Christian cross | Wikipedia audio article

Christian cross | Wikipedia audio article


The Christian cross, seen as a representation
of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus, is the best-known symbol of Christianity. It is related to the crucifix (a cross that
includes a corpus, usually a three-dimensional representation of Jesus’ body) and to the
more general family of cross symbols, the term cross itself being detached from the
original specifically Christian meaning in modern English (as in many other western languages).The
basic forms of the cross are the Latin cross with unequal arms (✝) and the Greek cross
(✚) with equal arms, besides numerous variants, partly with confessional significance, such
as the tau cross, the double-barred cross, triple-barred cross, cross-and-crosslets,
and many heraldic variants, such as the cross potent, cross pattée, cross moline, cross
fleury, etc.==Instrument of Jesus’ execution==John Pearson, Bishop of Chester (c. 1660)
wrote in his commentary on the Apostles’ Creed that the Greek word stauros originally signified
“a straight standing Stake, Pale, or Palisador”, but that, “when other transverse or prominent
parts were added in a perfect Cross, it retained still the Original Name”, and he declared:
“The Form then of the Cross on which our Saviour suffered was not a simple, but a compounded,
Figure, according to the Custom of the Romans, by whose Procurator he was condemned to die. In which there was not only a straight and
erected piece of Wood fixed in the Earth, but also a transverse Beam fastned unto that
towards the top thereof”.==Early Christian usage==There are few extant examples of the cross
in 2nd century Christian iconography. It has been argued that Christians were reluctant
to use it as it depicts a purposely painful and gruesome method of public execution. A symbol similar to the cross, the staurogram,
was used to abbreviate the Greek word for cross in very early New Testament manuscripts
such as P66, P45 and P75, almost like a nomen sacrum (nomina sacra). The extensive adoption of the cross as Christian
iconographic symbol arose from the 4th century.However, the cross symbol was already associated with
Christians in the 2nd century, as is indicated in the anti-Christian arguments cited in the
Octavius of Minucius Felix, chapters IX and XXIX, written at the end of that century or
the beginning of the next, and by the fact that by the early 3rd century the cross had
become so closely associated with Christ that Clement of Alexandria, who died between 211
and 216, could without fear of ambiguity use the phrase τὸ κυριακὸν σημεῖον
(the Lord’s sign) to mean the cross, when he repeated the idea, current as early as
the apocryphal Epistle of Barnabas, that the number 318 (in Greek numerals, ΤΙΗ) in
Genesis 14:14 was interpreted as a foreshadowing (a “type”) of the cross (T, an upright with
crossbar, standing for 300) and of Jesus (ΙΗ, the first two letters of his name ΙΗΣΟΥΣ,
standing for 18). His contemporary Tertullian rejected the accusation
of Christians being “adorers of the gibbet” (crucis religiosi). In his book De Corona, written in 204, Tertullian
tells how it was already a tradition for Christians to trace repeatedly on their foreheads the
sign of the cross. The crucifix, a cross upon which an image
of Christ is present, is not known to have been used until the 6th century AD.The oldest
extant depiction of the execution of Jesus in any medium seems to be the second-century
or early third-century relief on a jasper gemstone meant for use as an amulet, which
is now in the British Museum in London. It portrays a naked bearded man whose arms
are tied at the wrists by short strips to the transom of a T-shaped cross. An inscription in Greek on the obverse contains
an invocation of the redeeming crucified Christ. On the reverse a later inscription by a different
hand combines magical formulae with Christian terms. The catalogue of a 2007 exhibition says: “The
appearance of the Crucifixion on a gem of such an early date suggests that pictures
of the subject (now lost) may have been widespread even in the late second or early third century,
most likely in conventional Christian contexts”.The Jewish Encyclopedia says:
The cross as a Christian symbol or “seal” came into use at least as early as the second
century (see “Apost. Const.” iii. 17; Epistle of Barnabas, xi.-xii.; Justin,
“Apologia,” i. 55-60; “Dial. cum Tryph.” 85-97); and the marking of a cross upon the
forehead and the chest was regarded as a talisman against the powers of demons (Tertullian,
“De Corona,” iii.; Cyprian, “Testimonies,” xi. 21–22; Lactantius, “Divinæ Institutiones,”
iv. 27, and elsewhere). Accordingly the Christian Fathers had to defend
themselves, as early as the second century, against the charge of being worshipers of
the cross, as may be learned from Tertullian, “Apologia,” xii., xvii., and Minucius Felix,
“Octavius,” xxix. Christians used to swear by the power of the
cross==In contemporary Christianity==Catholics, Orthodox Catholic, Oriental Orthodox,
members of the major branches of Christianity with other adherents as Lutheranism and Anglicans,
and others often make the Sign of the Cross upon themselves. This was already a common Christian practice
