Is God Jesus or Zeus

What did Jesus look like?

What Jesus looked like is an exciting question because we simply don't know and the Bible doesn't really provide information about it either. Even so, there seems to be a very clear picture of how we find out in a small spontaneous survey:


“He must have looked like it did in the movie. With long hair, a long beard, so not just a three-day beard. He was wearing sandals. He also wore a flowing, flowing jute dress, ”says Patrizia, for example, who we address in downtown Vienna.


We also ask two other passers-by what image they have of Jesus: “We imagine him with a long white robe, or at least that is how he is depicted. Probably everyone looked like this at the time. And he must have had a beard and long hair. Because they didn't have a hairdresser back then either. "


Long hair, a long beard and a flowing white robe: the idea of ​​what Jesus looked like seems pretty clear. But does this picture correspond to historical reality? We asked the Irish Bible scholar Andrew Doole at the University of Innsbruck shortly before the feast of the Resurrection. He has dealt intensively with the appearance of Jesus:


“Of course, it is possible that Jesus looked exactly as we imagine him to be - but it is rather unlikely. A problem for the Roman rulers in Judea and Galilee was that the Jews and Galileans looked exactly like the Romans themselves. This led to problems, for example, when there were uprisings or wars, as it was difficult to distinguish insurgents from Romans.

The only mark of a Jew in the first century was the mark of circumcision - and of course you did not see that immediately. So when we ask ourselves what Jesus looked like, we have to ask ourselves: What did the Romans look like? And you can see that very clearly in the Roman statues. For example, the average person in the first century did not have a long beard or long hair. "

A long beard and long hair are therefore unlikely. But what about the clothes. Did Jesus wear a long white robe?


That is also highly unlikely. In the Gospels there is even criticism of Jesus against people who wear long robes. In terms of color, too, bleached white dresses were only typical of women at the time. Men, on the other hand, wore unbleached clothes. But there is an exception in the transfiguration on the mountain, where Jesus suddenly shines like the sun and where his clothes suddenly turn bright white (Lk 9, Mk 9, Mt 17). Whether that was historically the case or not is another question. In any case, the Christians who told this story knew that Jesus was dressed in white only once.


Is it conceivable that Jesus was a slender man as portrayed in our churches?


Sure - that is very possible. Jesus is depicted in the Gospels as a poor person, he is the son of a carpenter in Galilee. Since he was not rich, it is very likely that he was rather thin. But at the same time there is evidence in the gospels that testifies that Jesus was well served. For example, the Gospel of Luke says that many rich women provided for him. In addition, he was always invited as a guest at banquets and ate there. That is why he was called a glutton and a wine drinker by his opponents. The depiction of the completely emaciated Christ on the cross is probably more a sign of his forlornness and powerlessness in the moment.

Why is there even the idea of ​​Jesus with a beard, long hair, white robe and a halo?


In the Roman catacombs or the oldest images from Mesopotamia, we are more likely to have images of Jesus as a teenager or as a young man. No beard, sporty, young and handsome, wearing a Roman toga.

The halo, longer hair, and beard probably come from Byzantine art. Jesus as God is a substitute for Zeus, the king of the gods in Greek culture. And Zeus is eternal. And whoever is eternal has a lot of hair, especially long hair, in the depiction.


The modern representations in the children's Bible have also had a strong impact on the image of Jesus. E.g. Jesus did not have gentle eyes in Byzantine art. We actually owe this image to the Children's Bible.

Why is there no description of Jesus in the Bible?

One would expect that from the Evangelist Luke. Because Lukas is very interested in seeing. He even looks into Maria's heart and as an author he has a good overview. But it does not provide a concrete description of Jesus as a child or an adult. The same applies to the Gospel of John. In the first chapter we have John the Baptist, who sees Jesus and immediately recognizes: “He is the Lamb of God.” But there is no description either.

It is very difficult to explain this shortcoming or this loophole. A likely explanation for this is that the early Christians were very Jewish. And in the Jewish religion there is a reluctance to portray God.

What did Jesus look like after his resurrection and why did his friends not recognize him at first?


In the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John it is discussed that the risen Jesus looks different than he did before Easter. This becomes a problem especially in film adaptations of Jesus. Because everyone who makes a Jesus film somehow has to come to terms with the fact that Jesus looks different after his resurrection than before, especially if you use the same actor for it. But even in these passages in the Bible, Jesus himself looks like a person after his resurrection, like a wanderer - that is, he does not look somehow heavenly, but actually still looks like a normal person.


The letter to the Colossians says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Or in the Gospel of John Jesus himself says: “Whoever sees me sees the Father.” Can we not conclude from this that Jesus looked divine?


The word image is interesting in Colossians. It is a translation of the Greek “eikón”, which we still know today as an icon - but how can you be an image of someone invisible? This is meant in a more platonic and philosophical way and has nothing to do with the actual Jesus in Galiae.

As for the Gospel of John, the Evangelist John uses the Greek word “theorein” - our word theory is derived from it. In this passage from the Bible, too, seeing is not meant in the sense of optical, but of noticing and understanding. So we couldn't recognize Jesus optically, precisely because he looks like you and me and like every other person.

created by: Der SONNTAG / Stefanie Jeller / Thomas Frühwirth