Surprise (not really), but Jesus probably didn’t bear much resemblance to the majority of depictions we see in modern art and churches. Artists tend to see themselves in Jesus (it’s part of the whole idea of a Christian God), which is why he mostly comes out looking white, with longer hair and kind eyes.
But what did he really look like?
Well, first century men from the region of Galilea had a much different look about them, according to historians. So, biblical researchers joined forces with facial reconstruction expert and forensic artist Richard Neave in order to recreate the face of a typical Galilean man of the time (someone who could be Jesus, but they clearly wanted to avoid saying it outright).
Neave began with three Galilean Semite skulls found in the area, then used computerized tomography to create 3D images of the skulls so he could reveal and manipulate their full structure.
Have you seen what Angela Montenegro did on Bones? This was like that, only real, and it probably took a whole lot longer.
Neave then built a 3D cast of the skull, which he layered with clay designed to match the thickness of a man’s soft tissue from the time.
The result was a model of what a man who lived in Jesus’ time and geographical area would have looked like, and then they used ancient drawings to complete the picture: hair color and style, skin tone, eye shape and color, etc.
The final product?
Check it out:
Though the face is historically accurate, it’s important to realize that of course no one knows exactly what Jesus looked like – this is just a guess at what he probably resembled.
Still, it’s definitely generating curiosity online, and maybe making people realize there’s something to talk about is a good first step in changing stereotypes ingrained from generations of art.
Maybe not. History isn’t for everyone, after all.