How Do We Find Out What Jesus Really Looked Like While He Was Alive?

Published on 08/30/2020
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What do you think Jesus looks like? You probably envision him as a white man with a beard, all decked out in a white robe. This is the most common answer among people who believe in him since he looks like this in images, paintings, and more. People simply took this to be a fact and did not doubt it. But there are several reasons why this might not be the case. Joan Taylor is a professor at the King’s College who sought out a more accurate idea of what the King of Kings looked like!

Is There Any Evidence Of What Jesus Looked Like

How Do We Find Out What Jesus Really Looked Like While He Was Alive?

Why Do Historical Painters Portray Him Like This?

This then begs the question: why would they paint him that way if it was not what he looked like? In the past, artists made a living by painting various gods. When Jesus Christ became famous, the painters would create an image of him using the same techniques. On top of that, they had different ideas of what a god should look like. This explains why he is depicted the way he is in paintings and images.

Why Do Historical Painters Portray Him Like This

Why Do Historical Painters Portray Him Like This

Out Of This World Accessories

However, historians and the like have looked into it and noted that these images are not factual. First of all, they looked at the accessories that he was depicted to wear. These details did not fit what they knew about the time that he was alive and served as evidence. You must have seen paintings of him with a halo over his head. Sometimes, he is also shown sitting on a decorated throne! Even though they gave the works of art a certain effect, they did not really make any sense. As Joan Taylor conducted her research, she found out that Jesus should have looked like a regular man.

Out Of This World Accessories

Out Of This World Accessories

What Is Written In The Bible?

There are religious people who believe everything in the Bible. To them, all the proof that they need comes from the book. The Bible contained all kinds of evidence that would lead to a better idea of what he looked like in the past. What kind of clues helped them figure out his real appearance? Well, there are descriptions that say he was just a normal man who did not stand out from the crowd. As a matter of fact, he was just like any other person alive in those days.

What Is Written In The Bible

What Is Written In The Bible?

Unclear Explanations

Just so we are clear, it is difficult to pinpoint all the features of his appearance. In the past centuries, artists relied heavily on poetic license when they worked on their paintings. Aside from that, some artists had more to do than simply come up with the image that they wanted. In an effort to make the paintings more symbolic, they decided to use a number of fascinating details.

Unclear Explanations

Unclear Explanations

The Good Shepherd

Allegorical painters like to show Jesus tending to sheep in the grass. Allow us to explain the concept of “the good shepherd” to you. Artists like to show him in this light to show us that he is the shepherd of the people. The symbol of a shepherd is meant to reflect the fact that he is a great leader that people should follow. This trend became famous during the early Roman ages. Works of art that used the same time had been discovered all over Rome, which is quite far from his actual homeland.

The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd

The Picture Is In The Stone

But where did the other aspects of common depictions come in? In general, the portrayal of him as a bearded Caucasian man during the Middle Ages. However, the most common depiction of him now is the one as the good shepherd. He is often drawn with long hair, white clothes, and facial hair. If you visit a church or look him up online, this is probably going to be the portrayal that you are going to find.

The Picture Is In The Stone

The Picture Is In The Stone

Connecting Images

A lot of historical painters failed to find illustrative details in the Bible. However, they should have relied on it to get a better idea of his real appearance. The connecting images would have made for a more factually accurate image. At any rate, the artists decided to look at older works by other masters as the basis of his appearance.

Connecting Images

Connecting Images

An Improved Image And Feature

In those days, artists wanted to improve their depiction of him but remain faithful to the old works of art at the same time. This method was used to come up with ideal images! As they tried to figure out what the Messiah should look like, they based their portrayal of him in paintings on earlier images. The younger artists ended up following these details for this very reason.

An Improved Image And Feature

An Improved Image And Feature

Original Work Of Art

Allow us to explain it to you a little more. The Greek god Zeus was always shown with a beard and long hair. He was also shown wearing a white robe in the sculptures and paintings. You can even see the similarities between him and Jesus Christ as we know him. The works of art are pretty amazing in almost all respects, and this was an effective way to leave an impression on the general public. The painters wanted to come up with their original pieces yet make people feel that way about it at the same time.

Original Work Of Art

Original Work Of Art

It’s Not The Same

While Zeus has always been a complicated figure, there is no denying that artists were able to create amazing depictions of him. When Augustus was the emperor of the Roman Empire, he wanted people to be more like the Greek god. Yes, he was quite the egoist. Despite this, the truth is that his physical appearance did not match what Zeus looked like in these works of art.

It’s Not The Same

It’s Not The Same

Somehow The Same With Zeus

In those days, Emperor Augustus made his sculptor throw in a couple of details that were true about his real appearance. After all, the finished product would not look like him at all otherwise. When he was alive, he had short hair and a clean-shaven face. However, people from back then preferred complex things over simple ones. He wanted to achieve this with the use of Zeus’s beard and long hair.

