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What Did Jesus Look Like?

I recently read an intriguing short article by my friend and colleague at King’s College London, Joan Taylor, on what Jesus probably looked like.  Good question.  I’ve always thought: how would we know?  But in fact, there are some things to be said.  I zapped her a note and she agreed to write up something for the blog.   The original piece was published in The Irish Times, here:  <https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/what-did-jesus-really-look-like-as-a-jew-in-1st-century-judaea-1.3385334>.  She has slightly edited it for us.  Here is what she says.



 What Did Jesus Look Like

Joan Taylor


Everyone knows how to recognize Jesus. He is portrayed in art, film and literature in much the same way. His image is found repeatedly in countless churches and Christian buildings. He is usually somewhat European: a man with nut-brown hair (sometimes blond) and light brown or blue eyes. He has a long face and nose, and long hair and a beard. His clothes are also long: a tunic down to the ground, with wide baggy sleeves, and a large mantle. He is fairly well-tended (combed hair, good teeth, clean) and his clothes look newly washed.

But what did Jesus look like really, as a Jew in 1st-century Judaea? What color was his skin? How tall was he? What did he wear?

These are questions I grappled with as I wrote my book, What Did Jesus Look Like? (now published with Bloomsbury T&T Clark). It is a subject that has interested me for a long time. I wanted to see Jesus clearly.

In the Gospels, he is not described, either as tall or short, good-looking or plain, muscular or frail. We are told his age, as ‘about thirty years’ (Luke 3:23), but there is nothing that dramatically distinguishes him, at least at first sight.

We do not notice this omission of any description of Jesus, because we ‘know’ what he looked like thanks to all the images we have. But the Jesus we recognize so easily is the result of cultural history. The early depictions of Jesus that set the template for the way he continues to be depicted today were based on the image of an enthroned emperor and influenced by presentations of pagan gods. The long hair and beard are imported specifically from the iconography of the Graeco-Roman world. Some of the oldest surviving depictions of Jesus portray him as essentially a younger version of Jupiter, Neptune or Serapis. As time went on the halo from the sun god Apollo was added to Jesus’ head to show his heavenly nature. In early Christian art, he could be beardless, but he then often had the big, curly hair of Dionysus.

The point of these images was never to show Jesus as a man, but to make theological points about who Jesus was as Christ (King, Judge) and divine Son. They have evolved over time to the standard ‘Jesus’ we recognize.

can we imagine Jesus appropriately in terms of the evidence of the 1st century? I have wondered about the fact that Jews were known in antiquity as a ‘nation of philosophers’ (Josephus, Apion 1:179). Was that partly because of their appearance? A male ‘philosopher’ in antiquity was thought to have shortish hair and a rough beard. The idea is that such men did not bother to visit barbers very often, as they were concentrating on more important things. But their hair would not have been very long. The acceptable style in the Roman world was to be clean shaven and short-haired. As Paul says in his letter to the Corinthian church, “Does not even nature tell you that for a man to have long hair is dishonorable to him?” (1 Cor. 11:14). The only exception to that for Jews was if you undertook a Nazirite vow (Numbers 6:1-21; Acts 21:24). For this vow, you let your hair grow, and didn’t drink wine, among other things. John the Baptist was a lifelong Nazirite, dedicated by his parents to God, as the Gospel of Luke indicates (Luke 1:15), but Jesus was not, because he is often found drinking wine (Matt.  11:19).

There are indeed portrayals of Jewish men with the ‘philosopher’ look on Roman coins issued by the emperors Vespasian and Titus. These show captive Jewish fighters (partially stripped), after they revolted against Rome in the years 66-70 AD. It would be reasonable to think then that at least some Jewish men in Judaea looked like this, even if there is stereotyping.

