Just as it happens with God’s language (everyone believing that God speaks their national set of words), the same happens when trying to imagine what did Jesus look like.
You probably have had the opportunity to see all the diverse renderings made by artists of different times and places of the image of Jesus…and probably many have smiled condescently while seeing that a given artist painted the image of our Lord following his or her ethnic bias and background. So, we have seen Jesuses with Japanese, African, European and Indian looks, among many others.
And of course, the powerful and hegemonic Western culture, aided by centuries of masterpieces of art and at these days by the Hollywood ideal image of Jesus, engraved into the minds of the multitudes a certain design and style which, they claim, “must” be as close as the Galilean Rabbi as you can get.
Science, again, raises a metaphoric eyebrow and out of the blue, a new, different approach comes from anthropologist investigators as showed in cable programs both in the BBC and the Discovery Channel.
After all, Jesus was born a Jew and chances are that his face and body, did not contradict His ethnic origin at all. In other words, he looked…well, like a Jew. Not your regular Tab Hunter, God forbid!
Furthermore, biblic data seems to support the idea that He, physically, didn’t draw any particular attention to Him because of His looks.
It is very likely that He was, in many ways, an average, almost ordinary Jewish man, not that different from His own disciples. And certainly, not a high-class Jew but, instead, a lower class type of fellow. After all, He was raised in a little village, forgotten by the powerful and wealthy. And as you may remember, He was a man that made His living with His own strong hands: He was a carpenter.
So, there must be another reason for His popularity among the masses, something that granted Him all the attention and attracted towards Him seas of men and women of all sorts, and that reason, chances are, was His charisma.
And it is around this point that emerges the most powerful image of Him, not because of the actual physical, material one, no. But that of His divine and unique presence, the presence of the Son of God, the Son of Man.
So, come again; Are you that intrigued about the way He looked or of how many inches of hair covered His head, or the color of His skin? And what about the shape of His nose and lips? Is all this that relevant?
The “veritas iconus”, the true icon of His face, may never be available to us and after seeing and believing that God usually has all the bases covered, it may not come as a big surprise to us to reach the point in which it doesn’t matter anymore, for certainly the other image, the one created with His example, His love, His wonderful deeds and His teachings, is as vivid and present today as it was almost 2000 years ago.
And that’s the true face of Jesus that I really care about.