Sunday, May 25, 2014

Our Cross to Bear

What better thing to do on a rainy, chilly Sunday at the end of May than to contemplate the story behind the cross that most of us think of as the primary symbol of Christianity.  The crucifix, which has Jesus on the cross, is used primarily by the Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans ... while the unencumbered cross is found in most of the Protestant groups.  Here are two versions of the crucifix.
In this first one, the spikes are clearly depicted as being through the hands of Jesus.

In this second view, the spikes have been driven into the wrists of Jesus, which is actually the more accurate portrayal of how crucifixion – the common way of killing people in those olden times– was actually done.  The hands would tear with the weight of the body, so they would drive the spikes through the wrists.

Why is the historically inaccurate image of Jesus on the cross so common?

It's interesting to note that crucifixion, in one form or another, was used as early as 500 years before Christ.  A fact which raises the issue of how and why it has become so associated with only one historical figure? 

Kids in Bible Study or Catechism classes are likely to think that Jesus was the only person killed in this brutal, humiliating manner. (I know I did). Of course grownups know better.  Especially those of us who remember Kirk Douglas in “Spartacus.”


One article on the history of the cross claims that the same symbol that Christians have revered for more than 2000 years was actually around for a long time before Jesus or the Christians showed up.  It was used as a sacred symbol among Chaldeans, Phoenicians and Egyptians; worshipped in Mexico and Peru before the ever persuasive missionaries ever showed up; and has always been associated with the Pagan Celts.   

And then it is said to be “equivalent to a symbol of Bacchus.”

Who was Bacchus you ask? 

D. M. Murdock (Dorothy M. Murdock, also known by her pen name Acharya S)[is an American author and proponent of the Christ myth theory) writes:    

The Greek god of wine, Dionysus or Bacchus, also called Icarus, has been depicted as having been born of a virgin mother on December 25th; performing miracles such as changing water into wine; appearing surrounded by or one of 12 figures; bearing epithets such as "Only Begotten Son" and "Savior"; dying; resurrecting after three days; and ascending into heaven.


Here are some different versions of the symbol of the cross.


 Celtic Cross
  Druid Cross

  Egyptian Cross

  Greek Tau Cross

  Germanic Cross


And an iteration of the Germanic Cross, the Swastika …


… Which is apparently more than 3,000 years old.  The term "Swastika" was originally the name for a hooked cross in Sanskrit, and swastikas have been found on artifacts, such as coins and pottery, from the ancient city of Troy.

Nothing is quite what it seems, is it?  Except that it’s still a rainy Sunday in May.

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