Is our popular image of Jesus overly westernized and untrue to historical reality? Have we made Jesus in our own image?
According to the Daily Star and UNILAD Joan Taylor, professor of Christian origins and second temple Judaism at King’s College London, Jesus probably had shorter hair and darker skin then most of us have believed.
For thousands of years, Jesus Christ has been depicted as a white-skinned man with blue eyes, long dark hair and a beard. However, this long-held belief could be wrong, according to Taylor.
In an article for American Schools of Oriental Research, Professor Taylor opens by saying: “Everyone knows what Jesus looks like: He is the most painted figure in all of western art, recognized everywhere as having long hair and a beard, a long robe with sleeves (often white) and a mantle (often blue).”
“But what did he really look like, as a man living in Judaea in the 1st century? This subject has long been of interest. I have already written on John the Baptist and his clothing, but not about Jesus.”
Professor Taylor continues: “Nevertheless, over the years, numerous television documentaries have asked me for guidance on dramatizing aspects of ancient life.”
“In order to give them clear directions, I gathered information about what Jesus looked like, or rather, what He is said to have worn. I would like to share this here.”
“It is worth emphasizing that images of Jesus over time give us clues on how Jesus was imagined in different environments, but say absolutely nothing about what He really looked like.”
“Our images of Jesus were largely created in the Byzantine era (4th-6th centuries). Byzantine images of Jesus were based on the image of a Graeco-Roman deity, for example, the famous statue of Olympian Zeus by Phidias in the 4th century BCE.”
Taylor has written a book called What did Jesus Look Like where she surveys historical evidence, and the prevalent image of Jesus in art and culture, to suggest an entirely different vision of this most famous of men.
According to The Catholic Biblical Quarterly and CHOICE, this book is worth the read.
Joan E. Taylor holds a well-deserved reputation as an eminent scholar of the historical Jesus, and this book will increase readers’ appreciation for her perceptive analysis and research… a beautiful and highly recommended book.– Catholic Biblical Quarterly
In this beautifully written, lavishly artistic and appealing book, Taylor (King’s College London, UK) challenges readers to reappraise their mental picture of what Jesus looked like … By tracing the artistic development of Jesus to the archaeological findings of the period, Taylor demolishes the customary and culturally recognized Jesus in favor of a more realistic picture of Jesus’s physical appearance. Summing Up: Highly recommended.– CHOICE