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Originally posted by Shiloh7
He informed us that there are/were no big trees in the land and that people were cruficied on stakes simply shaped into an 'X'. They were spread eagled, stark naked with their arms and ankles nailed to each end of the X.
Among the Romans the cross never had the symbolical meaning which it had in the ancient Orient; they regarded it solely as a material instrument of punishment. There are in the Old Testament clear allusions to the Cross and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Thus the Greek letter T (tau or thau) appears in Ezechiel (ix, 4), according to St. Jerome and other Fathers, as a solemn symbol of the Cross of Christ—"Mark Thau upon the foreheads of the men that sigh". The only other symbol of crucifixion indicated in the Old Testament is the brazen serpent in the Book of Numbers (xxi, 8-9). Christ Himself thus interpreted the passage: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up" (John, iii, 14). The Psalmist predicts the piercing of the hands and the feet (Ps. xxi, 17). This was a true prophecy, inasmuch as it could not be conceived from any custom then existing; the practice of nailing the condemned to a T-shaped cross being, as we have seen, at that time exclusively Western.
The cross on which Jesus Christ was nailed was of the kind known as immissa, which means that the vertical trunk extended a certain height above the trans-verse beam; it was thus higher than the crosses of the two thieves, his crime being judged a graver one, according to St. John Chrysostom (Homil. v, c. i., on I Corinth.). The earliest Christian Fathers who speak of the Cross describe it as thus constructed. We gather as much from St. Matthew (xxvii, 37), where he tells us that the titulus, or inscription containing the cause of His death, was placed epano, "over", the head of Jesus Christ (cf. Luke, xxiii, 38; John, xix, 19). St. Irenaus (Adv. Haer., II, xxiv) says that the Cross had five extremities: two in its length, two in its breadth, and the fifth a projection (habitus) in the middle—"Fines et summitates habet quinque, duas in longitudine, duas in latitudine, unam in medio". St. Augustine agrees with him: "Erat latitudo in qua porrecti sunt manus; longitudo a terra surgens, in qua erat corpus infixum; altitudo ab illo divexo ligno sursum quod imminet" (Enarr. in Ps. ciii; Serm. i, 44) and in other passages quoted by Zockler (Das Kreuz, 1875, pp. 430, 431).