ByBen Turner, writer at
Staff Writer at MP. This is a no-muggle space.
Ben Turner

SPOILER: Jesus isn't white European.

Whether it is in traditional European depictions in churches and in illustrations, or in TV shows or movies, there's a very identifiable image we associate with Jesus. His skin is pale, like a white European man, and he often has long, mousy brown hair with light colored eyes.

We've seen this portrayed in tons of movies throughout the years, too.

Jim Caviezel in 'The Passion of Christ' (2004)

Christian Bale in 'Mary, Mother of Jesus' (1999)

Max von Sydow in 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' (1965)

Ted Neeley in 'Jesus Christ Superstar' (1973)

Kenneth Colley in 'Monty Python's Life of Brian' (1979)

It shouldn't come as a surprise that this just isn't what Jesus would have looked like

Recently, medical artist and University of Manchester alum Richard Neave has been working on reconstructing the real face of Jesus of Nazareth.

This comes under a new field called 'forensic anthropology.' Working with a team of experts, Neave and co. collected three preserved skulls near Jerusalem where Jesus lived.

Jesus had auburn hair? Probs not.
Jesus had auburn hair? Probs not.

Once the skulls were collected, they underwent a process of computerized tomography where 'X-ray slices' of the skull were recorded, allowing the research team to pay close attention to very fine-grained and idiosyncratic details about the skulls' structure.

After the skull structure was determined, computer software programs were utilized to be able to determine where on the face the skin tissue was the thickest and thinnest. This is what allowed the forensic anthropologists to make up Jesus's face.

This is Neave's estimation of Jesus's face:

Jesus has brown skin, dark hair of a different texture and different facial features to the European depictions that have populated religious iconography for centuries. This is not what Western audiences are used to associating with Jesus, but considering Jesus was a man from what today we would identify as the Middle East, Neave's depiction makes a lot of sense.


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