Wikipedia's article on crucifixion says

While a crucifixion was an execution, it was also a humiliation, by making the condemned as vulnerable as possible. Although artists have traditionally depicted the figure on a cross with a loin cloth or a covering of the genitals, the person being crucified was usually stripped naked.

Is there a scholarly consensus that Jesus was also crucified naked?

How have Christian traditions and scholars explained this?


He most likely was crucified naked - this is consistent with the biblical narrative of the guards casting lots for his garment and with standard historical practice.

In the paintings, the artists wanted to preserve some of the dignity and not turn the Lord's body into something that puerile youngsters might be titilated by. It is a condescension to the viewer, intentionally not in accord with the scriptures.

He was naked on the cross - that was part of the shame of crucifixion.

As J. Vernon McGee (Thru the Bible) says:

He was crucified naked. It is difficult for us in this age of nudity and pornography to comprehend the great humiliation He suffered by hanging nude on the cross. They had taken His garments and gambled for ownership. My friend, He went through it all, crucified naked, that you might be clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and so be able to stand before God throughout the endless ages of eternity.

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    I completely agree with you. Few artists would be prepared or know enough to get too graphically realistic. Judging by modern crucifixions, the shame of nudity is compounded by bodily functions. The modern crucified, like Jesus are not drugged as was the norm in ancient Israel. They are fully aware but as all their weight is on their arms they quickly die. As blood flow to the arms are severely restricted the arms swell up like balloons. That is also not depicted. Astonishingly somebody survived for three days and was released - an ancient custom to prove complete innocence of all wrongdoing. – gideon marx Feb 9 '15 at 11:00
  • The film Jesus of Montreal is worthy of a mention here. The crucifixion scene is supposedly based on research. It's on Youtube but is not for the fainthearted. – Andrew Leach Feb 9 '15 at 11:18
  • @AndrewLeach Another stark example can be found in the Passion Façade of the Sagrada Família in Barcelona. Images are readily available. though again not for the faint of heart. – tchrist Feb 9 '15 at 12:26
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    The real stuff is available. Be very careful of the sites! – gideon marx Feb 9 '15 at 18:42

Matt 27:28 and Luke 10:30 state that the Roman soldiers "stripped" Jesus prior to the crucifixion. That may mean they took away all of his clothing, including his loin cloth. But not necessarily.

John 21:7 records another man who was stripped:

"Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord.' So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea."

It is unlikely that Simon Peter was working completely in the nude. After all, there's a lot of sharp stuff on a fishing boat (ouch!). But a man wearing only a loincloth was until very recently considered to be naked.

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  • The Greek word gymnos (the word for 'stripped' being used here) actually is translated as 'naked' in nearly every other relevant instance in the Bible. It isn't out of the range of possibility that Peter was naked. However, the mentioning of an outer garment may refer to Peter having taken off his cloak so that he would be freer to work and not as hot in the sun. We can't say for sure, although the reference (whether direct or indirect) of a loincloth cannot be made for certain. – matheno Aug 14 '17 at 2:28
  • @UriahBlacke, look in my native language we say that someone is naked if shirtless. I'm sure that they had it the same especially if Jews were wearing such heavy garments. – Grasper Aug 14 '17 at 12:26

Catholic Source

(It has been reported that Mel Gibson based his movie The Passion of the Christ from this source.)

It seems from this source that he was crucified with the linen which girded his loins.

The executioners soon pulled off our Lord’s cloak, the belt to which the ropes were fastened, and his own belt, when they found it was impossible to drag the woollen garment which his Mother had woven for him over his head, on account of the crown of thorns; they tore off this most painful crown, thus reopening every wound, and seizing the garment, tore it mercilessly over his bleeding and wounded head. Our dear Lord and Saviour then stood before his cruel enemies, stripped of all save the short scapular which was on his shoulders, and the linen which girded his loins. His scapular was of wool; the wool had stuck to the wounds, and indescribable was the agony of pain he suffered when they pulled it roughly off. - Source: CHAPTER XXXVIII, The Nailing of Jesus to the Cross | THE DOLOROUS (SORROWFUL) PASSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST | Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich.

