Jesus Christ: Is This Really What He Looked Like?

If you thought you knew what Jesus Christ looked like, you are probably mistaken. All the pictures you have seen in your Sunday school -- or the ones drawn up by Renaissance artists -- are as wide of the mark as they get, suggests a new study carried out by medical artist and a former professor at University of Manchester, Dr Richard Neave.

If one were to chart out the portrayal of Jesus Christ throughout the course of Western literature and art, he can often be seen idealized as a blue-eyed, robe-clad and pale-skinned man with golden locks that go down the side of his shoulders. But now those Eurocentric versions have been quashed by Dr. Neave, and instead the portrait that has emerged of Christ sees him as a man with a wide face, dark eyes, a bushy beard, and short curly hair, as well as a tanned complexion.

For the project, Dr. Neave re-imagined the face of Jesus Christ using forensic data he obtained from the skulls of first century Jewish men, according to Yahoo. Having found three skulls of Semites belonging to Galilee in Northern Israel, the England-based medical artist ran computerized tomography to create x-ray slices of the skulls and evaluated the thickness of the skulls in certain areas, helping recreate the skin and muscles of Christ's face.

The result was stunning and completely antithetical to what we have come to understand about Jesus Christ's appearance.

You will probably not believe what Jesus Christ looked like.
This is what Jesus Christ might have looked like, contends a new study carried out by medical artist Dr Richard Neave. He used modern-day forensic technology to map out the probable face of Christ using the skulls of Jewish men he obtained through archaeology in Northern Israel. [Image via Don Schwenneker/Facebook]Furthermore, Dr. Neave's research was augmented by examining several portraits depicting the average man from the region, which formed the basis of the facial hair and cropped locks you see above. Experts believe that though the re-imagining of Jesus Christ's face might not be completely correct, but it is nonetheless far more accurate than paintings by the great masters, reports Mail Online.

Dr. Richard Neave, in an earlier interview with the BBC, accepted that forensics can only allow for a limited understanding, but the research has to be supplemented by imagination.

"Inevitably there are some areas where you have to speculate, particularly if parts of the skull are missing," he said in an interview.

Jesus Christ's appearance in Western art
Jesus Christ has often been depicted as a thin, pale-skinned man -- a Caucasian -- throughout the course of Western art, but groundbreaking new studies reveal our imagination needs to undergo a complete overhaul. [Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]As for textual evidence itself, one must remember that the Bible provides no physical description of what Jesus Christ looked like. But early Western interpretations began depicting him as a Caucasian, and once Christianity spread to other parts of the world, natives and aboriginal tribes sought to decode the appearance of Christ in their own ways.

But the latest study conducted by Dr. Richard Neave and his team of scholars may go a long way in unlocking what Jesus Christ might actually have looked like. And if it is, indeed, corroborated by further studies which are to be carried out in the near future, one may safely assume that our imagination of Christ is all set to undergo a complete metamorphosis.

[Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]