in the time of Tertullian.The Feast of the Cross is an important Christian feast. One of the twelve Great Feasts in Orthodox
Catholic is the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14, which commemorates the consecration
of the basilica on the site where the original cross of Jesus was reportedly discovered in
326 by Helena of Constantinople, mother of Constantine the Great. The Catholic Church celebrates the feast on
the same day and under the same name (In Exaltatione Sanctae Crucis), though in English it has
been called the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Anglican
bishops place a cross [+] before their name when signing a document. The dagger symbol (†) placed after the name
of a dead person (often with the date of death) is sometimes taken to be a Christian cross.In
many Christian traditions, such as the Methodist Churches, the altar cross sits atop or is
suspended above the altar table and is a focal point of the chancel.In many Baptist churches,
a large cross hangs above the baptistry.==Rejection among various religious groups
==Although Christians accepted that the cross
was the gallows on which Jesus died, they had already begun in the 2nd century to use
it as a Christian symbol. During the first three centuries of the Christian
era the cross was “a symbol of minor importance” when compared to the prominence given to it
later, but by the second century it was closely associated with Christians, to the point where
Christians were mocked as “adorers of the gibbet” (crucis religiosi), an accusation
countered by Tertullian. and it was already a tradition for Christians to trace repeatedly
on their foreheads the sign of the cross. Martin Luther at the time of the Reformation
retained the cross and crucifix in the Lutheran Church, which remains an important feature
of Lutheran devotion and worship today. Luther wrote: Crux sola est nostra theologia,
“The cross alone is our theology.”On the other hand, the Great Iconoclasm was a wave of rejecting
sacred images among Calvinists of the 16th century. Some localities (such as England) included
polemics against using the cross in worship. For example, during the 16th century, a minority
of theologians in the Anglican and Reformed traditions Nicholas Ridley, James Calfhill,
and Theodore Beza, rejected practices that they described as cross worship. Considering it a form of idolatry, there was
a dispute in 16th century England over the baptismal use of the sign of the cross and
even the public use of crosses. There were more active reactions to religious
items that were thought as ‘relics of Papacy’, as happened for example in September 1641,
when Sir Robert Harley, pulled down and destroyed the cross at Wigmore. Writers during the 19th century indicating
a pagan origin of the cross included Henry Dana Ward, Mourant Brock, and John Denham
Parsons. David Williams, writing of medieval images
of monsters, says: “The disembodied phallus is also formed into a cross, which, before
it became for Christianity the symbol of salvation, was a pagan symbol of fertility.” The study, Gods, Heroes & Kings: The Battle
for Mythic Britain states: “Before the fourth century CE, the cross was not widely embraced
as a sign of Christianity, symbolizing as it did the gallows of a criminal.” This reaction in the Anglican and other Reformed
Churches was shortlived and the cross became ubiquitous in these Christian traditions.Jehovah’s
Witnesses do not use the symbol of the cross in their worship, which they believe constitutes
idolatry. They believe that Jesus died on a single upright
torture stake rather than a two-beam cross, arguing that the Greek term stauros indicated
a single upright pole. Although early Watch Tower Society publications
associated with the Bible Student movement taught that Christ was executed on a cross,
it no longer appeared on Watch Tower Society publications after the name Jehovah’s witnesses
was adopted in 1931, and use of the cross was officially abandoned in 1936.The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that Jesus died on a cross, however, their
prophet Gordon B. Hinckley stated that “for us the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ,
while our message is a declaration of the living Christ.” When asked what was the symbol of his religion,
Hinckley replied “the lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression
of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship.” Prophet Howard W. Hunter encouraged Latter-day
Saints “to look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership.” Images of LDS temples and the Angel Moroni
(who is found in statue on most temples) are commonly used to symbolize the LDS faith.==Notable individual crosses====See also====References====External links==
The Christian Cross of Jesus Christ, Symbols of Christianity, and representations of it
as objects of devotion MSN Encarta (Archived 2009-10-31), “Cross”
Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Ch. 6th, “Christian Art: § 77. The Cross and the Crucifix”
An Explanation of the Russian Orthodox Three-Bar Cross
Variations of Crosses – Images and Meanings

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