HIstory: Nudity (Biblical)

In this section we will examine why we stopped being nude according to the Bible. Most of us already know the story of Adam and Eve, but I do not know the Islamic version of this tale. I’ll give a brief run down on the Biblical version so everyone is on the same page. I’ll use the King James version, unless otherwise noted.

In Genesis 1:20 through 1:23 creatures of the air and sea were created on the fifth day. Then in Genesis 1:24 the sixth day God created the animals of the land, and created man, both male and female. Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Now upon seeing them (nude) God observed the following: Genesis 1:31 “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” God obviously did not see anything wrong with our apparent nudity, he allowed Adam and Eve to wander nude for an unknown time period, and they did not age or die within the confines of the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2:25 reinforces the fact that they were not ashamed of their nudity. Genesis 2:25 “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

Genesis 3:1 begins the tale of how Eve was deceived by the serpent, then in Genesis 3:6-7 Eve shares the fruit with Adam. When God comes looking for Adam and Eve they hid themselves, trying to hide their shame from God because they “knew” they were “naked”. God was angry because they disobeyed, and punished both them according the the Bible. Other texts say the serpent was punished also, he and his descendants were to forever slither on their bellies. God removed their legs and they were forever doomed to slither.

Some take this to be simple nudity, however some argue they lost Gods covering or innocence. They now knew sex caused birth, and what caused death because the tree of knowledge gave them knowledge of life and death. You see the word eromim means to be naked, without clothes, or bullet; however arumim means the uncovering of deceptions. Since no vowels were used Genesis or the Torah, both are spelled "rmm" or it’s equivalent. So uncovering of the body, or uncovering of deceptions? And the phrase in Genesis 3:10-11 where Adam hid because he was naked could then mean revealed deceptions or things to be ashamed of.

In Genesis 20-29 Noah got drunk and passed out naked in his tent, Ham, his son, saw him nude as his genitals were revealed (indicated by use of the word "ervah"). Some say Ham disrespected Noah by laughing and belittling him to his brothers, which in the Bible was a great sin. Some have speculated Ham did more than see him nude, possibly even taken advantage of Noah’s nudity.

In Exodus 32:19-25 people cavorted naked, running wild committing adultery, and were unrestrained. The original Hebrew appears to imply that they were naked. The sons of Levi supported Moses who disapproved of idol worship and exterminated the worshipers. The worshipers appear to have been punished because they revered the golden calf, not because they were publicly nude. Though some might say nudity contributed to their sins, only idol worship was indicated as their crime.

In 1 Samuel 18:3-4 Johnathan loved David the same as he loved himself. He also removed his robe, sword, bow and belt as well as his tunic. Undergarments did not exist until medieval times when cod pieces were invented to cover genitals as tunics were growing increasingly shorter.

In 1 Samuel 19:20-24 Saul sent messengers to capture David. The spirit of God descended upon the messengers. Saul sent a second group of messengers to capture David, again the Spirit of God descended. When this failed he went himself, and the Spirit of God descended upon him. In 1 Samuel 24 the Bible states: "And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night…" The nudity of Saul and his messengers while prophesying is one of many similar instances in the Bible where people stripped nude while filled with the Spirit of God.

In 2 Samuel 6:14 David danced before the LORD wearing an "ephod" with all his might. David clearly engaged in dancing, whirling weaving to music and ritual shouting. The garment he wore, an ephod, was a type of simple apron which hung in front. David was nearly naked, and his genitals would have been exposed as he moved to and through dancing.

In 2 Samuel 11:2: David went for a stroll on the roof of the palace. He noticed Bathsheba taking an evening bath. Bathsheba, wife of Uriah, later engaged in an adulterous affair with David. David sent her husband into a hopeless military situation so he would be killed. During this time period the general populace of Palestine had no access to indoor bathtubs. They commonly bathed in public in the river. Bathsheba was likely bathing in her courtyard out of sight, but visible from the palace roof top. Her nudity was mentioned in passing without comment, implying that to be naked in the view of others, or to observe a person naked, are not sinful.. David was punished by God for committing adultery and for Uriah’s death.

