Question: Was Jesus actually crucified on a cross, or was it actually a "pole"?

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Question: Was Jesus actually crucified on a cross, or was it actually a "pole"?

The most common form of Roman crucifixion was to use the crux commissa, which used a permanent pole driven into the ground, to which a cross beam was attached at the time of execution

In the original Greek of the New Testament, accounts of Jesus' death only say he was put to death on "a pole." Is the belief of most of Christianity on "the cross" actually misguided?

It is true that the Greek word σταυρος (stauros) used in the NT means a "pole" or "stake" driven into the ground, and not specifically a cross. Calling the upright portion a "pole" does not, however, tell us whether a crossbeam was attached to it or not.

The most common form of Roman crucifixion was to use the crux commissa, which used a permanent pole driven into the ground, to which a cross beam was attached at the time of execution. This formed the shape of a capital 'T' and therefore is also called the Tau Cross (it is also referred to as St. Anthony's Cross). This is different than the Latin cross, which has a lowered cross piece, forming the classic "cross" shape (somewhat like a lower-case 't').

Accordingly, when the scripture talks about Jesus carrying his cross to the place of execution, it probably was not a huge Latin cross as depicted in the movies (such as Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ), but a crossbeam called the patibulum, which would then be placed over the permanently entrenched stauros or stake.

Thus, it is true that the Greek does not specify a cross per se. However, historical evidence regarding the Roman practice of crucifixion makes it abundantly clear that Jesus was crucified on a type of cross, even if not quite the traditional Latin cross commonly portrayed.

For Latter-day Saints, the key point is not Jesus' precise method of execution, but that his suffering, death, and resurrection atoned for the sins of all humanity. (See 2 Nephi 9:7–8, Alma 34:12.)

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