One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Alexamenos & The Donkey's Head: Interpretation



Intepretation

The inscription is accepted by authoritative sources, such as the Catholic Encyclopedia,[18] to be a mocking depiction of a Christian in the act of worship. The donkey's head and crucifixion would both have been considered insulting depictions by contemporary Roman society. Crucifixion continued to be used as an execution method for the worst criminals until its abolition by the emperor Constantine in the 4th century, and the impact of seeing a figure on a cross is comparable to the impact today of portraying a man with a hangman's noose around his neck or seated in an electric chair.[19]

It seems to have been commonly believed at the time that Christians practiced onolatry (donkey-worship). That was based on the misconception that Jews worshipped a god in the form of a donkey, a prejudice of unclear origin. Tertullian, writing in the late 2nd or early 3rd century, reports that Christians, along with Jews, were accused of worshipping such a deity. He also mentions an apostate Jew who carried around Carthage a caricature of a Christian with ass's ears and hooves, labeled Deus Christianorum Onocoetes ("the God of the Christians begotten of an ass").[20]

Others have suggested that the graffito depicts worship of the Egyptian gods Anubis[8] or Seth,[21] or that the young man is actually engaged in a gnostic ceremony involving a horse-headed figure and that rather than a Greek upsilon it is a tau cross at the top right of the crucified figure.[1]:393-394

It has also been suggested that both the graffito and the roughly contemporary gems with Crucifixion images are related to heretical groups outside the main church.[22]


[From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexamenos_graffito]
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