Crucifixion and Sexual Abuse
This article draws on Latin American liberation hermeneutics to read the Gospel narratives of crucifixion in light of Latin American torture reports. The torture practices used by authoritarian regimes in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s show how torture was used for state terror. Reports on this period also confirm the frequency of sexual violence in torture practices. Applying this perspective to a reading of the Gospel narratives, the article argues that the Romans also used crucifixion as state terror. Roman crucifixions were public punishments to intimidate and control slaves and subjected peoples. Furthermore, to reinforce the message of terror, crucifixions included sexual humiliation to degrade and demean their victims. The article argues that the stripping and naked exposure of Jesus recorded in the Gospels were a form of sexual humiliation and should be named as sexual abuse. It also raises a question on whether other sexual abuses might have taken place in the praetorium. It concludes that the possibility of further abuse is an important question to consider even though it cannot be answered with certainty.
Editor: Tombs, David
Publisher: Centre for Theology and Public Issues, University of Otago
Rights Statement: This report is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. It may be freely copied and shared for any non-commercial purpose as long as you attribute the Centre for Theology and Public Issues, University of Otago.
Keywords: Jesus; crucifixion; sexual abuse; torture; state terror
Research Type: Project Report
Originally published in a longer version as David Tombs, ‘Crucifixion, State Terror, and Sexual Abuse’, Union Seminary Quarterly Review, 53 (Autumn 1999), pp. 89-109. Otago University Research Archive http://hdl.handle.net/10523/6067 This abridged version was first published in Portuguese as David Tombs, ‘Crucificação e abuso sexual’, Estudos Teológicos Vol. 59, No. 1 (July 2019), pp. 119-32.
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