Two varying depictions of the same figure, Jesus. (Deriv)

Reconstructing Jesus: Using Science to Flesh out the Face of Religion


For being one of the most widely recognized men in the last 2,000 years, the true appearance of Jesus of Nazareth remains a mystery. Traditionally portrayed in western art as a be-robed, light-skinned Caucasian man with a tidy beard and flowing, light-brown hair, scientific analysis has changed perceptions of what Jesus may have really looked like—and it’s not the familiar face from Sunday school teachings.

A British scientist teamed up with Israeli archaeologists to forensically recreate a truer face of the historical man who is believed to be the son of god in Christianity.

Stained glass depiction of Jesus at St John the Baptist's Anglican Church.

Stained glass depiction of Jesus at St John the Baptist's Anglican Church. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

A White Man from Oxford

The physical appearance of Jesus has varied across locations, ages, and cultural settings, with a western likeness being very common in modern times. Jesus has been represented traditionally in art as having pale skin, a narrow face, medium-brown (or even blonde) hair, with kind or sad eyes in any color. Long, flowing hair, with a beard and robes typifies the figure.

Detail; Jesus at the Last Supper, by Tiepolo

Detail; Jesus at the Last Supper, by Tiepolo ( Public Domain )

Comedian Eddie Izzard jokes that the popular modern image of Jesus is that of a “white man from Oxford,” England, but researchers have produced a reconstruction of what they believe Jesus, as a real historical man, may have looked like based on the time period and location of the story of Jesus from ancient texts and forensic reconstruction.

Like many religious figures, the representation of the ethnicity of Jesus has been influenced by cultural settings.

Like many religious figures, the representation of the ethnicity of Jesus has been influenced by cultural settings. ( Public Domain )

The reconstruction was reportedly a great challenge, as PopularMechanics writes, “nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus described, nor have any drawings of him ever been uncovered.”

Forensic Investigations

Richard Neave, a medical artist retired from The University of Manchester in England had experience reconstructing historical faces, including Philip II of Macedonia , the father of Alexander the Great, and King Midas of Phrygia.

Using methods commonly employed by police to solve crimes, Neave used modern-day forensic techniques on ancient skulls from around Jerusalem, the area where Jesus was said to have lived and preached.

X-ray “slices” of the three skulls from first century Jewish men were created with computerized tomography to reveal minute data. Specialized programs determined where soft tissue would have been on the skulls, fleshing out the muscles and skin of the composite face. This created a wider face shape than seen in western depictions.

“The entire process was accomplished using software that verified the results with anthropological data. From this data, the researchers built a digital 3D reconstruction of the face. Next, they created a cast of the skull. Layers of clay matching the thickness of facial tissues specified by the computer program were then applied, along with simulated skin. The nose, lips and eyelids were then modeled to follow the shape determined by the underlying muscles,” writes PopularMechanics.

Richard Neave has recreated the face of Jesus (pictured), using forensic techniques.

Richard Neave has recreated the face of Jesus (pictured), using forensic techniques. This is in contrast to the traditional western depiction of a fair-skinned man with flowing hair. (Image: PopularMechanics)

New Face for an Ancient Man

Through the skulls, the team was able to identify the general facial structure of a typical Middle Eastern man living in the Galilee area of northern Israel during the time of Jesus, but were not able to determine the color of his skin and type of hair.

Neave used ancient art from archaeological sites in the region to establish representative skin and hair color, as well as men’s hair style at the time of his era, and based on the New Testament descriptions in the Gospel of Matthew, wherein he was described as closely resembling his disciples. Thus, Jesus would have had dark, olive-toned skin, and worn his bushy beard and hair short, in keeping with the traditions.

Popular Mechanics notes that in one chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul is credited with writing that he saw Jesus, and “then later describes long hair on a man as disgraceful. Would Paul have written ‘If a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him’ if Jesus Christ had had long hair? For Neave and his team this settled the issue.”

Archaeological record and skeletal remains show the average build of a Semite male 2,000 years ago was 5 foot 1 inch (155 centimeters), and a weight of approximately 110 pounds (50 kilograms). It is felt that because he was known as a carpenter, he would have spent a lot of time outdoors doing hard work, so therefore would be physically fit, tanned, and his skin weathered, making him appear older than his years.

In this depiction of “Christ in the House of his Parents”, by John Everett Millais (carpentry in the background) Jesus is shown as a fair, red-headed child.

In this depiction of “Christ in the House of his Parents”, by John Everett Millais (carpentry in the background) Jesus is shown as a fair, red-headed child. ( Public Domain )

Son of God

No matter the recreation, there will surely be various interpretations of one of the most famous figures on earth.

Earlier this year Italian researchers and police generated their own facial reconstruction of a young Jesus from the negative image on the material of the mysterious and famous Shroud of Turin, said to be the wrappings of Jesus.

The Independent reports,

Using the Turin Shroud, the supposed burial cloth of Jesus, police investigators have generated a photo-fit image from the negative facial image on the material. And from this they reversed the ageing process to create an image of a young Jesus, by reducing the size of the jaw, raising the chin and straightening the nose.”

The image looks strikingly different from the Neave build, and seems to more resemble the traditional ideal of the Christian son of god.

