defined by Strong as:

(3586)from another form of the base of 3582; timber (as fuel or material); by implication a stick, club or tree or other wooden article or substance: –staff, stocks, tree, wood.[2]

The error here is obvious. The Greek word “stauros” means definitively a “cross”. There is no double meaning employed to the word. Whereas the word xulon can be translated interchangeably as “wood”, “staff”, “tree”, etc. but in the case of I Peter 2:24, it is translated as “tree”. Now we need to ask why would the word xulon was used in the first place when there is a more definitive word for it, “stauros”, if the verse really intends to mean the “cross”?

It is therefore obvious that the word xulon is indeed used for “tree” in I Peter 2:24, and therefore there is a contradiction with Mark 15: 32.


The only obvious error is Menj’s misreading and manhandling of both the biblical texts and his own lexical sources. He claims that “stauros” definitely means “cross”, all the while ignoring the very own lexicon he quotes which states:

(4716) from the base of 2476; A STAKE OR POST (as set upright), i.e. (specifically) A POLE or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment); figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial; by implication, the atonement of Christ: –cross.[1]

Furthermore, do notice the different meanings given by Thayer’s Lexicon for “xulon”:

3586 xulon {xoo’-lon}

1) wood

a) THAT WHICH IS MADE OF WOOD 1) AS A BEAM from which any one is suspended, a gibbet, A CROSS
2) a log or timber with holes in which the feet, hands, neck of prisoners were inserted and fastened with thongs
3) a fetter, or shackle for the feet
4) a cudgel, stick, staff 2) a tree

AV – tree 10, staff 5, wood 3, stocks 1; 19    (Source: Blueletter Bible)

Notice how this same word is used elsewhere in the NT:

“‘Am I leading a rebellion,’ said Jesus, ‘that you have come out with swords and CLUBS (xulon) to capture me?’” Mark 14:48

No one assumes that “xulon” here means tree, that is unless of course one wants to claim that the soldiers were armed with actual trees! And:

“Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the STOCKS (xulon).” Acts 16:24

“If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, WOOD (xula), hay or straw.” 1 Corinthians 3:12

This demonstrates that “xulon” means different things in different contexts and doesn’t always refer to an actual tree. Since Strong’s lists “cross” as a plausible meaning of “xulon”, this in itself refutes Menj’s alleged contradiction.

Second, 1 Peter 2:24 is not the only place where Peter refers to Christ being crucified on ‘a tree’:

“The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead – whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree (epi xulou).” Acts 5:30

“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree (epi xulou).” Acts 10:39

Interestingly, Luke who recorded Peter’s speeches in Acts also wrote that Jesus was crucified on a cross (stauros):

“But they kept shouting, ‘Crucify him (staurou)! Crucify him (staurou auton)!’ … As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross (ton stauron) on him and made him carry it behind Jesus … When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him (estaurosan auton), along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left.” Luke 23:21,26,33

That Luke could mention Jesus being crucified on a cross while recording Peter’s statements that Jesus was hanged on a “tree” demonstrates that these Christians saw no problem with these statements. Unlike Menj, they realized that both “stauros” and “xulon” could be used interchangeably in referring to Christ’s crucifixion. This is further seen from the Apostle Paul:

“When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree (tou xulou) and laid him in a tomb.” Acts 13:29

Paul says that Christ was brought down from the tree. Yet the same Paul speaks of Jesus being crucified on a cross:

“For the message of the cross (tou staurou) is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18

quot;Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross (to skandalon tou staurou) has been abolished.” Galatians 5:11

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (en to stauro tou Kuriou hemon ‘Iesou Christou ), through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14

Paul clues us in as to why both Peter and he could speak of Christ hanging on a tree:

“All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, ‘The man who does these things will live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree (epi xulou).’ He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” Galatians 3:10-14

The phrase refers to one who is accursed of God for failing to obey the commands. Christ being crucified on a cross was a sign that Christ had become a curse for us since he had become our sin bearer, taking upon himself the punishment that we deserved in order that we who believe may be forgiven by God. In the words of the Apostle Peter:

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree (to xulon), so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:21-25

