The most famous face in human history is always under intense scrutiny. What did Jesus really look like? Was Jesus fair, black or brown? Was Christ handsome?
The most familiar image that adorns many Christian homes is that of a fair Jesus with long flowing light brown hair and light-colored eyes. Had Christ possessed these facial attributes, HE would have appeared very different from HIS disciples and everyone else in the Galilee-Judea-Samaria region.
But scholars dispute this version of Christ, for Matthew 26: 48-50 reveals that Christ appeared very similar to HIS disciples. Christ looked so similar to HIS disciples that Judas Iscariot had to kiss Jesus for the Roman soldiers to identify Christ from among HIS other disciples.
Recently, the media proclaimed that British forensic anthropologists and Israeli archaeologists have apparently recreated Christ’s face. Esquire.com reveals the identity of lead scholar in this project, “Richard Neave, a medical artist retired from The University of Manchester in England…The co-author of Making Faces: Using Forensic And Archaeological Evidence, Neave had ventured in controversial areas before. Over the past two decades, he had reconstructed dozens of famous faces, including Philip II of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great, and King Midas of Phrygia. If anyone could create an accurate portrait of Jesus, it would be Neave.”1
Richard Neave’s team strived to reconstruct Christ’s face through the following steps: 2
1. They acquired 3 well-preserved Semite skulls from the Israeli archeology experts. These skulls were excavated from near Jerusalem.
2. Neave used computerized tomography and special computer programs to study the minute features of these skulls especially with reference to the thickness of soft tissues at key areas of human faces. They then recreated the muscles and skin overlying the representative Semite skull. These results were verified with anthropological data.
3. The researchers built a digital 3D construction of the face.
4. Cast of the skull was created and “layers of clay matching the thickness of facial tissues specified by the computer program were then applied, along with simulated skin. The nose, lips and eyelids were then modeled to follow the shape determined by the underlying muscles.”3
5. Researchers deduced that Jesus probably had short hair because:
Paul had seen Jesus (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:8).
Paul criticized men with long hair (1 Corinthians 11:14).
Hence, Jesus may not have had long hair, for if Christ had long hair, then Paul would not have criticized men with long hair.
6. Researchers also concluded, in keeping with historical records and Jewish tradition, that Christ probably had dark eyes and was bearded.
Neave did not believe that he recreated Christ’s face, “Neave emphasizes that his re-creation is simply that of an adult man who lived in the same place and at the same time as Jesus” 4 But Neave’s work is considered as lot closer to the truth than the works of the past.
But does it matter? Do we need to debate over whether Christ was fair or dark or whether HE had long hair or short?
Isaiah 53:2 offers an insight into Christ’s looks, “…He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” So Christ need not have been fair or even handsome. Christ was a Jewish male, so HE would have certainly possessed the physical attributes of the Jews. However, Christ’s physical appearance is totally irrelevant to us.
What then is relevant?
That outside of Christ there is no salvation for anyone, as it is said in John 14:6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
What then should we do?
Christianity is true. Christ’s existence and HIS resurrection are proven facts. Very minimally, the Bible is infallible (trustworthy).
So believe in Christ and be saved, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10: 9-10, NIV).