British Museum/HIP/Art Resource, NY

CALM AND IN CONTROL. Jesus awaits his fate with open eyes and arms in this fifth-century C.E. ivory plaque from the British Museum, one of the earliest extant images of the crucifixion. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus accepts his fate on the cross. His last words are “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). On the ivory, Jesus’ vigorous posture contrasts sharply with that of Judas, at left, whose dead body hangs limply from a tree. (The bag of 30 silver coins that he received for betraying Jesus lies beneath his feet.)

The only time Luke’s Jesus ever appears to agonize is when he sweats blood, in Luke 22:43–44, verses missing from our earliest manuscripts. Author Ehrman suggests that a scribe, concerned about Luke’s strong portrayal of Jesus, may have inserted these lines to show that Jesus truly was fully human as well as divine—a matter of great debate in the second and third centuries.