March 22, 2013

What does Jesus look like?

Leaflet — delivered to our door just now — caused Meade to say "Look: Jesus got a haircut."



I expect to see a nice-looking Jesus, but this is nice-looking to the point of too nice-looking. How nice-looking is Jesus supposed to be? Also, where did he plug in the blow dryer? At some point you'll say that's not Jesus, but, oddly enough, this isn't at that point.

What does it take for an image to be perceived as Jesus? Here, the words are a big influence. Let's strip away the context.



That seems less like Jesus than the slices of toast that evoke the Shroud of Turin. What's happening with the toast and this stingray and so forth is a mental process called pareidolia — the perception of meaning in "a vague and random stimulus." It's "a type of apophenia, seeing patterns in random data." The lack of detail invites our mind to provide the completion. We instinctively want to see something, and so we do. It's hardly surprising that our fulfillment often (but not always) gravitates toward the divine. The problem with the picture on the new leaflet is that it's too detailed and specific, and that blocks the creative contribution of our minds. Jesus looks like a particular guy, and that can't be Him.

And here's a story about a man who was kicked out of a darts tournament for looking like Jesus:
[Nathan] Grindal, 33, who has long hair and a full beard he started growing four months ago, was sitting in the crowd at the tournament when some nearby spectators began to chant, "Jesus! Jesus!" during the final match between Phil Taylor and Kim Huybrechts, ABC News reported. Others joined in the chant, until most of the 4,500 people in the arena were chanting the Almighty's name.

It got so raucous that security staff decided to remove Grindal, fearing his presence was upsetting the concentration of the players, as well as hurting the enjoyment of the viewers at home...
Grindal looked like this:

103 comments:

Chip S. said...

Might as well get this over with.

That's funny. He doesn't look Jewish.

Drago said...

Everyone knows that Jesus looked exactly like James Franciscus!

AllenS said...

↑←

Why not?

edutcher said...

Hate to say it, but he probably looked like Yassir Arafat.

Pogo said...

And man formed God in his own image.

Nonapod said...

I swear I saw that guy stocking shelves at Target.

Drago said...

edutcher: "Hate to say it, but he probably looked like Yassir Arafat."

Whoa. There's no call for that kind of comment.

Chip S. said...

Yeah. Let's scotch that kind of talk.

virgil xenophon said...

"..I was flyin' back from Lubbock when I saw Jesus on the plane--or maybe it was Elvis--you know they kinda look the same.."

Lucien said...

I think the whole point is that when a face appears on your tortilla, piece of toast, tree bark, etc. it's just got to be Somebody important, so boy = Jesus & girl = Mary. (And if you get a piece of toast with a six-armed figure on it, that means your bakery is out-sourcing to India.)

Sorun said...

Looking at the Jesus portraits on Google Images, there's not even agreement on what his eye color was. I haven't read the bible, but I would have guessed it at least mentioned something about his appearance.

My great-grandfather found a bible passage stating that long hair on men was a sin. [Eyeroll].

Elliott A said...

With the revelations of the Pope before his retirement, Jesus age at the end was about 40. In those days, that was getting old. His sun-leathered olive skin, his big curved nose, (for Chip S)and his 62 to 65 inch height topped by curly black hair, graying at the sides along with a salt and pepper beard are probably a truer picture. Edutcher's description is remarkably apt.

edutcher said...

Drago said...

Hate to say it, but He probably looked like Yassir Arafat.

Whoa. There's no call for that kind of comment.


Would you believe Menachem Begin?

How about Yitzak Shamir?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Who is this man?

My first guess was Kris Kristofferson.

Renee said...

Jesus looks like the congregation. In Asia Jesus looks Asian in their churches.

Nonapod said...

Well probably not as overtly caucasoid as all that.

Elliott A said...

The Jews tend to have narrower noses than the Arabs based on current genetic expression.

SteveR said...

To me, and I call myself a believer, what Jesus looked like is the least important thing about him. I don't think heaven is a place where people sit around and look at eachother. If its for eternity, it won't be like hanging out at a "Place for Moms"

PeterJ said...

I think that people 2000 years ago did not try so hard to look "nice", had more lived-in faces. And I've really winced on seeing smiling Jesus images.

Elliott A said...

Unfortunately, most of the older generation Israelis have European ancestry and lots of European genes thrown in. So they don't well represent the original chosen people. My family has a fair number of blondes, I have seen plenty of redheads over the years. I think the Palistinians are probably as close as it gets to natives of the area.