“Young Jesus” as depicted from analysis of the Shroud of Turin in Italy.

“Young Jesus” as depicted from analysis of the Shroud of Turin in Italy. (Image:

Neave’s facial reconstruction of the face of Jesus was revealed in the British documentary “Son of God” in 2001.

Featured Image: Two varying depictions of the same figure, Jesus. (Deriv)

By: Liz Leafloor  


All depictions made representing Esho before the council of Nicea in 300 C.E. portraits a bio-type compatible with the kumaras, whom we can see today inhabiting the state of Tamil Nadu in India

Picture 1

Picture 2

Name of the messiah in the language spoken by the messiah

J'Zeus is an anacronism meaning Je Suis Zeus,
Obviously Krishna has no reason to claim this,
because he is the father of Brahma (Srimad Baghavatam).


The face of religion or the face of naive science...that is the question What the science have to do with this ? The science is the new religion  and that mean it is not anymore a science but more often a marketing machine that try to sale anything but the truth So there is a big difference between a religion man made face and the real one and the real one is the shroud of Turin


There is no reason to believe the shroud of Turin depicts the face of Jesus and ironically one of the reasons it's so compelling is that science hasn't been able to work out how the image was made. The fact that nobod has proven how the image was made should not automatically lead someone to believe it shows the face of Christ. There is no record of the existance of the shroud for many hundreds of years after the death of Jesus... It should be filed away in the same drawer with the thousands of alleged fragments of the true cross... There are enough of these fragments floating around to furnish a small house.

At least most of us can agree this Kenny G looking Jesus we've been feed by the Roman Catholic church is a fraud. Blue eyed blonde hair depictions is white supremacy at its finest, with hopes of makin other races feel inferior.

Some things to point out. As the images we have are from the Middle Ages and Renaissance were Catholic approved, and the painters did use models, then what we are looking at in that art is nothing more than Italian men.

But at the same time, they did know Jews who lived in the Roman Empire, but the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine artists also used models.

They cannot prove that the skulls actually belonged to men from Galilee, only that the skulls were found there, so they could have been Syrian or Phoenician or even Roman or Greeks.

I think Eddie Izzard was merely being facetious in his criticism, because we already knew that Jesus was from Israel and that Jews do have ethnic specific features. So why take what Eddie Izzard says when his own comedy routine included him being " a lesbian in a man's body"?

Now, whereas the assumption could be made that he had short hair and a short beard, the fact is Jesus was an Orthodox Jew and would have kept the religious tradition of not shaving the sides of His beard nor cutting the side locks.

We know that Jesus was indeed a kosher-keeping Orthodox Jew who did teach in the synagogue, because He was recorded as attending minyans "as was His custom".

We also know that He wore the prayer shawl (tallit) with the tzitzis (fringes) and that would be in keeping with His Orthodox regalia. He would have also kept His head covered and worn the phylacteries because that was required within the regalia.

What the reconstructionists have done is merely make an image of a fisherman ready to jump on the boat. Jesus was referred to as "rabboni" which people have assumed meant merely a teacher, but "As was His custom" to be called a rabbi meant that He was educated in the Yeshiva, and there were two competing Yeshivas at the time, Shimmai and Hillel, and it was from Hillel that Paul was from. His teacher was Gamaliel, the son of Rebbi Hillel.

Jesus was literate, meaning He was educated in the Orthodox system because He did read Isaiah in the synagogue. We also know that at 12 He was in the temple talking to rabbis. For that to have happened, He most certainly had to have been bar-mitzvahed in the temple, because that was the only way He could have been speaking to the priests in the temple. After bar-mitzvah then it would be required of Him as an Orthodox Jewish man to be in a minyan.

The Pharisees were simply a sect, but it was the authority sect comprised of priests, so Jesus would not simply have been a random person walking around who just inadvertently ran into priests who would have invited Him to their homes.

We know that He was indeed Orthodox and His mother also was Orthodox, because we know she fulfilled the seven days after giving birth according to the law of Moses and that He was circumcised on the eighth day, still according to Moses. And it was in the temple where He was circumcised.

For those who dispute the fact that Mary was indeed Jewish, because they want to say she was gentile, you have to read the Bible accounts in the Gospels that clearly indicate He was kosher-keeping.

While the picture of the reconstruction might look like a man from Galilee, they have not proven the skulls were from actual Galileans only that they were found there. And it does not matter whether or not He was keeping with cultural traditions, as a religious kosher Orthodox Jew, He would have had the side locks and would not have cut His beard. He kept His head covered, wore the prayer shawl and the phylacteries.

While it is a nice reconstruction of three guys, it also does not represent Jesus, but it might represent Peter, James, John or Andrew.

BTW, if Jesus were not Orthodox Jew then He could not have been brought before the ruling council of the Sanhedrin, which was for Jews only and not gentiles because the Sanhedrin could not have charged any gentile under Jewish religious law. And the Sanhedrin kept records of their trials and do mention Jesus as well as James and four other disciples.

The charge was made about His legitimacy, and that's why they record His name as Pantera, yet He would not have been permitted to be circumcised in the temple, bar-mitzvahed in the temple and called a rabbi if He were merely the son of a Roman soldier not married to His mother in those days, so the charge came later.

It's a nice picture of Peter though.


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