When people talk about Jesus Christ, most people envision a white man sporting facial hair and a white robe. This is the most common portrayal of him, so this is what his believers assume he looked like. You will see it anywhere from books to paintings to statues. It is no wonder that people continue to believe that this was the case. However, Joan Taylor decided to work on a more accurate representation of him. What the historian arrived at will shock you since it does not look anything like what most people have in mind!
Why Do Historical Painters Portray Him Like This?
But why did most painters depict Jesus to look that way anyway? In the past centuries, artists conducted research to create a depiction of the gods. When Jesus rose in popularity back in those days, the painter created a representation of the Messiah. The creation was always informed by their various biases and sensibilities. This is the primary reason why the portrayal did not always stay true to the facts.
Out Of This World Accessories
In this day and age, historical experts now know that there are factual inaccuracies in these depictions. They have noted that the clothes and accessories were all wrong. These images failed to capture the reality of the era that he lived in thanks to these seemingly small details. Many pieces of art show Jesus Christ sitting on a decorated chair or with a halo on top of his head. If you think about it, these depictions simply do not make any sense. After studying the Kings of Kings, Joan Taylor found out that he looked like a regular man.
What Is Written In The Bible?
There are religious people who always turn to the Bible for anything and everything. They like to argue with other groups and use it as proof of their beliefs. According to these people, the paintings and statues are correct because of the evidence available in the holy book. There are clues that hinted at what he looked like. Certain lines indicate that Jesus Christ was an average man who is not going to stand out from the crowd. As a matter of fact, he was a regular person who led a normal life during his lifetime.
People have put forward vague explanations about the way Jesus has been depicted in the past. Around a century ago, artists decided to use artistic license when they worked on portraits. This meant that they did not rely on historical facts while making these pieces of art. For these professionals, it was more important to focus on the symbolic meaning of their works.
The Good Shepherd
Allegorical painters like to paint Jesus with a lot of sheep in fields of grass. The idea behind this was to depict him as “the good shepherd.” They wanted to show the Messiah as the shepherd of the people. It was a good metaphor for a leader who would lead us all. This was the reason they incorporated this imagery in paintings during the early Roman empire. Many such images were discovered in the city of Rome, which is not exactly close to where he lived while he was alive.
The Picture Is In The Stone
But how exactly did we come to know Jesus as a white man with a beard? This came into popularity during the middle period. These days, however, the most common feature of the Messiah would be a good shepherd. At any rate, he is almost always portrayed wearing white or cream clothes. On top of that, he always has a beard and long hair. We are sure that this is an image that you can easily imagine.
Despite the fact that it could have helped them, a lot of painters did not rely on the Bible for their depictions of the Messiah. You see, these artists wanted to create their very own portrayal of Jesus. Instead of using the Bible for descriptions, they instead used the work of other artists and their older works of art for reference!
An Improved Image And Feature
Artists have since learned to improve the features of these old paintings. They made new yet similar depictions of the Messiah. This was how they ended up producing their ideal portrayals of Jesus. While working on these art pieces, they created the image of the primary subject on the works of those who came before them. This was how young artists ended up following the concept as their predecessors.
Original Work Of Art
Take a look at one example of what we are talking about. Here is a statue of Zeus, the Greek god of the sky and thunder. He has a beard and long hair, which makes him look similar to most depictions of Jesus. He also happens to be wearing a white robe. This is amazing in all aspects and what comes to mind when we talk about classical mythology. Each painter tried to come up with their original rendition, but they also want to make it similar to the illustrations that have come before that.
It’s Not The Same
Needless to say, this is a complicated figure. A lot of artists have expressed amazement at how this depiction of the god was made. If you take a closer look at the artworks created during the time of the Roman Emperor Augustus, the ruler was made in the likeness of Zeus. The truth was that many of the images of the emperor did not look like himself for this very reason.
Somehow The Same With Zeus
The Roman emperor asked the sculptor to add in a couple of his features. This was primarily so that he would still be associated with the end product. In reality, he was actually a clean-shaven man with short hair. The truth was that people back then wanted complicated things. In order to achieve the imagery that he desired, he asked the artist to add in the beard and hair associated with Zeus.
The Last Supper
Joan Taylor was able to find evidence that made her look deeper into the appearance of Jesus. According to her, it was not like the Messiah to sit on a throne-like that even though it is a common way to depict him. While it makes for a nice picture, he was not the type of person to do such a thing. Despite this, there seems to be no way to actually confirm if this was the case. At any rate, it is more accurate when he is shown having the last supper with his followers.
