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English Bible Dictionary

Cross

 

As the emblem of a slave's death and a murderer's punishment, the cross was naturally looked upon with the profoundest horror. But after the celebrated vision of Constantine, he ordered his friends to make a cross of gold and gems, such as he had seen, and "the towering eagles resigned the flags unto the cross," and "the tree of cursing and shame" "sat upon the sceptres and was engraved and signed on the foreheads of kings." (Jer. Taylor, "Life of Christ," iii., xv. 1.) The new standards were called by the name Labarum, and may be seen on the coins of Constantine the Great and his nearer successors, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. The Latin cross on which our Lord suffered, was in the form of the letter T, and had an upright above the cross-bar, on which the "title" was placed. There was a projection from the central stem, on which the body of the sufferer rested. This was to prevent the weight of the body from tearing away the hands. Whether there was also a support to the feet (as we see in pictures) is doubtful. An inscription was generally placed above the criminal's head, briefly expressing his guilt, and generally was carried before him. It was covered with white gypsum, and the letter were black.

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