This Is What Jesus Really Looked Like In The Bible

One of the most important figures in all of history, and in particular, the most important historical figure in the life of hundreds of millions of Christians around the world, is Jesus of Nazareth — Jesus Christ. The narrative surrounding the life, death, and resurrection of the First-Century Palestinian Jewish carpenter forms the basis of the religious beliefs of nearly 2.3 billion followers.

As such, it's hardly surprising that Jesus has been depicted in art over the millennia. However, for better or for worse, much of that art, at least as it's made its way into the popular consciousness, was produced by Europeans, as BBC News explained. Inasmuch as European artists painted their subjects as they or their models looked, most of the depictions of Jesus that have endured through popular culture portray him with Western European features: peach-colored skin; straight, brown hair; a Caucasian nose. However, Jesus almost certainly looked nothing like that, considering that he was a Middle Eastern Jew and not a white European.

Before getting too deep into the narrative to follow, it bears noting that it is impossible to say with 100 percent accuracy what Jesus Christ looked like. Photography wouldn't be invented for 2,000 years after his death, and it would be centuries after his death before artists began attempting to depict him. The four Gospels of the New Testament contain no descriptions of his appearance.

Jesus looked nothing like how he's often depicted in Western art

Nevertheless, certain key facts about Jesus are known. He was a tradesman with a physically demanding job; he was poor; he was Middle Eastern. Using those key facts as a basis, as BBC News reported, in 2001 forensic facial reconstruction expert and anthropologist Richard Neave created a composite image of what he believed the real Jesus might have looked like (via ZME Science).

Neave and his team worked from three skulls from approximately that era from the area of Galilee to create a composite image of a typical man of Jesus' "time and place," says the BBC. The rendering suggests that Jesus looked similar to a modern-day Palestinian. Neave's model portrays Jesus as having curly, brownish-black hair rather than the flowing locks painted by Europeans. His beard is wiry and unkempt, his nose large (by European standards), his face revealing that of a man living a life of hard work in poverty.

It bears noting that Neave isn't the only person to have portrayed Jesus as looking like something other than how he's depicted in Western art. Other artists have portrayed Jesus as Black — such as in a modern-day re-examining of the Last Supper with a Black Jesus, per Hindustan Times — or Asian, or in nearly any other cultural representation.