What is the image that comes to your mind when we talk about Jesus? There is a good chance that you will envision a bearded Caucasian man wearing a white robe. You are not the only one because this is what most people have in mind. After all, this was the way he has been depicted in paintings, images, and more. The truth is that he probably looked nothing like that! A King’s College professor by the name of Joan Taylor found proof that shows it was not what the Savior looked like when he was still alive.
Why Do Historical Painters Portray Him Like This?
But how did this even happen? Why would the painters draw him that way if it was not really what he looked like? In the past, the painters of the art pieces in question would do their research before making works about different gods. When Jesus Christ rose in popularity, the painter created the image of the Savior using a different approach. They only relied on their ideas instead of doing their homework!
Out Of This World Accessories
With the arrival of certain tools and technology, historical experts have since found out that these images are not factual. One of the things that they noticed was the accessories that he wore. The Messiah was drawn wearing items that were not in fashion during that period of time. You have probably seen photos showing the Messiah on a fancy royal chair or with a halo over his head. Needless to say, these things just do not make a lick of sense. After doing more research on Jesus Christ, Joan Taylor reached the conclusion that he was an ordinary man who lived a simple life.
What Is Written In The Bible?
There are religious folks who would refer to the writings in the Bible. In fact, some of them even use the book as proof of what they are fighting for. We are referring to the appearance of Jesus Christ and his contemporaries from that time period. There are plenty of clues scattered in the book that should give us all an idea. If you ever read the book, you will see that he was described to be an average man who did not stand out from the crowd. He was just like any other man during that era.
There are also a number of vague explanations that would explain why Jesus Christ was made to look like that in so many works of art. In the past, artists did not shy away from using poetic license when working on his portrait. On top of that, we also need to consider the art style that they used. Many artists back then wanted to infuse symbolic meaning to their portraits as well.
The Good Shepherd
Just look at the paintings of the Messiah in the grassland with many sheep around him. Allegorical artists did this so that they can portray Jesus Christ as “the good shepherd.” This was meant to symbolize that He was the shepherd of the people. The job was supposed to signify that he was a suitable leader who everyone should follow. In reality, however, these paintings were created during the early Roman age. These works of art were often found in Rome, which was located far from His actual homeland.
The Picture Is In The Stone
It was during the Middle Ages that the idea of him as a Caucasian man with facial hair became more accepted. However, we think that the most common depiction of Jesus Christ is still as a good shepherd. Other features frequently used by artists would be white or cream robes, long hair, and a beard. If you check out the pieces from that period, there is no way you would miss this.
The best way to figure out what the Messiah looked like was by reading the bible. A lot of historical painters failed to find helpful details in the holy book, however. This was why these painters worked on the image of Jesus Christ based on their own model. However, they also relied on the works of older artists when they came up with their own version.
An Improved Image And Feature
Artists were able to make a new version of the Savior. They used features from the older works, which explains why they are different but still similar. Back then, the artists wanted to create an ideal image of the Messiah. When they worked on their projects, they often based the appearance of Jesus Christ on earlier works of art of Him. This explains why this depiction has become so prevalent.
Original Work Of Art
Here is an example of what we have been talking about. Zeus from the Greek pantheon has always been shown as a long-haired god with a beard. Doesn’t that remind you of someone else? As a matter of fact, Zeus was often drawn in a white robe as well! Come to think of it, this is actually quite obvious when these similarities have been pointed out to you. The artists had to find the balance between adding original features and making the images look similar to the older ones.
It’s Not The Same
Zeus might have been a complicated figure, but the fact of the matter was that artists were impressed by the way he was depicted. If you check out the images created during the rule of Roman Emperor Augustus, you will notice something interesting. You will probably be struck by his resemblance to Zeus. However, the truth is that he does not really look like the Greek god. But what did this mean then?
Somehow The Same With Zeus
Apparently, Emperor Augustus asked the sculptor to add in a couple of his features to the works of art. In reality, he did not really look like Zeus at all. When Augustus was alive, he had been a clean-shaven man with short hair. Back then, however, people liked seeing complicated things. To appeal to the crowd, he decided to give the statues features of the Greek god such as the long hair and beard.