SteveR said...

I imagine Mary looked like Golda Mier.

SGT Ted said...

Its Comic Book Jesus in the drawing.

Baron Zemo said...

You liberals will do anything to attack the freedom of religion.

You can't even look like Jesus anymore.

campy said...

Jesus looks like the son Barack Obama might have had.

Baron Zemo said...

But if you find a guy that looks like Satan what do you libtards do?

You elect him President.

Widmerpool said...

That's Kenny Logins!

Vahevala, homeless sailor.

Sorun said...

I take it that the bible doesn't say stuff like, "...and Mary Magdalene gazed into Jesus' piercing blue eyes."

Amartel said...

Jesus looks like he wears Windsong.

chickelit said...

Here is an old story accredited to Marco Polo which teaches that Jesus looks like what the observer sees.

garage mahal said...

One things for sure: Jesus doesn't look like a Democrat.

Many believe that Jesus was black, perhaps of northern African descent, based on the argument that Mary his mother was a descendant of black Jews. So Jesus may have looked like this.

Aridog said...

Elliott A ....European genetics may have nothing to do with blond hair or red hair, clue eyes, etc. among Israelis (Ashkenazim or otherwise), Palestinians or Arabs generally. I live in a 90% Arab-Muslim neighborhood, Iraqi, Lebanese, Palestinian Arab, etc... and red heads, light skins, blue eyes, etc are not uncommon.

Rob said...

And Jesus said, "Hey girl, I am the way, the truth, and the life."

Surfed said...

If you're a comely young woman you too can bathe with Jesus. I wish I had thought of this and was young enough to pull it off...maybe not the best metaphor but still...

http://www.datejesus.com/bathe/

chickelit said...

Garage mahal wrote: Many believe that Jesus was black, perhaps of northern African descent, based on the argument that Mary his mother was a descendant of black Jews.

Could also be just a pigment of your imagination, Rastaman

bagoh20 said...

Barabbas must have been super sexy.

Surfed said...

Addendum: Jesus looked like my friend Nat does now. Short and Semetic. Everyone was short(er) then. And Hebrews particularly didn't marry outside of their religion so there was less diversity to their gene pool circa the miraculous insemination.

creeley23 said...

Love the red hair. The Viking Jesus!

Chip S. said...

The implications I would draw from the lack of a physical description of Jesus in scriptures would be either (a) it's completely irrelevant or (b) he looks however you want him to look.

Inga said...

" His sun-leathered olive skin, his big curved nose, (for Chip S)and his 62 to 65 inch height topped by curly black hair, graying at the sides along with a salt and pepper beard are probably a truer picture."

3/22/13, 12:41 PM

Sounds like my late husband.

Chip S. said...

Sounds like the DaVinci Code.

The Godfather said...

A good rule of thumb in reading the New Testament is: If it isn't mentioned, it isn't important. This is good to remember when you start wondering about what Jesus looked like, whether he was married, etc.

Bob said...

Salt and pepper hair, really? He was 33 or so when he died. Don't think so.

At least we know who Satan resembles.

Chip S. said...

@Bob, just as funny the second time.

Erika said...

European genetics may have nothing to do with blond hair or red hair, clue eyes, etc. among Israelis (Ashkenazim or otherwise), Palestinians or Arabs generally.

I always thought the Crusades was the explanation for light eyes and hair in the middle east. That may just be something I picked up from National Geographic as a kid that is no longer believed by scientists, though.

Jim in St Louis said...

John Edwardian hairstyle.

EMD said...

HOLY SHIT! I got this leafet too and kept it for the express purpose of making fun of their depiction of Jesus as Will Forte with bad fake facial hair.

carlbridges said...

It's odd how the perception that someone looks like Jesus means so much to some people. A friend of my daughter's, a 40-something guy with longish hair and a beard, occasionally dresses up like the conventional Jesus for a party. I don't think he's any kind of a believer, but he reports that people tend to find him in the kitchen and tell him their troubles.

DADvocate said...

Jesus parts his hair on the other side. Maybe someone accidentally flipped the picture.

creeley23 said...

