by Phillip Brown
The Alexamenos graffitio is a 2nd century AD piece of graffiti, which was found etched on a wall in a room near the Palatine Hill in Rome. The image depicts a human figure with a donkey’s head hanging on a cross, as if crucified. Next to the cross is a person looking toward the one on the cross with a hand raised in what looks like some sort of supplication, or worship. Accompanying the image is a crude inscription in Greek saying “Alexamenos worships [his] God”. Apparently whoever produced this graffiti was attempting to insult someone named Alexamenos, who was, presumably, a Christian. It was a common insult in imperial Rome for Christians to be accused of worshipping donkeys. The Alexamenos graffito is an example of this insult. This is, in no way, proof that Jesus was divine, but what this piece of epigraphy does suggest is that the idea of Christians worshipping a crucified man as their God, is not a late invention of the Church, but was in fact, most likely, something that was common practice in early Christianity, as is suggested in The New Testament. What’s more, non-Christians in Rome seem to have been aware of this practice as early as the 2nd century AD.