Who Painted The First Picture Of Jesus

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.

  1. The Mandylion is a miraculous image of Christ’s face that was created by the Holy Spirit.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. See the source article for more information.
  3. Raphael is an artist who creates collections.
  4. 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.

  1. The Good Shepherd, which dates back to the third century.
  2. The metaphor of the “Good Shepherd” is perhaps the most striking of them all.
  3. 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.
  4. Jesus is depicted as he is carrying a calf on his shoulder in this painting, which was painted on the walls of the St.
  5. 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.
  6. The Adoration of the Magi, which dates back to the third century.
  7. 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?

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.

See also:  What Did The Wise Men Bring To Jesus

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

c.410 – 417 (year of painting) Image depicts Christ seated on a jewel-encrusted throne flanked by His disciples at the church of Santa Pudenziana in Rome, Italy. Paint on plaster; gold leaf were used as mediums. Wikipedia is the source of this image. The mosaic of St. Pudenziana is claimed to be the world’s oldest apse mosaic, dating back to the 13th century. Furthermore, the church of St. Pudenziana is regarded to be the oldest of all the churches in Rome, dating back to the first century AD.

It is not known when it was completed.

This royal depiction of Jesus might be found across other Byzantine-era mosaics as well.

The mosaic underwent extensive restoration in the 16th century, with portions of it being modified or destroyed. During the restoration process, two of the apostles, as well as the entire lower portion of the mosaic, were taken out.

4. Christ Between Peter and Paul

Date of Painting: c.4th century The Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter are located in Rome, Italy. Christ is seen seated with Paul to his right and Peter to his left in this image. Paint on plaster was used as a medium. image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons This picture, which depicts Christ between Peter and Paul, dates back to the 4thcentury and may be seen in the Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter at the Vatican. In the catacombs, there are also some additional antique paintings of Christ that are worth seeing.

Below them are the four martyrs – Gorgonius, Peter, Marcellinus, and Tiburtius – who have been divided into pairs, with the Divine Lamb on the mountain in the middle of the group of martyrs.

It was completed in 2016 the restoration of a number of frescoes in the Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter that had been in disarray.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Beginnings are modest.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Blum expressed himself.
  3. “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.
  4. Furthermore, there are various popular representations of Jesus who is African-American.
  5. McKenzie’s design was picked as the winner since it was based on a black woman.
  6. 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 view across the aisle as representing a different Jesus.”

Earliest Depiction of Jesus Christ in Israel Discovered. Here’s What It Shows.

Shivta’s northern church, with its destroyed baptistery (right), is where the portrait of Jesus Christ was discovered, and it is also where the portrait of Jesus Christ was discovered. (Photo courtesy of Dror Maayan.) Emma Maayan-Fanar was searching for some relief from the scorching desert sun when she came face to face with the face of Jesus. He had been researching crucifixes and other symbols found on the stone lintels of old churches and dwellings in the Negev Desert’s destroyed city of Shivta, and he had come upon them while on a research trip to Israel.

  1. Then she noticed eyes peering out from the stones – the very faint remnants of a painting of Jesus Christ at his baptism in the Jordan River, painted on the ceiling of the church some 1,500 years ago and now hidden behind the stones.
  2. Maayan-Fanar phoned her husband, Dror Maayan, the photographer for the Israeli academic team working at Shivta, and asked him to capture the artwork on the stones of the baptistery roof.
  3. Recently, the journal Antiquity published the findings of their 2017 discovery, which was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
  4. Christians built their first churches in the ancient desert city somewhere between the fourth and sixth centuries A.D., according to historians.
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Ancient paintings

Other paintings have been discovered at Shivta, in the southernmost of its three ruined churches. One of these depicts Christ at his transfiguration, which is also a pivotal historical event described in the Christian gospels, which are thought to have been written in the first century after his death. A single eyebrow and the shape of Christ’s figure are all that can be seen in that artwork, which has also been extensively degraded. However, the painting on the ceiling of the northern baptistery — a structure used for baptisms and holding the baptismal font — depicts Christ as a young man with short, curly hair, with the majority of his face shown as a young man.

that has been badly degraded may only be seen in detail under the appropriate lighting conditions or with high-resolution photos.

However, it was later replaced with Byzantine representations of Christ with long hair, which is still a popular representation of him today.