The Last Supper
Joan Taylor was able to find some evidence that would explain what Jesus really looked like. According to the historian, he was not the type of person who would sit on a regal throne even though this is a common depiction of him. Indeed, it does not sound like it was not true to his character. After all, he was supposed to be someone simple and humble. Another common depiction of the Messiah shows him with his disciples as they had the last supper.
The Modern Look
Something about these illustrations, however, piqued the curiosity of historians. It looks like there were concepts that the artists altered from the original work. A lot of people assumed that Jesus looked like that back in the day, but this was not the case. Historians have even said that the artists wanted to infuse the image of Jesus Christ with more evangelical themes. For one thing, the sword had been replaced by a bible! On top of that, the central figure had been depicted in such a way that would signify absolution for everyone else. This is barely the tip of the iceberg!
The Perfect Image
A long time has since passed, but people still believe that Jesus Christ actually looked like that. We are talking about his facial features, his outline, and even his cream or white robe. There are also certain paintings that showed him with a halo above his head. Over the years, artists have portrayed him in numerous ways. According to Jean, people want to look at an image of him and see a holy being.
But how did artists go about portraying Jesus in such a way? It looks like long hair is one feature used to this end. To be fair, there are also other examples outside of Christianity. For example, this also occurred with the Roman people and their gods, as well as modern society and superheroes. It has often been taken to mean that the person sporting this hairstyle is a mighty and powerful being. The artists found it important to add these features so that they could portray Jesus Christ as someone who was more powerful than everyone else!
Is He Just An Ordinary Human Being?
Let us hear more about what the experts had to say about these portrayals of Jesus Christ. According to specialists, the Messiah was depicted like that so people who looked at it would be able to identify him right away. By giving him those features, it would be easier to pinpoint which character in the portrait he was. It would also be clear that he was not a regular person but the Savior of mankind.
An Evidence Of What He Really Looked Like
In those days, there was also a lot of talk about the burial shroud that Jesus Christ allegedly used. The shroud of Turin supposedly carried a clear image of the body! Could this help the researchers find out more about what he really looked like? Of course, this would only be possible if this was the real deal.
Some Philosophers Question The Evidence
A lecturer and a historian did not know if the shroud should be considered as evidence, however. According to an expert, there had been a lot of scammers during the Middle ages. They are not all that different from the conmen in this day and age. He believed that the shroud was merely a scam used to trick believers of the Messiah! If they got away with schemes like that, they would earn quite a lot of money. A fraud of that sort would have been subjected to a religious penalty.
What Does He Really Look Like?
It is not exactly wise to trust an illustration from the medieval era. Despite this, Joan and her team checked out various ancient relics such as old papyrus scrolls from Egypt and remnants from burial sites. This was their best bet at figuring out what Jesus Christ really looked like when he was alive so many centuries ago. By studying these things, they would be a step closer to reality! Were they able to learn anything significant from these artifacts?
They Have Different Fashion Statement
The answer is that yes, Joan and her team had been able to come closer to the truth of his appearance! She came up with an answer based on what other men from that era had been wearing. After all, there was a very good chance that the Messiah would also wear the same thing. During that era, it was not at all common for a man to wear such a fashionable cloak. Even though members of the aristocracy and clergymen would don clothes like that, the average person would not wear the same thing. Let us refer to what the Bible had to say about the style during that era. Even though it mentioned that John the Baptist donned various kinds of clothes, it did not describe what Jesus Christ himself wore.
What Is He Wearing?
Did they learn more things after perusing the illustrations and the scrolls from ancient Egypt? After taking a look at these objects, the historian found out more about the clothes worn by an average person from that era. This would provide a lot of insight into what Jesus Christ probably wore back then!
The Tunics Are Not Long
When Joan took a look at the artifacts from that era, she learned that the average man donned a tunic. However, it was considerably shorter than the ones shown in the various portrayals of Christ! The men from that period wore a knee-length tunic and nothing longer. The length allowed them flexibility when they went about their work. Any longer than that and their movements would have been restricted by the hemline! All things considered, that would have been very impractical.
Only Upper-Class Can Wear Full-Length Robes
Joan also learned more about the classes of people during that period of time. Many members of the upper class would don full-length robes or cloaks. This was a way to flaunt their social status since they did not have to perform manual and physical labor. The historian used this piece of information to support her conclusion about the appearance of the Messiah. As a modest man, it was very unlikely that Jesus Christ would have been wearing something like that!
