Saturday, December 7, 2013


Christal Cooper – 1,668 Words
Facebook @ Christal Ann Rice Cooper




I want to know Your human form
not the image of the bearded man in white-
But the One I can talk to,
Eat bread and fish with, hold hands with.
Do You have the lips of Mick Jagger,
The sculpted body of Arnold Schwarzenegger?
What color is your hair or are You bald?
Your hands may be gentle, or may be
coarse, dirty.  When You wandered
Israel’s forests and mountains,
Were you able to bathe or was your odor
Appalling to the Romans?
You may be ugly, common, or grotesque,
But when I see Your face and form-
I will finally see beauty.

It’s rare to find a mass of people who agree on one thing, much less on something as controversial as Jesus.  There appear to be three camps out there:  Jesus is the Son of God; He was just a good man; or He was mentally ill.  But for as far as the existence of Jesus, there appears to be a consensus of all peoples of faith, and from all the corners of the world, that He did exist.  Perhaps the most controversial idea about Jesus is not who He is, but His physical appearance. 

The white, European, Anglo-Saxon have a monopoly on Jesus’s appearance - tall, blonde, blue eyed, white skin, handsome features.  In fact, perhaps the two most famous real-life-men images of Jesus is that of actor Robert Powell who portrayed Jesus Christ in the 1977 miniseries “Jesus of Nazareth” and James Caviezel in Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie theatrical production “The Passion Of The Christ.”

One work that describes Jesus’s appearance is The Archko Volume,  published in 1887, and purported to be a selection of historical records from the writings of the Sanhedrin and the Jewish Talmud that relate to the life and death of Jesus Christ.  In the chapter Gamaliel’s Interview Jesus is described as looking like His mother, “He is the picture of His mother, only He has not her smooth, round face.  His hair is a little more golden than hers, though it is as much, from sunburn as anything else.  He is tall and His shoulders are a little dropped; His visage is thin and a swarthy complexion.  His eyes are large and a soft blue, and rather dull and heavy.”

Publius Lentullis, the President of Judea during Jesus’s time, wrote a letter to the Senate describing Jesus as “a man of stature somewhat tall and comely with reverent countenance.”  Lentullis wrote of Jesus’ chestnut-colored hair that is “full ripe, plain to His ears, whence downwards it is more orient and curling and wavering about his shoulders.”  He further states that the partition in His hair resembles that of the typical Nazarene, and describes His red beard as the same color as His hair, but very thick, long, and forked.  Lentullis also describes His face as perfection:  “His forehead plain and very delicate; His face without spot or wrinkle, beautified with a lovely red; His nose and mouth so formed as nothing can be reprehended; His look innocent and mature; His piercing eyes gray, clear, and quick.”

Pontius Pilate makes it a point to separate the differences between Christ and His fellow men: “His golden colored hair and beard gave to His appearance a celestial aspect. What a contrast between Him and His bearers with their black beards and tawny conmplexions!”

John Damascus, in a letter to Emperor Theophilus, describes Jesus as having a black beard with a wheat-colored complexion, as well as having “brows which grew together, the beautiful eyes, the prominent nose, the curling hair the look of health.”

Greek Ecclesiastical historian Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopoulos, who lived around 1320, claimed to have gathered documents and writings of philosophers and other witnesses who actually saw Jesus.  In Xanthopoulos’s Historica Ecclesiastica (consisting of 18 books) Jesus is described as having thin, brown, curling hair that had not been cut since childhood.  According to this writing Jesus has black eyebrows, and “sea-blue eyes shading into brown” that have a “beautiful glance” and his nose “prominent” with a slightly bent neck and an oval face with an olive and ruddy complexion. 

It may be comforting to read eye witness accounts, especially for the Christian, but there’s a problematic twist:  the Archko Volume has been proven to be a fraud; Publius Lentullus never existed; and Xanthopoulos, who clamed to have received his information from reliable sources, has been questioned about the honesty and authenticity of his research; the letters of Pontius Pilate were originally published in 1928 as a novel by William Overton Clough titled “Letters of Pontius Pilate – Letters Written During His Governship of Judea to His Friend Seneca in Rome;” and John Damascus was born in 676 A.D., well after the time of Jesus’s birth, crucifixion, and resurrection.

It is safe to say there really is no strong, substantial evidence of Jesus’s appearance.  The Bible is vague about Jesus’s physical description.  We do know that David, Jesus’s 14-times-great grandfather, was described in 1 Samuel 16:12 as having a red complexion:  “He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.”  We are also told that Joseph was a descendant of Shem, Noah’s son.  But scripture believers knows there is no chance that Jesus inherited any biological trait from His earthly father Joseph, because Joseph was not His biological father.  Thus the only inherited human biological traits Jesus could have inherited were those of the Virgin Mary, his biological mother.  We know that Mary was also a descendent of David; having descended from David’s older son Nathan, whereas Joseph descended from David’s son Solomon.

In Revelation 1:14-15, Jesus is described:  “His head and hair were white like wool, white as snow, and His eyes were like blazing fire.  His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace.”   We are told in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke that it was necessary for Judas Iscariot to point out Jesus to the arresting army.; so perhaps His physical appearance was not that distinct from those around him.  Matthew 26:48:  “Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them:  “The one I kiss is the Man, arrest Him!”  In John 18:4-5, the arresting army has to inquire who Jesus is.  “Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”  “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.  “I am He,” Jesus said.”  Experts believe that Jesus’s physical appearance, though He was apparently not the typical Galilean, was very much like the typical Galilean.

