For Good Friday: The Earliest Image of the Crucifixion

For Good Friday: The Earliest Image of the Crucifixion

“So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).There they crucified him…” -John 19:16b-18a




An Image for Good Friday
As we come to the deepest point of Holy Week, our gaze turns to the cross. This item in the British Museum is the earliest known narrative portrayal of the Crucifixion. It is a panel from an ivory casket from around 400 AD.

cross ivory Jesus British Museum 2

From the item description
Casket; one of four panels; ivory, carved in relief with the Death of Judas and the Crucifixion: to the left, Judas hangs from tree; below him the purse from which fall pieces of silver; to the right Christ is nailed by the hands only to the cross, his feet unsupported, at the back of his head an engraved nimbus; above his head a titulus with inscription; to the right a soldier (Longinus) in the act of piercing Christ’s side with a spear; on the left stand the Virgin and St John.


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