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The mission of this website is to correct all the mis-information concerning the Life and Times of Jesus. This website seeks to collect the most accurate information we can about important issues related to Jesus. This is not a faith based website and nothing on this website is intended to prove or disprove whether or not Jesus is God or the Son of God. Needless to say, very little about the life of Jesus can be said with complete confidence. The common errors listed on this website are areas in which there is a very substantial amount of historical evidence to support the conclusions.
Everyone thinks they know what Jesus looked like. Go ahead - Sketch it out. Start with the long flowing white linen robe. Add the long hair and the beard. Give him the face of Max Van Sydow (Greatest Story Ever Told, 1965), or Jeffrey Hunter (King of Kings, 1961), or even James Caviezel (Passion of the Christ, 2004). Think you’ve got it? Not! The real Jesus looked nothing like that. What did he look like?
One clue to Jesus’ appearance comes from the stories about his death. When Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and found it empty, she inquired of the “gardener”, where is Jesus? and promised to lift Jesus’ body up if he told her where he was. Obviously if Mary were capable of lifting Jesus up, he can’t have been very large. In fact, the average male at that time was 5’1” and weighed 110 pounds. The Gospel of Luke (19:3) describes Zaccheus’ attempt to see Jesus while he preached in a crowd: “And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and he could not for the crowd, because he was low of stature.” Of course, Luke may be referring to Zaccheus rather than Jesus, but the idea that Jesus was slight can be seen again in the Acts of John: “…I was afraid and cried out, and he, turning about, appeared as a man of small stature…” (v. 90)
We have another clue to Jesus’ appearance in the Qur’an. One night, a winged snow-white beast takes the prophet Muhammad to Jerusalem to the Temple where he meets Moses and Jesus, and Jesus is the smaller of the two. The Slavonic copy of Josephus’s Capture of Jerusalem, contains the following description of a man wanted by Pontius Pilate for claiming that he was the King of the Jews: “a man of simply appearance, mature age, dark skin, small stature, three cubits high, hunchbacked with a long face, long nose, and meeting eyebrows…with scanty hair with a parting in the middle of his head, after the manner of the Nazarites, and with an undeveloped beard (Quoted in Knight & Lomas, 1996, p. 230).” This description is curiously like that of Paul in the Acts of Paul and Thecla: “…a man small in size, bald-headed…with eyebrows meeting, rather hook-nosed…” (v. 3) Thus, from a variety of sources we see that Jesus was small in stature.
As noted above, the Slavonic copy of Josephus not only discussed Jesus’ stature, it also commented on his physical attractiveness. The picture of Jesus as relatively unattractive comes from many other sources as well. In the Acts of Peter, Peter quotes a prophet who described Jesus - “And we saw him and he had no beauty nor comeliness (v. 24).” In the Acts of John, John says: “And oft-times he [Jesus] would appear to me as a small man and uncomely (v. 89).” Celsus (whom we know through Origen’s works) described Jesus as “…small and ugly and undistinguished.” Justin Martyr in Trypho declared that Jesus was “made ugly by the sufferings and the humiliation that he endured (v. 88).” Tertullian said: “he would not have been spat upon by the Roman soldiers if his face had not been so ugly as to inspire spitting (v. ix).” The language here suggests that they may have been going back to the tradition in Isaiah (53:2-3), which was prominent among the early Christians (Craveri, 1967; Fox 1989). In any event, we have multiple and diverse attestations that Jesus was not attractive in a conventional sense.
Imagine Jesus as your prototypical Marine - short hair, clean-shaven. Hard to imagine, yet that seems to be our best evidence. Freke and Gandy (2001) note: “the earliest representations of Jesus actually portray him beardless, with short hair….(p. 56).” We can see this in our survey of the earliest Christian art…
Fresco, Catacomb of Priscilla (Jesus Preaching)
As can be seen, almost all of the early artifacts concerning Jesus picture him as clean-shaven and with short hair. That should come as no surprise to anyone who has looked at coins, busts or statues of the early Roman emperors. Virtually every one of them had short hair and are clean shaven. The first emperor to sport a beard was Hadrian (117-138 A.D.) and even he had relatively short hair. Long hair would not appear for centuries, until the rise of Byzantium. Among Jesus’ contemporaries, there are very few contemporaneous visages, but what we do have supports the findings among the Roman emperors. For example, coins struck with the faces of Herod the Great’s son, King Philip (ruled 4 B.C. to 34 A.D.), Herod’s grandson King Agrippa I (ruled 37 to 44 A.D.), and Herod’s great grandson, Agrippa II (ruled 44 to 100 A.D.) show them all clean-shaven and with short hair. A Roma bust of Flavius Josephus, the Jewish author, shows him clean-shaven with short hair.
