At John 19:19-20 we read:

Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.

In the crucifixes that we see today, we only see the inscription as INRI which is the short-form of what Pilate actually wrote. It is quite unlikely that Pilate used the abbreviated form, since the inscription was meant to be form of charge-sheet, as is evident from John 19:21 : " Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’”

My question is: is there any denomination which uses the full text of the inscription that Pilate placed on the Cross of Jesus, in the crucifix used by it ?

1 Answer 1


Do any denominations use the full form of INRI?

The short answer is yes.

First of all, there are several denominations that have the tradition of have of displaying crucifixes in their church, such as Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans and Lutherans. Although these churches have crucifixes in them, the vast majority of these works of art, simply have the abbreviated form of Titulus on the cross.

There is nothing contrary to having a crucifix with the full title within these denominations. It simply is not the prevailing custom of any denomination.

That said, if one looks hard enough, someone will eventually find a few churches here and there that display a crucifix with the full title of Christ’s condemnation, in various Christian denominations throughout the world.

Here is just one example of a crucifix with the full title which I found in a Lutheran church.

A crucifix in the chancel of a Lutheran church.

A crucifix in the chancel of a Lutheran church.

With a little more research I am confident one could find more examples in other denominations as well.

The inscription(s) on the Titulus of the Cross

The Latin title, being the official indictment, would undoubtedly have been written first on the board. This then would have determined the length of the board and/or the size of the letters required to fit the inscription into one line and for it still to be readable by the crowd from a distance (John 19:20).

In those days they did not use spaces between the words in any of the languages as we do now, and so John's Latin “title” contained just 26 letters and no spaces.

Luke's Greek “superscription” contained 30 letters, and so must have been written in slightly smaller letters than was the Latin. It is easy to see that there would not have been room for 16 more letters for the words “Jesus of Nazareth” (i.e. “Jesus the Nazarene”) in Greek.

Matthew's “accusation” in Hebrew contained just 19 letters, which is rather fewer than the two other languages, because the Jews did not write vowels in Hebrew. Whoever translated the title into Hebrew apparently did not think it worth adding “of Nazareth.” Perhaps he thought that to have lived in Nazareth was not an indictable offense!

If we put all of this together, it is highly probable that the board with the inscriptions looked as shown above, with the Latin written first, probably at the top, and then either the Greek or the Hebrew. - The inscription(s) on the cross

  • I have seen it at a couple of churches during Easter season, the churches being Catholic. I didn't think to take a picture. Apr 2, 2020 at 1:24
  • @KorvinStarmast I think that most denominations that display Crucifixes will have such crucifixes with a full titulus somewhere in the world. It is a question of locating them.
    – Ken Graham
    Apr 2, 2020 at 1:48

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