For the same reason, the artwork depicts a larger-than-life image of John the Baptist, who according to Christian tradition is claimed to have presided over Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River.

In this case, Christ’s appearance is represented by a sixth-century convention, rather than his real appearance, which is not reported in the Gospels: “It would be fantastic, but how would we know?” says the author. ” she explained.

Lawrence of Arabia

Shivta is a destroyed city located around 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Beersheba, a southern Israeli city in the Negev desert. The area has been designated as a national park by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and it is also classified as one of Israel’s World Heritage sites. Located in the southern Israeli city of Shivta, the northern church is one of three ancient churches that are believed to have been constructed during the fourth and sixth century A.D.

  • (Photo courtesy of Dror Maayan.) The desert city has been inhabited since at least the first century AD.
  • Catherine’s Monastery on the Sinai Peninsula during later Byzantine times.
  • The remains of Shivta were initially examined by English archaeologists in the 1870s, and they were first researched scientifically in 1914 by two additional English archaeologists, C.L.
  • Lawrence, who were both working for the British Museum at the time.
  • According to Maayan-Fanar, archaeologists who studied the ruins of the desert city in the late 1920s made a passing mention of the presence of vestiges of a painted scene on the baptistery ceiling of the northern church, but they did not record any specifics about the artwork.
  • “If you don’t have a good camera and a competent photographer, nothing will be seen,” she explained.
  • “It is necessary to proceed with extreme caution.
  • It is, in fact, a far more complete vision “Maayan-Fanar expressed himself.
  • 8 alleged relics of Jesus of Nazareth: Are they evidence of the existence of Jesus Christ? Disputed pieces of evidence include: the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is seen above.

The original version of this article appeared on Live Science. Tom Metcalfe is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to Live Science who is located in London, England, who writes about science and technology. Tom’s primary areas of interest include science, astronomy, archaeology, the Earth, and the oceans, among other things. He has also written for a variety of publications, including the BBC, NBC News, National Geographic, Scientific American, and AirSpace, among others.

NOT the earliest known image of Jesus

This image has been circulated all over the internet with the claim that it is the first known painting, image, or picture of Jesus Christ, or that it is one of the oldest known paintings, images, or photographs of Jesus Christ. It isn’t the case. The artwork depicts St. Thomas placing his finger on the wound of Christ in order to come to believe in his Resurrection, as the other disciples gaze on. The photo garners a great deal of attention due to the similarity in skin tone between Jesus and the disciples.

  • And, while these things do, on occasion, darken paintings, in this instance, the individuals in the painting actually had black complexion.
  • Some individuals believe that the artwork was concealed or overlooked by historians because they dislike the concept of a black skinned Jesus, yet if this were the case, the painting would not be on exhibit at the Coptic Museum for all to see.
  • Remember that forensic anthropologist Richard Neave created a model of what Jesus would have looked like in 2001, an appearance that was representative of the time period.
  • Richard Neave created this piece.
  • Also, if this was the very first representation of Jesus, This event would be highly well secured, attract large crowds, and you would not be permitted to snap a photograph of it.
  • Although this photograph is not included in books, movies, or special international traveling exhibits, it receives a great deal of attention on social media, and no, it is not the result of any type of conspiracy theory.
  • As a result, it is highly implausible that he was of white color, had blue eyes, and had long blonde hair.

The painting is in fact on exhibit at the Coptic Museum in Cairo, therefore all it took for me to dispel this urban legend was a simple phone call to the museum and a simple question to their staff.

During the Crucifixion, St.

Greek architecture from the 18th century (AD).

If you still don’t trust me, I recommend that you contact the museum directly.

The artwork shown within the Coptic Museum, as seen on the museum’s Facebook page, may be found here.


He lifts his right hand to demonstrate the wound despite the fact that he is barefoot.

Jesus, who has a beard and moustache, is dressed in a white tunic beneath an orange pallium.

Other five disciples come on his right side, and they are making appointments with their hands.

Thomas, like the first disciple on the right, has a red beard that wraps over his upper right arm.

The event is taking place beneath a reddish-brown arcade.

The words “the incredulity of Thomas” are inscribed on the structures’ roofs.

The icon, which dates back to the beginning of the eighteenth century A.D., is painted on linen and fastened to a panel.

– Dimensions: 43,9 cm by 59,1 cm by 18 cm On the 26th of June, 1939, it was purchased from NICOLA KYRODOS.

GIRGIS, on page 59 of the book Icons, number 66.

108-109, no.

31/b, in The Icons.

Yes, 1700 years after the death of Jesus.

Ibrahim Al-Nasikh was well-known for making these, and for a brief moment I thought it was possible that he had made this one.

In consultation with several authorities on Egyptian, Greek, and Russian art and culture, I discovered that this was a relatively modern icon, likely Russian, that had been donated to the Coptic Museum.

The Cairo Museum has the Triptych Icon N.3349.

It was created in the fourteenth century.

I have no vested interest in this game, and it makes no difference to me what color his skin was; I am not and have never been a religious person.

His physical appearance is not described in detail in religious writings.

This includes the book of Genesis.

It reads in this passage: “The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like a flaming flame.” When he spoke, it sounded like the sound of rushing streams.

One star in his right hand and a double-edged sword protruding from the corners of his lips marked him as a dangerous adversary.

Keep in mind that this is not a description of Jesus as he would/could have been known by those who knew him when he was still alive.

As a result, this is the story of a man who had a vision many years after the death of Jesus Christ.

Jesus was shining, according to the description; the sun is sort of white and yellow, bronze heated in a furnace is dazzling white and yellow, his hair was white, his eyes were like fire, and he had a halo about him.

A furnace full with burning bronze.

However, even if this was in reference to what Jesus looked like when he was still alive, it is ambiguous enough that it does not reveal anything about his appearance.

While both John 21:4 and Luke 24:16 tell of the disciples encountering Jesus but not realizing who he was, John 20:15 tells of the disciples meeting Jesus but not realizing who he was.

If we take this literally, it implies that Jesus seemed substantially different following his resurrection, at least from the outside.

If he had looked significantly different from anyone else in the crowd, or even simply his disciples, Judas would not have needed to kiss him in order to recognize him as the Messiah.

Regardless of whether or not the narrative is accurate and whether or not the bible is a credible record, it does tell us that, at the very least for the individuals involved with writing it, they had to think of a method to convince the Romans to recognize Jesus among other people.

A tall blonde haired blue eyed man would have stood out even though Jerusalem at the time was crowded with visitors from all over the world, including Romans, Greeks, and traders from far-off lands such as Western Europe.

Dark hair and light brown complexion, which is frequently referred to as “Olive color skin,” were most probable characteristics of Jesus.

As far as I’m aware, this is the first image of a human Jesus that has been discovered, though historians aren’t quite certain.

The head of a donkey is painted on a wall that may be older, but it doesn’t teach us anything about what people believed he looked like because it is graffiti that is presumably designed to insult Jesus by giving him the head of a donkey.

TheAlexamenos graffito is said to have been created between the first and third century AD.

Another possibility is the painting depicting the Last Supper in the Catacombs of Domitilla on the Via Appia Antica in Rome, which dates to the 2nd century and is likely the oldest picture of Jesus and his followers.

And so it comes to this: we don’t really know what Jesus looked like since there are no contemporary photos or descriptions, and when people started sketching him centuries after his death, they tended to depict him in the same manner as other people around him.

I’d want to express my gratitude to Mr.

Egypt’s Coptic Museum is one of the sources.

The image(s) was found on the internet and was used solely for (re-)educational purposes.

If the copyright owner opposes to the sharing of their work here, please contact me and I will make the necessary changes to the article.

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:

  • It is more likely that Jesus would have had short hair than than long hair. If He had a darker complexion instead of pale skin, he would have been more attractive. His macho and robust appearance would have been preferred over his weak and frail one.
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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?

The persons who were closest to Jesus did not record any creative depictions of His physical appearance. This wasn’t merely a clerical error due to the fact that they were overloaded. It is clear that the New Testament has taken great care in chronicling the most important aspects concerning Jesus’ life—but, interestingly, there are few specifics regarding His look in the text. There is no artistic representation of Him drawn by one of His contemporaries that we can discover. What is the reason that there are no paintings or sketches of Jesus that date back to His time period?

