Feb 9, 2011

18 So, what did Jesus look like

Okay, Jesus was uncomely 

The Acts of John (c. AD 180) is an apocryphal work; the New Testament doesn't include it.  It tells us what Jesus looked like: “Oft-times he [Jesus] would appear to me as a small man and uncomely.” (v. 89)  

Irenaeus, a Christian writer, in his work Against Heresies (Book IV, Chapter 33, c. AD 200) tells us the prophets depicted Jesus as weak and inglorious 

Tertullian, a Christian writer, writes (c. AD 200) v. ix: “[H]e would not have been spat upon by the Roman soldiers if his face had not been so ugly as to inspire spitting.” Although perhaps it’s a note on bruises after flogging. 

And Cyril of Alexandria (c. AD 415) didn't think that Jesus was "the fairest of the children of men” but "the ugliest of the children of men.” 


Okay, Jesus was comely

Origen, in his book Against Celsus (c. AD 245), points to Psalm 45 to describe his savior as a beautiful-looking man: 
45:2 You are the most handsome of men. 3 Buckle on your sword, mighty king; you are glorious and majestic. 

St. Augustine (AD 400) lamented that "we have absolutely no knowledge of His appearance.” For Augustine, however, he was "beautiful as a child, beautiful on earth, beautiful in heaven.”  

Saint Jerome (AD 400) argued that Jesus must have been ideally beautiful in face and body.  

Epiphanius Monachus, an 8th century Christian writer, depicts Jesus as six feet tall, golden haired, with black eyebrows, light brown eyes and swarthy skin “like David's.” David was the Jewish King David in the tenth century BC.  

Later, Nicephorus (1084-1090) quotes a description of Jesus as tall and beautiful with fair wavy hair and dark eyebrows that met in the middle. He had an olive-tinted complexion, "the color of wheat.” 

Lastly, Nicephorus Callistus, 14th century, introduces his description of Christ’s looks with the words, “as we have received it from the ancients.” Jesus was impressive thanks to his healthful appearance, his stature, sea-blue eyes shading into brown, his beautiful glance, and his olive and somewhat ruddy complexion of an oval face. 

Recap: A number of completely contradictory descriptions make claims about what Jesus looked like.  

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