The Modern Look
These illustrations have piqued the interest of historians. There were certain concepts that have been altered in these images. This has succeeded in making people believe that it was the true depiction of Jesus, although this was not actually true. Historians said that artists have created their work with the intention of integrating an evangelical theme into it. For example, one picture showed Jesus Christ with a bible instead of depicting him with a sword. The illustration was decorated in such a way that made it seem more look an absolution for humankind than anything else.
The Perfect Image
Even years after, people are still expecting all images of the Messiah to stay the same. Again, most people think of a white man in a cream or white robe, maybe with a halo above his head. The facial aspects and outlines are expected to stay the same. This is the result of the artists who produced images following the same themes in the past. According to Jean, people still look at Jesus to be a holy figure.
It has always been the intention of artists to portray Jesus Christ as a holy being. This is not all that different from the way that superheroes are depicted in this day and age. The same goes for Roman people and the classical gods. It seems like long hair has always been taken to be a sign of power. It holds the same meaning in our time because this feature is still associated with a mighty figure. Artists drew him in such a way that would let them show that he was a powerful being. It looked like it worked.
Is He Just An Ordinary Human Being?
There has been evidence found by authorities about why the depictions of Jesus Christ looked the same in the past. The theory goes that his features were depicted that way so that people would be able to identify him right away. He was not shown to look ordinary so that he would stand out from the other people in the artworks. This way, people could see that he was no regular man but the Savior.
An Evidence Of What He Really Looked Like
In the past centuries, authorities found proof that suggested the shroud of Turin was actually the burial shroud of the Messiah. Aside from that, they discovered a clear picture of the body. One of these indications was that the artifacts were discovered in a location that could lead to more clues about the true appearance of Jesus Christ.
Some Philosophers Question The Evidence
In the United States, a historian did not feel certain about the shroud. According to him, it was very common for a person to scam others during the middle ages. This is not exactly unlike the cons that go on in various parts of the world right now. The scholar believed that the shroud evidence had been a scam used by people who believed that it was used by Jesus Christ himself. According to this expert, fraud would be subjected to a religious penalty. This was a method by the scammers to get more money.
What Does He Really Look Like?
While it is not a good idea to rely on illustrations from the Middle Ages, Joan and her group looked at ancient relics to find out more. They checked out papyrus scrolls from ancient Egypt and remnants discovered in burial sites. This was the methodology they used to determine the appearance of the Messiah when he was still alive. They assumed that it was the most accurate way to find out the physical form of Jesus Christ while he roamed the planet.
They Have Different Fashion Statement
Joan and her team managed to figure out his true appearance of Jesus Christ. She was able to learn what the common man wore back in those days and used this to further her theory. How did she go about this? Well, from what we already know about this historical figure, there was a big possibility that He donned the same type of clothing in the past. During those days, a person from that era wore a certain kind of cloak. A lot of royal families and clergy members wore a similar outfit, although this is nothing like what we normally see. According to the Bible, John the Baptist wore two different types of clothing. However, the holy book did not mention what kind of clothing the Messiah himself donned.
What Is He Wearing?
After looking at the illustrations and scrolls made by the ancient Egyptians, the historian learned how an average person dressed during the time of Jesus Christ. Are you wondering how different it is from the types of clothing that we now wear? Let us take a look at what they learned about fashion from then!
The Tunics Are Not Long
After discovering proof from that era, she discovered that the average man dressed in a tunic. However, the common outfit was not as long as those shown in the illustrations. A knee-length tunic was the most common kind from that era. This allowed the men enough flexibility to go about their daily tasks on a regular basis. Anything longer than this length was going to be impractical, especially if they were going to perform physical tasks. This makes a lot of sense to us.
Only Upper-Class Can Wear Full-Length Robes
Joan learned more about the different social classes from that period of time. A lot of people belonging to the upper class wore full-length robes or cloaks. This could be seen as a status symbol since the rich did not need to work back then. The historian took these pieces of information to find out more about the appearance of the Messiah. Jesus was a modest man, so he likely did not put on these clothes.
