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Jesus Was Ugly!


Jun
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"Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?"

- l Corinthians 11:14.

 

Everywhere one looks you see the classical image of "Jesus" as a handsome guy in nice white robes sporting a well groomed beard and long flowing hair. How accurate is this I wondered. A quick search and I came up with this -

 

If anyone can find the origin of this source please post it here as I have lost it.

 

CHURCH POSITION

 

Jesus Was Handsome With Long Hair and a Beard

 

"…so that I was afraid and cried out, and he, turning about, appeared as a man of small stature…" (Acts of John, v. 90)

 

SCHOLARS

 

"The now ubiquitous image of the bearded long-haired Jesus did not become established until the Eighth Century." (Freke & Gandy, 2001, p. 56).

 

"...judging from these wall paintings [Dura-Europos], which date from the 3rd Century but depict attire that had been used for centuries, men wore their hair fairly short, and had either shaven faces or short beards." (Allen, 1998, pp. 25-26)

 

THE REALITY

 

Everyone thinks they know what Jesus looked like. Go ahead - Sketch it out. Start with the long flowing white linen robe. Add the long hair and the beard. Give him the face of Max Van Sydow (Greatest Story Ever Told, 1965), or Jeffrey Hunter (King of Kings, 1961), or even James Caviezel (Passion of the Christ, 2004). Think you've got it? Not! The real Jesus, if he did indeed exist, would have looked nothing like that.

 

More than 1500 years ago, St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.) lamented that: "we have absolutely no knowledge of His appearance" (quoted in Wheless, 1990, p.112). One of the problems is that most Jews in Jesus' era shunned the practice of making images of their Gods, specifically forbidden by the Decalogue of Moses (v 2), and this, in turn, generalized to any kinds of images at all (Wilson, 1984). But the good Bishop was mistaken. We have lots of information.

 

Jesus was Small

 

One clue to Jesus' appearance comes from the stories about his death. When Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and found it empty, she inquired of the "gardener", where is Jesus? and promised to lift Jesus' body up if he told her where he was. Obviously if Mary were capable of lifting Jesus up, he can't have been very large. In fact, the average male at that time was 5'1" and weighed 110 pounds.

 

The Gospel of Luke (19:3) describes Zaccheus' attempt to see Jesus while he preached in a crowd: "And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and he could not for the crowd, because he was low of stature." Of course, Luke may be referring to Zaccheus rather than Jesus, but the idea that Jesus was slight can be seen again in the Acts of John: "…I was afraid and cried out, and he, turning about, appeared as a man of small stature…" (v. 90)

 

We have another clue to Jesus' appearance in the Qur'an. One night, a winged snow-white beast takes the prophet Muhammad to Jerusalem to the Temple where he meets Moses and Jesus, and Jesus is the smaller of the two.

 

The Slavonic copy of Josephus's Capture of Jerusalem, contains the following description of a man wanted by Pontius Pilate for claiming that he was the King of the Jews: "a man of simply appearance, mature age, dark skin, small stature, three cubits high, hunchbacked with a long face, long nose, and meeting eyebrows…with scanty hair with a parting in the middle of his head, after the manner of the Nazarites, and with an undeveloped beard (Quoted in Knight & Lomas, 1996, p. 230)." This description is curiously like that of Paul in the Acts of Paul and Thecla: "…a man small in size, bald-headed…with eyebrows meeting, rather hook-nosed…" (v. 3)

 

Thus, from a variety of sources we see that Jesus was small in stature.

 

Jesus was Physically Unattractive

 

As noted above, the Slavonic copy of Josephus not only discussed Jesus' stature, it also commented on his physical attractiveness. The picture of Jesus as relatively unattractive comes from many other sources as well. In the Acts of Peter, Peter quotes a prophet who described Jesus - "And we saw him and he had no beauty nor comeliness (v. 24)." In the Acts of John, John says: "And oft-times he [Jesus] would appear to me as a small man and uncomely (v. 89)." Celsus (whom we know through Origen 's works) described Jesus as "…small and ugly and undistinguished."

 

Justin Martyr in Trypho declared that Jesus was "made ugly by the sufferings and the humiliation that he endured (v. 88)." Tertullian said: "he would not have been spat upon by the Roman soldiers if his face had not been so ugly as to inspire spitting (v. ix)." The language here suggests that they may have been going back to the tradition in Isaiah (53:2-3), which was prominent among the early Christians (Craveri, 1967; Fox 1989).

 

In any event, we have multiple and diverse attestations that Jesus was not attractive in a conventional sense.

 

Jesus Had Short Hair and was Clean Shaven

 

Imagine Jesus as your prototypical Marine - short hair, clean-shaven. Hard to imagine, yet that seems to be our best evidence. Freke and Gandy (2001) note: "the earliest representations of Jesus actually portray him beardless, with short hair….(p. 56)."

 

Almost all of the early artifacts concerning Jesus picture him as clean-shaven and with short hair. That should come as no surprise to anyone who has looked at coins, busts or statues of the early Roman emperors. Virtually every one of them had short hair and are clean shaven. The first emperor to sport a beard was Hadrian (117-138 A.D.) and even he had relatively short hair. Long hair would not appear for centuries, until the rise of Byzantium. Among Jesus' contemporaries, there are very few contemporaneous visages, but what we do have supports the findings among the Roman emperors. For example, coins struck with the faces of Herod the Great's son, King Philip (ruled 4 B.C. to 34 A.D.), Herod's grandson King Agrippa I (ruled 37 to 44 A.D.), and Herod's great grandson, Agrippa II (ruled 44 to 100 A.D.) show them all clean-shaven and with short hair. A Roma bust of Flavius Josephus, the Jewish author, shows him clean-shaven with short hair.

 

 

So the image on the Turin shroud can't be "Jesus!" And all those pictures and statues depict some one else!

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Well of course. Who wants to follow a five foot one, hunchbacked, balding black guy with a big nose and a unibrow? Yetch. No artist would want to depict THAT, and you can't sell Jesus the Buttface to the masses! Just not good marketing strategy. Better to have a white, gorgeous, 6 foot tall wet dream of a man as your marketing ploy if you want to rake 'em into the churches.

 

Though this may indicated one reason why Jesus is not known to talk about sex all that much or listed as having any wives or lovers.

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Well of course. Who wants to follow a five foot one, hunchbacked, balding black guy with a big nose and a unibrow? Yetch. No artist would want to depict THAT, and you can't sell Jesus the Buttface to the masses! Just not good marketing strategy. Better to have a white, gorgeous, 6 foot tall wet dream of a man as your marketing ploy if you want to rake 'em into the churches.

 

Though this may indicated one reason why Jesus is not known to talk about sex all that much or listed as having any wives or lovers.

:funny:

 

 

I guess they need to update this picture:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/re...ch/1282186.html

 

And we need to update our "smilie:" :jesus:

:HaHa:

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That guy who played Jesus in POTC was hot! Well, when he wasn't cut to ribbons!

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This description of what Christ really looked like sounds a lot like many of my teachers. On the other hand the long haired portrayals remind me of many of the art teachers though as a lot of the guys have long hair in the art department. :lmao:

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I don't think the church has any "official" position on what Jesus looked like.

 

The typical representation of Jesus is fostered by a Mideval Europe which took the position that the most attractive (and most holy) man would be white (of course), a pale white with rosy cheeks, large, soft eyes, and shoulder-length wavy hair, with a light, fluffy beard. In truth Jesus probably resembled the Semitic people from which he was descended - and was also, as already stated, probably very small compared to men of today, slight, and most likely not without a few health problems and wrinkles - after all, there wasn't tinted glass, Oil of Olay or developed medicine in the first-century Roman Empire.

 

After long hair and beards went out of fashion (and loose, drapy clothing, for that matter), Jesus and his disciples and mother were probably still represented that way simply out of habit.

 

Since the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe, her image, with Hispanic features, has been the dominant one in South America, although Jesus is still mostly portrayed as a white European. However, many church groups in Africa have adopted the image of a black Jesus and followers - I remember seeing such a picture as a child, and in my deeply white and Euro-centric church, I was totally thrown off course by it. I've yet to see an Asian Jesus, probably because white missionaries to Asia (and Asian missionaries, for that matter, sadly) usually assume Western superiority over Asian culture, with its wickedly peaceful religions. I've noticed that Asian Christians tend to be much more Westernized than their non-Christian counterparts.

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I've yet to see an Asian Jesus, probably because white missionaries to Asia (and Asian missionaries, for that matter, sadly) usually assume Western superiority over Asian culture, with its wickedly peaceful religions. I've noticed that Asian Christians tend to be much more Westernized than their non-Christian counterparts.

 

Just a question. When you say "Asian" are you referring to ALL of Asia? Or China? Japan? Cambodia? Thailand? The Philippines perhaps?

 

In the Philippines, where 95% of the population is Christian I noticed that "Jesus" was Hispanic in appearance, due no doubt to Spanish rule.

 

In Japan, where (thankfully) 1% of the population "claims" to be Christian, "Jesus" looks like an Anglo-European, due no doubt to American influence. The first missionaries to Japan were the Portuguese, and at that time "Jesus" appeared as in medieval European portraits with the jewels and crown of a king. (like the Greek Orthodox version).

 

I can't remember seeing portrayals of "Jesus" in China, and I'm not sure there is an official religious population recorded, but the Grace Chinese Australian Church near my house has a statue of "Jesus" that is Anglo-European.

 

I am a member of Mushinronsha-kai in Kanagawa, Japan. There are FAR too many American evangelists in Japan spreading their poison and trying to convert people to the way of "God."

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Well the Japanese have proven by and large that they're not interested in Christianity. I read an article once that went into why Christianity has failed in Japan. I think one of its points was that Japanese religion is "livable" - you can believe in it yet not have it control every aspect of your life and restrict your thinking and behavior.

 

No, it's China and South Korea that worry me. China has a growing population of evangelicals, and South Korean Christians can be downright insane.

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No, it's China and South Korea that worry me. China has a growing population of evangelicals, and South Korean Christians can be downright insane.

 

I have to agree there.

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China has a growing population of evangelicals, and South Korean Christians can be downright insane.

 

 

 

A few of them have shown up in my classes at the seminary. They seemed like decent people. I would guess only the cream of the crop can afford to go to school here.

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