But can’t we argue that a nude jesus was still and extraordinary rarity
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.
CURATOR OF MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPTS
THE MORGAN LIBRARY AND MUSEUM
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
I 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
This does not help in authentication. Even Ian Wilson understood that the hands modestly covering the genitals didn’t mean anything and in one of his writings he said he could see the tip of the penis.
Your statement is that this does not “help” in authentication and I beg to differ with you. It is a factual circumstance that supports authenticity. Any single item of circumstantial evidence rarely “proves” anything. The issue is whether it is consistent with one side of the matter at issue because if its inconsistent it start to point in the opposite direction. It is an accumulation of circumstances that point in the same direction that eventually proves the case..
The nudity of Christ in the Shroud image is consistent with the fact of his burial after a nude crucifixion. All that en-wrapped were the burial linens.
Now how many images of a nude Christ on the cross are there? Is the answer one? or two or even ten?
How many original images of Christ with his genitals with a loin cloth. I would hazard a guess that there may be significantly more than 100,000. Now how many reproductions of loin cloth covered genital area are there? There are more than two billion Christians living to day.Counting Rosary reproductions, , sacred icons and even cheesy reproductions of the crucifixion,over the span of nearly two millennia I would suggest there are tens of million if bnot hundreds of millions.
The odds that the naked Christ of the Shroud is not unique and attributal to its authenticity claim probably run to at least 100,000 to 1 or .00001. .
I sometimes find that “true believers” fight the use of reasonable inferences from the evidence because they insist that it be a matter of faith. (That’s not you Louis)
The merger of science and religion is proceeding apace. Some Catholic theologians are way ahead of the crowd in recognizing the Chardian confluence of Science and Religion. They have never really been separated.
Not saying I buy all of it, but very enlightening on where modern Catholic theology is headed.
Good morning, John
I am very busy right now with a big pdf article being written about Jesus in biblical archaeology, which should have been ready a month ago. I will reply to your comments in about two hours time,OK?
Take your time. Good luck on the article.
The Holkham Bible of c1330 (images easily found on the web) has a naked Jesus on the cross.
In the very rare circumstances where Jesus is depicted nude it is in a private ie. Non public setting eg. A bible or a manuscript. It is very unlikely if the shroud was a fraud for public showing and associated fame and fortune that the image would have been created nude.
USCCB on Matthew 27 has a note that the clothing of the crucified person always went to the executioners. This clearly included the inner tunic which was seamless and for which the soldiers cast lots (dice??). The posting above refers to removal of a loin cloth, but I don’t know if this was a regular part of Jewish clothing or not. Mary placing her veil over the loins is an interesting piety, but is there any at least apocryphal evidence for it? This is the first I’ve heard of such a legend. At the normal height of a regular Roman cross, it would be quite possible to do so. Piercing of the chest with the lancea would have been done by a foot soldier and did not require a mounted cavalry-man. Possibly the earliest depiction of a fully naked Christ (rear view) is an illustration in the Carolingian Stuttgart Psalter of the scourging, 800-814AD, Dan posted here a few months ago.
Here we go:
I understand what you are saying and agree with you, — you argue like a very good lawyer indeed! — however the comment was prompted by IW’s insistence that no one has been able to prove that the C14 dating was skewed and his attempts to demonstrate the authenticity of the Shroud through other means. While I personally do not find it difficult to accept what you call “accumulation of circumstances”, that surely will not be welcome by anti-authenticists. More will be needed to convince them, and it will have to be a lot more convincing than what has sometimes been published on the relic so far:
Let me know if you were able to open the file.
More recently,it has been argued that the Jospice Mattress Imprint was painted and this, too, will be tackled shortly. Such arguments do not help to authenticate the TS and, in my view at least, they distort the truth, like the hypothesis in the link. The more you clutch at straws, the less will you be able to convince sceptics.
Thanks for the link to the video, which I will watch later today and comment on later. Teilhard had foresight, he mingled science with systematic theology because he knew what was to come, more than many other clergymen, but not all questions were answered. Remember that Pope John Paul II said the Shroud takes us to the “mystery of life and death”, but he also criticised what he judged to be Buddhism’s negative soteriology in his book “Crossing the Threshold of Hope”.
We cannot sweep the mysterium iniquitatis under the rug, and I am sure you know we are surrounded by it. One can see your efforts to get above it, others don’t even try. When Father Victor White lay dying after a motorcycle accident, Jung could not visit him because he was very old and the doctor’s advice was for him not to travel. But he did write to the priest to tell him that, suffering as he was after the accident, he was now wearing Job’s shoes.
With the exception of the 2-3 depictions listed above I think it’s fair to say that depicting Jesus in the nude was indeed very rare. Even when they tried to copy the shroud they gave him a loin cloth.
It should be emphasised too that the Shroud displays BUTTOCKS. The nude images referred to above still provide some modesty protection through subtle body positions and perspectives, so that genitals / buttocks (ie. “offensive” body parts) are concealed.
Interesting that the Holkham Bible ~1330 illustration has a discreet stylised naked Christ, while the loins of the two thieves are draped. Style of crucifixion of the two thieves is also different from the conventional depiction of Christ.
It’s a most curious depiction, isn’t it? Christ appears almost to be suffering from the pox (perhaps this was on the artist’s mind given the time period of the work). The blood spurting from his arms – inspired by the arm stains on the Shroud? Why the nakedness of Christ but modesty cloths for the thieves. A very peculiar piece of art!
Actually after looking at the earlier pic of the flagellation, the ‘pox’ are the marks left by the whip — but again it’s interesting that the artist chooses to show a whip with forked endings — which meshes well with the marks on the Shroud. Curiouser and curioser.
It’s as if the artist is trying to underline Jesus’ suffering – that it was much greater than the thieves’ suffering – the scars, the wounds, the blood, the naked humiliation
A thought…I don’t know if this has been discussed before…
For the most part paintings of the crucifixion show the side wound on Christ’s right side.
the Shroud has got it right – the wound on the right hand side of Christ would correspond with it presenting as if it was on the left hand side of the Shroud (clumsy explanation I’m sorry!)
A painter / forger would mostly likely have shown it on the other side?
Could a medieval forger have been that savvy to show it the way its shown?
I would think the Genius artisan would have no problem with that since he’s already demonstrated an extraordinary ability to think outside the box of ancient or even 21st century art by producing;
1- blood flow in 2 different plains( on the cross & on the tomb) as in the side wound and the elbow stain.
2- blood flowing under different pressures on the forehead (squirting vs seeping)
3-blood flowing pre-mortem & postmortem.
4- Chest muscles pulled up as if the hands were raised at death while the hands were depicted in the lowered position ( to demonstrate how rigor Mortis was broken during burial).
5- added serum retraction rings to impress his 21st century audience who would appreciate these feature with UV fluorescence photography.
6- added Jerusalem dirt to impress Kohlbeck and Nitowski’s curiosity.
7- blood painted first then the body image to impress those future alchemists who would use proteases to see how the fibres look under the blood stains.
I would say the orientation of the side wound would be no problem whatsoever for such a time traveller artisan.
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