The Greek that is translated into English as “crucify” is translated into Naro with xgàu which literally means “to stretch” as is done with a skin after slaughtering in order to dry it. The word is also widely accepted in the churches (source: Gerrit van Steenbergen). Similarly, Balinese and Toraja-Sa’dan also translate as “stretch him” (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel) and in Rendille as lakakaaha — “stretched and nailed down” (source: Holzhausen / Riderer 2010, p. 33).

In Ghari it becomes “hammer to the cross” (source: David Clark), in Loma “fasten him to a spread-back-stick” (source: Bratcher / Nida), in Sundanese “hang him on a crossbeam” (source: Reiling / Swellengrebel), in Aguaruna “fasten him to the tree,” in Navajo “nail him to the cross,” in Yatzachi Zapotec “fasten him to the cross” (source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.), in Nyongar “kill on a tree” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang), and in Apali the different aspects of the crucifixion have to be spelled out: “nail to a tree piece put cross-wise, lift up to stand upright (for the crucified person) to die (and in some contexts: to die and rise again)” (source: Martha Wade).

In British Sign Language it is signed with a sign that signifies “nails hammered into hands” and “arms stretched out.” (Source: Anna Smith)

“Crucify” or “crucifixion” in British Sign Language (source: Christian BSL, used with permission)

See also the common sign language sign for Jesus.

Following is a painting by Wang Suda 王肅達 (1910-1963):

Housed by Société des Auxiliaires des Missions Collection – Whitworth University
(click image to enlarge)

Image taken from Chinese Christian Posters . For more information on the “Ars Sacra Pekinensis” school of art, see this article , for other artworks of that school in TIPs, see here.

Click or tap here to see a short video clip showing how crucifixion was done in biblical times (source: Bible Lands 2012)

See also cross, hang on a tree, and this devotion on YouVersion .

complete verse (Luke 23:23)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 23:23:

  • Nyongar: “But the crowd did not stop shouting that they should hammer Jesus to a tree to die. At last, after a long time, Pilate heard their angry shouting and gave them what they asked.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “But they just all-the-harder asked that Yesus be crucified. Finally they really won.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But they really insisted and continued to shout that Isa should be nailed to the post. Finally their wish was followed.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And then they shouted all the more that Jesus be nailed to a cross, and after a long while, Pilate could no longer resist,” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “But they continued shouting insisting that Jesus be nailed to the cross until Pilato was defeated,” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “But those people were noisy-and-excited. They were insistent that it really was necessary to nail Jesus to a cross. Well, since it was now like that, they won.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Luke 23:23


hoi de epekeinto … aitoumenoi ‘but they persisted in demanding.’ For epikeimai cf. on 5.1; here it is used of applying mental pressure, with following participial clause indicating what was pressed for, i.e. that Jesus should be crucified.

phōnais megalais ‘with loud voices,’ elsewhere in the singular (cf. 19.37), in a clause with plural subject, here in the plural, without difference in meaning.

katischuon hai phōnai autōn ‘their voices, i.e. their shouting prevailed.’

katischuō here ‘to prevail,’ ‘to win the day.’


They were urgent, demanding, or, ‘they insisted on their demand,’ ‘they pressed (lit. made to walk) their earnest entreaty’ (Marathi), ‘they kept on demanding,’ cf. “they kept on shouting” (Good News Translation, choosing a verb more in tune with the next phrase). The person to whom the demand is addressed may have to be indicated, cf. e.g. ‘they pressed him (or, Pilate) and asked,’ or, shifting the main verb, ‘they demanded him/Pilate urgently.’

With loud cries, or, ‘shouts,’ ‘crying/shouting loudly.’ The phrase may better become the main clause, cf. e.g. ‘they made-loud (lit. blazing) their voice to press him, asking’ (Batak Toba).

That he should be crucified, or, ‘that he (i.e. Pilate) should crucify him/Jesus, or, should have him/Jesus crucified.’

Their voices prevailed, or, ‘won-the-victory’ (Pohnpeian), is variously rendered, cf. e.g. ‘their noises defeated him’ (Fulah), ‘their words conquered, or, were obeyed’ (cf. Shona 1963, Tzeltal), ‘their voices made authority’ (Zarma, an idiom for a pronouncement one is forced to obey whether right or wrong), ‘success came to their yelling’ (Marathi), ‘they won-out’ (Kituba).

Quoted with permission from Reiling, J. and Swellengrebel, J.L. A Handbook on the Gospel of Luke. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1971. For this and other handbooks for translators see here . Make sure to also consult the Handbook on the Gospel of Mark for parallel or similar verses.