Truth about Justin Bieber’s tattoo exposed!

Mock me for dipping into the celebrity gossip pages twice in one week if you want, but, hey, few GetReligion readers seemed very interested in yesterday’s post about the mainstream news coverage of the threatening ultimatum issued to the Christians of Nigeria.

So, let’s try Justin Bieber.

We have news. He got another tattoo. Here’s how the New York Daily News wrote it up:

Justin Bieber showed some skin – and some new body art – during a trip to Venice Beach in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Wearing a pair of black swim trunks, the teen heartthrob sported a big tattoo of Jesus on the back of his left calf. …

But this isn’t the 17-year-old’s first time getting inked.

The “Baby” singer also has Jesus’ name tattooed in Hebrew on his rib cage, as well as an image of a bird on his left hip.

Bieber has spoken out about his religious beliefs in the past.

“I’m a Christian, I believe in God, I believe that Jesus died on a cross for my sins,” he told The Associated Press last year. “I believe that I have a relationship and I’m able to talk to him and really, he’s the reason I’m here, so I definitely have to remember that. As soon as I start forgetting, I’ve got to click back and be like, you know, this is why I’m here.”

Godbeat pro Cathleen Falsani is my go-to expert on all things Bieber and God. She literally wrote the book on it. So I actually knew about those other tattoos already. (Follow her on Twitter here.)

But I write about it here at GetReligion because of how another media outlet handled this news.

No, not the Huffington Post, where you can vote on whether you find the tattoo “heavenly” or “sinful.” The Daily Mail wrote up the big news about the Jesus tattoo but included the following pair of images (second illustration with post, on the left).

Now, do you think it’s true, as the caption reads, that “Bieber’s latest inking is based on the image of Jesus called Ecce Homo dating back to 1610 by artist Rubens”?

I don’t. I think the inspiration is the one I pictured above (which I guess is a computer generated image of much more recent vintage, also done in the Ecce Homo style).

This isn’t a science, but if you look here at this pretty good picture of the tattoo, I think it looks closer to the Ecce Homo I embedded at the top of the post. It even looks closer to Guido Rene‘s Ecce Homo than Rubens‘, doesn’t it?

I really worked hard to find the artist behind the image at the top, incidentally, but couldn’t.

Of course, at least the Mail tried to add some context to the religious tattoo. Which is more than we can say about most of the media outlets discussing this huge news.

Perhaps some will get around to it in their follow-up stories on what the tattoo means and we’ll see reports in Us and People about how Ecce Homo is the depiction of a particular scene from the Passion of Christ and that “Ecce Homo” (Behold the Man) were the words used by Pontius Pilate in the Vulgate translation of John 19:5 at the presentation of the scourged Jesus to a hostile crowd before his crucifixion.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll get a little discussion of how this scene and the scenes surrounding it have been painted over the years.

Or maybe not.

But if you’re going to cite the artistic inspiration for the tattoo, you should get your facts right. I hear those Beliebers are sticklers for the facts.

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  • Mark Baddeley

    hey, few seemed interested in the Christians of Nigeria being given an ultimatum that I wrote about yesterday.

    Interested? Yes, very. Anything constructive to add to the comments? No.

    With tongue firmly in cheek:

    The fullness of one’s post does not consist in the multitude of its comments.

  • Mollie

    The fullness of one’s post does not consist in the multitude of its comments.

    I’m going to frame that.

  • Regina M Scheckelhoff

    I love the the picture at the top of the page. I found a 14 x 20 print in black and white at a garage sale. It was signed by the artist. I wanted to have it framed and put in the chapel at my church. I also wanted to save the name of the artist but was told I could not because of water damage. The date printed on the back of the picture was 1901. Sorry I cannot remember the name of the artist. By the way the picture turned out beautiful. I hope it is an inspiration for all who come to the chapel.

  • thinkdeep_69

    The fullness of one’s life does not correlate with the number of one’s posts.

  • Mollie

    The fullness of one’s life does not correlate with the number of one’s posts.

    See, I think there might be a negative correlation.

  • Dale

    Mollie said:

    See, I think there might be a negative correlation.

    Surely there is a negative correlation between the fullness of one’s life and the amount of time spent thinking about Justin Bieber’s tatoos. :-)

  • Dave

    What would his skin say if he were an atheist? “Do not write in this space”?

  • David


    The Justin Bieber Bible Quiz


    Belieber! Fame, Faith and the Heart of Justin Bieber

  • Julia

    This has all the makings of a HUGE story.
    Famous boy singer and silly religious angle.
    I’m sure the Daily News staff got a lot of guffaws out of it.

  • Teresa

    I just wanted to let you know the tattoo is a depiction of His moment of death when He looks to heaven and says, “Father, Father why have You forsaken Me”.