The tau cross is a T-shaped cross, sometimes with all three ends of the cross expanded.It is called a “tau cross” because it is shaped like the Greek letter tau, which in its upper-case form has the same appearance as Latin and English letter T.
Another name for the same object is Saint Anthony's crossor Saint Anthony cross, a name given to it because of its association with Saint Anthony of Egypt.
It is also called a crux commissa,one of the four basic types of iconographic representations of the cross.
The Greek letter tau was used as a numeral for 300. The Epistle of Barnabas (late first century or early second) gives an allegorical interpretation of the number 318 (in Greek numerals τιη’) in the text of Book of Genesis 14:14 as intimating the crucifixion of Jesus by viewing the numerals ιη’ (18) as the initial letters of Ἰησοῦς, Iēsus, and the numeral τ’ (300) as a prefiguration of the cross: "What, then, was the knowledge given to him in this? Learn the eighteen first, and then the three hundred. The ten and the eight are thus denoted—Ten by Ι, and Eight by Η. You have [the initials of the name of] Jesus. And because the cross was to express the grace [of our redemption] by the letter Τ, he says also, 'Three Hundred'. He signifies, therefore, Jesus by two letters, and the cross by one."
Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215) gives the same interpretation of the number τιη’ (318), referring to the cross of Christ with the expression "the Lord's sign": "They say, then, that the character representing 300 is, as to shape, the type of the Lord’s sign, and that the Iota and the Eta indicate the Saviour’s name."
Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 240) remarks that the Greek letter τ and the Latin letter T have the same shape as the execution cross: "Ipsa est enim littera Graecorum Tau, nostra autem T, species crucis".
In the Trial of the Court of the Vowels of non-Christian Lucian (125 – after 180), the Greek letter Sigma (Σ) accuses the letter Tau (Τ) of having provided tyrants with the model for the wooden instrument with which to crucify people and demands that Tau be executed on his own shape: "It was his body that tyrants took for a model, his shape that they imitated, when they set up the erections on which men are crucified. Σταυρός the vile engine is called, and it derives its vile name from him. Now, with all these crimes upon him, does he not deserve death, nay, many deaths? For my part I know none bad enough but that supplied by his own shape—that shape which he gave to the gibbet named σταυρός after him by men"
The Greek word σταυρός, which in the New Testament refers to the structure on which Jesus died, appears as early as AD 200 in two papyri, Papyrus 66 and Papyrus 75 in a form that includes the use of a cross-like combination of the letters tau and rho.This tau-rho symbol, the staurogram, appears also in Papyrus 45 (dated 250), again in relation to the crucifixion of Jesus. In 2006 Larry Hurtado noted that the Early Christians probably saw in the staurogram a depiction of Jesus on the cross, with the cross represented (as elsewhere) by the tau and the head by the loop of the rho, as had already been suggested by Robin Jensen, Kurt Aland and Erika Dinkler. In 2008 David L. Balch agreed, adding more papyri containing the staurogram (Papyrus 46, Papyrus 80 and Papyrus 91) and stating: "The staurogram constitutes a Christian artistic emphasis on the cross within the earliest textual tradition", and "in one of the earliest Christian artifacts we have, text and art are combined to emphasize 'Christus crucifixus'". In 2015, Dieter T. Roth found the staurogram in further papyri and in parts of the aforementioned papyri that had escaped the notice of earlier scholars.
In the view of Tertullian וְהִתְוִיתָ תָּו עַל־מִצְחֹות הָאֲנָשִׁים, "set a mark [ tav ; after the cross-shaped Phoenician and early Hebrew letter] on the forehead of the men" who are saved was a prediction of the Early Christian custom of repeatedly tracing on their own foreheads the sign of the cross.and of Origen (184/185 – 253/254)) the passage in Ezekiel 9:4 in which an angel
The Hospital Brothers of St. Anthony, known as the Antonines, were a Catholic religious order of the Latin Church founded at the end of the 11th century. They wore a black religious habit marked with a blue tau. This habit became associated with their patron saint, Anthony of Egypt, who accordingly was represented as bearing on his cloak a cross in the form of a tau.
Through its association with the Antonines, this cross became known as Saint Anthony's cross, as the disease of ergotism, to whose treatment the Antonines devoted themselves more particularly, became known as Saint Anthony's fire.
In about 1500 the Antonines still had 370 hospitals, but with the identification of the fungus that caused ergotism, the reduction of epidemics and the competition from the hospitals of the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (generally known as the Knights of Malta) their numbers decreased. Their last house in Europe was finally closed in 1803.
Another explanation proposed for the association of the tau cross with Saint Anthony is that the tau cross a stylized representation of the saint's staff, topped by a horizontal bar, on which he supported himself when old. A staff of that kind is represented in his hand in a painting by the German Renaissance painter Matthias Grünewald (c. 1470 – 1528) on an outer panel of his Isenheim Altarpiece . In this painting the saint remains tranquil in spite of being threatened by a fearsome demon depicted as breaking the panes of the window behind him. The saint is not shown as wearing the emblem of the Antonines.
The Antonines survive in the Middle East, especially in Lebanon, as a Maronite Church order with 21 monasteries and many schools and seminaries. They still use the bright blue tau cross on their black habits.
With the disappearance in the Western Church of the Hospital Brothers of Saint Anthony, the tau cross is now most commonly associated with the Franciscan Order and its founder, Saint Francis of Assisi, who adopted it as his personal sign after hearing Pope Innocent III talk about the Tau symbol.It is now used as a symbol of the Secular Franciscan Order.