Experts from numerous fields and various countries, Israeli archeologists, British scientists, and BBC collaborated in an attempt to answer the question of Jesus’s phsyical attributes.  The experts were prominent in their prospective fields: archeology, biology science, climate adaptation, computer science, cultural data, dentistry, forensic anthropology, genetics, human growth and development, human osteology, nutrition, paleoanthropology, physical anthropology, physical science, primatology, and topography.  Popular Mechanics December 2002 Issue states:  “British scientists assisted by Israeli archeologists have recreated what they believe is the most accurate image of the most famous face in all of human history.”

Medical artist and Englishman, Richard Neave acquired three well-preserved human skulls from Jerusalem, where Jesus apparently lived and preached. The skulls were dated and proved to be the same chronological age that Jesus was during the time of his ministry, 30 to 33 years old. With computerized topography, Neave created X-ray slices of the skulls that revealed accurate measurements of the thickness of soft tissues at key areas on the three human faces.  As a result, Neave and his research team were able to recreate muscles and skin overlying the represented skulls.  To determine the color and hair type, Neave and his team studied drawings dated from the 1st century from archeological sites.  At the end of the research, it was unanimously determined that Jesus had dark features with dark tightly coiled hair and a beard.  In 1 Corinthians 11:14, Paul writes of his distaste of men with long hair:  “Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him.”  It only seems fitting that Jesus Christ, whom Paul worshipped, would have short hair.

Neave and his team also determined that Jesus was about 5 feet 1 and weighed about 110 pounds.  Neave’s team also found that Jesus was extremely athletic and physically fit, with a fantastic muscular structure. Due to His vocation as a carpenter, and the time spent in the sun, His face was weather-beaten and made Him appear years older than his 30 to 33 years.  The end result, as the Popular Mechanics reported, is that Jesus was a short, Middle Eastern man.

Jeremy Bowen, former BBC Middle East correspondent and host of the documentary series, “Son of God,’ admitted in an interview that the BBC image was not the image of Jesus Christ.  “But we believe He would have had a face like the one we created.” 

Allison Galloway, professor of anthropology at the University of California in Santa Cruz, also admits this is not the face of Christ, but still believes the image is as accurate as anyone will ever accomplish in human history.  She told Popular Mechanics writer Mike Fillon, “This is probably a lot closer to the truth than the work of many great masters.”

Many of these great masters are still unknown, such as the fresco painting of Jesus Christ in 230 to 240 A.D., which is believed to be the first representation of Jesus Christ.   Another unknown great master depicted Jesus with a beard in a fresco painting in 375 A.D., which is believed to be the first representation of Jesus with a beard.   The first black Jesus originated from a church in Rome and dates from 530 AD.  The first known Icon of Christ was the 6th Century painting that depicts Jesus as being of Eastern Mediterranean descent.

Photo Description and Copyright Information
Photo 1.  Video cover of the miniseries Jesus of Nazereth. 

Photo 2.  Movie Poster of The Passion.

Photo 3.  Front cover of The Archko Volume, 1887. 

Photo 4.  Front cover of the letter of Publius Lentullis to the Senate.

Photo 5.  Painting of Pontius Pilate interrogating Jesus Christ.  Attributed to Nikolai Ge in 1890.  Public Domain.

Photo 6.  Painting of John Damascus.  Photo courtesty of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church.  Public Domain.

Photo 7.   Front copy of the letter wriotten by Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopoulos titled Historica Ecclesiastica.

Photo 8.  Book cover of Letters of Pontius Pilate – Letters Written During His Ghoernship of Judea to His Frend Senca in Rome. 

Photo 9.  Fresco painting of Jesus Christ during 230 to 240 A.D.   This painting is believed to be the first representation of Jesus Christ.   Public Domain.

Photo 10.  Painting of Judas Iscariot kissing Jesus Christ in berayal.  Attributed to Gustave Dore.  Public Domain.

Photo 11.  Front cover of the Popular Mechanics December 2002 issue.

Photo 12.  Fresco painting of Jesus Christ, believed to be the first representation of Jesus Christ with a beard in 375 A.D.  Public Domain.

Photo 13.  The Face of Christ featured in Popular Mechanics December 2002 issue.   Copyright granted by the BBC and Creative Commons-Attribution Share Alike.

Photo 14.  DVD jacket cover of the documentary series “Son Of God.”

Photo 15.  The first representation of Jesus Christ as a black man, originating forma church in Rome in 530 A.D.  Public Domain.

Photo 16.  The first known Icon of Jesus Christ in the 66h Century.  Public Domain. 


  1. I would think Jesus would have been rather charismatic, which assumes he had a "beautiful" or very balanced face, no anomalies. But as we know, many charismatic persons are not handsome or tall or blond with blue eyes. His personality outshone any physical characteristics he might have had.

  2. Dear Jill,
    I do believe that with charisma comes unusual looks. I am now wondering if it describes what Mary looked like - because it would be her human DNA that he would have inherited.
    I do think it's important that young children be able to identify Jesus as looking like them or atleast having the same skin color.
    Either way, I totally agree with you. It's who He is on the inside that made such a difference and not his physical characteristics.
    Thanks so much for reading.