As for Jesus’ body, I’ve consulted with experts on ancient skeletons in Israel. What I have learnt is that Judeans of the 1st century were closest biologically to Iraqi Jews of the contemporary world. In terms of a color palette then, think dark-brown to black hair, deep brown eyes, olive-brown skin. Jesus would have been a man of Middle Eastern appearance. In terms of height, an average man of this time stood 166 cm (5 ft 5 inches) tall.

Our overall appearance though is not just about our bodies. Much depends on what we do with our bodies. There are some incidental details in the Gospels that tell us what Jesus wore.

He wore a tunic, called a chitōn in Greek. Often you would have two: an outer one and a thinner inner one, sometimes called a sindon (Mark 14:63). An outer tunic in Judaea was invariably made of two pieces of material, one front and one back, joined at the shoulders and sides, with stripes running from shoulder to hem. The inner tunic could be made of one piece. This is a detail of interest to me, because Jesus is said in the Gospel of John (19:23-24) to have worn a one-piece tunic. John the Baptist asked people to give away their second tunic (see Luke 3:11). Wouldn’t Jesus have done so? In wearing only an inner tunic, he would have been dressed in very basic clothing.

Men’s tunics were usually knee-length. Long tunics (stolai) were worn by women or occasionally by wealthy men in high-honor positions. But Jesus states: ‘Beware of the scribes who desire to walk in long tunics (stolai), and to have salutations in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets’ (Mark 12:38). Clearly he is not one of them.

Over a tunic, a man would wear a mantle (himation, Mark 10: 50). This was a large piece of woolen material. Power and prestige were indicated by the quality and colour: purple and certain types of blue and red. Jesus’ disciples see his clothing (mantle and tunic) transform into a bright white hue the Transfiguration (Mark 9:3=Matt. 17:2), which means these were not colored or bright white as a rule. In terms of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of a washing powder advertisement, Jesus’ clothing was the ‘before’.

Thus in the end we see him as a man of Middle Eastern appearance, with scruffy, shortish hair and beard, wearing very basic clothing: a knee-length, thin, one-piece tunic and an undyed mantle.

With a close reading of the Gospels, it turns out that Jesus’ appearance coheres perfectly with his teaching.  In advocating his disciples give away all but their essentials to the needy (Matt. 19:20-22), he practiced what he preached. I wonder if we would recognize him, as he really looked, if we met him on the way.

If you belonged to the blog, you would get interesting posts most days of the week.  Think about how much you’ll learn about interesting topics.  Why not join??

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  1. Avatar
    Leovigild  February 27, 2018

    The early depictions of Jesus that set the template for the way he continues to be depicted today were based on the image of an enthroned emperor and influenced by presentations of pagan gods. The long hair and beard are imported specifically from the iconography of the Graeco-Roman world.

    The early depictions of Jesus are very different from contemporary depictions and do _not_ show him with a long hair and a beard. I am surprised Taylor doesn’t mention this. There is a vast literature on early depictions of Jesus. The version we are familiar with does not appear until the early 5th century and doesn’t become standard until about a century later.

    As time went on the halo from the sun god Apollo was added to Jesus’ head to show his heavenly nature.

    The halo is different from the radiate crown of Apollo. As far as I know, Jesus is never depicted with a radiate crown other than the depiction from the Tomb of the Julii in Rome, where he is indeed syncretized with Apollo. But the halo was used more generally in Late Antiquity to denote someone important (not necessarily heavenly), and appears to derive from Buddhist art.

  2. Avatar
    godspell  February 27, 2018

    Are there any physical descriptions at all in the gospels? I can’t recall a single one. Not of Jesus, his family members, his followers (male or female), or any of the people he comes into contact with during the course of his ministry. John the Baptist gets described only by his clothing, which was unusual.

    Now it may just be that describing characters in a narrative, whether it was intended as fiction or as a chronicle of past events (and the line between the two was not so clearly drawn back then) was not such a well-established literary convention then. There are physical descriptions in Greek mythology, but they tend to be more of certain mythic types (heroic or otherwise) than of real people. If you look like a hero, you are one. If not, then you’re Thersites. People are judged by outward appearance.