The Color Is Dull
Based on these things, it was safe to assume that Jesus did not sport full-length items of clothing like the rich people did back then. It was much likelier that he wore a knee-length robe like the average Joe. However, what about the color of the robe? Had the artists been correct when they chose the color of his tunic? According to research, there would have been no way to whiten the fabric during those days. There was no way he would have been wearing white for that very reason! Back then, most tunics were made using plain wool. If you look at the Bible had to say, you will find statements saying that claimed how his robes only turned white and shiny when he ascended as a divine being.
Aside from the robe, there were also illustrations that showed Jesus Christ with a blue cape or veil over it. But why did the artist go with a different shade of blue for his mask and robe? The truth is that there might be more to this decision than meets the eye. However, there was also a chance that it meant nothing. Historians could not come up with an explanation for this. Perhaps it was merely decorative.
Not A Traditional Mantle
When it comes to the depiction of Christ in works of art, the crucifixion is yet another common image. In the film, he was shown wearing a cape and a short tunic. Historians believe that his robe had been a prayer mantle and not a traditional mantle. In the movie, this seemed evident. The same goes for paintings of the crucifixion that showed him sporting that sort of attire.
Not One But Two
Historians also thought that he wore not one but two different types of prayer shawls. In the Bible, there were certain passages that pointed to this. The book revealed that Jesus Christ took off a scarf in order to bathe the feet of his devotees. When he was praying, he also wore another cloak.
What Shoes Is He Wearing?
Joan Taylor also talked about the kind of shoes that he must have been wearing. The evidence said that the location could have been hiding remnants of those days. True enough, they did find pieces of fabric in the area where he was believed to have lived. They used this as another piece to figure out what he really looked like. They ran tests on these artifacts and learned that he wore sandals! The historian strongly believed that the Savior used this kind of footwear to keep his feet safe such a long time ago.
After looking at the results, were they able to come up with a comprehensive sketch of what he looked like? It would be interesting to see how similar or how different it is from other portrayals of him. However, there were still other methods that they employed on this quest of theirs. For one thing, they were able to unearth mummified remnants of people who used in his homeland! They observed two kinds of facial features from those days. One of them was Grecian, and the other one was Egyptian.
With the help of images and illustrations, we have arrived at a better understanding of what he looked like. There had been portraits on some of the mummies that came with facial descriptions. According to the historian, there was a good chance that the mummified bodies were of people who lived during the same time period that Jesus Christ did. It was a good way to figure out an accurate portrayal of him.
Preserved Pieces Of Evidence
Mind you, this is not the end of the story just yet! The researchers also had to take a look at more artifacts that they discovered in an ancient synagogue. It could shed more light on the true appearance of Jesus Christ. What exactly did they find in the place of worship? They were surprised by how valuable the pieces of evidence were this time around.
Remains Of Moses
This object might even lead us to the end of the argument! It had great potential to unearth exactly what he looked like. At first, they held hope that it was actually the remains of Jesus. This did not turn out to be the case as it was actually from Moses instead! But could they still use it for their mission?
Same As What Moses Is Wearing
Joan Taylor was able to use this piece of evidence even though it was not of Jesus Christ. By rendering Moses, they had a reliable source that they could use to figure out what the Messiah looked like! He can be taken to be an average man from that era, so they must have at least worn the same kind of clothing.
They Have Different Hairstyle
After doing more research on his remains, the researchers found out that Moses wore his hair short and did not sport facial hair. As you can see, this description did not match the way that Jesus Christ had been portrayed in various works of art! If you check out sculptures and paintings, you will see that the artists always depicted him with long, straight hair. This was usually used for women and divine entities.
Thanks to the Intricate Painters
After inspecting all the evidence and artifacts, Joan Taylor learned many interesting things. For one thing, she found out that painters had been correct about the facial hair. Men back then typically had long hair and facial hair because they were always on the road. When you are traveling, it would be hard to cut your hair, shave your beard, and groom yourself in general! Jesus and his disciples had to travel often, so their body hair probably got very long and bushy with the passage of time. This is also a good way to explain why Moses was also depicted with a beard in many illustrations!