Where would they put the sign? Above his head.
Isn't it a fact that Jesus died on a "cross" [implying two pieces of wood at a 90 degree angle, in the shape of a "t"]? No, it is not a fact, linguistically or archaeologically. The words Stauros and Xylon don't specify a shape for the instrument of execution. But in other uses of the word, they tend to mean either just wood, a tree or an upright stake.
Just some examples from my research, so that you can get a feel for the word:
xulon – (xulon/xylon, xoo'-lon), Strong’s 3586
62 occurrences in the Greek Septuagint (not complete):
Genesis 1:11, 12, 29; 2:9; 3:6
Exodus 10:15; 15:25
Leviticus 14:4, 6, 49, 51; 19:23; 26:20
Deuteronomy 16:21; 19:5; 20:19, 20; *21:22; 29:17
2Samuel 21:19; 23:7, 21
2Kings 3:19, 25; 6:6
1Chronicles 16:32; 20:5
*Esther 5:14; 7:9
Ecclesiastes 2:5; 11:3
Isaiah 7:2; 10:5; 40:20; 44:13, 14; 45:20; 56:3
Jeremiah 3:9; 7:20; 10:3; 11:19; 17:8; 31:12
Ezekiel 15:2, 3, 6; 17:24; 20:28, 47; 21:10; 31:8; 47:12
Esther 5:14; 7:9; Deu 21:22; Joshua 10:26 all use the word in the sense of being a single, upright pole.
Escher 5:14, 7:9 – Lit., “tree (wood).” Heb., עץ, (‛ets) translated in the Septuagint using the Greek, xy´lon;
‘Ets (Heb. עץ) used in Esther 2:23
Lexicon Results for `ets (Strong's H6086)
Hebrew for H6086
1) tree, wood, timber, stock, plank, stalk, stick, gallows
a) tree, trees
b) wood, pieces of wood, gallows, firewood, cedar-wood, woody flax
AV — tree 162, wood 107, timber 23, stick 14, gallows 8 (All in Esther), staff 4, stock 4, carpenter + 02796 2, branches 1, helve 1, planks 1, stalks 1
"The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead-whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree [Gr., xy′lou; J22(Heb.), ‛ets. ]" (Acts 5:30 NIV)
Acts 5:30 NIV footnote: "...Like its Hebrew counterpart, the Greek for this word could refer to a tree, a POLE, a wooden beam or some similar object"
"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." (Acts 10:39 NIV)
"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.'" (Gal 3:13 NIV)
Gr., σταυρός (stau·ros′); Lat., crux
"The Latin dictionary by Lewis and Short gives as the basic meaning of crux “a tree, frame, or other wooden instruments of execution, on which criminals were impaled or hanged.” In the writings of Livy, a Roman historian of the first century B.C.E., crux means a mere stake. “Cross” is only a later meaning of crux. A single stake for impalement of a criminal was called in Latin crux sim′plex."
“There is not a single sentence in any of the numerous writings forming the New Testament, which, in the original Greek, bears even indirect evidence to the effect that the stauros used in the case of Jesus was other than an ordinary stauros; much less to the effect that it consisted, not of one piece of timber, but of two pieces nailed together in the form of a cross. . . . It is not a little misleading upon the part of our teachers to translate the word stauros as ‘cross’ when rendering the Greek documents of the Church into our native tongue, and to support that action by putting ‘cross’ in our lexicons as the meaning of stauros without carefully explaining that that was at any rate not the primary meaning of the word in the days of the Apostles, did not become its primary signification till long afterwards, and became so then, if at all, only because, despite the absence of corroborative evidence, it was for some reason or other assumed that the particular stauros upon which Jesus was executed had that particular shape.”—(The Non-Christian Cross, by J. D. Parsons (London, 1896), Pp. 23, 24); see also The Companion Bible, 1974, Appendix No. 162.
Homer and other writers of the Greek classics also use "stauros" in the sense of being a simple upright stake. (Iliad xxiv.453, Odyssey, xiv.11, Thucydides iv.90. Xenophon, Anabasis v.2.21)
So to claim that there is any indication in the Bible itself as to the shape of Christs instrument of execution is just flat wrong. It could have been any number of shapes.
And of course, there is the logistics problem. We know from Josephus that during the first century C.E., wood was so scarce in the Jerusalem region that Romans were forced to travel 10 miles from the city just to secure wood for their siege machinery (War 5:552-553 (Loeb edition. P. 363). So the question naturally comes up: why waste scarce wood on common criminals when a crux simplex could do the same job?
Answered By: Tears of Oberon (Pack of One) - 9/6/2008