“He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in the synagogue, so they were astounded and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? Are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not his sisters with us’” (Matthew 13: 54-56)
"We do not have to see any peculiar significance in the fact that the eldest child of Joseph and Miriam was named Joshua, any more than they called their other sons Jacob, Joseph, Simeon, and Judah." (Schonfield, 1965, p. 52) "One complication obviously had to be dealt with before the perpetual virgin status of Mary could be affirmed. In the Gospels (John 7:2; Mark 3:1) and in the writing of Paul (Gal 1:19), brothers and sisters of Jesus were mentioned. Slowly but surely these siblings were removed." (Spong, 1992, p. 212)
The average person believes that Jesus was the only child of Mary and Joseph. Yet the Gospel of John says “…he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.” (John 2:12). The Gospel of Matthew says: “…Is not his mother called Mary? Are not his brothers called James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us?” (13:54-56). Some theologians argue that since Mary was a perpetual virgin (semper virgo), it was impossible for Jesus to have brothers or sisters. They argue further that the many references in the New Testament to Jesus’ brothers and sisters refer to stepchildren and/or cousins. The stepchildren theory was adopted by the Eastern Orthodox Church and is often referred to as the Epipanian view, after the Fourth Century bishop Epipanius. He proposed that Joseph had been previously married (for which there is no evidence) and Jesus’ siblings are all half brothers/sisters who are older than he. The cousin theory, adopted by the Roman Catholic Church, and generally referred to as the Hieronymian viewpoint, argues that these children were the children of Mary’s sister-in-law, whose name was also Mary, and who was married to Joseph’s brother, Clopas. Indeed, her sister-in-law Mary did have two children named James and Joseph, but no sisters, nor brothers named Simeon and Judah! Moreover, the Greek text uses the word adelphoi which is clearly “brother”, not cousin, which would be anepsioi.
Previously we discussed the evidence for Mary’s perpetual virginity, which is somewhere between slim and none. Indeed, the evidence we have clearly shows that after Jesus was born, the couple continued to have sexual relations, and the 6 or more siblings of Jesus are the proof of that. The most famous brother of Jesus is James (Ya’akov in Hebrew, Iacobus in Greek, Iacomus in Latin, Jacobus in Germanic, Jaime in Spanish) who led the Jerusalem branch of Jewish Christians (or what some have called “the Jesus cult”) until his murder in 62 A.D.. Known as Jacob (James) the Just, the apostle Paul called him “the Lord’s brother” and acknowledged his supremacy in the early Christ movement. Indeed, when Jesus was asked: “Who is to be our leader” when he departs, Jesus said: “Wherever you are, you are to go to James the righteous, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being.” (Gospel of Thomas, v 12) . James the Just was so well known that he is mentioned frequently in the books of Josephus (while Jesus was not) and his tomb was well known and venerated by the early Christians.
Jesus’ other brothers were Joseph, Simeon, and Judah (Mark 6:3; Matthew 13:55-56). He also had two sisters, but they were never named in the Gospels. In the Gospel of Philip, a 2nd century work, she is called Mary. In the Protoevangelium of James, another 2nd century text, she is inferred to be Salome. Epiphanius, a 4th century monk, refers to these two women as Joseph's daughters by his first wife, and calls them Mary and Salome. It should be noted that nearly half the women in 1st century israel were either called Mary of Salome. In the Coptic History of Joseph, a 5th century work, two names are given - Assia and Lydia - and in agreement with Epiphanius, they are said to be Joesph's daughters with his first wife After the death of James the Just in 62 A.D., his brother Simeon stepped in to continue the leadership of the Jesus cult, and following Simeon’s death, the sons of Judah continued. Following their death, the leadership of the Jesus cult passed out of the hands of the family. Shortly after, it disappeared all together.
In the earliest Christian art, there are no depictions of Jesus
The ritual washing of the hands is not explicitly prescribed by the Bible Read more: www.jewishencyclopedia.com...
Jesus: Discovering the origins of the legend