    Maybe early Christians, under the spell of Jesus’ teachings, rejected this idea. As many later Christians did as well.

    “It is no small pity, and should cause us no little shame, that, through our own fault, we do not understand ourselves, or know who we are. Would it not be a sign of great ignorance, my daughters, if a person were asked who he was, and could not say, and had no idea who his father or mother was, or from what country he came? Though that is a great stupidity, our own is incomparably greater if we make no attempt to discover what we are, and only know that we are living in these bodies and have a vague idea, because we have heard it, and because our faith tells us so, that we possess souls. As to what good qualities there may be in our souls, or who dwells within them, or how precious they are — those are things which we seldom consider and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul’s beauty. All our interest is centred in the rough setting of the diamond and in the outer wall of the castle – that is to say in these bodies of ours.”

    From “The Interior Castle” by Teresa of Avila.

    And it’s still true. If anything, we’ve gotten worse.

    • Avatar
      godspell  February 28, 2018

      Comparative case study–there are no contemporary accounts of any kind regarding the physical appearance of Queen Cleopatra–the most famous and (by some later accounts) beautiful woman in the world. A face that literally launched a thousand ships, and not just in Homeric epics.

      Coins made with her likeness show strong features, and a prominent nose, but some think that’s not necessarily a true image of her, since the coins would emphasize power, not beauty.

      In all probability, she was not, by the aesthetic standards of her time, a great beauty, but was able to fascinate men with her charisma, education, independence, and wit–qualities that were rare in women of her class. (Not so common among men.)

      However, as her legend grew, in the centuries following her death, she began to be depicted more and more as an idealized representation of the western standard of feminine perfection, whatever that was at the time. Eventually she was Elizabeth Taylor.

      So what’s so unusual about Jesus being depicted as a studly specimen of European beauty? We do this to everybody. Remember when Julius Caesar was Marlon Brando?

      Many artistic depictions of Jesus (Byzantine and Russian icons, for example) were far less idealized, focused more on his suffering. It depends on what the artist is trying to say.

      High schools often do productions of Godspell (hmm, sounds familiar) where Jesus is portrayed by young black students. Jesus was not of southern African appearance, we can assume–so? What’s wrong with that?

      He’s all of us and none of us. Everyone and no one.

      • Avatar
        godspell  March 1, 2018

        (Apologies, Marlon Brando played Mark Antony in that film. We have a pretty good idea what he looked like, and I suppose that isn’t the worst possible choice, but still–artists do like to idealize. Religious or otherwise.)

    • Bart
      Bart  March 1, 2018

      Nope, no descriptions in the Gospels.

      • Avatar
        godspell  March 1, 2018

        Pretty rare in the Old Testament as well. The Song of Songs gets pretty physical, but I wouldn’t like to be the one to try and draw a police sketch from it (if I could draw). “Her hair is like a flock of goats, her teeth like shorn ewes–“,

        Since nobody in the gospels is described, that means we can’t really know if Jesus’ physical appearance was average for men of his time. They can’t all have been the same. There’d be some variation.

        Obviously the gospel authors couldn’t know much about how he or the others looked, but they filled in a lot of other details they couldn’t have known about either.

        So it seems more like either they didn’t think it was important what anybody looked like, or they thought it was somehow improper to describe them. Maybe it just wasn’t part of the style they were writing in. Even today, authors sometimes choose not to describe important characters except in general terms.

        As Christians became more and more a part of the larger Greek and Roman world they lived in, absorbed its aesthetic, then descriptions (and artistic depictions) of figures from the bible became more and more important. People wanted to SEE them.

        At what point was it decided that graven images were okay? That’s a commandment!

        • Bart
          Bart  March 2, 2018

          Even Jews used pictorial art with human figures — my colleague at UNC, Jodi Magness, has uncovered mosaics in an ancient synagogue with human portrayals.

