The long history of how Jesus came to resemble a white European
The post was published on July 22, 2020, and the update was published on July 22, 2020. By Anna Swartwood House, [email protected], University of South Carolina No one knows what Jesus looked like, and there are no known photos of him during his time on the earth. According to art history professor Anna Swartwood House’s article published in The Conversation, the depictions of Christ have had a tortuous history and have had a variety of functions throughout history. When it comes to portraying Jesus as a white, European guy, there has been heightened scrutiny during this era of reflection on the history of racism in our culture.
Prominent scholars, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, have urged for a reexamination of Jesus’ image as a white man in the gospels.
1350 to 1600 and how it has changed through time.
However, the image of Jesus that has been replicated the most is from a different historical period.
Sallman, a former commercial artist who specialized in creating artwork for advertising campaigns, was successful in marketing this photograph across the world.
Sallman’s painting is the culmination of a lengthy tradition of white Europeans who have created and disseminated images of Christ that are in their own image.
In search of the holy face
Several first-century Jews from Galilee, a region in biblical Israel, shared the same brown eyes and skin tone as the actual Jesus, according to speculation. No one, however, is certain about Jesus’ physical appearance. In addition, there are no known photos of Jesus during his lifetime, and whereas the Old Testament kings Saul and David are specifically described in the Bible as “tall and attractive,” there is no evidence of Jesus’ physical appearance in either the Old or New Testaments. Even these passages are in conflict with one another: The prophet Isaiah writes that the coming messiah “had no beauty or majesty,” yet the Book of Psalms states that he was “fairer than the children of mankind,” with the term “fair” referring to physical attractiveness on his person.
that the earliest representations of Jesus Christ appeared, amidst worries about idolatry.
Early Christian painters frequently used syncretism, which is the combination of visual formats from other civilizations, in order to clearly show their functions.
In some popular portrayals, Christ is depicted as wearing the toga or other qualities associated with the emperor.
Viladesau says that Christ’s mature bearded appearance, with long hair in the “Syrian” manner, combines elements of the Greek god Zeus with the Old Testament character Samson, among other things.
Christ as self-portraitist
Portraits of Christ that were considered authoritative likenesses were thought to be self-portraits: the miraculous “image not formed by human hands,” or acheiropoietos, which means “image not made by human hands.” This belief dates back to the seventh century A.D., and it is based on a legend that Christ healed King Abgar of Edessa in modern-day Urfa, Turkey, through a miraculous image of his face, now known as the Mandylion.
- The Mandylion is a miraculous image of Christ’s face that was created by the Holy Spirit.
- If we look at it from the standpoint of art history, these objects served to strengthen an already established picture of a bearded Christ with shoulder-length, black hair.
- Some people did this to express their identification with Christ’s human suffering, while others did it to make a statement about their own creative potential.
- In this, he posed in front of the camera as if he were an icon, his beard and luxurious shoulder-length hair evoking Christ’s own.
In whose image?
Interestingly, this phenomena was not limited to Europe: there are 16th- and 17th-century paintings of Jesus that include elements from Ethiopia and India, for example. The image of a light-skinned European Christ, on the other hand, began to spread throughout the world as a result of European commerce and colonization in the early centuries. The “Adoration of the Magi” by the Italian painter Andrea Mantegna, painted in A.D. 1505, depicts three separate magi, who, according to one contemporaneous story, came from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, adoring the infant Jesus.
However, Jesus’ fair complexion and blue eyes show that he was not born in the Middle East, but rather in Europe.
Anti-Semitic beliefs were already widespread among the majority Christian population in Mantegna’s Italy, and Jewish people were frequently divided into their own districts of large towns, according to Mantegna.
A move toward the Christianity symbolized by Jesus might be signified by even seemingly insignificant characteristics such as pierced ears (earrings were traditionally connected with Jewish women, and their removal with a conversion to Christianity).
Much later, anti-Semitic groups in Europe, especially the Nazis, would strive to completely separate Jesus from his Judaism in favor of an Aryan caricature, a move that was ultimately successful.
White Jesus abroad
As Europeans conquered ever-more-distant regions, they carried a European Jesus with them to share with the people. Jesuit missionaries developed painting schools where new converts might learn about Christian art in the European tradition. It was created in the school of Giovanni Niccol, the Italian Jesuit who founded the “Seminary of Painters” in Kumamoto, Japan in 1590. The altarpiece, which is small in size, combines a traditional Japanese gilt and mother-of-pearl shrine with a painting of a distinctly white, European Madonna and Child.
Saint Rose of Lima, the first Catholic saint to be born in “New Spain,” is shown in a picture by artist Nicolas Correa from 1695, in which she is seen metaphorically married to a blond, light-skinned Christ.
Legacies of likeness
Edward J. Blumand is a scholar. During the decades after European colonization of the Americas, some say that images of a white Christ were connected with the logic of empire and could be used to justify the persecution of Native and African Americans. Paul Harvey makes this argument. Although America is a mixed and uneven society, the media portrayal of a white Jesus was disproportionately prominent. A huge majority of performers who have represented Jesus on television and in films have been white with blue eyes, and this is not limited to Warner Sallman’s Head of Christ.
- It is true that representation matters, and viewers must be aware of the intricate history of the pictures of Christ that they see and absorb.
- See the source article for more information.
- Raphael is an artist who creates collections.
- Inform your social network connections about what you are reading about by posting on their pages.
The six oldest images of Jesus
In a previous essay on the realistic “looks” of Jesus, it was pointed out that most of what we know about Jesus’ appearance is a result of artistic tradition. Because the Bible does not contain a depiction of what Christ looked like, artists and mosaic-makers would frequently turn to the creative canons of their day to construct a visual representation of the Nazarene to illustrate his teachings. Who is, early Christian images of Jesus provide valuable insight into the distinct iconography styles of the many locales and individuals that made up the early Christian community.
Alexamenos graffito from the first century AD This “graffito,” which depicts a person staring at a donkey-headed guy who is being crucified, was cut into plaster and painted on a wall in Rome around the first century.
The Christian faith was not recognized as an official religion in the Roman Empire throughout the first century, and most Roman people regarded its adherents with mistrust and distrust.
The writing that appears alongside the artwork does, in fact, read: “Alexandro praising his deity.” Furthermore, the fact that “Alexandro’s God” is being crucified makes the situation much worse, for throughout the first century, crucifixion was a severe penalty reserved for serious criminals alone.
- The Good Shepherd, which dates back to the third century.
- The metaphor of the “Good Shepherd” is perhaps the most striking of them all.
- the good shepherd lays down his life for his flock.” Thus, it comes as no surprise that many early Christian painters chose the figure of the shepherd to represent Christ.
- Jesus is depicted as he is carrying a calf on his shoulder in this painting, which was painted on the walls of the St.
- This image is based on the iconic figure of the “moskophoros,” which literally translates as “the bearer of the calf,” whose first depiction in ancient Greek art dates back to 570 BC.
- The Adoration of the Magi, which dates back to the third century.
- Thus, the “epiphany” became one of the most popular portrayals of Christ’s life throughout the early days of Christianity as a result of its popularity.
Fourth-century miracle: The Cure of the Paralytic Jesus performs one of the miracles recorded in the Gospels (Matthew (9:1–8), Mark (2:1–12), and Luke (5:17–26) when he heals a paralyzed man in the town of Capernaum, which is now in modern-day Israel.
It was discovered on the baptistry of an abandoned church in Syria, depicting the curing of a paralytic.
It is considered to be one of the earliest images of Christ that historians have come across.
This depiction of Christ, which dates back to the 4th century, depicts him between the apostles Peter and Paul.
Marcellinus and Peter on the Via Labicana in Rome was the location where it was painted.
Christ Pantocrator, from the sixth century Pantocrator is a Greek term that literally translates as “one who has control over everything.” As a result, two Hebrew idioms used in the Old Testament to characterize God, “God of hosts” (Sabaot) and “Almighty” (El Shadai), were translated into Greek as “God of hosts” (Sabaot) and “Almighty,” respectively.
This artwork is the world’s oldest known representation of the “Christ Pantocrator” (Christ the Savior).
It was painted on a wooden board around the 6th or 7th centuries and is presently on display at the Monastery of St.
Catherine on Mount Sinai in Egypt, which is one of the world’s oldest monasteries and one of the most important religious centers in the world. More information may be found at: What was Jesus’ physical appearance like?
NOT the earliest known image of Jesus
In a previous essay on the realistic “looks” of Jesus, it was pointed out that most of what we know about Jesus’ appearance is the result of creative tradition. Because there is no depiction of what Christ looked like in the Bible, artists and mosaic-makers would frequently turn to the aesthetic canons of their day to produce a visual representation of the Nazarene. Who is, early Christian images of Jesus provide valuable insight into the distinct iconography styles of the many locales and people that comprised the early Christian community.
- It is believed that this “graffito,” depicting a person gazing at a crucifixion of a donkey-headed guy, was etched into a wall in Rome around the first century.
- The Christian faith was not recognized as an official religion in the Roman Empire throughout the first century, and most Roman people regarded its adherents with distrust and contempt.
- The phrase that appears next to the artwork does, in fact, read: “Alexandro worshipping his deity.’ In addition, the fact that “Alexandro’s God” is being crucified makes the situation more worse, as crucifixion was reserved for serious criminals during the first century.
- However, while the Gospels do not supply us with a bodily depiction of Jesus, they do provide us with numerous metaphorical descriptions that help us understand who he was.
- According to the Gospel of John (10:11 and 10:14), Jesus declares: “I am the good shepherd.
- And they mostly accomplished this by adding shepherd images that were previously present in Greek and Roman art.
Callisto catacomb in Rome.
Third-century depiction of the Adoration of the Magi Similarly, the worship of the Magi, as depicted in Matthew 2:1-12, represents another picture of Christ portrayed in the New Testament.
In the 3rd century, this depiction of the Magi prostrating themselves before the Child was created to decorate a coffin, which is currently on display at the Vatican Museum in Rome.
Since then, that story has been a recurring motif in Christian iconography.
It dates back to the 3rd century.
Fifth century Christ in the middle of Peter and Paul Located between St.
Paul, this image of Christ from the 4th century depicts him as a mediator.
Marcellinus and Peter on the Via Labicana in Rome was where it was painted.
Sixth-century sculpture of Christ Pantocrator According to the definition of Pantocrator, “he who has authority over everything” is a Greek word.
According to historical records, this image represents the world’s earliest known representation of “Christ Pantocrator.” According to some interpretations, Jesus’ dual nature as both human and divine is represented by the various expressions on the right and left sides of his face.
In the 6th or 7th century, it was painted on a wooden board, and it is currently on display at the Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai in Egypt, which is one of the world’s oldest monasteries. For more information, please see this link: What did Jesus look like in his natural environment?
7 Oldest Paintings of Jesus in the World
Throughout Christian churches, images of Jesus may be found on the walls, and many of these paintings are more than 1,000 years old. Early Christian symbols such as the Ichthys (fish), the peacock, and an anchor were frequently used to depict Jesus in the early days of the faith. It is believed that the first existing paintings of Jesus as a human being date back to the late 2nd to early 4th centuries and are mostly discovered in Roman tombs. These earliest depictions of Jesus were straightforward, and they frequently depicted him performing good actions.
7. Good Shepherd Mosaic
Year of Painting: c.425 Italy’s Galla Placidia Mausoleum is located in the city of Ravenna. Christ as the Good Shepherd in the midst of a flock of sheep is depicted in this image. Stone or glass mosaics were used as the primary building materials. image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons The mosaic of the Good Shepherd at the Galla Placidia Mausoleum is not only one of the earliest images of Jesus, but it is also one of the most beautiful and well-preserved examples of the genre. This UNESCO World Heritage Site also has additional mosaic works of art, which are on display in the Mausoleum.
Christ, instead of carrying a lamb on his shoulder, is seated among his flock and is dressed in gold and purple garments, as is customary.
6. Jesus and His Apostles
Year of Painting: c. the beginning of the 5th century The Catacombs of St. Domitilla are located in Rome, Italy. Christ on a throne between two groups of apostles, in front of two deceased persons, as seen in the image Paint on plaster was used as a medium. Live Science is the source of this image. T It was recently discovered that the frescoes in the catacombs of St. Domitilla had been hidden for years due to the use of a new method called laser cleaning, which employs lasers to remove decades of filth and grime.
In the opinion of Barbara Mazzei, an archaeologist of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, the picture shown in the painting was unusual for the historical period in which it was created.
Religious frescoes were discovered in a “introductio,” which depicts “a personal presentation of the deceased to Christ.” The catacombs were discovered in the middle of the night.
5. The Mosaic of St. Pudenziana
The painting was completed in the early fifth century. St. Domitilla’s Catacombs in Rome, Italy is where you’ll find us. Christ on a throne between two groups of apostles, in front of two deceased persons, as seen in the illustration Paint on plaster was the medium used. Live Science is the source of this photograph. T New laser cleaning technology has recently been used to reveal frescoes in the catacombs of St. Domitilla that had been hidden for centuries. Laser cleaning employs lasers to remove decades of dirt and filth from ancient paintings.
In the opinion of Barbara Mazzei, an archaeologist of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, the picture shown in the painting was unusual for the period in which it was created.
Religious paintings were discovered in a “introductio,” which depicts “a personal presentation of the deceased to Christ.” The catacombs were discovered in the middle of a Roman cemetery. They were exposed to the general public at the end of May 2017, following their recent discovery.
4. Christ Between Peter and Paul
Year of Painting: c. the beginning of the fifth century The Catacombs of St. Domitilla are located in the city of Rome, Italy. Christ is depicted on a throne between two groups of apostles, in front of two deceased persons. Paint on plaster was the primary material used. image courtesy of Live Science T It was recently discovered that the frescoes in the catacombs of St. Domitilla had been hidden for years due to the use of a new method called laser cleaning, which employs lasers to remove decades of filth and grime from the walls.
According to Barbara Mazzei, an archaeologist with the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, the picture shown in the painting was unusual for the historical period in which it was created.
The catacombs’ religious paintings were discovered in a “introductio,” which depicts a “personal presentation of the deceased to Christ.” They were exposed to the general public at the end of May 2017 following their recent discovery.
3. Adoration of the Magi
Date of creation: c. mid-3rd century The Catacomb of Priscilla is located in Rome, Italy. The three Magi present their gifts to Jesus after his birth, as seen in the illustration. Paint on plaster was used as a medium. Photo courtesy of faiththroughthelens.wordpress.com. The Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome is home to a fresco depicting the three Magi, which is said to be the world’s earliest representation of the three Magi. It is thought to have been created about the middle of the third century and may be seen on an arch in the catacombs.
The “Adoration of the Magi” was one of the most often represented pictures from Jesus’ birth in early Christian art, and it is also one of the most popular today.
2. The Good Shepherd
The Catacombs of St. Callixtus are located in Rome, Italy, and were painted in the mid-3rd century. The image depicted is of a young, beardless Jesus carrying a sheep. Paint on plaster was used as a medium. Wikipedia is the source of this image. The picture “The Good Shepherd” is said to be one of the earliest known representations of Jesus. The artwork depicts a youthful Jesus with no beard gathering sheep, which was one of the most popular representations of Jesus at the time of the painting’s creation.
These catacombs are some of the oldest in Rome, and they are well renowned for their art and the Cypt of the Popes, which is located within them.
Other 3 rdcentury paintings discovered in the catacombs portray episodes from Christ’s life, including the Baptism of Christ and the Raising of Lazarus, among other events.
1. The Healing of the Paralytic
Year of Painting: c.235 Syria’s Dura-Europos is the location. Images shown: Christ curing a paralytic, who subsequently gets up and goes away from the scene Paint on plaster was used as a medium. Wikipedia is the source of this image. “The Healing of the Paralytic” is said to be the world’s earliest picture of Jesus that is still in existence, and it is a clear portrayal of the deity Jesus Christ. The picture may be located on a wall of the Dura-Europos church in Syria, which is considered to be one of the world’s earliest surviving Christian churches, according to historians.
It is shown in the image that Jesus Christ heals a bed-ridden man, who afterwards gains the power to walk with his bed on his back.
How an iconic painting of Jesus as a white man was distributed around the world
After being printed a billion times, the image came to define what the major figure of Christianity looked like for generations of Christians in the United States – and elsewhere. According to Carr, the director of ministry and administrative support staff of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Maryland, Sallman’s Jesus “expressed the image of God” for many years before his death. When she grew up and began to study the Bible on her own, she began to have questions about that artwork and the message it was sending out to the world around her.
- Not for the first time, Sallman’s portrayal of Jesus and the influence it has had on not only theology but also the wider culture have been called into question.
- Beginnings are modest.
- As William Grimes of the New York Times put it in 1994, “Sallman was a Christian painter and illustrator whose most iconic work, ‘Head of Christ,’ attained a worldwide notoriety that makes Warhol’s soup look delightfully esoteric.” Sallman died in 1968.
- Sallman, a Chicago-based commercial artist who grew up in the church that is now known as the Evangelical Covenant Church, was a member of the denomination that is now known as the Evangelical Covenant Church.
- His strategy was successful.
A replica of the original “Head of Christ” was painted by Sallman for the school, but the original “Head of Christ” was sold to the religious publisher Kriebel & Bates, and so was born what Lipan refers to as a “Protestant icon.” According to Matthew Anderson, associate professor of religious studies at Concordia University in Montreal, “this specific picture of Jesus coincided with the start of the ‘Mad Men,’ of the marketing agency.” With little time, the picture traveled swiftly, being printed on prayer cards and distributed by a variety of groups, missionaries, and churches of all denominations: Catholic and Protestant; evangelical; mainline; white; and black.
- During World War II, copies of the Bible were distributed to soldiers by the Salvation Army and the YMCA through the United Service Organizations (USO).
- A variety of products with the picture were sold to the public including pencils, bookmarks, lamps and clocks.
- What the scholar David Morgan has described as a “picture of Jesus” came to pass as a result.
- Historically, according to Anderson, it has been usual for individuals to represent Jesus as a member of their own culture or ethnic group.
- Some of the earliest depictions of Jesus showed him to have “extremely dark complexion, maybe African origin,” according to him.
- The Chicagoan had been influenced by a long heritage of European painters, the most renowned of whom was the Frenchman Leon-Augustin Lhermitte, who had lived in the city for many years.
- “It’s impossible to overlook a very Nordic Jesus,” he asserted.
It was during the civil rights struggle that Sallman’s picture of a Scandinavian savior came under fire for perpetuating the idea of a white Jesus in the minds of subsequent generations of Americans.
This week, the activist Shaun King called for the removal of sculptures representing Jesus as a European, as well as Confederate monuments, since the representation is a “form of white supremacy,” according to the activist.
she said on Twitter.
Nnedi Okorafor, PhD (@Nnedi) is a social media influencer.
Anthea Butler, an associate professor of religious studies and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania, has also expressed concern about the negative impact of images of a white Jesus on the African-American community and other communities.
According to her, Jesus looked “like the folks who were beating you up in the streets or setting dogs on you.” she added.
“If Jesus is white and God is white,” she asserted, “then authority must also be white,” she continued.
Blum, co-author of the 2014 book “The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America,” have shown reluctance to abandon the picture of Jesus as being white.
Using solely white to represent Jesus, according to Tisby, has religious ramifications.
To say that Jesus is black, or, more broadly, to say that Jesus is not white, is to say that Jesus identifies with the oppressed and that God is not alien to the experience of marginalized people, but rather that God is on the side of those who, in Matthew 25, Jesus refers to as ‘the least of these,'” he explained.
- Almost a decade after Sallman painted his “Head of Christ,” the Korean artist Kim Ki-chang developed a picture cycle depicting the life of Christ in traditional Korean clothes and surroundings, with figures from Korean folk religion as supporting characters.
- Blum expressed himself.
- “This one appears to be simple to give up.” More recently, Sofia Minson, a New Zealand artist of Ngti Porou Mori, English, Swedish, and Irish background, recreated Sallman’s Jesus as an indigenous Mori man with a customary facial tattoo.
- Furthermore, there are various popular representations of Jesus who is African-American.
- McKenzie’s design was chosen as the winner because it was based on a black woman.
- Carr says she is attempting to avoid pigeonholing Jesus into a single picture these days.
According to her, “It’s not so much the painting as it’s my query about who Jesus is.” “It’s more accurately a representation of the person who I see across the aisle as representing a different Jesus.”
Where Did the Popular Image of Jesus Come From?
It is the face that is recognized all over the world. Despite the fact that it may occur in a variety of skin tones, the general traits remain consistent: long hair, a beard, and a slim and melancholy face. This face is shown in paintings, sculptures, crucifixes, and films, among other mediums. It is the visage that everyone instinctively recognizes as that of Jesus Christ. According to our article “What Did and Didn’t Jesus Look Like? “, however, this is not the case. The Bible provides relatively little information regarding Jesus’ physical appearance.
The following are examples of common variances in the representation of Jesus and what He might have looked like in real life:
- Isn’t that the face that everyone recognizes? However, despite the fact that it can occur in various skin tones, the fundamental traits remain consistent: long hair, a beard, and a slim and melancholy appearance. This face is shown in paintings, sculptures, crucifixes, and films, among other forms of media. I immediately recognized it as the face of Jesus Christ. According to our article “What Did and Didn’t Jesus Look Like? “, this was not the case. According to the Bible, virtually little is known about Christ’s physical appearance. It also reveals information that is in direct opposition to the common image of the subject that you may have in your head, which has been implanted there by artists and filmmakers. The following are examples of common variances in the representation of Jesus and what He might have looked like in real life.
Where did the popular representation of Jesus originate from, therefore, if it was not taken from the Scriptures themselves? Why do painters, sculptors, and film makers depict Jesus with these characteristics again and over again? You might be surprised by what history reveals!
Did the early Christian Church have images of Jesus?
But, if this popular representation of Jesus was not taken from Scripture, where did the image of Jesus get so popular? Why do painters, sculptors, and film makers depict Jesus with these characteristics again and over again in their work? Surprise yourself with what the past has to teach us!
How images of Jesus crept into Christianity
Following the completion of the New Testament period, a number of significant shifts occurred in Christian thought. Despite the fact that a small number of true Christians continued to exist after the death of the original apostles, most of Christianity gradually began to change into a religion that showed little resemblance to the Church portrayed in the book of Acts. More information about the evolution of Christianity may be found in our article “Was Christianity Designed to Evolve?” The oldest depictions of Jesus that have been discovered have been dated to between A.D.
- 256, according to archaeological evidence.
- Instead of attempting to depict Christ in his natural form, these early pictures used symbols to represent Him.
- Throughout these depictions, He is depicted as a young man who is physically healthy and without a beard.
- When it comes to definitively recognizing these pictures as Christ, historians have a challenge due to their resemblance to Greco-Roman pagan art, which employed the figure of the shepherd as a symbol of charity (André Grabar’s Origins of Christian Iconography, pp.
- We will observe that borrowing from pagan art is a recurrent motif among many of the well-known symbols of Christianity, as we shall see below.
- In his book The Conversion of Constantine, historian Paul Johnson writes that “all of the boundaries were broken down when Constantine was converted” (A History of Christianity,pp.
In other words, there had previously been opposition to artistic representations of Jesus; nevertheless, once Constantine adopted Christianity and began rebuilding it in the Roman image, the Greco-Roman practices of worshipping deities through statues and pictures were assimilated into Christian beliefs.
People began to prostrate themselves before them, and many of the more gullible began to worship them as they did.
However, the artwork associated with this newly emergent kind of Christianity did not appear out of nowhere. These pictures were derived from pagan imagery and practices that existed previously.
Where did this face of Jesus image come from?
From about the year 400, representations of Jesus began to appear all over the place: in churches, catacombs, and even on the priests’ garments. Because the painters were unaware of Jesus’ actual physical appearance, they created their own representations of him that have influenced art for hundreds of years. It was artists who blended the most conspicuous qualities of divinity from the Greco-Roman culture into an image of an approximately 30-year-old man, thereby creating the image that is now known as Jesus: the slim, pale, bearded, long-haired Jesus of modern times.
- Instead of a skinny man with a beard, early art presents Him as a youthful, physically fit guy with long hair who is clean-shaven, albeit a little effeminate, and who has a beard.
- They chose to show Christ in this manner because the male gods of the Greco-Roman pantheon were usually typically depicted with long hair in ancient Greek and Roman art.
- By letting his hair down, Christ assumed an atmosphere of divinity that distinguished him from the disciples and passersby who were shown alongside him (Thomas Mathews,The Clash of Gods,1993, pp.
- According to several historians, the first depictions of Jesus were directly based on the typical characteristics associated with the sun deity Apollo.
- Insofar as he copied the appearance of Apollo or Dionysus, he assumed something of their feminine aspect as well” (ibid., pp.
“His clean-shaven face is more reminiscent of portrayals of Apollo or the youthful Dionysus, Mithras, and other semi-divines or human heroes such as Orpheus, Meleager, and even Hercules.” In addition, the heavenly traits most associated with personal savior deities are brought to mind by a young visage” (Robin Jensen,Understanding Early Christian Art, 2000,p.
- It is demonstrated in the Vatican necropolis, where Jesus is represented as a version of Apollo/Helios.
- This group of painters looked to the more powerful and authoritative gods in the Roman pantheon for inspiration, such as Jupiter (the Roman counterpart of Zeus), Neptune, and Serapis, for their inspiration.
- These attributes of Jesus have made their way into creative representations of him.
- The presence of a mature and bearded person may be intended to show Jesus’ authority over the cosmos.
- ” The image of Jesus became more bearded, aged, and powerful at that point” (Graydon F.
Warnings about idolatry in the Bible
Imagery of Jesus began to appear in churches, tombs, and even on the robes of priests sometime after the year 400. In light of the fact that the painters were unaware of Jesus’ true look, they created their own representations of him, which have influenced art ever since. It was artists who blended the most significant attributes of divinity from the Greco-Roman culture into an image of an approximately 30-year-old man, thereby creating the image that we know today as Jesus: the slim, pale, bearded, and long-haired Jesus.
- Early art presents Him as a youthful, physically healthy, clean-shaven, if slightly effeminate, long-haired guy, rather than as a skinny man with a beard.
- As a result, the men in the Greco-Roman pantheon were nearly always shown with long hair, so they chose to portray Christ in this manner.
- By letting his hair down, Christ assumed an atmosphere of divinity that distinguished him from the disciples and passersby who were shown alongside him.
- Please take note of the following insightful quotes: “When Christ is given a young, beardless face and loose, long locks, it assimilates him into the company of Apollo and Dionysus.
- “The heavenly traits most associated with personal savior gods are recalled by a young visage” (Robin Jensen,Understanding Early Christian Art, 2000,p.
It is demonstrated in the Vatican necropolis, where Jesus is represented as a version of Apollo/Helios.
This group of painters looked to the more powerful and authoritative gods in the Roman pantheon for inspiration, such as Jupiter (the Roman counterpart of Zeus), Neptune, and Serapis, to get their inspiration.
These traits of Jesus have made their way into creative representations of the man himself.
Here, Christ assumes Jupiter’s position in the ancient pantheon; this displacement is made apparent through the imagery” (Jensen, pp.
“It was not until after Constantine, during the time of Damasus, that the image of Jesus was transformed from the youthful wonder-worker to the regal or majestic Lord.” The image of Jesus became more bearded, older, more dominating at that point” (Graydon F.
Develop a biblically accurate image of Jesus
When we attempt to depict God through a physical picture, we lose sight of the whole scope of His majesty and grandeur, which can never be portrayed in stone or on paint, and which must be experienced in person. As opposed to looking at Him through the lens that He provides us in His Word, we look at Him through the lens of our own human imagination. He is in a way transformed into our likeness. More than that, the portrayals of Jesus are based on false gods from ancient paganism, which makes them inaccurate representations of who He really looked like.
Jesus Christ gave a profound comment that was recorded in the year 23.
24 Those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth, for God is spirit, and those who adore Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV) was published in 1982 by Thomas Nelson and is known as the New King James Version (NKJV).
a little about the author
A full-time writer and editor at the Life, Hope, and Truth offices in McKinney, Texas, Erik Jones is a member of the Life, Hope, and Truth team. More information can be found at Read on for more information.