What did Jesus look like? What do you think?
In my upcoming third book, “Ticking: Finding Jesus”, the chrononauts go back in time to see if Jesus Christ actually existed.
But if he did, what did he look like?
Everyone knows that he was a rather handsome man, right? Of course, the chrononauts would be searching for a kind of a Ryan Gosling/Jake Gyllenhaal combo, like the man on the left below.
Given sufficient millennia, I suppose that anyone can be as handsome as a Hollywood actor. But recent depictions of Christ are probably more complimentary than reality or logic suggests.
What Jesus looked like is, of course, secondary to His Message. That vision has undergone metamorphosis as scholars over the years have debated his appearance.
The focus of early sources was on the physical unattractiveness of Jesus. The 2nd century anti-Christian philosopher Celsus cruelly wrote that Jesus was "ugly and small". Another scholar stated that Jesus's form was despised, that he had an ignoble appearance and, sadly, his suffering proved the 'abject condition' of his body.
Others claim that he was a weak and inglorious man. The Acts of the Apostles is early Christian literature, recounting the lives and works of the apostles of Jesus. In the Acts of Peter, he is described as small and ugly to the ignorant. In the Acts of John, he is seen as bald-headed, with no good looks.
It seems more probable that Jesus was, to some degree, physically robust. Jesus is traditionally known as a carpenter and not rich. So, given the physicality of that occupation and the absence of dietary excess, he was likely lean of stature. And, he walked a lot!
Archaeological and forensic anthropological research suggests that Judeans of the time, like Jesus, were biologically close to Iraqi Jews. Thus, the average Judean (I’m lumping Judeans and Galileans together) would likely have had dark brown or black hair. Jesus’ hair was probably cut short, as the Bible says that “long hair is a dishonour to a man.”
He likely had an olive or dark reddish complexion and brown eyes.
Judean men of the period were not tall; about 1.65 metres or 5 feet 5 inches. Jesus probably had short hair and a beard, in accordance with Jewish practices of the time and the appearance of philosophers.
Scholars believe that he may have looked something like the man on the right below.
“I don't know how to take this, I don't see why he moves me. He's a man, he's just a man…”
From Jesus Christ, Superstar (1973)
Logically, it seems that Jesus was just a man; a regular-looking Galilean man. What do you think?
Look for “Ticking: Finding Jesus” coming this fall to a rain forest near you.
Craig retired in 2015 and has been writing ever since. And boy, is his hand tired.