Lindisfarne Gospels 4
The letter chi has the same shape as one form of the letter taw in the old Hebrew (Phoenician) script. As the letter tau, it was simply a 'mark' or a brand, the seal of the Hebrew scriptures and the anointing mark or crismon of the early Christian church. As either + or x it has endured as one of the oldest multivalent symbols of civilization.
The greatest danger is that we will read into this mark, x or +, either too little or too much. Here is the verse "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matt. 16:16 in Canadian Syllabics.
People viewing the word xmas, which also contains this representation of Christ might feel that they are looking at something which belittles Christ instead of realizing that this symbol represents a continuity of representation over 2000 years old.
Does it have some religious significance or is it just a mark? Sometimes one has to be willing to accept that this mark can mean either Christ, or consecration, or a signature, or the wrong answer, or a ballot vote, or a kiss, or anointing, or branding, or the mathematical symbols of x or +, - or just a mark. It can be the sign of dedication, of possession, of affection, of illiteracy, of fulfillment, or of sacrifice.
In translation it is sometimes a judgement call as to when information is incidental and when it is meaningful. Communication is sadly imperfect in this life; it is a system of representation, nothing less and nothing more. It is not meaning itself. In the words of Paul,
- For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Cor. 13:12.