This article delves into an examination of the cross as a principle symbol of the Christian religion. This has been considered among the cross family of symbols which include, but not limited to the Latin cross, the Greek cross, among other symbols whose very consummation does indeed predate the Christian religion. Having said that, it is essential to, therefore, point out that the article reviews the use of the cross not just as a principle symbol of the Christian religion but in other contexts as well.
Whereas speculative hieroglyphic accounts may posit that the cross was used basically for ornamental reasons, it will be utter naivety to tread that path alone without delving into the obvious cultural and religious backgrounds where the cross was used. When considered from the period preceding the Christian era, many cultures in both the East and West were said to have evidence of the use of the cross or some of derived versions of the cross. Inscriptions on tombs, artwork, paintings and other ancient artifacts reveal a systematic use of the cross or the crucifix.
In the Aryan civilization, the cross was considered as a graphic representation of the god of tempest. In other Aryan contexts, the cross was yet still used as an insignia of the Aryan pantheon and a crowning symbol of the Aryan Civilization. Other accounts point to the idea that in that era, the cross may have been used to subtly represent the notion of sacred fire as depicted by the blazing sun.
In the ancient Egyptian context, the cross’s version was the ankh or the crux ansata. This was a hieroglyphic representation of life both in the physical and eternal sense. Priest often wielded the crux ansata as the very representation of their authority as priests of the Sun god and as messengers of the doctrine of life as encapsulated by ancient Coptic Christian beliefs. Similarly, the Ndj— which bears close resemblance to the cross and was used as a symbol of protection. The Nfr symbol which also is a derivative of the normal cross was equally used as a symbol of perfection and beauty in Egyptian religious contexts.
Description & Usage
By the time of the early Christian era, the cross was abhorred because it simply symbolized gruesome public executions. It was designed to bring not just shame but also delivered death to criminals. The use of the cross, therefore, as a religious symbol with significant usage in Christendom, crept in as the years wore on. Some accounts, in this respect, have argued that the version of the cross used is in fact a derivative of the Herculaneum whose derivation was in the City of Herculaneum. In the ensuing years, the cross was adopted for use as a religious symbol often regarded as the very ‘Lord’s Sign’ by Clement of Alexandria.
In contemporary usage of the cross, it is intended to remind Christians of the Love of God to the extent that He sent His only begotten Son to die the shameful death of a cross in order to redeem mankind. In this line of reasoning, the cross is a representation of Christ’s triumph over sin, death and Satan. The new testament of the bible makes a stunning observation that Christ disarmed and triumphed in his mission by way of the cross (Colossians 2:15). Some Christian organizations have, over time, used the symbol of the cross in various ways. The Catholics, for example, annually carry the cross signs in remembrance of the Easter function as a remembrance of Christ.
The use of the cross, as a symbol, is widespread. No single account can satisfactorily and accurately explain the exact origins of the use of the cross in various ancient civilizations. The bottom line, however, is the agreement that Christendom adopted the use of the cross from those civilizations. What is baffling is perhaps the consideration of when the cross was transformed from a symbol that represented reproach to one that has virtually taken the center stage in Christianity as a vital representation of the faith. Arguably, the death of Jesus Christ on a cross has been perceived as the ultimate choice he made to wage and win the war over sin, death and Satan.