How can churches and communities offer more appropriate and effective responses to sexual violence in its many different forms? The "When Did We See You Naked?" project is led by David Tombs at the University of Otago (New Zealand), with Jayme Reaves and Rocio Figueroa Alvear as project partners. The project examines three questions:

  1. The historical question: ‘Did the torture and crucifixion of Jesus involve some form of sexual abuse?’

  2. The pastoral question: ‘What difference should this make for the Church today?’

  3. The theological question: ‘What consequences does this have for a theological understanding of God’s gracious and healing presence in the world?’

This project aims to use these questions as a means to consider the opportunities and challenges to faith-based responses to sexual violence, and how biblical and theological resources can guide and support these with particular emphasis on how churches might more effectively and compassionately address victim blaming and stigmatisation.

As a focal point, the work takes up the question posed in Matthew 25:38: "When was it that we saw you...naked and gave you clothing?" (NRSV) and builds on earlier work conducted by Professor David Tombs, the Director of the Centre for Theology and Public Issues at the University of Otago and his 1999 article, "Crucifixion, State Terror, and Sexual Abuse," Union Seminary Quarterly Review, 53:1-2. (See the list below for research outputs related to this project)

"When Did We See You Naked?" workshops explore Mark 15.16-24 and other texts to address the stripping and forced naked exposure of Jesus prior to and during crucifixion. It uses facilitated contextual bible studies and discussion to investigate why the sexualised element of this humiliation is rarely named or seen as important and how acknowledgement of these texts might contribute to better church responses to sexual violence.

These workshops are available for churches and communities to explore the connections between Jesus' last days as depicted in scripture and sexualised violence.  In the UK and US, the workshops are facilitated by Jayme at a minimal cost should your community wish to explore this topic further.  Please contact her using the form below for more information.

Name *
Enquiry for "When Did We See You Naked" Workshop

Project Events

David Tombs, Inaugural Professorial Lecture, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand (2015)

David Tombs and Rocio Figueroa Alvear, Listening to Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse (Spanish version here), 2016.

Tuesday 16 January 2018. Shiloh Lecture. Jayme Reaves and David Tombs, '#MeToo Jesus: Why Naming Jesus as a Victim of Sexual Abuse Matters', Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.
Read more here or view a recording of the lecture

Wednesday 17 January 2018. Research Seminar. Jayme Reaves and David Tombs 'Acknowledging the Sexual Abuse of Crucifixion: #MeToo as an Invitation to a New Conversation', Queen's Theological Foundation, Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Sunday 21 January 2018. BBC Radio Sheffield Interview. Jayme Reaves and David Tombs interviewed by Kat Cowan.

Friday 9 March 2018. Public lecture. David Tombs, 'When Did We See You Naked?', St Paul's Cathedral, Wellington. Read more here.

Saturday 10 March 2018. Bible study. 'Stigma and Silence in Scripture'; Panel discussion. 'Breaking Silence, Stopping Violence'

Friday 26 April 2018. Public lecture. Michael Trainor, 'The Body of Jesus and Sexual Abuse'. Good Shepherd College, Auckland.

Saturday 27 April 2018. Symposium. 'Theologians Respond to Sexual Abuse'. Good Shepherd College, Auckland. By invitation.

Tuesday 5 June 2018. Public lecture, Bronwyn Kerr and David Tombs, '#MeToo and the Church: Responses to Sexual Violence' St John's Church, Wellington.

Monday 9 July 2018.  Public lecture, 'Church Responses to Violence Against Women', Commencement Address, St Mark's National Theological Centre, Canberra.

Friday 13 July 2018.  Public lecture. David Tombs, 'Crucifixion, Silence, and Sexual Abuse: Reading Mark 15:16-24 alongside the final report of the Australian Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse', United Theological College, Sydney.


Rocío Figueroa Alvear and David Tombs. Recognising Jesus as a Victim of Sexual Abuse: Responses from Sodalicio Survivors in Peru. Dunedin: University of Otago, Centre for Theology and Public Issues, 2018. 

David Tombs, Crucifixion, State Terror, and Sexual Abuse: Text and Context. Dunedin: University of Otago, Centre for Theology and Public Issues, 2018.

Katie B Edwards and David Tombs. #HimToo – why Jesus should be recognised as a victim of sexual violence.
The Conversation, 23 March 2018.

David Tombs, ‘Should the stripping of Jesus be labelled sexual abuse?’, Otago Daily Times (16 February 2017).

Media Coverage

Kaya Burgess, #HimToo: Jesus was a sex abuse victim, say scholars, The Times, 27 March 2018

Linda Woodhead, Is Jesus the latest - or was he the first - victim of #MeToo?, The Telegraph, 27 March 2018

The New Zealand Herald reprinted coverage from the Daily Mail, #HimToo article says at Easter we should remember Jesus was victim of sexual violence, New Zealand Herald, 28 March 2018

John Blake, How Easter became a #MeToo moment, CNN, 31 March 2018

The project is funded through the University of Otago Leading Thinkers Initiative, which was established under the government's Partnerships for Excellence Framework to support world-class scholarship at Otago. 

Photo above by Alexandra Korey at www.arttrav.com. Used with kind permission.