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Lately I heard that, as an inhabitant of ancient Israel, it is more likely that Jesus had dark skin and probably had hair that was a little curly.

Why is it that illustrations always show him with blond hair and blue eyes, and how did he really look? Also, I know that, for believing in him, his appearance doesn't really matter, but it still interests me.

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I'm not sure about "always". Anyway, welcome to the site! –  Waggers Dec 4 '11 at 14:15
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Background: Wikipedia on depictions of Jesus and the race and appearance of Jesus –  Muke Tever Dec 4 '11 at 14:37
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He probably looked more like Osama bin Laden than the eastern European that we typically see. His skin was probably olive and his hair was probably black and not feathered like a 70's hippy :) –  user1054 Dec 5 '11 at 0:07
    
There is book (based on a true story) called "Heaven Is For Real" which might interest you. It is about a 3-year-old child who gets very sick and dies (kind of) on the operating table for a bit. He claims he met Jesus and can describe heaven in detail (from a 3-year-old's perspective of course). –  styfle Dec 11 '11 at 5:55
    
Hey Fred there has been some discussion about whether this question is even on topic for this site. Would you mind if I try editing it to be so? It would be a fairly significant change but I think I can explain better by trying it than trying to explain it and I'd rather do that than just shut it down. Savy? –  Caleb Dec 12 '11 at 23:38

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

There was an interesting show years ago to find out what Jesus looked like, and he would be darker skinned than he is depicted for a couple of obvious reasons, one being that due to his origin from a group that lived in a desert-like region, and the fact that he was a carpenter meant that he worked outside a great deal, so he would be tanned.

But, the fact that we show Jesus as white is due to our familiarity with it, I remember visiting a black friend when I was a child and he had pictures of a black Jesus and a black Santa, and that struck me as wrong (I was probably 7 at the time).

For more information you can look at this article, as they have an approximate picture and more details as to how it was decided that how Jesus may have looked: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/forensics/1282186

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Relevant quote:In the absence of evidence, our images of Jesus have been left to the imagination of artists. –  David Stratton Dec 4 '11 at 13:59

Yes, there has been speculation that the face of Jesus that we see depicted in art is not how Jesus actually looked.

However, while "The Real Face of Jesus" is based on educated guesses, they are still that: guesses.

Historic artistic depictions of Jesus didn't really come around until a few centuries after his death. Obviously, the artists at that time couldn't have known Jesus personally, nor have heard about a detailed description of him handed down. Clearly, they based their perceptions of Jesus on speculation.

However, there are people who have (or claim to, at least) seen Jesus personally.

The vast majority of Christians accept that Jesus is alive and well, and that he is divine. As such, appearing to modern-day people here on Earth is not outside of the realm of possibility. No one who has ever claimed to see Jesus has ever discounted the traditional rendition of him that much.

One of the most amazing stories of a first-hand witness is that of Akiane. What's most amazing isn't just that she witnessed Jesus, but that she is also a divinely gifted artist, who undertook the task of painting the image of Jesus that she saw. This is Akiane's vision of Jesus. (If that ever breaks, just do an image search for "Akiane Jesus".)

Furthermore, this depiction of Jesus was confirmed by an unrelated boy, who also claims to have seen Jesus.

Summary

No one can claim to know what Jesus looked like unless they have actually seen him. The vast majority of artists have not seen Jesus. Therefore, we can safely presume that the vast majority of artistic renditions of him are simply guesses.

This includes--and especially applies to--the "The Real Face of Jesus".

Personally, I'm sticking with the depiction of the artist who actually saw Jesus that was confirmed by someone who is an independent witness.

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I just looked under post notices in the mod menu for something related to sarcasm. Nothing seems to fit the bill. What. Is. This? –  Caleb Dec 5 '11 at 19:09
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No sarcasm. The only people who know what Jesus looks like are the people who have seen Jesus. How many people are there who have actually seen him? How many of those are artists? –  Richard Dec 5 '11 at 19:15
    
@Richard - It is unlikely Jesus is/was that white, IMO. –  James Black Dec 6 '11 at 0:04
    
@Richard: This assumes that Jesus' appearance never changes. Perhaps Akiane saw an appearance, which may or may not have been the same appearance he had during his natural life in Israel..? –  Flimzy Dec 6 '11 at 3:19
    
@Flimzy Quite possibly! But if he's going to change his appearance, why would he make himself whiter? My suspicion is that he was probably radiant, which means that he appears whiter than he was in real life. Still, I think the facial structure, hair, eye color, and everything else is probably a true likeness. The radiance of his skin may make him appear lighter in color than he would have been in life. –  Richard Dec 6 '11 at 14:36

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