          • Avatar
            godspell  March 2, 2018

            Interesting, but we knew already that Jews did not agree with each other about everything–much of the Old Testament is about how they kept gravitating back towards polytheism and other practices the OT authors strongly disapproved of.

            This aversion towards manmade imagery is something that keeps cropping up in the Abrahaminic religions. In the Renaissance, Savonarola and others had bonfires of the vanities, which often destroyed paintings and sculptures, as well as mirrors. (Though he had no problem with artwork that depicted scenes from scripture).

            John the Baptist strikes me as a very Savonarolan type of figure, and he had a not dissimilar fate, at the hands of Herod, who would have made a very good Renaissance prince.

            I don’t see Jesus being much concerned with this type of thing, for the same reason he’s not concerned with much of anything that that obsesses modern Christianity–the Son of Man will make everything all right. (Also, they both grew up in such poverty, in such a remote area, how much art did they or anyone they preached to ever see?)

            Mosaics aren’t graven images, so I don’t think that breaks the commandment. However, it is striking that we get so very few physical descriptions in any part of the bible. I feel certain some scholar has catalogued and analyzed all of them.

            However, it may simply be that Jesus and the others weren’t described, not not out an aversion to imagery, but simply because the external form wasn’t considered to be what mattered.

  3. Avatar
    fishician  February 27, 2018

    In your class on Jesus in the movies, did you come across any that came close to this description of Jesus? Are you and/or your students going to watch NBC’s live performance of Jesus Christ Superstar on Easter evening?

    • Bart
      Bart  March 1, 2018

      Nope! And I hadn’t heard of it!

      • Avatar
        godspell  March 5, 2018


        That seems pretty close to me. Short dark man with short beard. You didn’t use Pasolini’s film?

        He was a communist for most of his life, anti-clerical in the Italian style, also gay. Definitely an atheist. But when they asked him why he made this movie, he responded “If you know that I am an unbeliever, then you know me better than I do myself. I may be an unbeliever, but I am an unbeliever who has a nostalgia for a belief.” Some people just don’t like to be pinned down.

        Jesus still obviously mattered a great deal to him–he seems to have interpreted him as a sort of proto-proletarian revolutionary.

        I disagree with his choice of gospels–he said Mark was too vulgar (???), Luke too sentimental, and John too mystical. Pilate comes off pretty well, which is ironic.

        I think we must approve his purity of treatment, though–he understood that whichever gospel he chose, he must adapt that one alone, as a discrete work of storytelling. No mixing and matching.

        Southern Italians can look very Middle Eastern, and live in a similar climate. I think we can call this a pretty accurate representation of what Jesus might have looked and sounded like, though I think he probably had more of a sense of humor than Pasolini gives him. Well, that’s probably Matthew’s fault. 😉

  4. Liam Foley
    Liam Foley  February 27, 2018

    I too have always wondered what Jesus looked like. I’m sure he didn’t look like how he is depicted in art. I have also been immensely curious to know if we can discern from the Gospels what his personality was like? Has there been any scholarship done on his personality? What do you think his personality was like?

  5. Avatar
    mannix  February 27, 2018

    This past Sunday the Gospel (Mark) recalled the Transfiguration, with Jesus conversing with Moses and Elijah under supernatural lighting in front of Peter, James, and John. I have frequently wondered “how did they know it was Moses and Elijah?”. Like Ms. Taylor’s post, no one could have known what these two figures who existed (though some even doubt that) centuries before looked like.

    • Bart
      Bart  March 1, 2018

      Yeah, I know! And how did Paul know it was Jesus?

      • Avatar
        godspell  March 1, 2018

        Well, there’s the story in Luke about how two of the disciples met Jesus after he was crucified, but were prevented from recognizing him, until he broke bread with them.