  • In fact, He will rise up before Him like a fragile plant, and like a root emerging from dry ground.
  • In the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Holy Bible (The Holy Bible, New King James Version 1982 by Thomas Nelson”>Isaiah 53:2), He wasn’t just any ordinary man—He was God shown in the flesh (1 John 4:14).
  • 14 Furthermore, we saw His glory, the glory as befitting the only born Son of God who was full of grace and truth, as He came to dwell among us.
  • “My Lord and my God!” Thomas said as he responded to the Lord.
  • Because they had diligently kept the Ten Commandments, they applied the Second Commandment to Jesus, which was a violation of the law.
  • Please see our article “The Second Commandment: You Shall Not Carve a Carved Image” for additional information on God’s ban against idols and icons.
  • Acts 17:29, New King James Version (NKJV)The Holy Bible, New King James Version 1982 by Thomas Nelson”>The Holy Bible, New King James Version”>Acts 17:29).

As Paul put it, attempts to represent God through pictures were confined to “days of ignorance” (30).

Verse 30 of the New King James Version (NKJV)The Holy Bible, New King James Version 1982 by Thomas Nelson”>The Holy Bible, New King James Version Paul was attempting to resist idolatry, which was a significant feature of the Greco-Roman civilization in which he lived.

Images were placed in every home to receive adoration; libations were poured out to the gods at every festival; and images were worshiped at every municipal or provincial ritual in which they were present.


19, No.

29; ” Popular Belief and the Image of the Beardless Christ,” Visual Resources, Vol.

19, No. 1, p. 29). It is apparent from scriptural and historical evidence that the early Church did not have any representations of Jesus on its walls. So, how did pictures and symbols make their way into the mainstream of Christian belief and practice?

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.

  1. 256, according to archaeological evidence.
  2. Instead of attempting to depict Christ in his natural form, these early pictures used symbols to represent Him.
  3. Throughout these depictions, He is depicted as a young man who is physically healthy and without a beard.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. According to several historians, the first depictions of Jesus were directly based on the typical characteristics associated with the sun deity Apollo.
  5. 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.
  • 120).
  • 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.
  • 283).
  • The presence of a mature and bearded person may be intended to show Jesus’ authority over the cosmos.
  • 119-120).
  • ” The image of Jesus became more bearded, aged, and powerful at that point” (Graydon F.
  • 298).

Warnings about idolatry in the Bible

The biblical subject of God’s abhorrence for heathen idolatry is a recurring one. God specifically forbade His people from creating pictures of Him (or any other invented god) or from using such images in religious ceremonies. God was enraged with Israel because they attempted to worship Him through the creation of an image of a golden calf in the wilderness (Exodus 32; 1 Corinthians 10:7). Old Testament Israel was exiled because they practiced idolatry (15 And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, as well as His testimonies that He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, and followed the nations that were all around them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them that they should not do as they did).

17 As a result, they forced their sons and daughters to walk through the fire, engaged in witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do wrong in the eyes of the Lord in order to provoke Him to rage against them.

The Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV) was published in 1982 by Thomas Nelson and is known as the “New King James Version.” 2 Kings 17:15-18;4 2 Kings 17:15-18 “They installed kings, but I did not recognize them; they appointed princes, but I did not recognize them.” They fashioned idols for themselves out of their silver and gold, so that they would not be cut off.

  1. Many warnings to “flee from idolatry” (14:1) may be found throughout the New Testament.
  2. NKJVThe Holy Bible, New King James Version 1982 by Thomas Nelson”>1 Corinthians 10:14), as well as to “protect yourselves from idolatry” (21 Corinthians 10:14).
  3. Amen.
  4. New King James Version (NKJV)The Holy Bible, New King James Version 1982 by Thomas Nelson”>1 John 5:21).
  5. Would a God who inspired these ideas wish to be worshipped and conceived via pictures that were derived from pagan idolatry and religious imagery?
  6. Could it be possible that the God who professes Himself to be “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (8:18) Jesus Christ is the same today as he was yesterday and will be forever.

The New King James Version (NKJV)The Holy Bible, New King James Version 1982 by Thomas Nelson”>Hebrews 13:8) The case will be made that the present use of imagery in Christian worship is not idolatry, but rather imagery to assist the human mind in focusing on and imagining the genuine spiritual God who is behind the imagery.

The majority of pagans thought that the representations represented genuine spiritual entities.

The Greeks who worshipped images of Zeus did not think that statues of Zeus were literal representations of Zeus; rather, they thought that Zeus was a true deity who resided on Mount Olympus and could be seen there. The statue was only a tool, or a depiction of Zeus, in the hands of the gods.

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

Erik Jones

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.

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