Whether _stauros_ means "stake" or "cross" in its New Testament
context would be practically a non-issue if the JW's hadn't glommed onto this
term to try to make it a reason for heretical division.
The unbroken tradition for translating "cross" has much to say for it.
That this point of translation was never an issue until the JW's brought it
up speaks volumes in favor of the traditional, accepted understanding of the
Just a couple of notes from antiquity might be helpful to anyone who
wonders about common usage of _stauros_ in an age when the Romans were still
crucifying non-Roman enemies and criminals. Lucian of Samosata, writing
about the middle of the second century, in a rather satirical work, _The
Judgement of the Letters_, refers to the letter _tau_ as having inspired the
despots of the world to use the cross as an instrument of torture, so the
letter is sentenced to hang upon its own form since the cross took its form
from that letter and since, from the letter, men took the name "_sTAUros_."
The so-called Letter of Barnabas (probably written between 130 and 160 A.D.)
also points out that the cross on which Jesus was crucified had the form of
the letter _tau_(Barn. 9:8).
If one were thinking of changing the traditionally accepted translation
of _stauros_, compelling reasons would have to be present to justify such a
change. There is no such compelling evidence. On the contrary, the best
evidence points in the opposite direction!
David L. Moore