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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 (a cross that includes a corpus, usually a three-dimensional representation of Jesus' body) and to the more general family of cross symbols, the term cross itself being detached from the original specifically Christian meaning in modern English (as in many other western languages). The basic forms of the cross are the Latin cross with unequal arms and the Greek cross with equal arms, besides numerous variants, partly with confessional significance, such as the tau cross, the double-barred cross, triple-barred cross, cross-and-crosslets, and many heraldic variants, such as the cross potent, cross patte, cross moline, cross fleury, etc. For a few centuries, the emblem of Christ was a headless T-shaped Tau cross rather than a Latin cross. Elworthy considered this to originate from Pagan Druids who made Tau crosses of oak trees stripped of their branches, with two large limbs fastened at the top to represent a man's arm, this was Thau, or god. Pre-Christian symbolism A version of the cross symbol was used long before the Christian era in the form of the ancient Egyptian ankh. Instrument of Jesus' execution John Pearson, Bishop of Chester (c. 1660) wrote in his commentary on the Apostles' Creed that the Greek word stauros originally signified 'a straight standing Stake, Pale, or Palisador', but that, 'when other transverse or prominent parts were added in a perfect Cross, it retained still the Original Name', and he declared: 'The Form then of the Cross on which our Saviour suffered was not a simple, but a compounded, Figure, according to the Custom of the Romans, by whose Procurator he was condemned to die. In which there was not only a straight and erected piece of Wood fixed in the Earth, but also a transverse Beam fastened unto that towards the top thereof'. Early Christian usage There are few extant examples of the cross in 2nd century Christian iconography. It has been argued that Christians were reluctant to use it as it depicts a purposely painful and gruesome method of public execution.
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