The Apple Of God's Eye

June 25, 2009

Take Your Pick: The Feminized Version Of Christ Versus Reality!

Filed under: Jesus Christ — melchia @ 6:33 am
blog.lib.umn.edu

blog.lib.umn.edu

In modern portrayals by Caucasian Christian artists, Jesus Christ has typically been shown with a light skin, a long “Presbyterian” nose, very long hair, a rather feminine countenance, and height probably in excess of six feet. While Western imagery is dominant, in other parts of the world he is often shown as black, Arab or Hispanic.” However, these have been based on pure speculation by the artists.

What did Jesus Christ really look like? It’s unlikely that He had blond hair and blue eyes, as depicted by most religions today, because most people of Jewish descent at that time didn’t look like this. A person with such features and physical bearing would have looked very different from everyone else in the region where Jesus lived and ministered. Surely the Bible would have mentioned so stark a contrast.

On the contrary, according to the Gospel of Matthew, when Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane before the Crucifixion, Judas Iscariot had to indicate to the soldiers whom Jesus was because they could not tell him apart from his disciples.

Further clouding the question of what Jesus looked like is the simple fact that nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus visually described, nor have any drawings of him ever been uncovered. And while most religious artists have put long hair on Christ, the Bible soundly describes long hair on a man as disgraceful:

“Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” (II Cor. 11:14). Jesus, as drawings from the first century depict, would have had short hair, appropriate to men of the time.

The historic record also resolved the issue of Jesus’ height. From an analysis of skeletal remains, archeologists have firmly established that the average build of a Semite male at the time of Jesus was 5 ft. 1 in., with an average weight of about 110 pounds.

So most likely he was relatively short, compared to many men today, had an olive complexion, angular features, prominent brows, brown eyes, black or brown hair, and a black or brown beard.

And since Jesus worked outdoors as a carpenter until he was about 30 years old, it is reasonable to assume he was more muscular and physically fit than the typical painting of the feminized version of Christ. His face was probably weather-beaten, which would have made him appear older, as well. The truth is, no one knows what color skin, hair or eyes Jesus had when He was on the earth. The inspired word of God doesn’t reveal those things, therefore they do not matter.

Yet still, often a subtle tension exists between the idea of Jesus as a model of mental and physical perfection and the idea expressed in Isaiah that “when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). This passage raises some intriguing questions. What does Isaiah mean when he says that the mortal Messiah would have “no beauty”?

The answer to this question lies in the fact that He was rather plain-looking –  an ordinary looking Jew without any outstanding physical characteristics and none of the usual emblems of royalty. In fact, when He left heaven and came in human flesh, He took on “the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7).

A worldly view

Actually creating an image of Jesus should be a bit intimidating, but artists soon got over their jitters and began churning out pictures of him in a parade of images that brings renewed meaning to the phrase “infinite variety.” Neither ancient nor contemporary artists have felt constrained by the need for historical accuracy. They have felt free to picture Jesus in many different guises and to affirm different images simultaneously.

Here is a link to the ReligionFacts.com, which shows a collection of 100 supposed images of Jesus, arranged in chronological order from the most ancient to the most recent. Some think these images of Jesus might give us clues about what he may have really looked like, but they don’t. Neither do the alleged shroud imprints and modern forensic reconstructions. The vast majority are symbolic representations or reflections of the artist’s own time, culture and perceptions of Jesus, and do not reflect what Christ actually looked like.

If it were important for us to know what He looked like, Matthew, Peter and John, who spent three years with Him, would certainly be able to give us an accurate description, as would His own brothers, James and Jude. Yet, these New Testament writers offer no details about His physical attributes. The question apparently held almost no interest for Christians of a faith that strictly prohibits representations of the divine.

What made Him stand out to the people was the power of the truth of His words (Matthew 7:28-29; John 6:68-69; 7:46). And so it can be easily deduced that God wants us to focus on the message – the spiritual aspect of what we need to build godly character – rather than reflect mainly on the messenger Himself and His appearance.

World looks to outward appearance

In this world, people love to look to outward appearances, because they see with physical eyes. Even Samuel made this mistake when looking to anoint Israel’s next king. Jesse’s sons were called out before Him and Samuel thought that Eliab, a tall and handsome son of Jesse, was surely the next king. But God admonished him not to look on outward appearances, but on the heart.

Seven sons of Jesse passed before Samuel and all were rejected (I Sam. 16:3-10) before the youngest (David) was presented. No one thought of David because he had a rudy (reddish) complexion or hair, did not have a beautiful appearance and was not goodly (pleasant) to look at (verse 12). In other words, he was a perfect speciment to overlook in the search for a king. Yet God selected him anyways (verses 12-13).

Adherents to religions of this world have always responded more to powerful images than the written word of the Bible. But clearly, the analogy is that God puts no stock whatsoever on the outward appearance of men (as men are apt to do), but looks on the heart (spiritual character) of men.

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