        So Paul’s vision might have involved a man roughly corresponding to Jesus’ description (that he might have heard from Christians who had seen him in life, or had heard it from others), and this man presumably identified himself as Jesus, and perhaps did something that evoked stories Paul had heard about Jesus.

        It’s asking a bit much to make a dream or a vision logical. They never are.

        Here’s a suggestion, with some psychological overtones to it–suppose the man he saw looked like Paul himself? A secret sharer.

  6. talmoore
    talmoore  February 27, 2018

    Or, if we allow ourselves to speculate, what if Jesus had the temerity to enter Jerusalem wearing a purple lined mantle? Not terribly likely, but would certainly help explain how he was treated by Pilate.

    • Avatar
      godspell  March 1, 2018

      That sounds like something that would have been mentioned.

      Hell, that sounds like something they’d have made up later on, even if it hadn’t happened.

      Which I really doubt it did.

      He who exalts himself shall be humbled. And seriously, how ridiculous would he look riding a donkey in a robe like that?

  7. Avatar
    Gary  February 27, 2018

    A Jewish rabbi (Rabbi Skobac of Jews for Judaism) has been quoted as saying, “I wonder if there would be 2 billion followers of Jesus in the world today if they knew that Jesus was not the “hunk” shown in all the Christian paintings, but a short, fat, bald Jewish guy.”

    Off topic question: Christian missionaries tell Jews that shortly after Jesus’ death, the rabbis altered the Hebrew Scriptures to eliminate any possible prophecies about Jesus. Jews such as Rabbi Skobac deny this. They accuse Christians of distorting a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, the LXX, and “shoehorning” Jesus into these mistranslations. Who is right? Do you have a post on this topic or can you refer me to a book or online source which gives an unbiased evaluation of this issue?

    • Bart
      Bart  March 1, 2018

      There never was a sustained effort one way or the other. The LXX was actually done by Jews not Christians. But Christians used it, and found some of its translations particularly amenable to their purposes.

    • Avatar
      godspell  March 1, 2018

      Well, he was probably short (by our standards), but the rest is just wishful thinking, man. A guy who fasts in the desert and walks everywhere isn’t fat, and he wasn’t old enough to be bald yet.

    • Avatar
      llamensdor  April 14, 2018

      The short, fat, bald Jewish guy was Paul.

  8. Avatar
    ddorner  February 27, 2018

    Very fascinating post.

    How common (or uncommon) was it for ancient writers to offer a physical description of the people they were writing about? Are the gospels unique in that they do not describe Jesus physically?

    • Bart
      Bart  March 1, 2018

      That’s a great question: I’m not sure I’ve paid enough attention to say whether biographies do that or not!

  9. Avatar
    anthonygale  February 27, 2018

    Several years ago a “real face of Jesus” was created based on forensic evidence using first century Jewish skulls. I imagine you’ve seen it, but if not you can google it. Not to be confused with the “real face of Jesus” based on the Shroud of Turin.

    • Bart
      Bart  March 1, 2018

      Yeah, I’m not a big believer in our ability to do that — but call me a skeptic!

  10. Avatar
    RRomanchek  February 27, 2018

    Good teeth? Don’t think I’ve ever seen a depiction of Jesus smiling and showing teeth.

  11. Avatar
    ardeare  February 27, 2018

    First and foremost, being Jewish is a race. If her description is accurate, who are the Jews in Israel today? I’m not speaking to adopted Jews, converted Jews, or those who claim a small inkling of Jewish DNA. I’m directly pointing toward the Jews we all know such as politicians Netanyahu and Kushner. Scientists Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan. Actors Ben Stiller and Natalie Portman. Model Brooke Burke or announcers Al Michaels, Barbara Walters and Mike Wallace. Do these people pass as contemporary Iraqi’s? If not, it appears she has sided with Iran, Syria, Iraq, and most of the Muslim world who declare the current Jews are frauds and have no claim to the promised land.

    • Avatar
      godspell  March 1, 2018

      Being Jewish is an identity, an ancestry, apart from religious belief.