Many believe that Jesus was black, perhaps of northern African descent, based on the argument that Mary his mother was a descendant of black Jews.

garage is stirring the pot in his usual brainless and dishonest way -- here's the full wiki paragraph he's plagiarizing:

By the 20th century, theories had also been proposed that Jesus was of black African descent, e.g. based on the argument that Mary his mother was a descendant of black Jews. Martin Luther King was a proponent of the "Black Christ" movement and identified the struggle of Jesus against the authorities of the time with the struggle of African Americans in the southern parts of the United States, as he questioned why the white church leaders did not voice concern for racial equality.[37] For some, this blackness was due to Jesus's identification with black people, not the color of his skin,[37] while others such as Albert Cleage argued that Jesus was ethnically black.[38]

In other words, the "Jesus is black" idea is -- surprise! -- from black liberationists.

And another demerit for MLK.

lemondog said...

A swarthy muscular bearded tough guy.

And I've really winced on seeing smiling Jesus images.

Or maybe a deeply tanned Bette Midler with a beard.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Keep in mind that, from a genetic standpoint, we have no reason to believe that Jesus was more than half Jewish. Maybe the Holy Spirit was a redhead.

Rusty said...

Looks like Dexter with a beard.

Chip S. said...

Jewishness is matrilineal, Iggy.

Sam L. said...

There being no images of him at the time, all are speculative, but most of the speculations seem similar.

LCB said...

Jesus was of David's family...and David was described as being ruddy...with reddish hair.

Isaiah aaid that the Messiah would be nothing to look at:
"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him."

If we saw Him as He was when He walked the earth...we wouldn't give Him a second look.

Rocketeer said...

The secret of looking like Jesus is not looking like Jesus but dressing like Jesus. you focus on the face and the beard, professor, but the Platonic form of "Jesus" is really about the togs.

Smilin' Jack said...

I'm sick of hearing about Jesus. Even if, as the leaflet claims, his death helps us, it's the Jews who betrayed him and the Roman soldiers who nailed him to the cross who deserve the credit. They did all the work; all Jesus did was hang there and complain.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Chip S. - I'm not questioning the fact that, by Jewish law, he was 100% Jewish. I'm talking about genetic makeup, which would affect things like hair color.

Chip S. said...

I understand, Ig.

I just stop thinking about that stuff when it comes down to wondering about God's dna.

rcommal said...

Anyone else remember those kids' Bible stories books that used to be in waiting rooms of doctors and dentists back in the '60s (at least in the small towns in which I was raised as a young child)? That picture made me think of those. And also those suckers you used to get which had the twine-like (not stick) handles on them.

Ah, well. Dentists don't even give out suckers anymore, do they? Even if you don't have any cavities.

Anthony said...

I thought it looked like Richard Chamberlain.

Chip S. said...

I thought it looked like Richard Chamberlain.

Are you sayin' Jesus was gay?!

attentionwhoreoftheinternet will be along momentarily to set you straight, as it were.

Baron Zemo said...

This guy doesn't look like Jesus.

He looks like the dude who made his girlfriend into soup.

This is what Jesus looks like.

traditionalguy said...

The Isaiah 53 prophecy of the suffering servant that Jesus fulfilled says,"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him."

Jesus was a descendant of King David who was said to be ruddy/red haired runt unlike the tall and handsome King Saul. That may have come into his linage from David's great grandmother who was Rahab the Jericho Harlot and from David's grandmother who was Ruth the Moabitess. Both of those gentile women converted to Judaism upon marrying a Jew.

By the time Jesus was crucified he was probably unrecognizable after having been beaten to a pulp.

But I doubt that a Galilean whose enemies accused him of eating and drinking with Tax collectors and sinners was skinny.

Anthony said...

OMG, some people just delivered the exact same flier to my Seattle door!

John Burgess said...

I'm with Rusty... sure looks like Dexter. Not exactly the 'savior' one hopes for.

Bruce Hayden said...

I am a bit troubled here. I am probably too close to my Puritan roots, where the idea of portraying Jesus was flirting with the prohibition against idolatry in the Protestant/Jewish 10 Commandments. Even today, the only human depictions you will see in the church I grew up in are pictures of retired ministers in the coffee room. And, I can't help but think that if Jesus were to see the attempts though the ages of people trying to depict him, he would be appalled, as the devout Jew that he was.

But that is just me.

Chip S. said...

Baron, that guy looks more like Moses than Jesus.

From Elliott A's description, I'd say he looks like this.

FWBuff said...

On the other hand, according to the apostle John, the ascended Jesus looks like this (Rev. 1:12-16)--
"I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance."
-- But that's for another pamphlet!

Stephen A. Meigs said...

