The name of Jesus Christ brings to our minds that angelic face with a pointed nose, long brown hair, and Caucasian-white complexion deified with a pair of blue or light brown eyes.
Countless depictions of his from around the world bear the same likeness.
In South America:
The statue of Christ, the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. paulgalbraith
In East Asia:
Jesus statue outside a church in Kanazawa, Japan. StockPhoto
A motif of Jesus Christ inside a church in Palermo, Italy. EdwardTufte
But if an artist’s impression based on a recent forensic study is accepted by the theologists, Jesus looked anything but that.
Retired medical artist Richard Neave has recreated the face of the Son of God by studying Semite skulls using modern-day forensic techniques.
Dr Neave working on the 3D model of Jesus Christ based on a diagrammatic image. Bob Collier
Based on his study, this is how Jesus would have actually looked like.
The portrait shows Jesus as having a wide face, dark eyes, a short beard and curly hair. His complexion is dark – almost as dark as people from the Middle East are now.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in the Galilee area of northern Israel.
Dr Neave and his team studied archaeological evidences, such as skulls from the period and artwork from the time before Bible was written, and built a digital 3D reconstruction of a face.
Based on that, they created this impression of Jesus Christ. The dark eyes were a natural evolutionary trait of the people in that region and the length of the hair was decided by evidences pointing at how Jewish people kept their hair in the era before Christ.
They also suggested that Jesus was likely around 5ft 1inch tall (1.5 metres) and weighed around 110lbs (50kg).
Dr Neave is not claiming that the image being circulated as that of Jesus is actually of him but of someone who would have lived in the same area in the same time period. It must be noted that the Bible does not describe the physical features of Jesus Christ.
The images of Christ that we see around us is the continuation of the popular impression created during the Renaissance Period in Europe (1300-1700 AD) and carried elsewhere through European colonial expansion.
Paintings such as ‘The Last Supper’ have been strengthening the angelic image of Jesus Christ for centuries.
The Last Supper by Leonardo DaVinci. WikimediaCommons
Dr Neave is retired from the University of Manchester in England and has in the past two decades worked on the reconstruction of famous faces, including Philip II of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great, and King Midas of Phrygia.