`Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm'. Latin text allegedly inscribed by Pontius Pilate on the crucifix where Jesus the Christ was crucified. Translates to English as `Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews'. See also `sarcasm'.

Said text was also translated into Aramaic and Greek so that all people would be able to read it. Remember, the language of the day for most Jews would have been Aramaic, and therefore many would have been incapable of reading the Greek, which would severely diminish the worth of the crucifixion from the Roman point of view, since those who passed by wouldn't know what Jesus had been percisely crucified over.

As for whether Pontius Pilate was being sarcastic, that matter is open to a great deal of debate. The Gospel of John itself says that in response to Jewish priest's suggestion that he write that Jesus claimed to be king of the Jews rather than INRI, Pontius Pilate replied, "What I have written I have written." (St. John 19:22, King James version)

Of course, that is fairly vague and by no means definitive. There are indeed many different views as to what sort of man Pontius Pilate was, and as to what he thought of Jesus.
Actually, most Jews spoke Greek and Aramaic. They spoke Koyne Greek (translates to 'Common Greek'), which is why the gospels were originally written in Greek--so that the people could read them. There wouldn't be much point passing around scrolls when you're in the catacombs if nobody can read it.

The reason it was in Aramaic was probably because that's what most Jews spoke primarily. They could speak Greek, but it was more of a second language.

Just to try to clarify that point.

Various mystics and conspiracy theorists have proposed alternate expansions for this mysterious acronym. These are taken from Robert Anton Wilson's book Masks of the Illuminati

Wilson also suggests another blackly humorous
expansion, apparently taken from James Joyce: Iron Nails Ran In.

According to New Testament of the Bible, (John 19:19 and Matthew 27:37), Pontius Pilate decreed that a placard be affixed to the Cross, with the text (in Hebrew, Greek and Latin): "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews". In Latin, the text was Iesus Nazaraeus Rex Iudaeorum, usually abbreviated I.N.R.I..

As such, the four-letter abbreviation has been repeatedly used in religious art and architecture throughout Christianity's history. In all periods, however, the abbreviation has also often been used for other purposes. The Italian carbonari reinterpreted "I.N.R.I." to mean Iustum Necare Reges Italiae ("It is just to slay the kings of Italy"). It has also been creatively interpreted (when used on French Jesuit colleges) as Ici Nous Rendons Imbéciles ("Here we make idiots of people"). At the coronation of Napoleon in Milan , it was interpreted as Imperator Napoleon Rex Italorum ("Emperor Napoleon, King of the Italians").

Not every interpretation shows as much wit, however. The (17th century) French Marquis de Gèvre fancied himself a great connoisseur of art. One day, in the royal galleries, he observed a series of pictures of the Crucifixion, and remarked that they were all by the same painter, "Monsieur Inri". :-)

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