ong>Impaledong> on a stake - a result of sectarian bias? 2 Let us start by looking at the noun stauros and the corresponding verb stauroô. Stauros is used 27 times of the instrument 5 . Stauroô is used 46 times of the method 6 . In Classical Greek stauros was an upright “stake” or “pole”, like the ones used in fences or palisades 7 . The stauros was used for executions from early times, by impaling the body. "stauroŒs is an upright “stake” such as is used in fences or palisades. The stauroŒs is an instrument of torture for serious offenses. It may be a vertical pointed stake, an upright with a cross-beam above it, or a post with an intersecting beam of equal length.” 8 “The Gk. word for ‘cross (stauros; verb staurooµ; Lat. crux, crucifigo, ‘I fasten to a cross’) means primarily an upright stake or beam, and secondarily a stake used as an instrument for Figure 1 Illustration from De Cruce Liber Primus by Justus Lipsius. 5 Mt 10:38; 16:24; 27:32; 27:40; 27:42; Mk 8:34, 15:21, 30, 32; Lk 9:23, 14:27, 23:26; Jn 19:17, 19, 25, 31; 1 Co 1:17, 18; Ga 5:11, 6:12, 14; Eph 2:16; Php 2:8, 3:18; Col 1:20, 2:14; Heb 12:2. 6 Mt 20:19; 23:34; 26:2; 27:22,23; 27:31,35,38; 28:5; Mk 15:13,14,15,20,24,25,27; 16:6; Lk 23:21(2), 23, 33, 24:7,20; Jn 19:6(2),10,15(2),16,18,20,23,41; Ac 2:36; 4:10; 2Cor 1:13, 23, 2:2,8; 13:4; Ga 3:1, 5:24; 6:14; Re 11:8. The verb synstauroô is used in Mt 27:44; Mk 15:32; Jn 19:32; Ro 6:6; Ga 2:20, and the verb anastauroô in Heb 6:6. 7 "Originally Gk. staurós designated a pointed, vertical wooden stake firmly fixed in the ground.” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Fully revised; ed. G. W. Bromiley; Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979) I, 825. "stauros (4716) denotes, primarily, “an upright pale or stake.” On such malefactors were nailed for execution. Both the noun and the verb stauroô, “to fasten to a stake or pale,” are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed “cross.” W. Vine, M. F. Unger and W. White, "Cross, Crucify," Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Logos Library System electronic edition; Thomas Nelson, 1997). “Stauros is an upright, sometimes pointed stake” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (ed. C. Brown; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Regency Reference Library; Zondervan Publishing House, 1986) I, 391. 8 Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume (Abridged in one volume by Geoffrey W. Bromiley; Logos Library System electronic edition; ed. G. Kittel and G. Friedrich; trans. G. W. Bromiley; Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996) “stauros”.
ong>Impaledong> on a stake - a result of sectarian bias? 3 punishment and execution. It is used in this latter sense in the NT.” 9 The meaning of the verb stauroô is “to put up posts,” “to protect by a stockade.” 10 As to stauros, its original and generic meaning has even reached Norwegian. The first meaning assigned to stauros in Dictionnaire Etymologique de la Langue Greque 11 is pole (pieu). It also says: "The word corresponds exactly to the Norse staurr (pole)." In modern Norwegian staur still means "pole" or "stake". 12 We also find the word in Sanskrit as sthavara, and in Gothic as stiurjan with the meaning "something standing upright". So the original Indo-European basis for stauros evidently was strong and continued for a long time, even spreading to other languages. In Modern Greek stauros means primarily “cross”, secondarily “stake, pole”. So, the question that interests us is: what did it mean at the time of Jesus’ execution and when the NT was written? The major dictionaries typically state that: 1. Originally and in Classical Greek stauros was a stake, pole. 2. In the NT, stauros means “cross” 13 . Why do they give this meaning to it in the NT? Any Greek dictionary or lexicon dealing with the NT, is first and foremost theological in nature, and therefore primarily a matter of interpretation, and ultimately, bias. The most comprehensive Greek dictionary (10 volumes) is named the “Theological Dictionary of the New 9 New Bible Dictionary (Logos Library System electronic edition of 2nd edition; ed. J. Douglas; Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1996) “Cross, Crucifixion”. 10 Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Translated from Theologisches Wörterbuch Zum Neuen Testament (Reprint; ed. G. Kittel and G. Friedrich; trans. G. W. Bromiley; Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995) VII, 581. 11 P Chantraine, 1980. 12 ”To staur corresponds exactly the gr. staurov" “stake”” (H. Falk & A. Torp: Etymologisk ordbog over det norske og det danske sprog. Oslo: Ringstrøm, 1992: 825). 13 staurov", oJ, (sthǹai) an upright pale or stake, Hom., etc.: of piles driven in to serve as a foundation, Hdt., Thuc. the Cross, N.T.: its form was represented by the Greek letter T, Luc. H. G. Liddell and R. Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon (Revised and augmented throughout by Sir Henry Stuart Jones with the assistance of Roderick McKenzie; 9th ed.; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978).