cross

The Greek that is translated as “cross” in English is often referred to a description of the shape (in Chinese, for instance it is translated as 十字架 shízìjià — “10-character-frame” because the character for “10” has the shape of a cross), elsewhere it refers to the function, e.g. a coined term, made up of two Sanskrit words, meaning “killing-pole” (Marathi NT revision of 1964), “wood to-stretch-out-with” (Toraja-Sa’dan), or “nailing pole” (Zarma). A combination of the two seems to be used in Balinese, which employs a word for the crossbeams in a house, derived from a verb that can refer both to a beam that stretches from side to side under a roof, and to a person stretched out for torture (source for this and above: Reling / Swellengrebel). Similarly, in Lamba it is translated “with umutaliko — ‘a pole with a cross-piece, on which maize was normally tied’ from the verb ‘talika’ which, strangely enough, is used of ‘holding down a man with arms and legs stretched out, someone gripping each limb.'” (Source C. M. Doke in The Bible Translator 1958, p. 57ff.)

“In Mongolian, the term that is used is togonoltchi mott, which is found in the top of a tent. The people on the steppes live in round felt-yurts and the round opening on the top of the tent serves as a window. The crosswood in that opening is called togonoltchi mott. ‘Crucified’ is translated ‘nailed on the crosswood.’ This term is very simple, but deep and interesting too. Light comes to men through the Cross. What a privilege to be able to proclaim such a message.” (Source: A. W. Marthinson in The Bible Translator 1954, p. 74ff.)

In Mairasi it is translated as iwo nasin ae: “chest measurement wood.” “This term refers to the process of making a coffin when a person dies. The man making the coffin takes a piece of bamboo and measures the body from head to heel. He then breaks the stick off at the appropriate point. For the width he measures the shoulders and then ties the two sticks together in the shape of a cross. As he works, he continually measures to make sure the coffin is the correct size. At the gravesite, the coffin is lowered. Then the gravecloth, palm leaves, and finally the chest measurement stick are laid on top of the coffin before the dirt is piled on. This term is full of meaning, because it is in the shape of a cross, and each person will have one. The meaning is vividly associated with death.” (Source: Enggavoter, 2004)

In Lisu it is translated as ꓡꓯꓼ ꓐꓳ ꓔꓶꓸ DU — lä bo tɯ du: “a place to stretch the arms across” (source: Arrington 2020, p. 215) and in Nyongar as boorn-yambo: “crossed tree” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).

The English English translation of Ruden (2021) uses “stake.” She explains (p. xlv): “The cross was the perpendicular joining of two execution stakes, and the English word euphemistically emphasized the geometry: a cross could also be an abstract cross drawn on paper. The Greeks used their word for ‘stake,’ and this carries the imagery of what was done with it, as our ‘stake’ carries images of burning and impaling. ‘Hang on the stakes’ for ‘*crucify’ is my habitual usage.”

See also crucify.

complete verse (John 19:17)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 19:17:

  • Uma: “Yesus carried [on his shoulder] his cross outside the village, and he was taken to a place called Skull Mountain. (In the Yahudi language it is called Golgota.)” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Then they took Isa and brought him outside the town. They caused Isa to carry-on-his-shoulder the post which he would soon be nailed onto, towards the place called ‘Place of the Skull,’ in the Yahudi language, ‘Golgota.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “and they went out of the village, and they caused Jesus to carry that cross where they would nail him. They went to the place called Headbone (in the language of the Hebrews it was called ‘Golgotha.’)” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “The soldiers then, they had-Jesus -carry-on-the-shoulder his cross and they took him to the place they called Place of the Bone of a Head. Its name in the language of the Jews is Golgota.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Jesus went out of the city, shouldering his cross. He was to be taken to the place called Place of a Skull. (Golgota in the Hebreo-language.)” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Jesus went carrying his cross. He went to a place called the Skull. The word in Hebrew is Golgotha.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)