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Graffito of Alexamenos

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Appearing around the late second century, the Graffito of Alexamenos (also known as the “travesty crucifixion”) is a graffiti etching into a marble slab that depicts a man (Alexamenos) worshipping a crucified person with the head of an ass.

In Greek, the graffiti reads, “Alexamenos worships [his] God." At the time, it was customary for Romans to mock Jews by claiming their God possessed the head of an ass. This insult simply carried over to Christians (cf. Tertullian, Apol. 16). Likely being the absolute earliest extant depiction of Jesus crucified, this graffiti etching intended to ridicule the early Christians’ worship of Jesus as divine. Because Christianity was such a nonsensical and shocking religion to outsiders, pagans had a difficult time comprehending how rational people could believe their deity was executed by the state through crucifixion.


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