Religions have the habit of deifying anything that would otherwise look very human for the purpose of achieving the unachievable mysticism they’re trying to represent. And since Christianity has become a Western religion, it would come to no surprise that the person this religion gravitates around would be depicted as a Caucasian male.
So, you often see the most beloved figure of Christianity depicted with long golden hair, fair eyes, pale skin, and a face as white and gentle as an angel’s. However, this might be very far from the truth in so many ways if forensics were to be brought into the game.
Dr. Richard Neave, a retired medical artist from the University of Manchester, decided to try to unravel the mystery of what Jesus could have really looked like. For that purpose, he gathered a team of forensic scientists who could help him recreate the face of the Son of God.
Bearing in mind that no physical remains of Jesus have been discovered so far, the team worked on developing the image of the typical Middle Eastern Jew that would encompass both physical features and cultural characteristics of that time, such as hair and beard length.
After analyzing the facts that are known for the period and the people where Jesus comes from, Dr. Neave and the forensic team came to the conclusion that Jesus most probably had a darker complexion, wide face, dark eyes, and short curly hair.
And in truth’s favor, it would be utterly unimaginable to put a Caucasian male in a Semite world, when even the Bible talks about Jesus’s Jewish origins. Except if you want to talk about ‘God’s mysterious ways’.
So, to clear things up, the forensic team X-rayed three Semite skulls which were earlier discovered in Israel, while also utilizing available cultural and archaeological information.
After using modern forensic methods and computer programs to achieve as-high-as-possible accuracy, the team finally succeeded in creating the typical Jewish face from the period of Jesus.
This, however, doesn’t mean that Jesus looked exactly like the person in the picture. It could be even far from this, but closer than any of the depictions that the Church likes to present to its followers.
As Allison Galloway, professor of anthropology at the University of California, says, “This is probably a lot closer to the truth than the work of many great masters.”
When you think of it, it was long before the West accepted that Egyptians weren’t white either. But it’s natural to assume that influence comes with color as well. How different would the world be if people weren’t taught to idealize the complexion of one’s skin?
There can be many explanations behind why Jesus was depicted as a man who could have never existed in such a society. One rational explanation is that Byzantine religious art didn’t gravitate much around the actual facts, but rather around the message it was meant to send.
Jesus’s depictions come as a result Byzantine art’s effort to portray him as the ruler of the Heavens, dressed in a golden toga and having long hair and beard, just like the deities before him.
As for the complexion? It would be easier for Caucasians to accept a Caucasian leader of faith than get accustomed to a complexion which was not so common among them. Jesus had no chance of being as white as Christianity tends to portray him, nor was it likely for him to have blue eyes.
“The fact that he probably looked a great deal more like a darker-skinned Semite than westerners are used to seeing him pictured is a reminder of his universality,” says Charles D. Hackett, director of Episcopal studies at the Candler School of Theology in Atlanta.
“And it is a reminder of our tendency to sinfully appropriate him in the service of our cultural value.”
Perhaps with the emergence of new knowledge will we understand just how uniting his philosophy was – one that will require you first to embrace something different from what you prefer to perceive.
Do you think that Jesus could have really looked like that?
Source: The Sun