A9There’s plenty of evidence that Jesus of Nazareth—the Son of God—existed. Few sensible people doubt that. But there’s no biblical record or known drawings of what Jesus actually looked like. Most depictions have Christ as a tall, fine-featured, white man with blue eyes, a beard, and light colored, long flowing hair.

But is this accurate?

This week the internet was abuzz with a republished Popular Mechanics article, The Real Face of Jesus, reporting on a team of Forensic Anthropologists who did a serious study of what Jesus probably looked like. Their conclusion is a far cry from the picture Christian churches painted for two thousand years.

A12Richard Neave is a now-retired medical artist and forensic facial reconstruction expert from the University of Manchester who has a history of remarkably accurate work in recreating historical faces. He worked with Israeli archaeologists in a study of what a typical thirty-year-old Semite male from the Galilee region circa 30 A.D. would have looked like.

Realizing there’s no New Testament description of how Jesus physically appeared—and certainly no known remains to extract DNA from—Neave reached to the Bible for generalities of people’s looks from that time.

He considered the Gospel of Matthew which reported Jesus and the disciples were so similar in appearance that when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas Iscariot had to point out which one was Jesus—hence the “Judas Kiss”.

A6The Israelis loaned Neave three typical male skulls known to be from the Jerusalem region and the Roman era. Neave applied a computerized tomography process and created 3-D images or “cross-sectioned slices” of them. He then built a cast model of an averaged skull based on the images and applied the well-accepted method of clay modeling, using software developed measurements of what facial muscle tissue and skin would most likely be.

Two missing key pieces were the hair type and skin color Jesus had. The researchers relied on biblical scriptures and archaeological drawings found in Israel to determine that probability. They also concluded that Jesus had dark eyes and was bearded, following Jewish traditions.

A13The image that emerged was a dark-skinned, brown-eyed man with a wide nose, thick lips, and short, curly dark hair. From archaeological studies of average male skeletons of the time, they also concluded that Jesus was probably about 5’ 1” and weighed about 110 pounds. Given that Jesus was a carpenter and worked outdoors, they considered that his face would be weathered and appear slightly older than his reported thirty years.

Richard Neave cautions that his recreation is simply that of an adult man who lived in the same place and time as Jesus.

Alison Galloway, professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is a critic. She points out that artistic license was taken in the model, particularly around the mouth, nose, and eyelids.

A10“In some cases the resemblance of the actual individual may be uncanny,” Galloway says. “But in others, there may be more resemblance with other work by the artist.”

Despite this reservation, Galloway reached one conclusion that’s inescapable to most everyone who’s seen Neave’s Jesus. “This is probably a lot closer to the truth than the work of many of the great masters like Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper and Diego Velazquez’s Cristo Crucificado.”

So it seems the real Jesus was a little brown guy from the Middle East, single and around thirty years old, with a rebellious religious fanaticism—exactly the profile Donald Trump would ban from entering the United States.



    Jesus Christ was so plain looking, the evidence of which, was when the soldiers asked Judas Iscariot to specifically pinpoint the so called “the son of God.” If Christ were utterly good looking or handsome, the soldiers would have had no trouble identifying him because of his outstanding features.

  2. Dave

    “There’s plenty of evidence that Jesus of Nazareth—the Son of God—existed.”

    I’ll bite, Gary. Where is this mass of ‘evidence’? There may be some evidence that someone named Jesus existed, but that he was the son of an entity whose existence cannot be proved in any way is something you have to really want to believe. One may as well say that clearly xxx is a cold blooded murderer because … parrots. It makes as much sense.

  3. Sue Coletta

    Well, I might have to disagree with you here, Garry. I have a photograph rendered from the Shroud of Turin, which I’m sure you know had the perfect imprint of Jesus’ face, and this photograph looks nothing like the artist’s rendition. In the photograph he has dark hair and eyes (never bought into the blue eyes) and a slightly darker pigment, but the features are not similar. I have to believe since the photograph was taken from the imprint of the Shroud itself, it has to be the most accurate. My guess is that no one will ever agree on this topic because there’s no foolproof way to prove it.

    1. Garry Rodgers Post author

      Disagreement is sometimes healthy, Sue 🙂 I have very limited knowledge about the Shroud of Turin but I think mainstream forensic science has pretty much dismissed it as originating from the time of Jesus. Regardless, I thought the reconstruction technology was interesting. Like the man said – he’s not trying to say that Jesus, himself, looked like this… just that the average Semite male of the time would have.

  4. Bhaleri

    I guess the Shroud of Turin was not considered. A photo image type of likeness of Jesus was captured on the cloth, showing both his features and maybe his height. The image occurred at the time of resurrection when he would have been standing or arising at full height.
    Now, Garry, I know this is a very secular society and that my words will not convince many, and this is a controversial subject. But scientists, both committed Christians and naysayers, have been hammering away on this topic and have found absolutely no natural way for this image to have occurred – other than supernatural.
    I don’t expect you to agree with me, but it would be interesting to compare the shroud image of Jesus with what a middle eastern man looked like 2,000 years ago.
    I’m a bit of a dust disturber, am I not?

    1. Garry Rodgers Post author

      I welcome dust disturbers, Bhaleri. You fit right into my tagline “Provoking Thoughts on Life, Death & Writing”. I have limited knowledge of the Shroud of Turin, but I believe science has pretty well debunked it as originating from the wrong era.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *