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 (Mark 15:6)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 15:6:

  • Uma: “Every Paskah festival [lit., Paskah big day], Pilatus usually released a person who was imprisoned, whomever the crowds requested.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Na every year, at the time of the Celebration For-Remembering, it was the custom of Pilatus, to release one prisoner, whoever the people requested to be released.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Each year at the Feast of Passing By it was Pilate’s custom to release a prisoner that the people begged for.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “The custom of Pilato at each fiesta called Passed-By, he would release one prisoner that the many-people chose.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “The governor had made it a custom that at each Fiesta of Passed-by there would be one person he would release from imprisonment, whoever the crowd wanted to ask for.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Mark 15:6


kata de heortēn ‘now at every (Passover) feast,’ ‘now at each feast (of the Passover)’: the preposition kata is distributive (cf. kath’ hēmeran ‘every day’ 14.49), indicating every feast, and not just this particular one.

heortē (cf. 14.2) ‘feast.’

apeluen (cf. 6.36) ‘he released’: Revised Standard Version correctly gives the force of the imperfect ‘he used to release,’ indicating habitual action (cf. also epoiei in v. 8).

hena desmion ‘one prisoner,’ ‘any prisoner’: the cardinal ‘one’ is here used as an indefinite pronoun, ‘any one’ or ‘some one.’

desmios (only here in Mark; cf. deō 3.27) ‘prisoner.’

parētounto (only here in Mark; cf. aiteō 6.22) ‘they asked (for),’ ‘they requested.’


Now is not to be interpreted as a temporal adverb, but as a transitional particle, equivalent in many languages to ‘but’ or ‘however.’

At the feast must not be translated in such a way as to men that Pilate released a person at the place where the people were gathered together eating. It is better to treat this as a temporal reference, e.g. ‘at the time when the people feasted’ or ‘at that time when the people were feasting.’ When, however, feast is translated as a verb, it should agree in aspect (or tense) with the verb ‘used to release,’ for the meaning here is an habitual, repeated action, which occurred each year.

Release … one prisoner is translatable in some languages as ‘to make go free … one person in jail’ or ‘to let go out from jail … a person.’

Whom they asked may require some expansion, e.g. ‘whom they asked Pilate for’ or ‘whom they asked Pilate to set free.’

Quoted with permission from Bratcher, Robert G. and Nida, Eugene A. A Handbook on the Gospel of Mark. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1961. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .