Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What did Jesus look like?

Every Bible artist would love to know the answer to this question. The simple answer is, 'We don't know!'
I read an historical document in the 70's which was supposed to be a letter from a 'Roman officer' who was present in Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion. The letter was written in answer to a letter he had received from a roman governor who had asked 'What was Jesus like?' The letter contained a physical description and more, but the authenticity of the document remains in doubt.

In the 50's, The Lord Jesus was often depicted as blond. (see my post 'My favorite Bible artists #1').
The reason for this may have been the influence of movies made at the time.
The portrayal of Jesus by Robert Powell in the Franco Zeffirelli Epic 'Jesus of Nazareth' has greatly influenced the way in which I, (and others) have drawn the Lord Jesus. We live close to the second largest Jewish community in the U.K. So I can vouch for the fact that although there are blond and even redheads among Jewish people, The vast majority have dark hair.

I have heard it suggested recently that the Lord Jesus was 'Black!' I can't see this myself. If this was the case, I believe that scripture would be very clear on it.The only things that we do know from scripture for certain is that He was Jewish, He had a beard and a robe that was woven throughout! (seamless).
For a long time I have illustrated the Lord Jesus with the traditional 'blue & white ' clothing. I am now trying to move towards more authentic colors of the time.
(Amendment added later). Blue and white were authentic colors of the time. What I meant was more earthy colors, like the ones used in 'Jesus of Nazareth'. I wanted to get away from the sanitized image of Jesus that we are used to seeing in many films and children's Bibles.

Some believe that we should not show pictures of Jesus at all. There are Bible pictures available where Jesus is shown as a black silhouette! I've been present at children's meetings where these have been used, and I have to say that most children were puzzled! Bible pictures should be an aid to hold a child's attention during the telling of a Bible story, and shouldn't become an obstacle!

Although we may not know what the Lord Jesus looked like, we do know that He was just like His father! (Hebrews ch1 v3).
In other words, If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus!

Related posts:
How old were the disciples?


Paul G said...

One thing I'm certain of. Jesus didn't resemble Jeffrey Hunter. :)))

Bible artist said...

That's probably true.
Or even Robert Powell for that matter!

Paul Green said...

Pier Paolo Pasolini's film "The Gospel According to St. Matthew" portrays Jesus as having short hair and a light beard. Unlike the majority of Hollywood movies that sanitized and Americanized first century life, Pasolini's film is raw and used amateur actors. People and clothes look dirty. How could you travel on the road and not get dirty?
After decades of brainwashing from American fims and books we need to rediscover an authentic Jewish Jesus. His facial features would reflect that fact. Jesus was a Jew. We need only look at the descriptions of Jewish people from that time period to come to some approximation of what Jesus would have looked like.

Unknown said...

You sound as if it would be a horrible thing if Jesus were black or of darker skin complexion. There are Jews of darker complexion, this is not a far fetched theory. The Bible says that His hair was like wool. Doesn't sound white & blonde to me.

Bible artist said...

Hi April
Thanks for the comment!
No, I don't think it would be a horrible thing if the Lord was black.
I merely said that "I can't see it myself" If it's any consolation, I can't see Him as blond either!

The verse you are quoting from is Revelation 1:14 which actually says:
His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. (NASB)

This is clearly a reference to the glorified Lord written by John in very symbolic terms.
I don't think that you are suggesting that Bible artists should illustrate the Lord Jesus as a black Jewish man with white fluffy hair and glowing eyes!

I am hoping to do another post on this subject soon, which might be more helpful.

Bible artist said...

There were some black converts to judaism from Ethiopia, but I think you'll agree that, on closer inspection of the verse in Rev 1. It does also seem to be talking about the colour, rather than the texture of the hair.

Paul Green said...

You can't read Bible verses out of context April and jump to conclusions. The Revelation verse is in context to Daniel 7:9 which reads in part (New American Bible) :
His clothing was snow bright,
and the hair on his head was white as wool;

This verse refers to Daniel's dream. Notice he says 'white as wool.' No mention of shape or texture. Merely a reference to the intensity of colour.
In Revelation John is speaking of another vision that indicates the glorified and eternal presence of Christ.
There is no doubt Jesus could have had a ruddy complexion from exposure to the sun. We all assume he had straight hair. It could have been curly and close to his scalp. Early Gentile Christians drew him in the manner of a Roman shepherd. From early days followers have depicted Christ in their own image. Usually dictated by their cultural stereotypes. But we musn't twist Bible verses to suit an agenda.

21stcenturychristian said...

While on holiday in Sorrento Italy, I saw and purchased in a local shop, a picture of the Turin Shroud. Nothing particularly strange theer, except that the picture was one of those 'twin pictures' which changed when you moved it. This one 'reversed' (with some obvious additions) the image on the shroud, providing a plausible (??) image of our Lord. It does for me anyway ! I have a photo of the picture (in 'reversed, i.e. lifelike form) as wallpaper on my mobile, and could send if you would like.

It may be a commercial ploy, or the Shroud might not be true, but at least it has some 'possible' genesis to the picture, and it does match what I would expect to see (Hollywood, and Robert Powell influences accepted !!).



Paul Green said...

Hi Paul

The Turin Shroud image does look authentic for a few reasons. While it may be a 12th century fake as scientists claim from carbon dating it contains details not known to medieval scholars or artists at the time. The nails are through the palms and not the wrists. The scourging on the back is consistent with the type of whip the Romans used. In short, this image looks little like any medieval painting of the 12th century.
Some scholars believe it may be the image of a crucified man, but not necessarily Jesus. Others think this is an image of Da Vinci, created by Da Vinci. Others think this is an image of Jesus.
I personally think it's a clever fake or the image of a crucified man. Definitely not Jesus. He wasn't wrapped in one piece of cloth but was wrapped in strips of cloth.
So even if this image looks like what we expect Jesus to look like - it isn't Jesus.

Unknown said...

I've read of attempt to determine what Jesus looked like based on DNA of bones of the day, but the point is made that if half his DNA is from God, this really is a difficult process (http://blogs.pioneerlocal.com/religion). Either way, I don't think his apperance really matters.

Bible artist said...

I agree Brett.
The other problem with this is that the DNA of Jesus is in heaven with the rest of Him! Although some claim to have blood samples on relics of the cross which is very doubtful.

I had a look at the article which describes how attempts have been made to determine the appearance of Jesus by studying DNA samples from first century skulls and using this information to build a graphic representation of a first century man from the region! How they think that this process might give them an idea of what Jesus looked like is a mystery to me!

The image used which I presume is the final result looks just like the stock image used by the 'National Geographic' and 'Discovery channels' when they want to tell us what everyone from the Missing link to Prehistoric man looked like-!!

It's a wonder that civilization has continued until now if every man from the beginning of time until the first century looked like that-!! (No offense intended to anyone reading this blog who looks like that!)

Paul Green said...

I have no idea of the DNA structure of a resurrected body Graham but I do know that taking the DNA from one example of a 1st century Jew cannot possibly lead to any definitive proof of an image of Jesus.
Just look at the town where you live. Everyone is different. Short, tall, fat, thin, stocky, swarthy, pale, long nose, short nose, blue eyes, brown eyes, grey eyes, green eyes. Saying they can pinpoint what Jesus looked like is the equivalent of saying everyone in Royton looks approximately like Graham. It's clearly a ridiculous leap of logic.

Bible artist said...

My thoughts exactly!
What does an average American look like?

Juliet said...

All efforts to find out what Jesus looked like indicate how motivated people in the western world are by appearances. The Bible never once discussed the racial features or colour of people. Why are we concerned about these things? This preoccupation,will show the Lord God clearly who we are. Being possessed by issues of appearances and dress does show that there is very little enlightment in our world. Is it any wonder people have suffered in this world (which is condemned already) because of unnecessary reference to and use of colour and appearances in making decisions about man.

I hope the Lord God will forgive those concerned with colour and racial appearances. The Lord God our creator gave us the colours that we see and our appearance. That is all that is important.

As to the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ today, his face is like the sun and his eyes are like fire. Which human being looks like him today? Noone and that is good, otherwise there will be a lot of presumptions made about this matter.

I shall continue to read your blog though because I like painting subjects from the Bible, from my own imagination. The Lord always helps those who try.

Jay Cee

Bible artist said...

Hello Jay
Sometimes people forget what this blog is about. The only reason that we discuss questions like "What did Jesus look like?" is because we are a group of Bible illustrators who have the job of depicting Him! I wouldn't say that we were preoccupied with this question either as we've only discussed it once to my knowledge.

What you call "Being possessed by issues of appearances and dress" is actually a very important part of our job. We have already mentioned above how the Lord looks today. The question we are looking at though is "What DID Jesus look like?"
We know that we cannot fully answer that question, but by looking at all the facts we can discuss what was most likely. This is one of the purposes of the blog.

Paul Green said...

A new documentary "Who Was Jesus?" aired on the Discovery Channel this evening. A new version of the face of Jesus was created with the latest archaeological information. The result was far more pleasing than the BBC version from a few years ago that showed a coarse, brutish Jesus. This new version was based on a skull from the period and region that was quite small. Apparently Jews of that period were small and slender. Not heavy set as was stated in the BBC documentary.
They wore short hair - a fact also mentioned by Paul - and a cropped beard. The short hair served the function of reducing lice.
It seems each new documentary presents some conflicting facts that overturn previous conclusions.

Bible artist said...

Thanks for that Paul.
I have seen depictions of Jesus with short hair and a trimmed beard but somehow they don't quite look like Jesus, or should I say the Jesus that we've been accustomed to seeing.
I listened to a recording recently of A. W. Tozer where he mentioned that "all Bible artists have got it wrong!" speaking about how they depict Jesus.
He quoted the verse "there is no beauty in Him that we should desire Him" (Isaiah 53), He went on to say that the beauty that Jesus had was a moral beauty, which I would agree with. But how do you draw moral beauty?

Paul Green said...

I agree there is nothing contained in Biblical texts to indicate Jesus was outstanding in any physical way.
But as the documentary I watched over the weekend stated - Jesus must have been a commanding orator.
Artists are in a dilemma because of modern sensibilities that "worship" physical beauty a.k.a. celebrity. Plain = ordinary = boring. Of course a vibrant personality can overcome a lack of physical beauty. This can be demonstrated on film more effectively than in a painting or illustration.
A few classical artists have had the courage to depict a less than handsome Jesus. The 16th century artist Matthias Grunewald (Mathis Gothardt) being a prime example of an artist who is very effective. The twisted form of Jesus on the cross says more than all the perfectly poised images that somehow lessen the impact of the crucifixion by diminishing the agony of sacrifice.

Canterbury Atheists said...


Like much of Christian history versus Christian rhetoric – what you see depicted as Jesus hanging from crosses, in books, on the internet etc – is merely propaganda.

Share fiction, masquerading as fact.

Christianity has its ecumenical roots in Europe, not the middle-east.

These depictions of Jesus are those constructed in the minds of Europeans, to extract monies from a European audience.

Rome knew when they started selling Christianity, they needed to present Jesus as looking like ‘one of them’.

There was no way they could market their chosen God, as a dark-skinned, dark-eyed Arab – even though that was most like scenario, given where he was born, and his mothers origins.

To paint Jesus as a Jew or an Arab in appearance, would have been an exact representation of their avowed theist enemies.

Even centuries later, those that run the varying Christian sects, know the concept of a dark-skinned Christian messiah – is unpalatable to their audience.

So they continue their advertising campaign with the lily-white, tall handsome ‘he-man’ we see today.

Have a good-one.


Bible artist said...

So you agree with us Paul that Jesus should be portrayed as looking more Jewish?

Paul Green said...

I basically agree with you Paul. Except for the fact Jesus was a Jew and not an Arab.
One of the earliest representations of Jesus in the catacombs shows him as a Roman style shepherd. The Jesus of history was Romanized. It's interesting that in the Eastern Orthodox tradition portraits of Jesus have been much different to Western art.
Christians denied Jesus his Jewish heritage for centuries. It is now being reclaimed but sadly many churches today preach a gospel that is packaged with patriotism. Jesus wouldn't have agreed with the right to own a gun or the death penalty.
There is no doubt we have created Jesus in our own image to validate behaviour and actions that Jesus would have turned away from.

Anonymous said...

If we want to know how did Yeshua (Jesus) look then we should look for the outlook of dark-skinned (olive brown), black curly short haired, black-eyed Sephardi Jews and modern Arabs of today:


That face looks like quite funny with "dumb" grin, but i think that the overall look in that face in question is most closest to real one: Yeshua's Middle-Eastern Hebrew / Jewish look because it is based on scientifical research (and common sense).

I don't want bash anyone, or any Christian artist, but our image of Yeshua are far away from the historical / real one. Yeshua didn't look like a "western guy" with blond / brown long hair, blue eyes and all the stuff like that.

Let's search some images about Middle-Eastern people (both Separdhi Jews and Arabs) with search engine's image search option and it is easier to imagine better Yeshua's real Hebrew / Jewish / Israelite look.

And I think that this forgotten Jewish / Hebrew outlook of Yeshua is not only about his outlook, but the forgotten Jewishness of our beloved Messiah. Let's keep in mind that images can tell more than thousand words. An image has great power.

God bless you!

Anonymous said...

One more thing: and I think it is funny that in almost 99% of Jesus movies, disciples of Jesus looks more Jewish and Hebrew with dark skin, black curly short hair and eyes etc than Jesus himself.

I really long to see a movie about Yeshua where He would look like real Hebrew and Jew physically and spiritually. I wonder that why "Christian" movie makers don't hire for example dark skinned, black curly haired, black eyed (Messianic) Separdhi Jew to act Yeshua?

It would be fantastic!

Bible artist said...

Thanks for that Pekka H.
It sounds like you agree with us. I'm still not a big fan of the BBC's attempt at a representation though, (which you have linked to).

I wouldn't trust the BBC to get anything right that relates to the Bible! They have a 'not-so-hidden' agenda which is both anti-Semitic and anti Christian from where I'm stood.

Anonymous said...

Yeshua(Jesus) was definatley not Black, even though I am. Jesus was obviously a Jew. When Yeshua was betrayed by Yehudah(Judas),Yehudah had to point Him out, if Our Lord was of golden hair and pale complexion, the Romans would have no problem finding for Him. I believe that Yeshua had an olive skin tone, and black hair. The only other description of Him besides Revelation was in Isaiah:
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.Isaiah 53:2 (King James Version)
I thinink that the film "Miracle Maker" depicts Yeshua the best:
Another Favorite: http://www.thenlt.com/images/05/manga/1600x1200.jpg
Like Pekka H said, Yeshua would look more like a Sephardim or Arab:

Bible artist said...

Thanks for those links Anonymous! The hairstyles on the first two look fairly modern although there is no way of telling that they were not around in biblical times either.

If we are taking into account Isaiah 53:2, the third link might be a bit too good looking!

Paul Green said...

Interesting links. Thanks. I agree with Graham. The third link is probably too "pretty." Jesus would probably have been more rugged. There is no proof Jesus had shoulder length hair. In fact Paul mentions short hair as the preferred style. Pasolini's film version of Jesus did include a short haired Jesus. This is probably closer to the truth. But none of us can be 100% certain.

Anonymous said...

2000 years ago jews looked like jews, like germans looked like germans etc. Jews nowadays are mixed with every race and you find blonds, red hair etc. just like latinos or italians etc. Nowadays everybody is
mixed so logically Jesus was dark, with beautiful dark eyes and dark hair. Probably beautiful eyes either black or brown but showing all the compasion and love would have been the most beautiful eyes ever. Love, and compassioin gives that look in anybody, imagine in him being ALL LOVE AND COMPASION being the God who loves us all without distinction.

Unknown said...

Quote: “What did Jesus look like?“

Le-havdil, A logical analysis (found in www.netzarim.co.il (that is the website of the only legitimate Netzarim-group)) of all extant source documents and archeology proves that the historical Ribi Yehosuha ha-Mashiakh (the Messiah) from Nazareth and his talmidim (apprentice-students), called the Netzarim, taught and lived Torah all of their lives; and that Netzarim and Christianity were always antithetical.
This implies that the historical pro-Torah Ribi Yehoshua ha-Mashiakh is not the same as the anti-Torah Christian Jesus.
The historical Ribi Yehoshua was a Jew and thus looked and dressed like all other first century Jews.

You will find an forensic reconstruction of a typical 1st-century Jewish Face on the above Netzarim-website (History Museum; “Ieisous face”).

Paul Green said...

I watched this documentary Anders but was disappointed in the generalization of the "Jewish" face used as evidence of what Jesus may have looked like.
I was born in the north of England. So was Graham Kennedy. We were born within a few years of each other and are both English. Yet we look completely different. There is no "typical" face because no two people look alike. All 1st century Jews weren't lookalikes. That's racial stereotyping. Much like saying all Chinese look the same.
To state that this reconstructed face might resemble Jesus is taking a huge leap of faith. Something most scientists don't believe in.

Bible artist said...

The face that you point to on the link Anders is the one that I spoke about above. It seems to be the stock image used by the Discovery channel when they want to show what early man looked like! It doesn't strike me as looking very Jewish though. Having said that- if you added a hat and glasses, it does look a little like a Rabbi I know! ;0)

Anonymous said...

Just one Question.If you are white, chances are you could not view jesus as beening balck. If you are asian chances are you could'nt see jesus white nor black...the truth is, jesus had every race in him. he was original.no affence to anyone but some writers and peopl in power have this weird way of always claming good people can't be anything eles but one color. The adverage negro belives the white man is pure, because thats how they have enslaved all other races to view them, inorder to say they have power, but anyone with every race in them is dark skinned no matter how white we want them to be....for all i know, jesus could have been yellow complected in fair skin. has anyone though about that?- normal christians, don't care about stuff like this. the truth is, because jesus was every race,we all want a part of him, which is very understandable, because i love him and he is my savior.The truth is only stupid people and non belivers who are in denial would say that jesus was one race.Hint hint...jews?hebrews? gentiles? were another word for black, mutt and medium skinned.it would of been odd if jesus was anyother color. How eles would he have stood out?

Paul Green said...

Jesus was Jewish - not every race. He was born into a Jewish family and raised in the Jewish faith. He was not African, Asian or European. He wasn't a Gentile.

We are all unique and original no matter what our color. We aren't defined by our color or race but it can certainly affect how others view us. And throughout history the white man has looked down on a black person as being culturally and socially inferior.
Jews have looked down on Gentiles. Gentiles have looked down on Jews. Prejudice has been a disease of society for centuries.
But to deny a person their race is also a form of prejudice. To deny Jesus his Jewish heritage is a form of prejudice.
Jesus was a Jew. It's a fact of history.

Anonymous said...

Many people claim to have seen Jesus (which I believe is true) but strangely none has actually described how He looks like or is he anything like the paintings we we see?

Paul Green said...

The fact that we have no reliable physical description of Jesus from historical documents allows people to see him in their own image. We can only guess what Jesus looked like but we can place him in historically accurate settings wearing clothes from the period. But we don't even know for certain he he had long hair and a beard, although a beard seems likely.

Patrick said...

Mr. Paul G:

I personally think it's a clever fake or the image of a crucified man. Definitely not Jesus. He wasn't wrapped in one piece of cloth but was wrapped in strips of cloth.

Actually the Greek is ambiguous here. It just says that Jesus was wrapped in othonia, a word of uncertain meaning which some do translate as 'strips' or 'bandages'. However, it could also just mean 'pieces of linen' or 'wrappings' in general.

All four gospels refer to the grave clothes of Jesus in both the singular and the plural. Matthew (27:59), Mark (15:46) and Luke (23:53) speak of sindon 'linen cloth', but then Luke (24:12) and John (19:40; 20:5-7) refer to othonia 'wrappings'.

Some try to harmonize it by saying that Joseph tore the sindon he carried into strips, thus the description of it in the plural.

However it is also possible that if more than one piece is meant, "cloths" is most probably a reference to BOTH the sheet (the sindon of the Synoptics) AND the additional strips of linen that bound the jaw (the "soudarion that was around His head" that John talks about?), the wrists, and the feet, as indicated in John 11:44 (cf. John 19:40).

I've heard it said that there was evidence that the Man of the Shroud of Turin was apparently also bound in such areas probably by other cloths, though I'll check.

Paul Green said...

That's interesting Patrick. Thanks for explaining the various terms and translations.

Bible artist said...

Yes, very interesting!

Patrick said...

Just an update for the Shroud:

If you look at the image on the Shroud (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0e/Shroudofturin1.jpg/331px-Shroudofturin1.jpg), you'll notice that the arms and the legs are in a position that suggests that something supported (bound) them into place: the arms for example are not in a 'natural' position but seems to be rather held together directly. Some have also noted a retraction of beard and hair where a chin band would have been tied (http://peterjennings.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/PJ-WEB-FACE-OF-THE-MAN-IN-THE-SHROUD-862x1024.jpg).

Paul Green said...

I watched a documentary last week that suggested the shroud is more likely to be the result of an image from a relief (similar to a brass rubbing) than a body. A cloth placed over a face produces an extended cheeks effect because it's covering the sides of the face. The 3-D image of the shroud produces no rounded sides and looks similar to the effect from a brass rubbing.
I'm convinced it's a medieval forgery.

Patrick said...

Mr. Paul, which documentary is it?

Now first of all, you have to consider the following first:

1.) The blood and serum stains were formed first, the image came second. We know this because in areas where there was blood, no traces of images were found: they acted to inhibit the image formation. Supposing the Shroud is a forgery, we'll have to say that the artist first applied the stains in anatomically-precise locations, THEN paint the image, carefully avoiding the areas with blood.

2.) The image is actually superficial. When you look at the Shroud's fabric you see that each thread is made up of hundreds of tiny fibers. These fibers are about 15 microns in diameter, a fraction if the thickness of human hair. These were handspun together to form the yarn used to weave the linen cloth.

The cloth has discolored with age which is a result of a chemical change of oxidation and dehydration of the fibers. Some fibers, however, appear darker in places along their length. This is how the image is formed: ehere darker bands intersect image areas, that part is darker. But it is not the fiber that has changed but a carbohydrate layer that coats the topmost fibers of the threads.

The discoloration is actually a chemical change to the carbohydrate coating, nominally about 180 to 600 nanometers thick. That is about the same thickness as the transparent and invisible scratch proof coating on eye glasses. It is not a colorant in the fiber nor on it. Now the darkened length of fibers are only on the topmost fibers and not on fibers below another fiber or under a blood stain.

Had a liquid been applied to the fabric to create the image it would have soaked through to the lower fibers - or if the image was scorched onto the linen, all these areas should have been burned. But no - the images on the front and back of the cloth (there IS another face at the backside) are only present at the topmost fibers, or more specifically, at the carbohydrate layer that coats these.

Patrick said...

Also, if it is a forgery, this begs the question: why did the artist decide to go against traditional iconography?

1.) The Shroud bears the image of a fully-naked man. In traditional Christian iconography, the only instance where Jesus is often shown to be totally nude, as far as I know, is at His baptism (yup, those artworks showing a fully-clothed Jesus here are actually more recent). At His death, medieval artists were often reluctant to show Him that way (some may depict Him with a translucent loincloth, yes, but still) - in fact, in the East (as well as some areas in the West), there is in fact an artistic custom to show a fully-robed Jesus hanging on the cross!

2.) The side-wound is at the left side, unlike traditional depictions which show Jesus' right side being pierced. As well, the exit wound at the hands are not in the middle of the palms, but closer to the wrist area. Why in the world would a medieval artist deviate from common depictions?

By the way, there IS one medieval depiction showing a totally-naked Jesus at His burial, coming from a late 12th century Hungarian manuscript known as the Pray Codex (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d7/Hungarianpraymanuscript1192-1195.jpg/414px-Hungarianpraymanuscript1192-1195.jpg). Now, supporters of the Shroud point out certain striking similarities between it and the image:

1) Jesus is depicted as being totally naked, as the Man on the Shroud is
2) He is in the same position as the image
3) If you'll look in his hands, only four fingers are visible on both hands - again, like the Shroud image

Now, at the lower image depicting the angel appearing before the women, you will notice a rectangular item with zig-zag patterns on it - apparently the (empty) burial cloth. And if you'll look closely, you will see a set of four circles, forming an inverted L-shape (http://img708.imageshack.us/img708/1288/hungar20.jpg). The speculation is, that the zig-zag pattern was a way of depicting the distinct herringbone weave of the Shroud - the circles meanwhile are a depiction of the burn holes, aka the 'poker' holes (http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/Details/poker.htm). Before the 1532 fire, these were more noticeable - and indeed one pre-1532 copy of the Turin Shroud (made in 1516) prominently show them.

Speculation is, that whoever drew this picture must have been familiar with an image which is remarkably similar to our Shroud - it could even be the Shroud itself. Years earlier than the 1988 radiocarbon test's result of a date of creation between 1260-1390 AD.

Patrick said...

And, by the way, let me link to a very comprehensive website about the Shroud of Turin (http://www.shroud.com/). It's operated by Barrie Schwortz, team documenting photographer of the Shroud of Turin Research Project (aka STURP), which investigated the cloth in 1978 round-the-clock for 120 hours: you can say he's one of the people who actually 'was there'.

He started the website because in his opinion, most of the public are not getting the facts. I quote: "Most of the public has had to depend on the media, who always seem to sensationalize the story or reduce the facts to two minute sound bites from so-called experts who have "solved the mystery." Very few of these "experts" ever took the time to research the subject, perhaps in part because so much of the information was hard to find."

And BTW, Barrie's Jewish (he was and still is!) and was himself on the other side of the fence when he came into the project. I quote again:

In the earliest stages of my involvement, I wondered whether someone raised as an Orthodox Jew should be a part of such a "Christian" project. Even then I clearly understood that this was probably the most important relic of Christianity. In my heart I asked myself, "Should I be a part of this?" But my good friend and fellow team member, the late Don Lynn, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, was quick to remind me that the man in question was also a Jew. He urged me to "go to Turin and do the best job possible" and worry about "why and for what purpose" when I got back. He suggested that one day, I would know. I have never regretted taking his advice.

So no, one can't really accuse him of having a religious bias (which some of the Christian members of STURP apparently did get) because for a start, he doesn't really have a horse in the race! ;)

Paul Green said...

Thanks for all the information Patrick. Fascinating to read. The Hungarian Pray Codex Illustration definitely points to a knowledge of the Turin Shroud in the late 12th century. But still in the Medieval Europe time period quoted by scholars as the approximate date when the Turin Shroud was supposedly forged.
To answer your question about why a medieval artist would deviate from the popular depictions of the day, my answer is to create the feeling of authenticity. Most likely a rebel who didn't follow the traditional church imagery.
And although many critics say this indicates it isn't a forgery there are scholars today who have reverted to the nails through the palm supported by a block of wood.

And as you know the only evidence we have of a nail from a crucifixion is a nail through the ankle bone and not the front of the foot.

I'll study this further Patrick. Thanks for the links.

Patrick said...

To answer your question about why a medieval artist would deviate from the popular depictions of the day, my answer is to create the feeling of authenticity. Most likely a rebel who didn't follow the traditional church imagery.

That's where I'd disagree: if the artist deviated from the standard iconographic pattern, I think the reverse would happen - keen observers would attack it because it does not conform to their perception, especially in an environment where making art according to accepted patterns is the rule.

There IS of course a possibility that yes, a medieval guy did want to give his fake relic a touch of otherness. But, if this is the case, the Shroud would be like the equivalent of a Surrealist painting in the ruins of an Egyptian temple, or a rock song composed during the Baroque period: it would be the elephant in the midst of a flock of sheep.

In these cases, humans did have the technology or the genius available to create these anomalous forms, if they simply became aware. However, as any layman might well point out, humans did not choose to use available technology in order to create them.

Of course there is a possibility that there is an Ancient Egyptian Picasso; Beethoven could have chosen to become the father of hip-hop if he wanted to. The fact is, though, that they simply never did. These, like all artists everywhere, simply followed the artistic mandates of their time and place.

Number two. Yep, we now know (thanks to Dr. Frederick Zugibe) that the palms can support the weight of a person, but what is proposed in this is the upper part of the palm - not the middle.

Also, we only know where the nail went out in one arm - not where it went in. So even if we can say that the wound entered the palm (which is, at the end, just a guess - because we'll never really know), why did the forger botch it up and put the exit at the wrist area?

And finally, as for Jehohanan's ankle. I think I can apply the same logic here as you all did in the above comments concerning the DNA samples of first century Jews: a single bone belonging to one man is hardly a definitive proof as to how all other people were crucified. All that Jehohanan's ankle tells us is how he was crucified (which does give us a picture of how they did it then): but how can we be certain that all those myriads of people who were put to death by crucifixion during the days of the Roman Empire were nailed in the exact same manner as he did? Based from written records, it would seem that the Romans sometimes employed a little variation, crucifying their victims in different ways and postures.

If I could point this as well: while early reports suggest that Jehohanan's hands/wrists were nailed, later reexamination of the bones suggest that no, his arms were probably just tied to the patibulum (like this: http://davidritsema.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/cross.gif). Based from the Gospels, however, we know that Jesus' hands were nailed. So even in this detail, we already see a bit of difference!

And BTW, it seems our discussion is drifting the comment box into another topic (I'm really sorry). Pardon my audacity, but shall we correspond about this further in email, perhaps?

Paul Green said...

It's defnitely a fascinating subject Patrick but I still tend to believe it's a forgery given the fact it was first mentioned in Europe in the Middle Ages. An item as sacred as the burial shroud of Jesus would have been mentioned much earlier had it been known to exist. And as some of the Apostles were at the tomb it seems logical that they were the first owners. But it had little significance to them because the risen Christ was all that mattered.
But over 1,000 years without one mention of the properties of this shroud is quite a length of time and highly unlikely given the trade in relics from Constantine onwards.
So I say it's a forgery Patrick. You say different. We will never have any definitive proof it's Jesus.

Bible artist said...

Despite all the controversy about the shroud, some artisans do still use it for inspiration. I was emailed a newsletter this week from the 'Veritasse' website which included an article about a christian sculptor who carved the head of Jesus using the shroud for reference. The article said:
"Shawn Williamson has researched the background to the Turin shroud, which has been examined and argued over, ever since it came to light again, in France in 1353.
Dr Rogers, an American chemist, charged with dating the shroud, de-nounced it as a medieval forgery. However, a tape recording of Dr Rogers has surfaced, where the chemist suggests that his own research dates the shroud as between 1,300 and 3000 years old.
Shawn has written a longer article on this subject, which he will be glad to share with you, if you contact him. shawnwilliamson@hotmail.co.uk ".

Bible artist said...

Try splitting the long url links into 2 or 3 lines as blogger has the habit of chopping off the ends when published which means that readers can't follow your links. You can 'preview' it first to make sure all the url is visible before publishing.

I'm not sure why the blogger team hasn't ironed that one out-!!
Very interesting discussion by the way!

Patrick said...

Sorry for that Mr. Graham.

Mr. Paul: I'm afraid my reply to you is going to be a bit long, so I'll leave a small and a bit unrelated teaser for the moment (it's midnight here; I have to sleep ;)).

I'm going to repeat what I just said before, but in order for a forger to make the Shroud, he'd first have to:

1.) Apply blood and serum stains on the cloth with anatomical accuracy - remembering that the blood and serum was on the cloth first before the image was even formed. He'd also have to find the blood of someone who has undergone extreme torture (this is one of the reasons why the blood on the Shroud is still red: it is rich in bilirubin, a bile pigment produced when a human body is under severe traumatic stress. Bilirubin is bright red in color and stays that way): which means the forger couldn't just go out and kill some animal and paint the blood on the cloth.

2.) After applying the stains, he would then have to 'paint' the image, being careful not to let the 'paint' soak through - since image is actually superficial.

As I've mentioned:

"When you look at the Shroud's fabric you see that each thread is made up of hundreds of tiny fibers. These fibers are about 15 microns in diameter, a fraction if the thickness of human hair. These were handspun together to form the yarn used to weave the linen cloth.

The cloth has discolored with age which is a result of a chemical change of oxidation and dehydration of the fibers. Some fibers, however, appear darker in places along their length. This is how the image is formed: ehere darker bands intersect image areas, that part is darker. But it is not the fiber that has changed but a carbohydrate layer that coats the topmost fibers of the threads.

The discoloration is actually a chemical change to the carbohydrate coating, nominally about 180 to 600 nanometers thick. That is about the same thickness as the transparent and invisible scratch proof coating on eye glasses. It is not a colorant in the fiber nor on it. Now the darkened length of fibers are only on the topmost fibers and not on fibers below another fiber or under a blood stain.

You also have to remember the peculiar 3D phenomenon of image: something that is quite impossible for a painting or even a photograph (http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/

Anonymous said...

Now this one is secondary because it does not have much weight as the others, but:

3) All the while the forger should have then laced the cloth with pollen, some coming from plants that are not found in Europe and are endemic to the Middle Eastern area (http://www.shroudstory.com/faq-pollen.htm).

If I could see a copy that accurately replicate these points (esp. 1 and 2), I might reconsider.

I personally believe in the Shroud because I tend to think that evidence for its authenticity has more weight. But you're right: it's not the core of my faith (so it isn't really a blow for me if it's definitely proven to be fake); it is more a secondary aid of sorts. In the end, my belief does not rest on bloodstained cloths or splinters of wood or ruins of stone. And yes, we can never know for certain who the man is: will someone go to Heaven and ask Jesus? ;)

Patrick said...

Here's the reply, by the way.

We can admit of course that in all of Christian literature, references to Jesus' grave clothes or something similar are scanty. I'll repeat them here not so much because I believe them to be actually true (I'm pretty much divided here) as in what they can tell us about what is commonly believed at the time.

The Christian author Jerome (often known as the man who translated the Bible into Latin) wrote a collection of biographies of 135 well-known men throughout Christian history, starting with the disciples - fitting titled De Viris Illustribus in 392 during his stay in Bethlehem.

In one chapter devoted to James 'brother of the Lord', Jerome cites a now-lost apocryphal work known as the Gospel of the Hebrews (there is an old tradition that Matthew originally wrote a gospel in 'Hebrew' for his community before he wrote the Greek one we have today: in fact, there are those who thought that the Greek Matthew is a translation/expansion of this earlier work. Some authors - including Jerome - thought that a particular work, which they usually called the Gospel of the Hebrews, must be the one) in which Jesus, after He was raised but before He appeared to James (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:5-7) - who swore that he would never eat until he saw Jesus alive again, "had given the sindon to the servant of the priest." No mention, however, is made of an image on this cloth.

A bit earlier, a woman from Cappadocia named Nino went to what is now modern-day Georgia, either as a slave or of her own free will (various stories give conflicting details), where she spread the Christian faith with success, making Kartli (Caucasian Iberia) the second Christian state after the kingdom of Armenia - the Armenian king Tiridates III made Christianity the state religion in AD 301. One biography relates that when her family moved to Jerusalem, the Armenian Niaphori of Dvini often taught her about Jesus and His suffering:

"The Jews buried Christ, and guarded and sealed His tomb, but He rose again, as He had said in the beginning. And they found the linen early in Christ's tomb, where Pilate and his wife came. When they found it, Pilate's wife asked for the linen, and went away quickly to her house in Pontus, where she became a believer in Christ. Some time afterwards, the linen came into the hands of Luke the Evangelist, who put it in a place known only to himself.
Now they did not find the sudari (=soudarion, the 'napkin' over Jesus' head), but it is said to have been found by Peter, who took it and kept it, but we know not if it has ever been discovered. The crosses are buried in the city of Jerusalem, though no man knows in what place; when it pleases God they also shall appear."

It is significant that there is a distinction here between the grave clothes and the napkin. Also, it is noteworthy that the Niaphori and Nino are ignorant of the location of those relics.

Paul Green said...

I've just watched a fascinating History Channel documentary "The Real Face of Jesus?" (2010). Probably the best I've seen to date. It tends to validate the Shroud of Turin as authentic and recreates the face of the man on the shroud through computer technology. The final face is a likeness based on the image on the shroud and the much more compelling as a genuine likeness of Jesus than the terrible recreation on the BBC documentary from a few years ago. This link doesn't show the final computer enhanced likeness but does provide a 3D image.
One aspect of this documatary I like was dating the historical record (with proof) of the shroud back to before the carbon dating. Patrick (from this board) had already shown me evidence that's repeated in the documntary. The amount of blood revealed by the new technology (not visible to the naked eye in the negative image) is shocking. The man on this shroud was literally covered in blood - his suffering immense.
I highly recommend this documentary.

Patrick said...

I've also seen it, and I agree that's a really nice and well-done documentary - which is quite surprising for History Channel. ;)

Anonymous said...

The KJV is very contradictory in too many parts to list. Matthew 15 & Matthew 23 contradict in the KJV but they don't in the original Hebrew text. You wouldn't describe someone's hair as white like wool, as white as snow. That makes no sense and its not symbolic to anything. Daniel 7:9 says Yahshua's hair was like wool. That's the texture of our Savior's hair,(its pretty clear cut) and yes his hair was white, that's the color. Also His feet were bronze, like the heisman trophy or that rocky statue, that's what color bronze is, not olive not gold, not black, bronze, it is dark, so what. The Hebrew text has no contradictions & is very straight forward. Universal translate is very accurate & converts hebrew to english. If His hair was silky & brown or wavy & blonde He would have described it as such & I'm sure you wouldn't say it was symbolic or some kind of parable. God speaks very plain & simple for us. It's not rocket science. I love all you guys & God bless you all.

Bible artist said...

Thanks anonymous, symbolic was probably the wrong choice of words - I agree that what is said in scripture, be it Hebrew or Greek, is absolutely right and yes the risen savior's hair is white like wool/snow. No one is denying that. You state that the original Hebrew/Greek in this reference refers to the texture of the hair and not the color/purity of the hair. I'm not a language expert so I can't comment! I won't fall out with you over it though. ;0)
(but I still think it's the color!)

Bible artist said...

P.S. Let me explain my reasoning here:
There were not too many points of reference for the color white in those days. There was snow, or newly born lambs (sheep get dirty quickly!) Even today when we are surrounded by white products we still use the term "white as snow" when describing the colour.
My other point is, if you were describing a persons hair from a distance, you would normally describe it in terms of colour, black, blond, brunette etc or its length, long or short. You wouldn't describe their hair as soft or coarse. My wife was very surprised when she first held a lamb because she was expecting it to be lovely and soft whereas it was very coarse!
Having said all that, if someone shows me that the original words are referring to texture then I'll go with that!

Patrick said...

Just to comment on anonymous' comment ;)

The word usually translated by the phrase "fine brass/polished bronze" used in Revelation 1:14 is chalkolibanon, which appears nowhere else in Greek literature outside of the book of Revelation. Hence, no one really knows for sure what the metal is.

On the face of it, the word seems to be composed of chalkos 'bronze' (or rather 'copper') and libanos 'frankincense', a suggestion given by Strong's. On the other hand some have posited a Greek-Hebrew hybrid: chalkos+ lavan (Hebrew 'white'; cf. Laban of Genesis). Others propose that chalkolibanon is actually a jargon among the bronze-workers of Thyatira (cf. Rev. 2:18) referring to an alloy of copper mixed with zinc, which was obtained by distillation (-libanōn is thus from the verb leibō, 'to pour out'). Still others have suggested a highly precious alloy: say, electrum (an alloy of gold and silver) or orichalcum (an unknown legendary metal, the name of which is also applied to a golden-colored bronze alloy).

Patrick said...

Revelation 1:14 talks of the hair color. Leukai hōs erion leukon hōs chiōn, "white like white wool like snow."
Daniel 7:9 meanwhile speaks of the Ancient of Days as having the hair "like wool", not the "One like a son of man" so if you connect the Son with 'son of man' here it still doesn't say anything about His appearance, since only the Ancient of Days is described here. "And with the clouds of the heavens like a son of man was one coming, and to the Ancient of Days he has come and before Him they have brought him near..."

Anonymous said...

I have a degree in fine art and painted oil on canvas in school but with kids etc, don't paint anymore. I am, though, very interested in what Jesus looked like. Probably because I do have a background in art where I was fascinated with the human form. I don't have any research to offer but I do have an experience which changed my life and drove me to Jesus which I had avoided for a long time.

I was going through a divorce and bankruptcy and my children were not happy. It was a very dark time in my life. I began to "see" a man who drove a chevy truck everywhere I was. I started to think he was following me. Sometimes the man would show up in a different kind of truck. At the risk of sounding crazy, I will say that everytime I "saw" this man, I was overwhelmed with peace and so thought about him constantly, trying to figure out who he was. I also "saw" other persons and I felt scared and horrible. The Holy Spirit guided me as only He can to praying for mercy to Jesus and to being convinced that He is the Son of God and saved us when He died on the cross and defeated death and all the bad stuff. He is in a real spirit body and is still alive today. I essentially became born again. I look back and realize, I think the guy in the Chevy was Jesus. He looked very attractive to me but I have weird taste in beauty. What stuck out was the way this "man in the Chevy" would smile at me. Real concern and like he was so happy to see me.

I am not expert and this won't help you draw Jesus but I think he showed himself to me as someone who would stand out to me and who I would be overwhelmed with the desire to know him better, whether it is because of a "vibe" of pure Love or what he looks like or both. I am researching now on the internet to see what He looked like because I want so bad to be close to Him. I really appreciate this blog and it has helped my personal research a lot.



Anonymous said...

silly people fighting what he looked like. No one knows, but we can have an idea of how he "might have resembeled". Not African nor European. He would hae looked like present day Arabs and Yemeni Jews who have stayed the purist of all Jews. Fy=unny enough Bin Laden looks like any Med Jew too. Google Yemeni jews. Some are beautifull and some are ugly. FULL STOP.

Anonymous said...

the wool hair does not say it describes Jesus. It is more likely a 60+ yrs old man. Wolly does not mean Afro either, as untreated Afro feels far from soft bouncy wolly. As man ages grey hair becomes wolly to frizzed out.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think this all goes back to evolution of man. We all know that the oldest bones EVER found where in Ethiopia-Africa weighing in at a whopping 4.4 million years. And we know that man migrated all over the world, (7 Continents) and depending upon where you were you developed certain characteristics to adapt to those surroundings. You know the thumb and humans, in Asia extreme winds to the eyes caused them to slant-not racist but true! You said that you thought it was unlikely that Jesus was black, why? Did you not know that the first Jews were black? Also that the people of that time from that area were Jesus was born were dark skinned, more than likely- Ethiopian. It's no secret that the noses where broken off of hundreds of Egyptian statues with the accompanying “supposed” stories of disgrace and shame. Cleopatra did not look like Elizabeth Taylor (God Bless her-beautiful soul). The western world has the tendency to westernize things, which is fine if it helps you to relate. And this whole thing about Jesus not being attractive to the eye is nonsense. Beauty goes beyond blonde blue dark light etc… I think he was just what we all need physically and mentally. IN THE EYE OF THE BE-HOLDER

Jared said...

I think there is great evidence that Jesus, Moses, and many other biblical figures we know to be "white", were actually Black people of north Africa. This can be referenced in many other places than just hair of wool, but in the description of the baby in the basket scenario. Moses at very least was of African Decent, for him to pass as the son of a King of Egypt. People do not realize that the pharos of Egypt were North African People, they were much darker than the people we see living in Egypt today. Look at the Artwork from that era, the lightest skin depictions are easily average to light African tones, not middle eastern skin tones. It is also proven in the cranial (study of skulls) study of the Pharaohs as well, that they were of African Decent.

So this does indeed put a twist on the tale of Moses, a baby in a basket being raised by a Pharaoh as his son, when the King was absolutly an African Man, unless Moses was also.

And if Moses was black, Pandoras box is open folks. Anyone in the bible could have been, it changes everything. And this is very plausable since the bible has been handed down for 2000 years, it's easy that kings of the past 2000 years have manipulated the context, syntax and overall message to suit the ethnic people's of their kingdoms of the day, hence the lack of reference to racial background in the bible. They couldn't of course say "He was black" because people needed to identify with it, so that was omitted deliberately.

I think the Hebrew Isrealites are most likelty the actual biblical people spoken of when Isrealites are spoken of in the bible time frame of (2000-3500 years ago).

Paul Green said...

"Since the second half of the 20th century, scholarly consensus has held that applying modern notions of race to ancient Egypt is anachronistic. Frank M. Snowden asserts that "Egyptians, Greeks and Romans attached no special stigma to the color of the skin and developed no hierarchical notions of race whereby highest and lowest positions in the social pyramid were based on color.".[2][3] Additionally, typological and hierarchical models of race have increasingly been rejected by scientists." - Wikipedia

It seems the modern obssession with the color of a person's skin didn't apply to some ancient societies so Moses could have been accepted by Egyptians without his need to be black.

Anonymous said...

We may never know many things that concerning the Biblical writings. By now you should know that the bible (canon) was put together by the Roman Catholics, over 22 or more books of the bible were left out because they (RC) debated whether or not they should include them. So I am sure that many of the books that were finally included in the bible were perhaps watered down a bit so that it would be better accepted by the multitude without having racial or color issues as such.

Anonymous said...

In the bible, Judas when asked by the Romans to identify Jesus with a kiss, it would stand to reason that in the region that Jesus was to have been born were people of color, this was proven by an independent research; and if Jesus had been a blond haired, blue eyed person there would not have been a real reason to identify him with a kiss.

Paul Green said...

The books left out were considered to be Gnostic writings and works that were too fanciful to be taken seriously such as the Gospel of Peter that talked of a gigantic talking cross at the resurrection.
The Catholic church did (and does) retain more books (seven) than the King James bible. These are referred to as the Alexandrian Canon.

Paul Green said...

Nowhere in the gospels does it describe the physical appearance of Jesus. All interpretations are post-gospel by artists who never met Jesus in life.
He was identified with a kiss by Judas primarily because he was arrested at night.

Anonymous said...

from the KJV:
14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;

15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

why leave out the next verse which does talk of skin color?

Bible artist said...

I imagine that fine brass in a furnace would be a mixture of glowing reds and yellows?

Patrick said...

"The books left out were considered to be Gnostic writings and works that were too fanciful to be taken seriously such as the Gospel of Peter that talked of a gigantic talking cross at the resurrection."

Not all of them were. Works like the Didache (late 1st-early 2nd century) or the Didascalia Apostolorum (3rd century) were instruction manuals (a proto-catechism, one might say) for early Christians; works like the Shepherd of Hermas, Epistle of Barnabas, the Apocalypse of Peter (not to be confused with the Coptic Apocalypse of Peter), or the letters of Clement are certainly not 'gnostic'.

Thing is, 'apocryphal' in the case of NT apocrypha does not always equal 'gnostic'.

"The Catholic church did (and does) retain more books (seven) than the King James bible. These are referred to as the Alexandrian Canon."

Actually, I should say that the original 1611 KJV contained the 73 books held canonical by Catholics (sixty-six protocanonical books plus the seven deuterocanonicals) in addition to three apocryphal works (Prayer of Manasseh and 1-2 Esdras), albeit these disputed books were placed in a separate section from the OT. It was only later that printers began leaving the section out.

P.S. If you want to see a really big canon of Scripture, try the Ethiopians.

Patrick said...

"I imagine that fine brass in a furnace would be a mixture of glowing reds and yellows?"

The word is oreichalkos (cf. the legendary metal orichalcum); I think that probably a sort of gold-colored bronze/copper is meant here.

James Maxey said...

Yahushua the Messiah is a Hebrew Israelite. The word jew is english, the english language not exist until 450AD. The letter "j" was created in 1066 in england. The word jew was created in 1775.