What Did Jesus Look Like?

What Did Jesus Look Like? September 23, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 4.05.19 PMThis is nothing new but from a news report about a decade back, but many have not seen this image or heard about the study.

On the basis of archaeology, art, forensic anthropology, and some anatomy and biology, here’s what the experts think.

Average height of a Jewish male in the 1st Century? 5 feet one inch. Average weight? 110 pounds.


Analysis of excavated skulls of 1st-century Jews and images from ancient Syrian frescos reveals that the traditional image – from that depicted on the Turin Shroud to Willem Dafoe’s blond-haired portrayal in the Last Temptation of Christ – is a fictitious construct based on centuries of erroneous impressions.

By combining computer images of ancient skulls with 6th century images of Christ, the series producers believe they have come up with a far closer likeness.

“It’s not the face of Jesus, but how he is likely to have looked given the scientific information we’ve got,” said Lorraine Heggessey, controller of BBC1. “That’s what people from that area of the world looked like at that time.”


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  • Or one can just look at the Shroud of Turin.

  • Steve_Yellowknife_Canada

    No complaints about the hypothetical Jesus portrait. I’m even glad they gave him short hair – contra the typical shoulder length Bee Gees look he often has. I’ve heard that’s more historically accurate.

    But… Do they have to give him such a blank stare? He looks stunned or something.

  • Rodney Reeves

    I’ve seen enough Jesus films to know: that man looks more like Peter than Jesus.

  • gingoro

    It is all speculation so who cares. DaveW

  • AHH

    … to get an idea of what some artist or forger 1300 years later thought Jesus should have looked like …

  • Monique Lynn

    HOLD ON! Stop the presses. . . JESUS WASN”T WHITE!?!?!

  • You’re entitled to your opinion.

  • Monique Lynn

    I do believe that it is important for the basic white American Christian to remember Jesus was NOT white. In a world where racism is rampant – Remembering that our Saviour was a PoC is important.

  • Monique Lynn

    Al right. What do you base this statement on? There have been no conclusive evidence in any direction as to the validity of the Shroud of Turin. I am VERY familiar with it. My grandfather was on the original STRP team.

  • AHH

    The carbon dating in the late 1980s was pretty conclusive, despite later efforts of True Believers to explain it away.
    Scot linked an article here several months back where a historian made a case that it was originally a prop for a medieval Easter ceremony, but of course that was not conclusive. That article is here:

    But we should not let these comments devolve into a discussion on that side topic.
    More important to focus (as you say in another comment) on how it is valuable to remind the church that Jesus did not look like the handsome white guy with flowing brown locks in the picture my grandmother had.

  • Ukulelemike

    All the popular depictions of Jesus are based upon Catholic traditions, where they tried to Europeanize Him, and disassociate Him with the Jews. They made Him white, skinny, and effeminate, forgetting he was a carpenter for 30 years, so He would have been darker, or olive-skinned, with more than likely a fairly heavy, muscular build, short hair, since Jesus wasn’t a Nazarite. The Shroud of Turin is based on the false Catholic ideal of Christ, including His long hair and being supposedly pierced in the palms of His hands, which would not have worked in a crucifixion-it would have more than likely been in His wrists, in the metacarpal, between the bones, to hold Him in place.

  • Dean

    Well, the height issue has always bothered me. From what I’ve read, the height of the person that could have created the image on the shroud is around 6 feet tall. I have read that it is at least 5’8″ or 5’9″. Either way, that’s a lot taller than average and it seems like a characteristic like that would have been mentioned by the gospel writers. If Jesus really was 6 feet tall you had better believe that someone would have mentioned it, that is freakishly tall for someone of that time period. Others have mentioned this too, the Jesus in the Bible is very inconspicuous, he wasn’t easily identified and was able to blend in with the crowd. I would love for the Shroud of Turin to be authentic, but there are just too many holes in it I’m afraid.

  • Dean

    Absolutely, in fact, he would probably look more “Latino” or “Arab” than Anglo, and as the Bible mentions, he was also homeless and unemployed. So in other words, we would probably deport him in a heartbeat if he were alive today.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Protestant churches use the same images. They are based on Greco-Roman physical ideals, not anything inherently Catholic.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Ha, it is funny that often Peter is portrayed as looking more Jewish, while Jesus somehow looks completely different from his contemporaries.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Eh, it’s pretty conclusive. It’s from the Middle Ages.

  • Well yes I am, primarily because they are based on a lot of evidence, and clearly they are not in accord with yours. I’m real good with that.

  • Ted Johnson

    Until science can reasonably explain “what” the image on the shroud is, and how it came to be on the shroud, It is not conclusive for me.

  • Heh. Now THAT’s rich. If it’s dialogue in which you are interested, you have a real strange way of showing it. Enjoy the rest of your day.

  • Andrew Dowling

    It’s an image trying to look like Jesus, but the fabric/material has been tested many times to the Medieval era. Add in the fact that the Shroud is absent from from the historical record until that same time period, and I think a conclusion to the contrary ends up being what one wishes were true rather than where the evidence is conclusively pointing to.

  • gingoro

    I grew up in north eastern Africa, speaking a Semitic language so naturally I figured that Jesus looked very like many of the people I knew like Arabs and Amhars.

  • HamburgerHelper

    I recollect seeing this reconstruction on the Discovery Channel special ” Jesus: The Complete Story” from several years ago. I was amazed on how this was a far cry from the popular painting by Warner Sallman.