ROOTS OF THE CROSS

The religious use of the cross-symbol, however, was not originally associated with the death of the Jesus. According to the book, The Cross - Its History and Symbolism:
"The cross is probably the oldest symbol in the world. Centuries before the Christian era ancient crosses were in use as pagan emblems. They have been found carved in stone dating back to remote ages." (page 16)

In The History of the Cross we read:
"The cross as a symbol was equally known among the Chaldeans, Phoenicians, and Aztecs. The ancient Greeks, the Babylonians, the East Indians, and the Egyptians used the cross....

"In India, the moving story of Krishna tells of this god-man's crucifixion. Thus the story is common to Indian religious iconography." -- The History of the Cross, by Norman Laliberte and Edward N. West, 1960, page 25.

"There have been ancient crosses, the handiwork of western Indian tribes of North America, with four arms of equal length with symbols of the four winds....

"Excavations in America and Mexico have brought forth crosses of many forms and designs made by the aborigines during the mound building period....

"It is curious and interesting to find these evidences of similar civilizations and religious beliefs existing in pre-historic times in both the eastern and western worlds. These crosses made by widely separated and alien peoples, similar in shapes and designs, have been found carved in stone and engraved on metals and shells and as decorations on pottery.

"Almost from the beginning of recorded history there was another cross in frequent use known as the Tau Cross. In form it resembled the letter T. It has been called the cross of the Old Testament as it was known to the Jews. They may possibly have become familiar with it during their bondage to the Egyptians, as a cross much resembling the Tau Cross with a loop at the top appeared frequently in Egyptians heiroglyphs and carved on their ancient sepulchers and monuments. It was known as the Cross of Horus, an Egyptian god, and is usually held in the hand of a god, king, or priest. It was the symbol of life, and has been called the Key of Life.

"In varied forms, the Tau Cross appeared throughout the ancient world. The Phoenicians adapted it to a crude representation of their goddess, Astarte -- 'she who gives life.' The Greeks transformed and beautified the handled cross of the Egyptians into a representation of their Goddess of Life, somewhat similar in appearance to the figure of woman with outstretched arms in the form of a cross.

"Another form of cross known as the Greek Cross was used by various ancient races. It was simple in design, an upright line crossed at right angles by a horizontal line.

"The primitive Greek Cross, in use a thousand and more years before the Christian era, was in form the same as the modern Christian Greek Cross. Recent excavations in Athens have unearthed ancient crosses similar in design to the familiar cross of the Greek Catholic Church in use at the present time. Its form is unchanged from the ancient Pagan Cross, except that it is usually embellished with ornamentation....

"Among the Romans and all Latin peoples another ancient cross was much in use. It resembled the Greek cross with a long arm extending below. It was called originally the Latin Cross and is now known as the Christian Cross. From three ancient crosses, the Tau, the Greek, and the Latin, have evolved all the varied forms and designs of the Christian Crosses." -- The Cross -- Its History and Symbolism, pages 19-21.

Many people in the popular Christian religious groups may be surprised to learn that the cross they are now using in worship was actually adopted from pagan idol worship. They may also be surprised to learn that the early Christians did not use any form of cross.

"The cross was not used by the early Christians as a symbol and did not come into general use until three centuries after the death of Christ." (The Cross - Its History and Symbolism, page 40)

"It may be safely asserted that only after the edict of Milan, A.D. 312, was the cross used as the permanent sign of our Redemption. De Rossi positively states that no monogram of Christ discovered in the catacombs or other places can be traced to a period anterior to the year 312 ....

"The oldest crucifix mentioned as an object of public worship is the one venerated in the Church of Narbonne in southern France, as early as the 6th century." The Ecclesiastical Review, September 1920, page 275.