In discussions of Roman execution crosses the tau cross is called the crux commissa. This term was invented by Justus Lipsius (1547–1606),who used it to distinguish this T-shaped cross from the now more familiar †-shaped cross and the saltire ☓-shaped cross.
A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two intersecting lines or bars, usually perpendicular to each other. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally. A cross of oblique lines, in the shape of the Latin letter X, is also termed a saltire in heraldic terminology.
Digamma, waw, or wau is an archaic letter of the Greek alphabet. It originally stood for the sound but it has remained in use principally as a Greek numeral for 6. Whereas it was originally called waw or wau, its most common appellation in classical Greek is digamma; as a numeral, it was called episēmon during the Byzantine era and is now known as stigma after the Byzantine ligature combining σ-τ as ϛ.
T or t is the 20th letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its name in English is tee, plural tees. It is derived from the Semitic letter taw via the Greek letter tau. In English, it is most commonly used to represent the voiceless alveolar plosive, a sound it also denotes in the International Phonetic Alphabet. It is the most commonly used consonant and the second most common letter in English-language texts.
Greek numerals, also known as Ionic, Ionian, Milesian, or Alexandrian numerals, are a system of writing numbers using the letters of the Greek alphabet. In modern Greece, they are still used for ordinal numbers and in contexts similar to those in which Roman numerals are still used elsewhere in the West. For ordinary cardinal numbers, however, Greece uses Arabic numerals.
Tau is the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 300.
Sampi is an archaic letter of the Greek alphabet. It was used as an addition to the classical 24-letter alphabet in some eastern Ionic dialects of ancient Greek in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, to denote some type of a sibilant sound, probably or, and was abandoned when the sound disappeared from Greek.
The ankh is an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol that was most commonly used in writing and in Egyptian art to represent the word for "life" and, by extension, as a symbol of life itself.
The Rylands Library Papyrus P52, also known as the St John's fragment and with an accession reference of Papyrus Rylands Greek 457, is a fragment from a papyrus codex, measuring only 3.5 by 2.5 inches at its widest(about the size of a credit card); and conserved with the Rylands Papyri at the John Rylands University Library Manchester, UK. The front (recto) contains parts of seven lines from the Gospel of John 18:31–33, in Greek, and the back (verso) contains parts of seven lines from verses 37–38. Since 2007, the papyrus has been on permanent display in the library's Deansgate building. Although Rylands 52 is generally accepted as the earliest extant record of a canonical New Testament text, the dating of the papyrus is by no means the subject of consensus among scholars.
The Attic numerals are a symbolic number notation used by the ancient Greeks. They were also known as Herodianic numerals because they were first described in a 2nd-century manuscript by Herodian; or as acrophonic numerals because the basic symbols derive from the first letters of the (ancient) Greek words that the symbols represented.
Stigma (ϛ) is a ligature of the Greek letters sigma (Σ) and tau (Τ), which was used in writing Greek between the Middle Ages and the 19th century. It is also used as a numeral symbol for the number 6. In this unrelated function, it is a continuation of the old letter digamma, which had served as a numeral since antiquity and was conflated with the σ-τ ligature in the minuscule handwriting of the Middle Ages.
The term crux simplex was invented by Justus Lipsius (1547–1606) to indicate a plain transom-less wooden stake used for executing either by affixing the victim to it or by impaling him with it. He thus distinguished two types of crux simplex: the crux simplex ad affixionem and the crux simplex ad infixionem.
In Christian scribal practice, nomina sacra is the abbreviation of several frequently occurring divine names or titles, especially in Greek manuscripts of Holy Scripture. A nomen sacrum consists of two or more letters from the original word spanned by an overline.
The instrument of Jesus' crucifixion is generally taken to have been composed of an upright wooden beam to which was added a transom, thus forming a "cruciform" or T-shaped structure.
Christian symbolism is the use of symbols, including archetypes, acts, artwork or events, by Christianity. It invests objects or actions with an inner meaning expressing Christian ideas.
Stauros (σταυρός) is a Greek word which in the oldest forms is found used in the plural number in the sense of an upright stake or pole. In Koine Greek, in use during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, within which the New Testament was written, it was used in the singular number with reference to an instrument of capital punishment that writers in that form of Greek describe as cross-shaped or T-shaped; in modern Greek it is used to refer only to a cross, real or metaphorical.
The Christian cross, seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus, is the best-known symbol of Christianity. It is related to the crucifix and to the more general family of cross symbols, the term cross itself being detached from the original specifically Christian meaning in modern English.
The staurogram (⳨), also monogrammatic cross or tau-rho, is a ligature composed of a superposition of the Greek letters tau (Τ) and rho (Ρ).
Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 5101, designated P.Oxy.LXXVII 5101 contains fragments of a manuscript in Koine Greek of the Septuagint (LXX), written on papyrus in roll form. It has been palaeographycally dated to have been written between 50 and 150 C.E.
This is a list of Christian cross variants. The Christian cross, with or without a figure of Christ included, is the main religious symbol of Christianity. A cross with a figure of Christ affixed to it is termed a crucifix and the figure is often referred to as the corpus.
Descriptions in antiquity of the execution cross, whether by Christians or non-Christians, present as composed of two wooden pieces the instrument ordinarily used in putting people to death by crucifixion. Whether the two pieces of timber of the normal execution cross were permanently conjoined or were merely put together for the purpose of the execution is not stated.
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