      It’s not a race.

      And since Muslims can be of any race, and can live in any part of the Islamic world without fear of persecution, this is not a logical argument. Arguments involving land and ancestry and religion tend not to be logical.

      It’s not as if they’d say the Jews could stay if they all looked like Arabs.

      However, the fact is, a lot of Jewish Israelis do look so much like Arabs than it’s hard to tell them apart. There’s a well-known Israeli actor named Oded Fehr, of Ashkenazi European ancestry, who frequently plays Muslims. And very credibly. (Like all Muslims–members of a global religion–look alike).

      Much of what we consider ‘racial’ appearance is a function of environment, diet, lifestyle–and preconceptions about how certain people should look. But bloodlines mingle, people convert, people move around.

      I’m not a huge fan of the Israeli government, but neither do I have much sympathy for people who use racial arguments to say “This is our land.”

      • Avatar
        ardeare  March 2, 2018

        I would recommend “Legacy: A Genetic History of the Jewish People” by Dr. Harry Ostrer. He is a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He’s also written numerous articles. Different readers will probably come up with different interpretations of his comprehensive studies.

        • Avatar
          godspell  March 5, 2018

          I googled some reviews. Genetics is not a field I read much about.

          I happen to be descended from Irish immigrants–the Irish are composed of many different waves of immigration and invasion, over millennia–Celts (who were more of a culture than a race) were relative latecomers, though they left a definitive stamp. Far as I’m concerned, one generation is all it takes to make you Irish. Or American.

          I feel like somehow this entire discussion has nothing at all do do with what Jesus looked like, which is probably the least important question anyone could ever ask about him.

  12. Avatar
    seahawk41  February 27, 2018

    I love it!! That means the end result, as to what Jesus probably looked like. I also appreciated the background as to where the standard images of him came from–mimicking Greek gods!

    • Avatar
      godspell  March 2, 2018

      Because centuries after his death, Jesus became God to what had been pagan Europe, and much as they changed their religious beliefs, their aesthetic preferences remained largely intact.

  13. Avatar
    dws  February 28, 2018

    That was cool!

  14. Avatar
    chrispope  February 28, 2018

    The picture in this piece is interesting:

  15. Lev
    Lev  February 28, 2018

    Are you familiar with the story of Raymond Rogers who was the Director of Chemical Research for the Shroud of Turin Research Project? He studied the Shroud in 1978, and he was convinced that the Carbon 14 tests in 1988 proved it was a medieval forgery.

    That was until the year 2000 when a couple of amateur researchers published a paper showing a seam from a repair attempt running diagonally through the area from which the C14 sample was taken. When Rogers saw the paper by Marino and Benford, his reaction was that they were not scientists, their theory was ridiculous, and that he still had fibre samples he had taken from the Shroud that could disprove their theory.

    You can probably tell where this is going…

    Upon examining the fibres under a microscope, Rogers concluded that, as they had hypothesized, a cotton patch had been woven into the linen fibres and then dyed to match the colour of the linen. The C14 tests were correct, but they were from a medieval sample, not an ancient one.

    Rogers was dying of terminal cancer, but was able to conduct further chemical tests and just weeks before he died he was able to publish a peer-reviewed paper that concluded the shroud was 1,300-3,000 years old. More here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4210369.stm

    Perhaps the Shroud of Turin provides us with an image of Jesus after all.

    • Bart
      Bart  March 1, 2018

      Death bed conversion! But, of course, if it was 1300 years old it would be what people have claimed, a medieval forgery.

  16. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  February 28, 2018

    Very interesting. The December, 2017 issue of “National Geographic” has an article entitled “What Archaeology is Telling Us About the Real Jesus.” One of the more interesting parts of the article is a photo gallery of lots of depictions of Jesus, One can Google the title of the article and then scroll down and click on this photo gallery and see it online. This gallery reminds me of Schweitzer’s comments in “The Quest of the Historical Jesus” that most of us see a Jesus who resembles us and, hence, we tend to see the Jesus we want to see.

