Jesus up close

What did he look like
Last year Popular Mechanics announced that a team of British scientists, assisted by Israeli archaeologists, had fashioned “the most accurate image” of the face of Jesus. Assuming that Jesus would have looked like a typical Galilean Semite of his time, the scientists gathered skulls from that date found near Jerusalem and proceeded to reconstruct Jesus’ face.

I viewed the portrait with a group of seminary students and teachers. We all had the same reaction: this Jesus looked very little like the Jesus of our imaginings—and not because we had assumed he was a blue-eyed blond. The purported “true image” wore a particular dumbfounded—one might say stupid—expression. His mouth was shown partially open and his wide brown eyes held a puzzled or somewhat worried expression. The caption “Who, me?” came to mind.


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