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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?

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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
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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
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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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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. Even then the revelations in question were not to considered into the deposition of beatification by the Vatican because of the possibility that its’ author may have added things to it. – Ken Graham Nov 24 '19 at 21:25
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Was Jesus crucified naked?

St. Matthew tells us that the soldiers divided his clothing. Nothing is mentioned of Christ wearing a loin cloth!

The Crucifixion of Jesus

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews. - Matthew 27: 32-37]1

St. Luke is also silent on this issue.

32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.

33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. - Luke23: 32-34

Most sources point to a naked Jesus on the Cross.

The Crucifixion

But lets discuss the crucifixion itself. Some say that our Lord was naked while others suggest that He was covered. It is not clear if Jesus was left totally naked or allowed some kind of covering over his private parts (Craig L. Blomberg, The New American Commentary: Matthew, p. 416). MacArthur thinks that Jesus was stripped naked (Study Bible on John 19:18; Albert Barnes, comment on Matthew 27:35; Barnes Notes). The ESV Study Bible also takes this view: Crucifixion, performed naked and in public, and inflicting prolonged pain on the victim, was intended to cause shame as well as death (comment on Hebrews 12:2). Lenski, however, believes that the shame in Hebrews 12:2 refers to the cross itselfthe shame of dying the death of a criminal who was accounted as accursed by God by his executioners (Hebrews, comment on Hebrews 12:2).

Most of the sources we have read do point out that the common and expected form of crucifixion by the Romans involved total nakedness. Contemporary writings that describe crucifixion state that the victim was naked as he was hanging on the cross. Thus, it seems clear that generally a Roman crucifixion involved total nakedness. - Was Jesus actually Naked on the Cross?

The normal victim to be crucified was lead to the place to the place of execution naked and bleeding from his scourging.

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. Writings by Seneca the Younger state some victims suffered a stick forced upwards through their groin. Despite its frequent use by the Romans, the horrors of crucifixion did not escape criticism by some eminent Roman orators. Cicero, for example, described crucifixion as "a most cruel and disgusting punishment", and suggested that "the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen's body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears". Elsewhere he says, "It is a crime to bind a Roman citizen; to scourge him is a wickedness; to put him to death is almost parricide. What shall I say of crucifying him? So guilty an action cannot by any possibility be adequately expressed by any name bad enough for it."

Crucifixion was typically carried out by specialized teams, consisting of a commanding centurion and his soldiers. First, the condemned would be stripped naked and scourged. This would cause the person to lose a large amount of blood, and approach a state of shock. The convict then usually had to carry the horizontal beam (patibulum in Latin) to the place of execution, but not necessarily the whole cross.

During the death march, the prisoner, probably still nude after the scourging, would be led through the most crowded streets bearing a titulus – a sign board proclaiming the prisoner's name and crime. Upon arrival at the place of execution, selected to be especially public, the convict would be stripped of any remaining clothing, then nailed to the cross naked. If the crucifixion took place in an established place of execution, the vertical beam (stipes) might be permanently embedded in the ground. In this case, the condemned person's wrists would first be nailed to the patibulum, and then he or she would be hoisted off the ground with ropes to hang from the elevated patibulum while it was fastened to the stipes. Next the feet or ankles would be nailed to the upright stake. The 'nails' were tapered iron spikes approximately 5 to 7 inches (13 to 18 cm) long, with a square shaft 3⁄8 inch (10 mm) across. The titulus would also be fastened to the cross to notify onlookers of the person's name and crime as they hung on the cross, further maximizing the public impact. - Crucifixion

Dr. Pierre Barbet in his book A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ As Described by a Surgeon explains that persons condemned by the Romans were crucified in fact naked (page 48). He furthermore goes on to show that those who take the Shroud of Turin to be authentic, the person of this shroud is obviously naked!

So this death is meant to shame you. It’s meant to mock you. It’s meant to embarrass you in front of everyone, okay? And if you’ve ever been really, really embarrassed, you know the pain of embarrassment cuts deeply if it’s a serious one, yes, right? But it’s an interior suffering. So that’s what we would call an embarrassment; they would call it shame. It’s deeper than just being embarrassed. And again, we have both Roman and Jewish witnesses to this effect. So crucifixion is a form of mockery. For example, Seneca tells us in his Dialogues about the ways in which the Romans would crucify their victims. And he says this:

I see crosses there, not just of one kind but made in many different ways: some have their victims with head down to the ground [like St. Peter]; some impale their private parts; others stretch out their arms on the gibbet. (Seneca, Dialogue 6.20.3)

The fourth point of crucifixion that heightened the shame of it was not simply the slavery, the identity as slave attached to it, or the mockery and cruelty that often attended it, but also the immodesty that was ordinarily part of it. It is the case, and as both Hengel and Keener and many other scholars have pointed out, that the victims are ordinarily crucified naked. This is something that we’re not really as familiar with because ordinarily we only know about Jesus of Nazareth’s crucifixion and ordinarily when we see him on the cross, we’ll see him with a loin cloth, right? That’s the general iconography. - Crucifixion: The Shame of the Cross

Women occasionally were also condemned to Crucifixion.

Ravished Armenia

Ravished Armenia pictured the above screen shot of Armenian Christian girls crucified in the 1919 American silent film based on the autobiographical book Ravished Armenia by Arshaluys (Aurora) Mardiganian, who also played the lead role in the film. . The film shows young Armenian girls being "crucified" by being nailed to crosses. However, almost 70 years later Mardiganian revealed to film historian Anthony Slide that the scene was inaccurate. I am placing it here simply to show the ignominy of this torment!

The following articles may be of interest to some:

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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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  • you are sadly misinformed. Romans were known for their unusual and excruciating torture methods, and crucifixion is one of the worst in history - because it was designed to prolong the death, and create agonizing cramps and muscle spasms to the feet, when the victim had to push himself up to breathe, Many people actually died at the beatings - 49 lashes x 9 - [Cat of nine tails was a whip with 9 straps, each one having bits of metal and bone which tore muscles and flesh.] Being tied to a dead body would be nothing compared to this pain and torture. – Tennman7 Jan 18 at 15:09
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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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