Generally, for historical figures predating the 10th century or so, if no one directly carved your likeness into something that could last centuries, odds are no one has any idea what you looked like. Jesus didn’t have a lot of contemporaries saving his likeness in a form that would last forever. Does the above look like Jesus? It might look more like him than how he was portrayed centuries later by people who’d never seen anyone from the region, but I doubt that this portrayal counts as divinely inspired, so at best it looks more like him than some others. It isn’t really any more accurate to say that picture IS Jesus than it is to say that a picture of Joe Stalin IS Putin.
Basically, our common portrayal of him comes from a portrayal of him we really liked, somewhat because we could identify with it, and somewhat because it fit well with the preferences of the time and place it was drawn as far as male beauty goes. It’s pretty much like how our general perception of what Santa Claus looks like is the Coca-cola portrayal of him… and Uncle Sam’s look has a story behind it as well, but it has a life of it’s own, that tends to favor the original work.
The general belief as far as Homer goes is that he was blind. There are various sculptures of him, but they weren’t contemporary. We don’t know if he was blind or not. The busts of him aren’t of HIM, they’re of a figure who matches the common imagination of the what the man would look like.
In any case, the above is and isn’t a picture of Jesus. It is, in the sense that it’s a picture, and they say it’s Jesus. In the same sense that portraits with Hercules in them are portraits of Hercules, even if he looks dramatically different between each of them. All pictures are and are not pictures of him. We have no reference. It’s the symbolism of the man, and the relation to his teachings that is important. In a sense, I feel that efforts to create a more historically accurate Jesus are attempts to diminish him. I’m not what you’d call religious, but I think that when things are important to you, other people trying to diminish them is something you should be aware of. “Perhaps you’re right, but it doesn’t matter. We aren’t supposed to create images of things in heaven in the first place. So why are you trying to make our devine and living God into something mundane? The works portraying him aren’t portraying Him in the first place. They are simply man’s attempt to capture and imagine the divine. You’re attempting to make the divine into a man.”
There is a Protestant/hillbilly belief among some that Jesus was the only man ever precisely 6 feet tall. I have no idea where that came from, but I heard it a lot when I was a kid.
Given where and when and to whom Jesus was born (always assuming that is the case) I would think the odds pretty high that he was about 5’4″ and swarthy complected with a prominent nose, based purely on averages.
But . . .
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