What did Jesus Christ really look like?

Sure, we have the familiar image that is presented in paintings, film and television — the long-haired man with a beard, light skin and brown hair. But, is this accurate?

We really can’t know for sure, but blogger and Crossway vice-president Justin Taylor put together a thought-provoking article over at The Gospel Coalition dissecting this very subject.

Taylor began by sharing the information we do know about Jesus — all of which, of course, comes from dissecting the Bible. To begin, Christ was likely in his early 30s during his short-lived ministry. As for the issue of long hair, the blogger cites 1 Corinthians 11:14, which reads, “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him.”

What Did Jesus Christ Look Like?

This publicity image released by History shows Diogo Morcaldo as Jesus, right, in a scene from “The Bible,” premiering Sunday, March 3 at 8 p.m. EST on History. Credit: AP

While this was not a statement from Jesus, himself, Taylor seems to conclude that the verse, written by Paul, showed a disdain for males donning this type of hairdo. This presents some intriguing questions. Among them: If long hair truly was not in the equation for Christ, then does the Shroud of Turin — which features a man who seems to have long hair — have any legitimacy (read TheBlaze’s coverage of the religious relic)?

The notion, though, that Christ had a beard is supportable, Taylor maintains. The Bible doesn’t explicitly confirm this, but it would not have been unreasonable at that time.

“It’s fair to assume that Jesus had a beard, in light of first-century Jewish culture and tradition — though Scripture doesn’t say this explicitly,” he wrote, noting that, “Isaiah 50:6 says the suffering servant, ultimately exemplified in Jesus, has his beard plucked out, but the NT doesn’t cite this.”

Jesus’ skin tone, Taylor argues, would have been darker in nature (i.e. olive color), considering that most of his time was spent outside.

Perhaps most intriguing is the argument that Jesus was not stunningly handsome — at least not according to the Bible and Taylor’s view on the book’s contents. The blogger explains: “Isaiah’s messianic prophecy suggests that there was nothing unusually attractive about him (“he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him,” Isa. 53:2)—though it’s taking it too far to say that he was thereby unattractive or homely.”

Taylor, of course, isn’t the first person to wonder what Christ looked like. While most of us likely have the images we’ve all repeatedly seen emblazoned in our minds, there’s no definitive indication that these are accurate (and, as noted, they likely include some questionable features).

What Did Jesus Christ Look Like?

Photo Credit: Popular Mechanics

In 2002, Popular Mechanics, as Taylor notes, published an article entitled, “The Real Face of Jesus.” In it, researchers and experts weighed in about what someone living during Jesus’ time in the Middle East would have looked like. After analyzing skulls from those residing in Jerusalem and using computer technology, remains were reconstructed.

In the end, while not centered upon Jesus himself, the Popular Mechanics article found that the average Semite man during Christ’s life was 5 ft. 1 in. — relatively short considering the height of today’s average male, which is nearly 6 feet. The weight of an average man during Jesus’ time was 110 pounds (see above image).

Based on the evidence, what do you think Jesus looked like? Let us know in the comments section (and read Taylor’s Gospel Coalition blog entry).

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