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 (Mark 15:21)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 15:21:

  • Uma: “On the way, they met a person who had just arrived at the village, they right away forced him to carry [on the shoulder] Yesus’ cross. His name [was] Simon the Kirene person, the father of Aleksander and Rufus.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “So-then a man passed-by, his name was Simon, a person from the place Kirene. He came from up-inland returning to the town. This Simon is/was the father of Iskandal and Rupus. The soldiers forced him commanding him to carry-on-shoulder the post that Isa would soon be nailed onto.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “On the way they met a person from Cyrene called Simon, father of Alexander and Rufus. This Simon was coming from the fields into the city. They forced him to carry the cross that Jesus was carrying.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “While they were still on the way (lit. path), they met a man who was going to the city from the barrios, and they forced him to carry-on-the-shoulder Jesus’ cross. This man, it was Simon from-Cirene who was the father of Alexander and Rufus.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “As the soldiers to-whom-Jesus -had-been-committed were going out of that city, they came across a man going to the city who was called Simon who was a taga Cirene, the father of Alejandro and Rufo. They forced him to shoulder the cross on which they would nail Jesus.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)