Many would be surprised to discover that translations of the New Testament are duplicitous in translating of the words Cross & Crucifixion. The Koine Greek word translated as Cross is stauros, a noun that occurs 28 times in the New Testament, and so does the word stauros refer to a T-Cross like those depicted in Christian art? No, at least not according to Vine's Expository Dictionary, The Imperial Bible Dictionary & C.J Koster:
Stauros denotes, primarily, "an upright pale or stake." On such malefactors were nailed for execution. Both the noun and the verb stauroo, "to fasten to a stake or pale," are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed "cross."
Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
"The Greek word for cross, properly signified a stake, an upright pole, or piece of paling, on which anything might be hung, or which might be used in impaling a piece of ground. . . . Even amongst the Romans the crux (from which our cross is derived) appears to have been originally an upright pole"
Imperial Bible Dictionary, Vol. I, p. 376
Greek dictionaries, lexicons and other study books also declare the primary meaning of stauros to be an upright pale, pole or stake. The secondary meaning of "cross" is admitted by them to be a "later" rendering. At least two of them do not even mention "cross," and only render the meaning as "pole or stake." In spite of this strong evidence and proof that the word stauros should have been translated "stake," and the verb stauroo to have been translated "impale," almost all the common versions of the Scriptures persist with the Latin Vulgate's crux (cross), a "later" rendering of the Greek stauros.
C.J. Koster, COME OUT OF HER, MY PEOPLE
The Koine Greek noun xylon occurs 17 times in the New Testament, the word means wood & is mostly used to identify anything made completely of wood such as trees (Luke 23:31), clubs (Mark 14:48), or shackles (Acts 16:24). Of 6 of it's 17 occurrences xylon it is used to refer to the instrument on with Jesus was hanged, in these instances translators almost always render xylon as tree, not as Cross, such as at Acts 5:30 & Galatians 3:13:
The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.
Acts 5:30 (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."
Galatians 3:13 (NIV)
Some believe the first depiction of the Crucifixion is the The Alexamenos Graffito. There is no clear consensus as to the date in which the image was made, with dates ranging from the late 1st to the late 3rd century, neither is there any agreement regarding what the graffito actually depicts, our only clue is its inscription: Alexamenos worships God.
Aside from the mysteries Alexamenos Graffito, the earliest depiction of a Crucified Jesus is found on the wooden door panel of the Santa Sabina Basilica, the door & its image is dated to 430 C.E.
The absence of Christian T-Cross iconography before the 5th century is telling. The earliest written record depicting Jesus dying on a T-Cross is found in the Apocryphal Epistle of Barnabas (70 – 131 C.E)
For the scripture saith; And Abraham circumcised of his household eighteen males and three hundred. What then was the knowledge given unto him? Understand ye that He saith the eighteen first, and then after an interval three hundred In the eighteen 'I'stands for ten, 'H' for eight. Here thou hast JESUS (IHSOYS). Andbecause the cross in the 'T' was to have grace, He saith also threehundred. So He revealeth Jesus in the two letters, and in the remaining one the cross.
Epistle of Barnabas 9:7
Vine's & Alexander Hislop have the following to say regarding the origins of the T-Cross:
The shape of the latter had its origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name) in that country and in adjacent lands, including Egypt. By the middle of the 3rd cent. A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the "cross" of Christ.
Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
The earliest form of that which has since been called the cross, was no other than the 'Crux Ansata', or 'Sign of life', borne by Osiris and all the Egyptian gods; that the ansa or 'handle' was afterwards dispensed with, and that it became the simple Tau, or ordinary cross, as it appears at this day, and that the design of its first employment on the sepulchers, therefore, could have no reference to the crucifixion of the Nazarene, but was simply the result of the attachment to old and long cherished Pagan symbols, which is always strong in those who, with the adoption of the Christian name and profession, are still, to a large extent, Pagan in heart and feeling. This, and this only, is the origin of the worship of the 'cross'. This, no doubt, will appear all very strange and very incredible to those who have read Church history, as most have done to a large extent, even amongst Protestants, through Romish spectacles; and especially to those who call to mind the famous story told of the miraculous appearance of the cross to Constantine on the day before the decisive victory at the Milvian Bridge, that decided the fortunes of avowed Paganism and nominal Christianity. That story, as commonly told, if true, would certainly give a Divine sanction to the reverence for the cross. But that story, when sifted to the bottom, according to the common version of it, will be found to be based on a delusion.
The Two Babylon’s. Chapter V, Section VI, Alexander Hislop
The Ankh was an Egyptian hieroglyph depicting "life". The Egyptian gods Ra, Isis, Horus, Set, & others are portrayed carrying it by its loop, or bearing one in each hand, arms crossed over their chest.
In ancient Greece the god Hermes was symbolized by the Caduceus.
Hermes was identified with the planet Mercury & its symbol.
The Coptic Cross is a symbol derived from the pre-Christian Coptic Ankh, used by the Egyptian Christian Gnostics of the 2nd Century, this symbol is important because it demonstrates the evolution of the Egyptian Ankh into the form of Christian Cross we have today via the Caduceus & Mercurial symbols
Variations of the Coptic/Gnostic Cross include the Celtic Cross, a stylized version of which was popular with the National Socialist Party.
In Freemasonic symbolism the cross is depicted resting inside a crown, the Rosicrucian’s depict the Cross as the Rosey Cross, while the Church of Scientology use a Cross quite similar to the Rosey Cross.
The evidence presented shows clearly that the instrument of Jesus execution was likely a simple post, later taught to be a cross in order to draw in pagan converts. Yet even if Jesus was executed on a T-Cross, the symbol is & has always been pagan & therefore profoundly unchristian. The Egyptian Ankh symbolized life with an emphasis on the afterlife, the first lie according to the Book of Genesis was that if Eve ate from the Tree of Good & Evil "she would not surely die", of course both Adam & Eve did die as YHWH had said "for dust you are and to dust you will return". Unlike the Egyptian gods, the Old Testament god did not promise humans eternal life in a heavenly realm, so the Ankh symbol in one sense could be seen as a graphic representation of the first lie "You will not surely die...you will be like God".
If you are a Christian ask yourself: If the Cross truly is a Christian symbol why is it Occult fraternities feel so comfortable in using it?
Is it perhaps because the Cross is & has always been a pagan symbol?
Then he brought me to the entrance to the north gate of the house of the LORD, and I saw women sitting there, mourning for Tammuz. He said to me, "Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this."
Ezekiel 8:14-15 (NIV)