Somehow The Same With Zeus

Somehow The Same With Zeus

The Last Supper

Joan Taylor found more evidence about the real appearance of Jesus Christ. She strongly believes that it is not in his nature to sit on such an extravagant throne no matter how much we see it in the current period. Even though there is no way to tell for sure, this did not fit what we know about him when he was still alive. Let us now take a look at another common theme used in paintings of the King of Kings.

The Last Supper

The Last Supper

The Modern Look

There is something about these images that have caught the attention of many historians. Certain concepts have been altered to suit the agenda of the artists. They tried to convince us that this was what Jesus really looked like even though this is not the case. Historians have also said that artists like to incorporate an evangelical theme into their works of art. For example, you might have noticed that the sword has been replaced by a bible. It is also common to decorate the central figure in a way that would make it seem like an absolution for mankind.

The Modern Look

The Modern Look

The Perfect Image

Even years later, people still carry the same image that people from centuries ago did. After all, it is still common to see the same facial features, outline, and outfit. There are times when they still leave a halo above his head. Over the years, various artists have whipped up their own images of him. According to Joan Taylor, their common goal is to portray the Messiah as a holy man.

The Perfect Image

The Perfect Image

Mighty Features

What the artists had in common more than anything else was to show that he was holy. This is not super different from the intentions of comic book artists when drawing superheroes. It also rings true for classical artists when they make sculptures of Greek gods. Based on these images, it is clear that long hair has been taken to symbolize power. Even to this day, this feature is used to show that a character or person is mighty. It makes sense that the King of Kings would have similarities with characters supposedly just as powerful and strong.

Mighty Features

Mighty Features

Is He Just An Ordinary Human Being?

The experts have found pieces of evidence to prove that Jesus did not look the way he is shown in paintings and other works of art. Artists probably threw in other features because they wanted him to stand out from the crowd. This way, viewers would not mistake him for a human being and see that he is truly the Savior of mankind.

Is He Just An Ordinary Human Being

Is He Just An Ordinary Human Being

An Evidence Of What He Really Looked Like

In the past, something called the shroud of Turin has caught the attention of the general public. It was said to be the burial shroud used by Jesus Christ himself! In fact, it allegedly came with a clear image of his body. Will this help the experts find out more about what the Messiah really looked like in the past?

An Evidence Of What He Really Looked Like

An Evidence Of What He Really Looked Like

Some Philosophers Question The Evidence

An American lecturer and historian did not have a good feeling about this evidence. According to him, a lot of people had been scamming others during the Middle Ages. Yes, there were conmen and scammers even in those days. He believed that the Shroud of Turin is nothing more than a scam by people like that. Since it had been a very religious time in history, this would have helped them make a lot of money. Keep in mind that fraud also came with a religious penalty when caught.

Some Philosophers Question The Evidence

Some Philosophers Question The Evidence

What Does He Really Look Like?

The illustrations from that period of time can’t really be trusted in terms of accuracy. Joan and the team had to dig deeper into this matter. They did so by relying on ancient relics such as ancient Egyptian papyrus scrolls and burial site remnants. Hopefully, this was hoping to help them figure out what Jesus looked like in those days. To be fair, this might be their best shot yet at solving the puzzle about his physical appearance so many years ago.

What Does He Really Look Like

What Does He Really Look Like?

They Have Different Fashion Statement

With the team, she worked hard to figure out what Jesus looked like when he was still alive. One of the things that Joan Taylor wanted to know was the attire worn by the common man back then. It was likely that Jesus Christ himself would wear the same thing. What she learned was that a cloak the men would wear in those days. She found out that members of the royal families and clergies donned something very similar to that. However, this is not exactly all that common when it comes to everyday life. According to the Bible, John the Baptist wore different types of clothing for different occasions. We might not have gotten a complete report on what the Messiah wore, but this gave us more insight.

They Have Different Fashion Statement

They Have Different Fashion Statement

What Is He Wearing?

After she learned more about the illustration and scrolls from ancient Egypt, Joan Taylor learned more about the clothing worn by a normal person. It was a good idea to look into this since Jesus would likely wear the same thing. The historian learned about the garments that ordinary men liked to wear.

What Is He Wearing

What Is He Wearing?

The Tunics Are Not Long

After conducting more research, Joan learned that an average man in those days wore tunics. They were nowhere near as long as the illustrations showed, however. The guys from that period of time wore tunics that rested at the knee. This gave them enough flexibility to do their tasks on an everyday basis. If it was longer than that, it would have hampered their movements and be impractical for movement, especially when they are busy doing their jobs.

The Tunics Are Not Long

The Tunics Are Not Long

Only Upper-Class Can Wear Full-Length Robes

Aside from this, however, Joan also learned about the class stratification from back then. She learned that upper-class men occasionally wore full-length robes or cloaks. It served as some kind of social status symbol because it meant that they did not have to perform manual labor to make a living. The historian thought of it as more evidence on the appearance of the Messiah. She doubted that Jesus wore those garments since he was a modest person.