The Color Is Dull
There was evidence that Jesus Christ did not sport full-length robes or cloaks like the rich people did from those days. It is probably more accurate to show him wearing a robe that went down to the knees like the ordinary man. However, what color would his robe be? After conducting the research on this topic, the experts learned that there was no fabric whitening method available in those days. This means that the savior probably did not wear a white robe. A lot of tunics from those days were made with the use of a material known as plain wool. If you read the Bible, you are also going to find statements that said that he only wore white dyed clothes in shiny colors when he turned into a holy being.
Aside from the aforementioned features, many illustrations show Jesus Christ wearing a blue veil or cape above his robe. But why did the artists pick such a distinct shade for this garment? Is there anything behind this color choice or was it just poetic license in action? Historians failed to find a good theory for this detail. Some experts have even suggested that it did not have any meaning whatsoever.
Not A Traditional Mantle
We are sure that you have seen films and paintings showing his crucifixion as well. In the film, Jesus Christ is shown wearing a cape and a short tunic. Historians have suggested that his robe was not a regular mantle but some sort of prayer mantle. If you watch the movie, you are going to see that the Messiah was sporting this type of garment during the crucifixion.
Not One But Two
Historians also believe that Jesus Christ had two distinct prayer shawls. According to the descriptions from the bible, the Messiah took off a scarf so that he can wash the feet of his devotees. He also wore a different cloak when he prayed.
What Shoes Is He Wearing?
Joan Taylor managed to verify the footwear that Jesus probably wore back then as well! They discovered proof of this through the relics and remnants from the burial site. The Messiah once lived in a place that still has a lot of fabric pieces. This was what they used to figure out what shoes he wore. After conducting a number of tests, they arrived at the conclusion that it was some kind of sandal! Who would have thought that Jesus Christ used such a garment to keep his feet safe and unharmed?
Even though we already know more than we used to, we still feel interested in learning more about the way Jesus Christ looked. It is a good idea to keep in mind that he did not look exactly like the way he has been portrayed in illustrations. Experts also learned more about his features by relying on the mummified remnants discovered in the homeland of the Messiah. In the end, they were able to find two different types of facial qualities there: Grecian and Egyptian.
Some images and illustrations have improved the understanding of his facial features. The experts found portraits on Egyptian mummies that detailed the facial features of people from those days. The historian believed that these mummified bodies came from people who lived and died around the same time that Jesus did. The images were the greatest evidence when it comes to proving the facial features of Jesus.
Preserved Pieces Of Evidence
There were a lot of steps to be done to learn more about his appearance. Among other things, they also looked at an old synagogue for answers. This piece of evidence can help figure out the facial characteristics of Jesus Christ. The evidence was discovered in an ancient place of worship. At this site, they stumbled into preserved pieces that could be helpful when it comes to identifying the Messiah.
Remains Of Moses
They found something that could mark the end of all the debates revolving around the appearance of the Messiah. Sadly, it turned out that this remnant did not come from Jesus Christ. No, it was the remains of Moses instead! But how did this end up solving the actual appearance of the savior?
Same As What Moses Is Wearing
Joan said that the imagery of the prophet could help determine the appearance of the average man from those days. To be fair, we have already talked about how likely it was for Jesus to wear the same clothes that Moses and the others did. Do you think that the same rule could be applied when it comes to their facial features?
They Have Different Hairstyle
They eventually reached a conclusion. According to the experts, Moses did not have the same features as he had shorter hair and was shaven. The piece of evidence that they found did not bear similarities to the other illustrations created by artists over the years. The illustration here was made by painters who held onto the thought that straight and lock hair meant either a divine entity or a woman.
Thanks to the Intricate Painters
After putting in a lot of effort and research, Joan Taylor found out that a couple of painters had been right about the facial hair. The men from those days often had a beard because they would often travel for extended periods of time. They did not have the opportunity to shave their faces while they were on a journey. When Jesus and the devotees crossed many lands, it made sense that their facial hair grew long and bushy. Keep in mind that they did not even have a razorback then! This explains why illustrations of Moses also showed him with a beard.
Other Reasoning Behind The Beard
It is believed that Jesus may have had a beard because of being a wandering sage, he just never would have made it to the barber. However, in the Graeco-Roman world of the 1st century being clean and shaven was a must, having luscious locks was regarded as a godly feature. Thus, people kept their hair short. Additionally, Judaea Capta coins depicted men who were bearded but had short beards. Men with very on beards and hair were identifiable as men who took a Nazirite vow.
Jesus never took a Nazirite vow, we know this as he is often seen drinking wine and he is also critiqued for drinking too much. Thus, if he had super long hair he would have been identified as a Nazirite and there would have been an issue explained of him breaking the Nazirite vow. Thus, the majority claim that he had a beard and hair but a modest one of such.