Messianic Jewish believer, Dr. David H. Stern sums it up best. In his comments on Acts 5:30, Stern writes:

Stake. Greek xulon, which KJV renders “tree” here and four other places (10:39, 13:29; Ga. 3:13; I Ke [Sam- Peter] 2:24), all referring to what Yeshua was hanged on until he died. Yeshua was not hanged on a tree, but on a stavros, usually translated “cross” and in the JNT translated “execution-stake,” as explained in Mt 10:38N. The word “xulon” is used instead of stavros in these five places because all of them quote or allude to Deuteronomy 21:22-23, where the Hebrew word is “‘etz,” normally rendered into Septuagint Greek as “xulon.” Both Hebrew ‘etz and Greek xulon can mean “tree, wood, stake, stick” depending on context. In Deuteronomy 21:22-23, where the subject is hanging, an ‘etz is any piece of wood which a person can be hanged, i.e. a stake (perhaps if metal gallows had existed, a different word would have been used). If Luke had meant a tree and not a stake, the Greeks had a word for it, “dendron,” which he could have used but didn’t. Therefore, while at Mt 26:47 and Mk 14:48 xulon means “stick,” at Lk 23:31 and Rv 18:12 it means “wood,” and at Rv 2:7 it has to mean “tree,” here it means “stake”… (Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary [Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., Clarksville Maryland, 1996], p. 237; bold emphasis ours)

In light of the preceding considerations, we once again see that Menj has failed to prove a real bonafide contradiction in the Scriptures. His criticisms only expose his lack of understanding regarding the historical and cultural context in which the New Testament was written.

In the service of King Jesus forever, the crucified and risen Lord of eternal glory. Amen.

Sam Shamoun

Responses to Bismikaallahuma
Answering Islam Home Page




Shamshi-Adad V, Assyrian king 823–811 BC. The pictures shows a stela at the British Museum in London.}} {{sv|Shamshi-Adad V, assyrisk kung 823–811 f.Kr. Bilden föreställer en stele på British Museum i London.}} {{by dcastor|people}}

Assurnasiripal II Stele from Palace At Nimrud with Winged Solar Cross In Disk

A stele from Kalah, Iraq, the site of ancient Nimrud, depicts Assurnasiripal II holding a long thin rod extending from the floor to the height of his chin. Over this rod hovers a “ring with wings” which contains a “Maltese cross” formed by four broad triangular wedges radiating out to the inner circumference of the ring from a smaller central hub. The space between each of these four wedges is bisected by a thin slightly curved ray. This so-called “Maltese” cross also appears on a medallion which hangs from a cord around Assurnasiripal II’s neck where it is clearly a symbol of his royal authority, if not divinity.

It should be noted that the Mesopotamian version of the ancient “winged disk” symbol could be seen as a form of cross in its own right with the wings forming the horizontal axis and the tail the vertical axis of a T-shaped cross. In ‘The History of the Cross’ we are informed that, “Ancient Assyria developed a majestic form (of cross), known as the feroher, the principal portion being a winged globe. One famous example from Nineveh shows the deity Ashur, who fights for his people in battle. The whole figure is in the form of a Tau-shaped cross.” Thus the cross is clearly associated with the total eclipse of the sun since the feroher is nothing other than a highly accurate representation of the bird-like pattern that occurs in the sun’s corona when the sun-spot activity is at its minimum phase.
The natives of Hawaii drew elaborate crosses to represent their gods long before the first European explorers arrived. In a book depicting some of these ancient Hawaiian crosses the cross of the Goddess Marama is shown formed by four white lozenge-shaped arms radiating out in an ‘X’ from a dark central disc. Four triangles or “Maltese cross” style wedges intersect the angles of the four arms of the ‘X’ but do not reach the central disc. The drawing of this cross of Marama looks virtually identical to a drawing of the intermediate form of the coronal streamers which occur between the minimum and maximum phase of sunspot activity depicted in Théophile Moreux`s “Les Eclipses”. The caption attached to this drawing reads, “The Goddess of the Sun was also known as the Goddess of the Moon, Marama, who watched over Tane’s children while they slumbered in peace when the sun was out of the sky.”  The Cross of Tane depicted in this book has similar, though slightly thinner, lozenge-shaped arms divided by dark “trunks” each having three sprouting “stems” along its length. A veritable “Maltese cross” with flared ends also radiates out from the hub of the cross which is clearly an eye. The caption is much more explicit than that for the cross of Marama and plainly states, “The “eye,” which forms the centrepiece of this cross and slants downward, is a reminder that “the Eyes of God are upon you; therefore, beware of your behaviour lest He witness your misbehaviour.”” The cross of Tane clearly represents the “All-Seeing Eye of God” as symbolized by the total eclipse of the sun. The caption goes on to say, “It is interesting to note that this cross is similar to the ones which sit on top of the crowns of British royalty. Yet this pattern was drawn by Hawaiian artists centuries before the first British crown made its appearance in Hawaii. A variation of this cross was selected by the kings of the Tameha. ? . a dynasty as the foundation for their holy emblem.”

