Subject: Re: Stauros/Crux
From: "Larry W. Hurtado" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 1994 08:54:36 -0500 (CDT)
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The recent ref. to Epistle of Barnabas on the shape of the cross is only
one (but an important one) indication of VERY early Christian views of the
subject, nearly all of which comprise a cross shaped like a Tau, that is,
with a cross beam of some sort. In particular, note that both the Greek
Tau and the Chi are used as religious and magical symbols in
pre/non-Christian traditions, and the Hebrew Tau (in earlier Hebrew
written sometimes like an "X") likewise had great religious significance.
For discussion and refs., see now the LENGTHY section on cross symbolism
in Jack Finegan, _The Archeology of the New Testament: The Life of Jesus
and the Beginning of the Early Church_ (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press,
1992). It should also be noted that early Christian lit. makes frequent
ref. to the posture of Christian prayer as standing with arms extended
like a cross-shaped figure. On this, see Erik Peterson, "Das Kreuz und
das Gebet nach Osten," in _Fruehkirche, Judentum und Gnosis: Studien und
Untersuchungen_ (Rome: Herder, 1959), pp. 15-35.
Larry Hurtado, Religion, Univ. of Manitoba
P.S. The attribution of the cross to King Olaf was a scream!!