Bas Krins
Being a Biblically faithful Christian today.

What did Jesus look like?


Who has never wondered: What did Jesus look like? Over the centuries, people have made images of Jesus. Based on a vivid imagination and influenced by their own culture. Because we don't know what Jesus really looked like.
That does not alter the fact that we can form an image to a certain extent. In the book “What did Jesus look like?” Joan E. Taylor combines written, archaeological and Biblical data and it appears to be possible to get a reasonable impression of the appearance of Jesus. This article presents part of her argument.



In the New Testament we find no information about the appearance of Jesus. A possible reason could be that He looked very ordinary. In any case, it may be helpful to consider what we know about the average man in Israel in the first century as we begin to understand Jesus.
Based on skeletons that have been found, it has been calculated that the average height of a man is 166 cm. must have been.
It is known that the Jews in principle did not marry people from other nations. Scholars believe that first-century Jews must have closely resembled Iraqi Jews today because they are direct descendants. This means that the skin color must have been a dark honey color. The eyes are brown and the hair black. This is consistent with many other Jews in the Middle East today.
Jewish men and women are depicted on Roman coins of the emperors Vespasian and Titus. The men have short hair and short beards. This fits with the fact that Jewish sources mention barber's tools several times. Only Nazarites did not shave and therefore had long hair and long beards.



Many archaeological finds of clothing and footwear have been made, giving us a good idea of ​​the clothing worn in the Middle East in the first century.
Men wore a short tunic. This is a rectangular piece of fabric with an opening for the head in the middle. A tunic was just below the knee. Women wore something similar, only down to the ankles. This was called a stole. Men of high status also wore a stole. A tunic was usually made of two parts, a front and a back. Jesus had a one-piece tunic (John 19:23-24). A tunic was usually made of wool, but sometimes of linen. A woolen tunic had two colored thin stripes from the shoulders to the edge. Men usually had an undyed and unbleached tunic, except for the stripes. Men of status had a painted tunic, and women's stoles were also usually painted. A tunic had no sleeves. The fabric was quite wide and was held together with a leather belt or rope around the waist.
It was possible to wear a woolen cloak above the tunic. There were several options to put this on. It is not certain whether Jesus also had a cloak (see Mark 6:9; Luke 9:3 where Jesus tells His disciples not to take extra clothes with them when they are sent out).
Leather sandals were worn as footwear. The shoe size must have been quite small, approximately size 34-36.
As a devout Jew, Jesus also had a prayer shawl, a tallit. This was a rectangular cloak with a tassel at the four corners. On the four corners was a letter Ι (iota). Women had the letter Γ (gamma) on the corners to distinguish them from men. There were different ways to wear a prayer shawl, but we get the clear impression from the Gospels that Jesus wore it in such a way that one tassel was visible at the back. The woman with the issue of blood touches Jesus from behind by one of the tassels (Matt. 9:20; Mark 5:27; Luke 8:44; see also Mat. 14:36; Mark 6:56). We have to imagine that the cloak was wrapped around the waist like a skirt, then passed up under the right arm at the back over the back and then over the left shoulder to the front. The tallit used to look very different from the scarf that Orthodox Jews use today. They were also a permanent part of the clothing, and were not only worn during prayer, as is now the case.



If we want to imagine Jesus, we should think of a man with short black hair and a short beard, brown eyes and dark honey-colored skin. He wore a tunic with two colored stripes from the shoulders down, and a tallit with tassels. And maybe the occasional cloak.


Bas Krins