In Isaiah 20:2: God told Isaiah to take off his clothing, including his shoes, and to walk around naked and barefoot for three years. Isaiah’s nudity was symbolic of the Assyrians conquering Egypt and Ethiopia, when they carted their prisoners away naked and barefoot. Isaiah was clearly acting as a naturist, but not necessarily of his own choosing. And God used his nudity to teach others. Many centuries later, St. Francis of Assisi followed Isaiah’s behavior. He removed his clothes in the center of the village. He and Brother Rufino later preached nude in church.

In Esther 1:10-11 The king had gotten drunk on wine and commanded chamberlains the queen before the king with the crown royal, to show the everyone her beauty. Ancient rabbinical interpreters suggest this means she was ordered to appear nude, wearing only her crown but she refused.

In Job 22:6: it states: “For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked of their clothing.” This is a criticism of unrighteous people who lack empathy for others. They are so keen to exploit people and take clothing from the naked, which they of course do not have. There is no condemnation for the naked people in this passage.

In Job 24:7 and repeated in Job 24:10 “They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that they have no covering in the cold.” and “They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf from the hungry.” The unrighteous not only take clothing from the naked, but even steal food. There is no condemnation here of those who are naked.

In Isaiah 58:7 talks about sharing food with the hungry and clothing for the naked, and not to turn away from family Clearly this isn’t a command to clothe all naked persons. This instructs us to save lives by caring for the people who are in need of shelter, food, and clothes.

In Micah 1:8 Micah does much as Isaiah and Samuel, and prophesies nude. “Because of this I will weep and wail; I will go about barefoot and naked”.

In Mark 10:46-50 Bartimaeus who was blind sat by the highway begging, he cast away his garment, rose, and went to Jesus. Why he wished to come to Jesus naked is unclear, but his actions were not condemned.

In Mark 14:51-52 a young man in linen cloth cast around his naked body, left the linen cloth, and fled naked. Were not sure why, but some theologians speculate the young man had just been baptized naked and had afterwards put on a linen sheet. In the early Christian movement, believers and the person performing the baptizing were nude.

In Luke 24:12 “Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulcher; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.” Also related in John 20:5-7 below.

In John 13:4-5 Jesus removed all of his clothes, wrapped himself in a towel and later used the towel to wash the feet of his disciples.

In John 20:5-7 Two disciples visited the Jesus tomb and found strips of linen and the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. When Jesus was resurrected he was without clothing.

In John 21:7: “…he girt his fisher’s coat onto him, (for he was naked)…” This describes how Peter had stripped naked to work a fishing boat, and later dressed and dove into the sea. Public nudity while fishing was common practice on the Sea of Galilee, and Peter was no exception. Since Peter’s nakedness is stated without comment, obviously public nudity was acceptable behavior.

In 1 Corinthians 8:9 Some believe this is a statement that a Christian must not engage in behavior that might cause others to falter. They might argue nudism tempts some to have unclean thoughts. Others note the passage is preceded and followed with discussions of eating meat used in Pagan rituals. The instruction may be about interaction with animal-sacrificing Pagans.

In 1 Corinthians 12:23: “and those (parts) of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely (parts) have more abundant comeliness; whereas our comely (parts) have no need: but God tempered the body together, giving more abundant honor to that (part) which lacked.” Paul is apparently saying that parts of the human body which are not presentable are to be treated with special modesty, while the rest of our body needs no such special treatment. He is apparently referring to social practices in his culture, which prohibited nudity in social situations.

In the Gospels of Thomas: “His disciples asked, ‘When will you become revealed to us and when shall we see you?’ Jesus answered, ‘When you disrobe without being ashamed and take up your garments and place them under your feet like little children and tread on them, then will you see the son of the Living One, and you will not be afraid.’ ”

Many have tried to recapture or recreate the feelings, natural setting, or peacefulness of the Garden of Eden in the modern world. Though many places require nudity, strife still trickles in from the outside world. Still we remain sinful clothed or not.

Now we will next begin to explore the history of nudity from a scientific view point. We will then try to take a view of documented historic nudity. The scientific knowledge is based on research into unknown or little know time periods in the past. Times that only artifacts, geology, and human remains speak through the ages. The real surprise is how they determined when clothing was invented…