Ezekiel 9, 2-4: The sign of Tau (Stained glass panel, Cluny museum, apse of the Abbey of Saint-Denis, c. 1140-1144)
The chiasmus had several names in Greek: chi, chiasma, chiaston, that is to say: X (letter Chi), “cross”, “arranged in cross”. And it is represented by a cross figure since it is the precise meaning of the word “chiasmus” in Greek. It is clear that the presence of this stylistic construction at this precise place in the Gospel of John is certainly not due to chance. Located, at the structural level, at the heart of a macro-chiasm, it constitutes, at the narrative level, the climax of the outcome. In addition and above all, this cross-arrangement of characters (chiasma = Χ) comes to be superimposed on the main Cross (stauros = †), the one on which Jesus is crucified. But that is not all ...
In Antiquity, to recognize a debt, a simple letter was traced on an official document. And most often, the document of indebtedness was cancelled by crossing it out with a cross, that is to say by means of the letter Χ.Paul, in his epistles, alludes to this practice.In John, the Chi cross (X) formed by the arrangement of the characters is therefore superimposed on the Cross on which Jesus is crucified, a Tau cross (T) or a Latin cross (†). This X confirms the Cross and crosses it out with another cross similar to the sign which indicates that the debt is paid.
As a confirmation of the Redemption in a way?
Absolutely. Note that in this case the debt is paid by means of the Chi (Χ) which is also here the initial of the name of the one who pays it: Christ (Χριστός). This X functions as a double signature. Again, this cannot be the result of chance alone.
Do you really think that all of this has been carefully thought out?
I firmly believe that. According to John, the last words of Jesus on the Cross have a double meaning in Hebrew and Aramaic (and, to a lesser extent, in Greek) that the translation “all is finished” or “it is finished” does not render. Shalam (shalem, in Hebrew) actually means to be “finished”, “completed”. But if it is a question of debt it means that it is “completely paid”.The formula translated as “it is finished” therefore does not only mean that the prophecies are fulfilled but also that the debt is fully discharged. I specify, by the way, that this verb (to complete) in John is found only in this one chapter.
Couldn’t it be just a coincidence?
Another coincidence? It is highly unlikely. You know, if coincidences rarely work in series, it is even less the case in the sacred texts ... And then, it is in John alone that Jesus, during his appearances, three times utters to his disciples (in the space of a few lines) the usual formula of greeting: “Peace be with you!”
I do not really see the connection.
Yet there is one. We have here in Hebrew our famous Shalom ‘aleikhem. In the Gospels, the formula is found elsewhere only once, in Luke 24, 36 (and in the same circumstance), and only one other time in the rest of the New Testament.The presence, in John alone, of this greeting of peace, Shalom, three times repeated and pronounced only after the Crucifixion, owes nothing to chance.Shalom refers mechanically here to Shalam (same root) and to our triple X. It therefore reminds and confirms that what was due is now totally and definitively settled: meshullam.
But why three chiasms, three Shalom ...?
Because what has happened or been fulfilled three times is firmly established and cannot be revoked.
Is there a connection with Peter’s triple denial?
It is possible. I will have to explore this issue!
All of this seems quite complicated ...
But all this is nothing! In fact, the relations established, on the one hand, between the X and salvation, and, on the other hand, between the X and the Cross, find their origin in the Old Testament: more precisely in the book of Ezekiel and its exegesis. The book of Revelation clearly keeps track of it. You are probably aware that the number 666, which is also mentioned in this book, is related to the mark of the beast ...
But did you know that the saving seal of God, which is also mentioned, is nothing more than an X?
You mean a Chi?
Yes and no. On the one hand, the Greek letter Chi (X), the initial letter of Christ. But, on the other hand, the Hebrew letter Tav, which became T – Tau – among the Greeks, and which means “mark” in Hebrew. In the ancient Hebrew script (Paleo-Hebrew / Phoenician), this letter also has the shape of an X.
Do you mean the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet?
Yes, I do. The Tav refers both to salvation and to the Cross but also to God himself.
Because if, in Greek, God is the Alpha and the Omega, in Hebrew, the language of the Bible, He is the Alef and the Tav, that is to say “the Principle and the End”.
And is there also a connection with the sign of the cross?
There is one. This X sign, symbol of salvation, which dates back to the book of Ezekiel, was in common use in the Church of the first centuries, including among converted Jews. At the time of baptism, a triple immersion and anointing with oil were performed, and this mark was traced on the forehead of the new baptized.During the first centuries, Christians wore a cross of this type painted red or tattooed in the middle of the forehead. It was both a sign of salvation and recognition.
Was it not rather, in this case, a Latin cross or a T-shaped cross?
You know, it does not make a big difference since the letter T, the Tau of the Greeks, originally had the shape of an X ... Ultimately, whether it is a Chi or a Tav, it is always the same “chiasmus” which saves.