Jesus would be mournful as he says it is blessed to be--that's why the drawing seems off to me. I guess when people are taught something that seems counterintuitive to them that they nevertheless believe will transform their lives, they tend to get all smiley about it, because they consider themselves lucky.

I suppose I don't like the undemocratic nature of the Catholic Church. However, the priestly class being strictly elevated above the lay people does encourage people to rightly view piety (essentially a type of sad emotion) as being especially appropriate for those who view their beauty as especially lying in the moral sphere. On the one hand, a lack of elevation can lead to a view that all should be pious or even the obnoxious "holier than thou" view that the members of the church are better because they are pious, which is different from (appropriately) being pious because they rightly believe they are better. On the other hand, a lack of elevation can lead to a kind of universal smileyness in both parashioners and ministers, as if smileyness is nothing more than proof of good fortune that be an evangelical tool to encourage people who seek fortune and fortunes.

Sorun said...

"I can't help but think that if Jesus were to see the attempts though the ages of people trying to depict him, he would be appalled, as the devout Jew that he was."

If that's the case, Jesus doesn't understand people very well.

Sorun said...

If we were a canine species instead of apes, we'd be trying to imagine how Jesus smelled.

Aridog said...

Sorun said...

If we were a canine species instead of apes, we'd be trying to imagine how Jesus smelled.

OMG...a thread winner!! :-))

cold pizza said...

I live around the corner from a guy who's a Jesus model. It's kind of freaky to see him out in jeans, raking leaves. I keep expecting to see him lift his arms and raise the dead leaves into the nearest green bin. -CP

cold pizza said...

Sorun believes in Jesus, the Son of Dog. -CP

ricpic said...

In America Jesus has to be a completely nonthreatening Mr. Nice Guy. How about Jesus with a broken nose? A pugilist. Cause that's what he was. But, ooh, that would frighten away all the nice people. So we get milk-toast Jesus.

mishu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mishu said...

This is what Jesus looks like. And nobody fucks with the Jesus.

BaltoHvar said...

If Jesus was a Jew - how come the Latin name?

Calvinus said...

In the very traditional church I attend (Dutch Reformed, Calvinist), these kinds of representations of Jesus are most definitely frowned upon as potential idolatry. We would say that the text of the Bible tells us every essential fact about Jesus and any modern visual representation is necessarily wrong. And this particular one is obviously wrong--Jesus wasn't a northern European. I would also argue that this painting (like Jim Caviezel, for instance) is inconsistent with Isaiah's description (mentioned above) of Jesus as lacking beauty or attractiveness. The fear is that when we pray or worship, we'll be doing it to the incorrect created image, rather than to the Jesus described in the Bible. A strict interpretation, obviously, but there you go.

Nomennovum said...

"Look: Jesus got a haircut."

I just got back from a meeting downtown. I was walking from the E train to get the cross town shuttle, and I saw a set-up with the exact same picture of Jesus. A few women were standing there ready to hand out pamphlets.

So, I decided to give Meade's quip a try.

One blank stare and a look that could be described as either an indulgent smile or a pained grin. At least I thought it was funny.

Revenant said...

The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword.

Cocaine is a hell of a drug.

Revenant said...

Jesus age at the end was about 40. In those days, that was getting old

Not really. Average age was low because most children died before reaching adulthood, but a Judean carpenter who managed to make it to 40 probably had a good 20 years left in him at least.

wholelottasplainin' said...

We keep reading that astronomers are finding planets orbiting around stars to be a common occurrence .

Some of them very likely harbor intelligent life. Will they too be guilty of an Original Sin requiring a Redeemer?

William said...

I think it's reasonable to assume that the son of God would be better looking than the average person. So far as hair color goes, of course he was red haired. All pious and thoughtful people recognize that red hair is a sign of divinity. It would be disrepectful and irreverent to depict him with any other hair color.

MayBee said...

Ha ha ha ha ha! The blow dryer!

Chip S. said...

Good-looking people are usually at the top of the social heap. It's like being white.

So God would make a point of not making his Son either of those, as a matter of etiquette.

William said...

There's a story by Borges about Judas being the true Jesus. Jesus suffered and died, but then he knew the glory of resurrection. If you want perfect suffering in your redeemer, Judas is the go to guy. He not only suffered on this earth, but his name lives on in ignominy. Thus his suffering was more total and complete than that of Jesus.....We seem to equate good looks with virtue and ugliness with moral squalor. I suppose that's not always the way it works. As Auden remarked about the virgins used to trap the unicorns, a high percentage had an ugly face.....Still, picture a Temptation of the Christ with Danny Devito cast as Jesus and Brad Pitt in the part of Judas. It wouldn't work.

