The name in English is pronounced or , but in modern Greek it is [taf]. This is because the pronunciation of the combination of Greek letters has changed from ancient to modern times from one of [au] to either [av] or [af], depending on what follows (see Greek orthography).
In ancient times, tau was used as a symbol for life or resurrection, whereas the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet, theta, was considered the symbol of death.
In Biblical times, the taw was put on men to distinguish those who lamented sin, although newer versions of the Bible have replaced the ancient term taw with mark (Ezekiel 9:4) or signature (Job 31:35). Its original sound value is a voiceless alveolar plosive, IPA /t/
The symbolism of the cross was connected not only to the letter chi but also to tau, the equivalent of the last letter in the Phoenician and Old Hebrew alphabets, and which was originally cruciform in shape; see Cross of Tau.
Men weep, and bewail their lot, and curse Cadmus with many curses for introducing Tau into the family of letters; they say it was his body that tyrants took for a model, his shape that they imitated, when they set up structures on which men are crucified. Stauros (cross) 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 stauros after him by men
Tau is usually considered as the symbol of Franciscan orders due to St. Francis' love for it, symbol of the redemption and of the Cross. Almost all Franciscan churches have painted a tau with two crossing arms, both with stigmata, the one of Jesus and the other of Francis; members of the Secular Franciscan Order usually wear a wooden ? in a string with three knots around the neck
The title and symbol of "Tau" is used by neo-Gnostic bishops as it has some symbolism in many of the modern branches of Gnosticism.
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