Despite what some people would like to believe, Christianity is one of the most rapidly growing religions and theologies in the world. Those who are non-believers, though, often try using minutia…things of no consequence…to try to argue the faith. They focus on the insignificances to the point that some Christians who aren’t strong in the faith may waver. That is especially sad, considering that the minutia has absolutely nothing to do with the message contained in the Bible.
One example has to do with the physical appearance of Jesus. If this was truly important, a physical description would have been furnished in the bible. It wasn’t.
Artists took the artist’s liberty of painting pictures of Jesus (and other religious figures) that are usually unrealistic, in the very least.
Jesus is often depicted as a handsome, yet a rather frail-looking, white man, a carpenter, with long, scraggly hair.
Although Jesus was somewhat likely to have been handsome, none of the rest of this depiction fits. He wouldn’t have been frail, to begin with. For the first 30 years of his life, he assisted Joseph and the profession wasn’t carpentry, it was building. There is a substantial difference. Builders in those times did everything needed for construction; excavating, cutting and trimming trees for the structures, hewing them as necessary, chiseling stone, and masonry work. Many of the old structures, some of which are still standing from that era, were made almost exclusively out of stone. It would be more accurate to call Jesus a stonemason than a carpenter, but even that falls short of the work that would be entailed.
Frankly, if Jesus was frail, he couldn’t have done the work. He would have been doing hard manual labor that I wouldn’t have been able to do in my youth. Few others today could do that work, either. Thus, he couldn’t have been frail, but rather, he must have been a stout, physically fit man. He also walked everywhere he went, so he had to have had strong legs.
It is also unlikely that Jesus was pale and he almost certainly wasn’t white. People in the Middle East usually have a skin color that varies between rich, dark brown and light olive-brown. This hasn’t changed in over 2000 years, even with interbreeding. Being from Nazareth, Jesus would have been some shade of brown.
Additionally, Jesus wouldn’t have had long, straggly hair. Jesus was a Hebrew and by law and tradition, their hair was kept trimmed and neat and they were required to have a trimmed beard as well. The exceptions were the Nazarenes, such as Samson, who never cut their hair. This part of the confusion is understandable since Jesus was from Nazareth except that there was a huge difference between someone from Nazareth and a Nazarene. The latter can be thought of as a religious order.
So Jesus would have had shorter hair and befitting the Son of God, it would have been kept clean.
This means that the depictions are mostly incorrect. However, what Jesus looked like has absolutely nothing to do with why he came, the message he taught, or the sacrifice he made. Any focus on his appearance made by men who obviously had never met the man is merely an attempt to distract from the message and purpose of Jesus. So while the paintings are almost certainly wrong, it really doesn’t make any difference at all. His purpose and message wouldn’t have been different if he’d been purple and had hair to the ground. There should be nothing at all here to affect a person’s faith.
Have you ever heard someone question the accuracy of paintings of Jesus or have you ever questioned this?
I’ve personally wondered about this