Pre-Columbian examples of pottery made by the Ica Indians of southern Peru also depict various forms of crosses and again they would appear to be linked to total solar eclipses since they tend to radiate outwards from central, eye-like, concentric circles. One example in particular bears a striking resemblance to a drawing of the cross-like form of corona of the 1860 total eclipse drawn by a professional astronomer. An example of Ica pottery depicts both circular “Maltese” crosses and square crosses with eyes at the centre in a context that would tend to link these symbols to the total solar eclipse.

It is abundantly clear that various forms of the cross were used as solar symbols by numerous cultures in diverse regions of the world, and that these crosses were virtually certainly inspired by the cross-like pattern of the coronal streamers that are seen in the total eclipse of the sun between the minimum and maximum phases of sunspot activity. These crosses were quite common some millennia before the crucifixion of Jesus and the subsequent adoption of the cross as the primary symbol of the Christian faith. The ancient Egyptian’s used the “Crux Ansata” or “ankh” as a symbol of life and Egyptian Croix Patées or “Maltese crosses” appear in numerous ancient hieroglyphic inscriptions. The Mesopotamians similarly used various forms of the cross including the “Maltese Cross” as a solar symbol on their cylinder seals, stelae, and bas-relief sculptures. The Mayans and Aztecs of Meso-America and the Nazca, Ica, Moche, and Inca civilizations of ancient Peru used crosses for evidently identical reasons and some versions are uncannily analogous to the “Maltese cross” found in the winged disc on Assyrian bas-reliefs.

The cross, “Maltese” or otherwise, may also be used to symbolize the total eclipse of the sun for the very simple reason that any solar eclipse only occurs when the celestial path of our moon’s orbit literally “crosses” over that of our sun in the skies above Earth. Stellate (i.e. pointed) and regular, straight lined, crosses are commonly depicted within the sun disc in sun-moon conjunction symbols and winged discs on Mesopotamian cylinder seals dating as far back as the Isin-Larsa period circa 2000-1800 B.C. and similar crosses appear within the sun disc motif of numerous other cultures around the world, thus lending no inconsiderable support to this straightforward hypothesis.

What is truly interesting to note is the incredible universality of the use of the “Maltese cross” symbol, not only has it been depicted on the crowns of European royalty for centuries but it was utilised by Assyrian rulers as a royal, and possibly sacred, emblem many centuries prior to its first use by any European king. It appears prominently in the sacred artwork of Mayan, Aztec, and various American Indian cultures.






The very “architectural” astronomical drawing of the suns’s corona as witnessed during the May 2nd 1715 total solar eclipse is virtually identical to the Moundbuilders Indians solar cross symbol and numerous other very similar solar cross symbols.

At minimum this drawing creates a very orderly four-armed “solar cross” image that is virtually identical to the Southern Cult aka Moundbuilders Indians solar cross symbol that is shown to its left, out of input from other people in the form of sketches made my other eclipse observers as well as oral descriptions of diverse eclipse observers. prominently displayed on the state flag of New Mexico.

The state flag of New Mexico

The flag of the city of Albuquerque New Mexico.

Update: Someone in Hong Kong reproduced my old ‘The Cross Symbol & Total Solar Eclipses’ web site.

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