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.
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 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!
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