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    I don't mean any disrespect here, but an opinion from someone born in the late 1700s is not a primary source. Anne Catherine Emmerich's experience was of growing up in a farming community and then becoming a nun and then claiming visions and stigmata. Also, what we have of these visions was passed down by Clemens Brentano ten years after she claimed to have the visions, and there are many who believe Brentano fabricated much of what he wrote about these visions. Even the Vatican does not see these writings as authentic. – Stephen E. Seale Jul 6 '16 at 22:48
  • @StephenE.Seale The question does not ask for primary sources, yet asks for what various traditions say on this subject. The Vatican leaves the truth of these revelations to the discretion of the faithful because it is considered private revelation. – Ken Graham Nov 24 '19 at 21:25

Yes he was.

First, in regards to the issue of Peter in John 21:7, here is John Gill's commentary on the verse:

The Greek word (ependuthv), here used, is manifestly the (tdnwpa) of the Hebrews; and which, the Jewish writers say, was a strait garment, which a man put on next his flesh to dry up the sweat; and a very proper one for Peter, who had been toiling all night, and very fit for him to swim in; and, by what follows, appears to be put on him next his flesh: for he was naked; for to suppose him entirely naked, whilst fishing, being only in company with men, and those parts of nature having a covering, which always require one, was not at all indecent and unbecoming.

Also, the Greek word gymnos was used about Peter. This means a state of complete nudity. Peter was literally naked, though many translations hide this by saying it was just an outer garment he was taking off. This is using modern cultural mores to influence one's interpretation of history. Historical studies of the culture of the time indicate that public nudity was not at all unusual for fishermen, or for those working in the fields or in mines, even in cases when there were women present. Nudity in public was also not uncommon during athletic events. Hebrews 12:1 makes reference to this:

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.

The author uses the analogy of a runner here, who would lay aside the garments that weighed him down, running naked. He is saying that, just as a runner strips himself of the garments that weigh him down so he can run, so we must strip off the sin that weighs us down. This is not an analogy that many people in our modern Christian culture are comfortable with, but the Christians in the early church would have understood the analogy just fine.

For those who say they "can't imagine" someone being crucified in a state of complete nudity in front of passers-by including women and children, I would say that how we imagine the past to be does not determine that is how it was. Nudity has been used in punishment throughout history. Defeated people throughout history had their clothing taken away to shame them. This shame was not the shame we have in modern times due to the mores that originated in the Victorian era, it was because to be denied clothing was the mark of a slave. Slaves that served well might be granted clothing, but it was not a given. Throughout the middle ages and even into early modern times nudity continued to be used in punishments. Even in Puritan New England, individuals were tarred and feathered on occasion. They would be stripped naked, have hot tar poured all over them, be coated with chicken feathers, and then be forced to sit on top of a rail and be paraded around town in that state before being dumped, naked and covered with tar and feathers, at the edge of town and told never to enter the town again. The problem with many people today is that things like this in history don't make them feel all warm and fuzzy and so they dismiss it due to their feelings. Well, feelings don't define the historical record, and if you think they do you are dabbling in the wrong field.

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If it is a fact that the Romans believed in giving a fair trial to the charged one, they would also ensure that the punishment awarded was justified in the eyes of the beholders. (See that Jesus was offered vinegar to drink, which served as a pain-killer.) Jesus was charged with blasphemy and organizing the Jews against the Roman government. Hanging someone in the state of nakedness does not appear to be a commensurate punishment for the said crimes.

By the way, there were also punishments of more cruel nature in the days of Jesus. One for instance, involved binding of the convict back on back to a dead body and deserting him in a deep valley to die of hunger and thirst in the company of the rotting cadaver ! So, there is no reason to believe that Jesus went through the ultimate penalty.

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I do believe Jesus was crucified ...Naked. I agree with Mark 27:28...that indeed He was stripped of his clothing. Today, it is variably hard for us to fathom the surreal act of Jesus' persecutions for us...this should make us truly-penitent! Over How Much a "truly-Righteous-and spotless of error and aim" suffered for our Intent...Romans 5:7-9 ..For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die...But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us... and suffered with "The aim to win us to God!"

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