The Catholic church portrays Jesus Christ as a white European-looking man with piercing blue eyes.
Historians, however, believe that what Jesus really looked like is far from what Renaissance artists believed he did. On the contrary, they are convinces that the son of God resembled a typical man born in modern-day Palestine at that time; shorter in height, stockier build, and with curly black hair.
Bas Uterwijk, a Dutch photographer and digital artist, tried to put an end to the two thousand years old discussion about Jesus’s appearance by trying to create an image of him, as much accurate as possible given the parameters of his place of birth, using the most advance technology. In order to create the portrait of Jesus, Bas used Artbreeder’s machine learning features.
Of course, the image he has come up with is way different than what we all believe the Messiah looked like.
“I have a background in Computer Generated images and Special Effects.
“The artificial intelligence software utilises a neural network trained on photographs and paintings of thousands human faces.
“This application makes it possible to combine multiple sources of faces and merge them in a synthesised version, guided by the artistic decisions of the user. I use it to create historical and fictional characters.
“I used several cultural depictions of Jesus of Nazareth of Byzantine and Renaissance origin including Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi”, and the Turin Shroud, tweaking the ethnicity to a more convincing Middle-Eastern face.”
He added: “I was happy with the result as a representation of a collective cultural depiction but at the same time I felt it lacked any historical accuracy.
“So I changed the hair and beard to a more credible length and style for the time and region and I brought in elements found in some Fayum mummy portraits, pushing the renaissance art to the background.
“The result is an artistic impression of how this man could have looked, more than it is a scientific search for an exact likeness.”
What the Bible teaches us about our savior is that he was born in a Jewish family in Bethlehem in 4 BC, raised there, and then finally settled in Nazareth in what is now Israel.
Joan Taylor, author of What Did Jesus Look Like, writes that the son of God was around 5 feet 5 inches tall. Further, she states that the people of Judea and Egypt were of olive skin, dark black hair, and brown eyes, information also found in ancient writings.
“Everyone can imagine what Jesus looked like. We have the image of Jesus everywhere. It’s a global image. It’s a phenomenon. So we think we can recognize him. We don’t even have to work at it. But the traditional images in paintings, in fact, date to the 4th or 5th Century – the long hair, the robe, the beard,” Taylor wrote.
“In reality, that’s not what he looked like at all. Jesus was not a pale person. He was not a European. He was a Jewish man of his time. He was very much of his time and place.”
The author, who is also an expert in Christian origins, added: “He would have had dark skin and probably had shortish black hair – long hair was very unusual in the 1st Century – a beard and wore sandals. He was a wanderer. He was on the streets. He accepted charity from strangers. He was with the poor.
“The 2nd Century philosopher Celsus said Jesus was shabby, a vagabond who was unkempt – he looked like a beggar. That tallies with everything else we know about Jesus. He even described himself as homeless. As he said: ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’”
Jesus likely resembled a typical Jewish man of the first century, who would likely have contact with Europeans and Africans.
Forensic facial reconstruction specialist Richard Neave tried to imitate the appearance of a Judean man similar to Jesus from the first century who was represented as stocky man with dark hair, clipped beard, and olive skin.
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