Only Upper Class Can Wear Full Length Robes

Only Upper Class Can Wear Full-Length Robes

The Color Is Dull

From what she knew, it was not likely that Jesus wore a full-length robe or cloak just like the upper-class folks did back then. He must have worn knee-length tunics and robes as the average man did. But the color of the robe is another matter as well. More research revealed that it was not at all easy to die anything white in those days. This has to do with the fact that the majority of the robes worn in those days had been made from a material known as plain wool. Anyway, the Bible came with statements talking about the color of his clothes. It is said that those items of clothing only got dyed a white and shiny color when he turned into a divine being.

The Color Is Dull

The Color Is Dull

Decorative Elements

The illustrations with Jesus Christ also had various extra features. For one thing, he was shown with a bluish veil or cape over his robe. But why did it a different shade of the color? To this day, however, the experts have not reached anything definitive about the use of blue. Historians still have no idea why he was drawn that way. It is possible that this does not have any meaning to it whatsoever.

Decorative Elements

Decorative Elements

Not A Traditional Mantle

The crucifixion is another subject used in various films and paintings. In the film, Jesus was shown wearing a cape and a short tunic. The historians think that his robe was not a traditional mantle. Instead, it must have been a prayer mantle of some kind. If you watch the movie, you are going to reach the same conclusion that he was indeed donning that garment in particular.

Not A Traditional Mantle

Not A Traditional Mantle

Not One But Two

Historians are of the belief that he had two types of prayer shawls. They reached this conclusion thanks to something that happened in the bible. It claimed that the Messiah took off his scarf so that he can wash the feet of his devotees. AS he was praying, he also wore a different kind of cloak.

Not One But Two

Not One But Two

What Shoes Is He Wearing?

Now that we have talked about his tunic and shawl, let us find out what he wore on his feet. They found out something important after they discovered various remnants in the area where he is said to have lived in. The team discovered various fabric pieces that served as proof of the footwear that he must have been using. After a couple of tests, they learned that they came from sandals. Knowing this, Joan Taylor believed that it was not proof to know for sure that this was what Jesus wore back then.

What Shoes Is He Wearing

What Shoes Is He Wearing

Outward Features

Now that we know that his portraits, paintings, and illustrations are not historically factual, we want to know what he really looked like. For the longest time, we assumed that he was a bearded white man thanks to his. Did it resemble any of those works of art at all? The researchers did some more digging… literally. They relied on the remnants of the mummified bodies in his homeland to learn more about it. The remains found in the area could be split into two categories: Egyptian and Grecian.

Outward Features

Outward Features

Similar Features

The facial features of the Savior have been depicted in different ways in portrayals of him. The Egyptian mummies gave us a better understanding of his facial features. Joan Taylor believed that the mummies that they uncovered had lived in the same period of time that Jesus Christ did. This was the reason she relied on them when it was time to look for his real appearance.

Similar Features

Similar Features

Preserved Pieces Of Evidence

They have already done various processes in their quest to figure out his appearance. This was not the end of it yet. They also took a look at other pieces of evidence found in an old synagogue. The object was going to help us figure out his features. What kind of things did they find in the place of worship?

Preserved Pieces Of Evidence

Preserved Pieces Of Evidence

Remains Of Moses

They found a preserved piece of evidence that could possibly make everything easier after its analysis. Sadly, it turned out that this remnant had not come from Jesus. They learned that it came from Moses instead. Would they still be able to figure out what the Messiah looked like with the help of this remnant?

Remains Of Moses

Remains Of Moses

Same As What Moses Is Wearing

Joan Taylor said that it was still useful since Moses was a good example of a regular man in those days. He and Jesus probably have a lot of similarities with each other. For one thing, there was a good chance that they wore the same sort of clothing. We are glad to hear that not all is lost, after all!

Same As What Moses Is Wearing

Same As What Moses Is Wearing

They Have Different Hairstyle

When they ran tests on the finding, they learned that Moses had different facial features. For one thing, he wore his hair short and sported a clean-shaven face. These things do not align with what we already know about that period in time. In those days, artists liked to use the image of long hair to signify that the subject is either a womanly creature or a divine being.

They Have Different Hairstyle

They Have Different Hairstyle

Thanks to the Intricate Painters

After conducting an investigation on the evidence and the relics, Joan Taylor learned that the painters had been right about the facial hair. Men usually sported beards or long hair since they were always traveling from one place to another. They usually did not have the time to get rid of the facial hair or cut their hair on the road. We all know that Jesus and the apostles traveled extensively, so it made sense that their hair grew long. This also explains why Moses is shown to have a beard in a number of illustrations and paintings in the past.

Thanks To The Intricate Painters

Thanks To The Intricate Painters

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