Zondervan, the respected trinitarian publishing, company prints a book which examines most twentieth century English versions of the Bible: So Many Versions? (SMV), by trinitarian Bible scholars Dr. S. Kubo and Dr. W. Albrecht. They have published this book since 1975. I purchased my copy new in 1991 from a "Christian" book store. So, for over 15 years this popular trinitarian publishing company has been printing the following criticisms of the NWT. We will examine them in the order they appear in my copy of this book (1983 revised edition.).
"Torture Stake" vs. "Cross" The Catholic scholar quoted in SMV appeals to the writings of two early Christians. Unfortunately, the authenticity of these two writings is highly questionable. There are extremely few copies available at all (unlike manuscripts of the scriptures), and no copies are available that are older than the 4th century (when the tradition of venerating a two-piece cross was introduced), and it can be shown that copyists of that time, and later, have introduced their own ideas into these writings. - See p. 671, The Watchtower, 1972.
For more evidence favoring the "torture stake" interpretation see the Appendix in the NWT large-print Reference Bible; Reasoning From The Scriptures, pp. 89-93, 1989 ed.; Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 2, pp. 1116-1117; and Awake!, pp. 27-28, Nov. 8, 1972.
We are not to venerate images or man-made objects. This certainly includes a two-piece "Cross." (Ex. 20:4, 5. The early Christians, influenced by the Old Testament prohibition of graven images, were reluctant to depict even the instrument of the Lord's Passion." - New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. iv, p. 486.) We do not want to be associated with those who do so nor with the actions of those who do apostate things "in the name of the Cross"!
For example, a study of the terrible evils of the Crusades will horrify most people. Not only were the Crusades under the flag of the Cross and conducted under the "sign of the Cross," but the very name "Crusades" even means `marked with the Cross' (The Encyclopedia Americana, 1957, Vol. 8, p. 255). Surely, an interpretation based on real evidence which tends to eliminate any possible scriptural pleading for such a tradition does not deserve the criticism SMV gives it.Next SMV tells us of two "unfortunate examples" of "peculiarities in translation": "torture stake" instead of "cross" and "impale" instead of "crucify." Other than obviously disliking the change from tradition, SMV's only defense of the traditional "cross/crucify" is a page-long attack on the NWT by a Catholic scholar (who obviously must defend his Church's strong tradition of venerating the Cross) in a 1951 article of the Catholic Biblical Quarterly.
We can find equally strong defenses of the Witness interpretation. Even the highly regarded (by "orthodox" Protestants) New Testament scholar, W. E. Vine, in his An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 248, tells us that the so-called "cross" was really an upright pale or stake (without a crosspiece) and that an apostate Church finally, in an effort to please pagan "converts," allowed them to keep their pagan symbols, including a two-piece cross. Only then did the cross become a "Christian" symbol.
At the beginning of the third century Minucius Felix wrote to the pagans in Octavius and revealed the attitude that early Christians had toward the cross up to that time. He said: "Crosses, moreover, we neither worship nor wish for. You, indeed, who consecrate gods of wood, adore wooden crosses perhaps as parts of your gods. . . . Your victorious trophies not only imitate the appearance of a simple cross, but also that of a man affixed to it." (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4, p. 191) True Christians never revered the cross or regarded it as a symbol of true Christianity.
Note also what is stated in The Companion Bible, published by the Oxford University Press. On page 186 in the "Appendixes" it says: "Homer uses the word stauros of an ordinary pole or stake, or a single piece of timber. And this is the meaning and usage of the word throughout the Greek classics. It never means two pieces of timber placed across one another at any angle, but always of one piece alone. Hence the use of the word xulon [which means a timber] in connection with the manner of our Lord's death, and rendered tree in Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; Gal. 3:13; 1 Pet. 2:24. . . . There is nothing in the Greek N.T. even to imply two pieces of timber. . . . The evidence is thus complete, that the Lord was put to death upon an upright stake, and not on two pieces of timber placed at any angle." 1 Feb. 1968 WT, pp. 93, 94.
For more, see:
Cross - Links to Information (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)
Stauros / Torture Stake (Response to accusations made by Robert H. Countess) (DNWT)
Extracts from HISTORY OF THE CROSS: THE PAGAN ORIGIN AND IDOLATROUS ADOPTION AND WORSHIP, OF THE IMAGE. BY HENRY DANA WARD, M.A., U.S.A. 1871 (INDNWT)
The STAUROS of the New Testament: Cross or Stake? (INDNWT)
Advantages of the New World Translation: Did Jesus Die on a Cross? (JW United)
Cross or Stake (Stauros) (pastorrussel)
What does the original Greek reveal as to the shape of the instrument on which Jesus was put to death? (JWQ&A)
If Jesus was nailed to a tree with his hands above his head then why does John 20:25 say nailS? (Y/A; Esp. Bar Anerges' response);
"Jesus did not die on cross, says scholar" (News article from Telegraph.co.uk)
NWT - Criticism by Zondervan's So Many Versions? - "Torture Stake" vs. "Cross" (Defending the NWT)
Quotes concerning the pagan history of the Cross (SFBT)
Should the Cross be venerated? (JWQ&A)
Does it matter if Jesus died on a cross? (SFBT)
The Sign of the Cross (pastorrussel)