Judeans of the 1st century were biologically closest to Iraqi Jews. When it comes to coloration in this regard it means olive-brown skin, brown eyes, dark-brown or black hair. Jesus would have been a man that resembled a man of Middle Eastern appearance. This was studied in relation to skeletons of that time and remains found of Judeans. The coloration of Jesus is thus, not the white figure we expect and are usually exposed to.
With regards to height, the average height for males during this time is approximately 166cm, being 5 ft 5. He was not super tall but actually rather short if you think about it. However, this at the time was the norm for men in this region. Jesus is thus interpreted as a man of Middle Eastern appearance with a scruffy yet short beard, he wore basic attire being a knee-length tunic and most likely an undied mantle.
Multiple different regions, philosophers, and cultures represented Jesus in different ways, this is where images came from. It was not about his appearance but rather the vision of him being Christ and being the all-powerful that he is believed to be. Thus, the true image of Jesus was influenced by different times and regions which we will explore… From Greek and Roman to Westernization and more the image is quite remarkably altered.
Greeks And Romans
The Letter of Lentulus was published in the 15th century in ital and describes Jesus clearly, it is predicted to have been written by a Roman. The letter is believed to have influenced later drawings of Jesus. The letter said that his hair is the color of hazel-nut, straight and touches his ears. Moreover, they sad his face was youthful and he had a bit of a flushed tinge. The letter also said that his beard was full and matched bis hair, with the last translation being, “He is the most beautiful among the children of men.”
As one of the most common figures painted and drawn in Western art, it is safe to say that the image of Jesus has been altered into its own description and portrayal. This is one of the reasons behind the confusion and the contrast of the truth. In Western culture, Jesus is drawn with pale skin, a long beard, wavy long hair, and is always wearing white. Some interpretations feature him as a blonde with blue eyes and others with dark hair.
The Alexamenos graffito is a piece of graffiti found on a wall in Rome, it dates back between the 1st to the 3rd centuries AD. The drawing was supposedly drawn by a Roman who was in fact mocking a Christian soldier. The image apparently is representative of Jesus being crucified and uses much symbolism, it is the perfect example of how drawings can be inaccurate and have been shifted and changed throughout history.
In the canonical Gospels, there is no descriptive image or wording about Jesus, just that he wears tzitzit. It is said that he came as a “light from heaven,” in the Acts of the Apostles. However, throughout history with the changing and implementing of many rules regarding art, this may be the reason there was no accurate image. The Roman Empire persecuted Christians which led to hostility against art forms and idols in particular. Jesus was represented using pictogram symbols such as a fish, peacock as well as an anchor.
Christianity became legal in 313 and from the middle of the 4th century new images arose. The images used the same costume that was drawn before but more of an iconography style in posing. As time passed Jesus was shown as older and in the 5th century the image of Jesus with a beard, long hair and a halo took over. This image became the standard and somewhat commercial imagery of him.
Images of the peasant preacher were what was left by the Gospels, they did not discuss much physicality or features but these images arose after his death and with the spread of Christianity. The Gospels barely discussed anything regarding his appearance but rather the focus was on character, stories about him, and church scripture. The truth behind this is that if his disciples had known maybe there would be better imagery available.
Eusebius Of Caesarea
An early tradition that was recorded by Eusebius of Caesarea portrayed that Jesus washed his face and upon drying it he left the picture of his face on the towel he used. This was then passed on to King Abgarus of Edessa who wanted Jesus to heal him. The picture is now referred o as the Image of Edessa and many copies of it remain being passed around, however, these were not made using human touch.
Depending on location and country many images of Jesus have shown him as their race. this was seen in Ethiopia where Jesus is depicted with the same features and appearance as the church members. Additionally, in Asia, the race of Jesus is seen as the same as the native people. This trend continues throughout the world. Additional medieval depictions showed Jesus wearing a Jewish hat.
The Christ Myth Theory
Also referred to as the Jesus myth theory depicts no image of Jesus at all in fact it believes that the entire story is a myth and a claim with no historical fact. One of the theories under this mythology believes that the idea of Jesus was fused with Christ of Paul and Jesus actually lived in the past. Additionally, another stance suggests he is a mythological character later over-exaggerated by the Gospels, and lastly, the view that if he existed nothing can actually be known about him.