Biblical Archaeology Review 39:2, March/April 2013

Biblical Views: Images of Crucifixion: Fresh Evidence

By Ben Witherington III

The Easter season is a time of year when Christians reflect on the death, burial, resurrection and post-mortem appearances of Jesus. Good Friday, as it is called, focuses specifically on the death of Jesus, which in my view likely transpired during the Passover season in April 30 A.D. Much of how Christians view, and think about, the crucifixion of Jesus comes from the iconography and representation of the event in later Christian art, none of which dates to the first century of the Christian era.

There are, however, three known images of crucifixion roughly contemporary with when Jesus lived. The first two are in the form of graffiti: one ridicules the notion of a crucified god (and so provides an early critique of Christian belief); the other is a simple depiction of a flayed and crucified man. The third image is inscribed on a gem that may have been used for magic rites.

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