    • Avatar
      godspell  March 1, 2018

      And I see no problem at all with that There are beautiful pictures from southeast Asia, and he looks like he came from there.

      I’m pissed at the Mormons though, for depicting him manifesting himself to the American Indians as a white man. Angel Moroni indeed!

      • Avatar
        Kirktrumb59  March 2, 2018

        You’ve been top the Salt Lake City temple visitors’ center? If you have, you know better than to piss off the Jesus therein depicted, on canvas and via the huge statue-under-the stars. This guy was BUFF, ripped, ready to kick some ___.

  17. Avatar
    Stephen  March 1, 2018

    You mean Jesus didn’t look like Robert Powell?

  18. dschmidt01
    dschmidt01  March 2, 2018

    I hope Jesus was a short fat bald guy. We’re nice people if not handsome. My mom told me I couldn’t go through life being short fat and stupid….So I’m trying to lose weight.

    • Avatar
      godspell  March 5, 2018

      Fat people can be quite attractive.

      Jesus was probably quite skinny. And didn’t care if he was attractive.

  19. Avatar
    HistoricalChristianity  March 4, 2018

    I’m confident no Christian knew what Jesus looked like because none had met him. By the time Christianity got going, probably no Jew knew who they were talking about. No one remembered Jesus of Nazareth. It was backwoods Galilee. Have I met Fred of Chicago? They say he died 30 years ago. Besides, his physical appearance was irrelevant to what Christians believed about him.

  20. Avatar
    jamal12  March 7, 2018

    if according to Christianity the Gospels are supposed to be a biography of Jesus, they don’t seem to have done a very good job if they did not explain how he looked like. Now of course if the Bible was not written by eye witnesses, who were not there with Jesus then they would not know how he looked like. Even if Paul had a vision, he did not know how Jesus looks like, he could have had a vision of someone but it was not Jesus. In these days we have photography, Internet we can draw, take pictures, but in those days they did not have any specific drawing of Jesus.In the bible no one knows how he looked like he had to be identified, with a kiss from judas.And also when they came to look for him they had to ask for him. That why is has been rumours ( whether true or not) that Cesare Borgia’s image has been used to depicts Jesus and many who do not know think that is the true likeness of Jesus. there is even mention that the apocrypha clearly mentions this in the Wisdom of Solomon 14:12-15
    12 For the idea of making idols was the beginning of fornication,and the invention of them was the corruption of life;
    13 for they did not exist from the beginning, nor will they last forever.
    14 For through human vanity they entered the world,and therefore their speedy end has been planned.
    15 For a father, consumed with grief at an untimely bereavement,made an image of his child, who had been suddenly taken from him;he now honored as a god what was once a dead human being,and handed on to his dependents secret rites and initiations.
    So what was the true likeness of jesus, the 1million dollar question

    • Avatar
      godspell  March 8, 2018

      As I mentioned further up, physical descriptions in scripture–OT and NT–are rare. They’re actually not that common in history from that era either. The most interesting character in Thucydides’ history of what was then quite recent Greek history is Alcibiades.

      There’s no description of him in the book, far as I know. It’s generally assumed he was, by the standards of his day, quite handsome, but that’s hardly telling us much.

      Physical descriptions of mythic characters were common, and heavily idealized, as in the Iliad. Physical descriptions of real people, much harder to find.

      Let’s not assume the informational deficiencies in scriptural writings are never found anywhere but scripture. Ancient writers were held to different standards, different expectations. Possible, of course, Thucydides didn’t know what all these people he wrote about looked like (though he did a lot of research, and certainly could have found out). Possible he didn’t think it was important.

      As I mentioned further up, we have no physical descriptions of Cleopatra from anyone who met her. We assume she was physically beautiful as well, but maybe not so much. Maybe she just had a lot of personality.

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