But can’t we argue that a nude jesus was still and extraordinary rarity

imageJoe Marino wrote last night:

There have been several discussions on the blog recently regarding long-held Shroud beliefs, e.g, whether the bloodstains went on the cloth before the image and re finding out the VP-8 image analyzer wasn’t actually used by NASA.

I saw the May/June issue of Biblical Archaeology Review at work and noticed a letter to the editor that pertains to another enduring belief:  that early and medieval artists never depicted Jesus in the nude (and thus the nude Shroud image was a point in favor of authenticity).

And here is the letter to the editor:

Crucifixion in the Nude:

I was quite taken by the two fascinating articles on crucifixion in your March/April 2013 issue.  One was Larry W. Hurtado’s Staurogram:  Earliest Depiction of Jesus’ Crucifixion,” the other Ben Witherington III’s “Images of Crucifixion:  Fresh Evidence.”  I was especially intrigued that two of the earliest crucifixions depicted men who were crucified in the nude.  While I have nothing to add to the early pictorial history of crucifixion, your readers might be interested to learn that there is at least one depiction of Christ, crucified in the nude, although he did not stay that way very long.  The illustration occurs on a Spanish polyptych painted in Barcelona in about 1350 ascribed to Ferrer Bassa and family.  In one panel he hangs on the cross nude.  In a subsequent panel he is clothed with a loincloth.  The episode is based on a devotional text (1), according to which he “is stripped, and is now nude before all he multitude for the third time, his wounds reopened by the adhesion of his garments to his flesh.  Now for the first tie the Mother beholds her Son thus taken and prepared for the anguish of death.  She is saddened and shamed beyond measure when she sees him entirely nude:  They did not leave him even his loincloth.  Therefore she hurries and approached the Son, embraces him, and girds him with the veil from her head ..”

This devotional text clearly inspired the artist.  The polyptych is permanently on view in Morgan’s study at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York.


imageI believe that the devotional text is pseudo-Bonaventure’s Meditationes passionis Christi; Devote meditatione sopra la passione del nostro Signore.

But can’t we argue that a nude jesus was still an extraordinary rarity