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 (Luke 9:23)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 9:23:

  • Nyongar: “And Jesus told all of them, ‘If a person wants to follow me, he must forget himself, he must lift up his cross every day and follow me.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “From there, Yesus spoke to all the people, he said: ‘Whoever wants to follow me must let-go/free his own will/desires, and he must carry-on-shoulder his cross every day — its meaning: he must follow my command even if it kills him. After that and only then can he follow me.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Then he said to them all, ‘If a person wants to follow me, he should follow/obey my wishes, not his own wishes. And he should also carry the post for-him-to-be-killed-on every day, that means, he should submit to endure/suffer persecution and even yet to die. Then he will be able to follow me.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And Jesus said again to all of them, he said, ‘If anyone desires to follow the way I go, he must remove from his thinking his own way (of doing) and he must put on his shoulder every day his cross, which is to say, he must carry out my commands even if it means his death. And then he will be able to follow the way I go.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Then Jesus called the many-people and said to them all, ‘Whoever wants to become my disciple, he must turn-his-back-on himself. Daily also, he must carry-on-the-shoulder his cross so that he will then go-with me.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “And then there was something which he said to the crowd of people, saying, ‘If anyone really wants to follow/obey me, he must forget about his own will. It’s like he will shoulder his own cross every day, for what he is following/obeying is my will even if it causes his breath/life to be severed.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)