Chef Mojo said...

If Jesus was a Jew - how come the Latin name?

His name wasn't Jesus. It was Yeshua. Jesus is the Latin form of Yeshua.

Not to be confused with Yehosua, which where Joshua comes from.

Chef Mojo said...

I half expect everybody pictured on the pamphlet to break into "Footloose."

SOJO said...

My favorite fictional, white Jesus figures are:

Dr. Reid in his long-haired stage in one of the many Criminal Minds where they made a martyr figure out of him.

Chris Stephens' from Northern Exposure (Sex in the City's John Corbett) - they didn't even pretend there. They named him Chris, dressed him up as a monk in one episode, and had him dragging a cross through town in another.

I'm sure others will come to mind. Clint Eastwood in the Good, Bad, and the Ugly was sort of white Jesus-y.

That anthropologically Semitic picture they always pass around at times like these probably wasn't that ugly. I can think of Jewish guys I know that look *kind of* like that structurally, but are way more attractive. They took all the personality out of his face and made him look ape-stupid.

I read a description of Jesus once that was supposedly from an ancient text where they made him sound extremely hot. Many years later, I googled the Source I realized it was an influential fake - like the Shroud. Most curious, they gave fake Shroud white Jesus one long cocaine/snuff pinky fingernail.

Chef Mojo said...

El Greco totally nailed Jesus.

PaulV said...

Isaiah 52:
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him[c]—
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness—
Isaiah 53:
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Meade said...

If Chip Ahoy had a son, he'd look like Jesus.

Richard Dolan said...

Pareidolia, apophasia, vague and random data, blah, blah, blah.

The power of circular reasoning on full display, even if it tries to hide behind a lot of fancy-sounding words. So, how do we know the data is "vague and random" rather than purposeful and intentional? Oh, right, there is no god, and to think otherwise is delusional. And we know that because ....

I don't have much interest in considering whether a piece of toast reflects the face of Jesus or Mary, but I have even less patience with those who insist that it could not possibly be so. If there is a God, his ways and not ours would dictate whether toast was the best medium to convey whatever message he had in mind.

So the shorter version of pareidolia ... apophasia is just: people who don't believe in god don't believe in such things as the manifestation of divine power. They are purely materialists, and accept only mechanistic explanations for all phenomena. And they know that's true because a little birdie told them so.

Thanks for the news flash.

Rich Rostrom said...

These dart players are wimps.

No poker players have ever complained about
Chris Ferguson
.

Chip S. said...

Let us crown Chef Mojo king of this thread.

openidname said...

Blogger Chef Mojo said...

"El Greco totally nailed Jesus."

Actually, I think Roman soldiers deserve the credit for that.

Jason said...

This guy did nothing wrong. And he's the guy who got kicked out. Too bad the venue didn't kick out the mob and let Jesus stay to watch the match.

Bill R said...

Jesus didn't need a blow drier. Each hair lies exactly where he wills it.

Bill R said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nakia Dailey said...

I'm so late to the party... to those quoting Isaiah's description of Jesus... he was unattractive in appearance not because he was ugly, but because he was poor and not of prestige. The Hebrew people wanted a kingly leader with a notable background. The prophecy in Isaiah points to the fact that from man's standpoint, he was not going to be accepted by many because of his lowly background. Jesus Christ was the Son of God and God don't make ugly! Also, his hair is short as was the custom with many Jewish people. He is smiling because he had good news to share, he invited people to follow him, little children were drawn to him. Would you expect him to frown, look miserable and have these results? No doubt, Jesus was a joyful man. Unlike what is depicted in most churches and sanctuaries, Jesus was not frail, weak, and depressed. He uplifted and healed those who were in suchssituations. This rendering is simply an artist's depiction. As a person that distributed this very leaflet, I can attest to the fact that the picture generally changes from year to year so that people do not think it is supposed to actually be Jesus although extensive research is done in order to ensure it is not out of left field. Enjoy your invite that will come this March/April. The anniversary of his memorial dinner with his close friends is April 14th 2014! Check out jw.org for details

Corina Solis said...

Jesus most likely had short hair . It was custom at the time. And the bible says Jesus for some time was a carpenter so he wasn't fragile either as some I,ages of him show. Other than that does it really matter ? What matters is his message