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ragingloli's avatar

What is your opinion regarding this theory as to the origin of the common depiction of Jesus?

Asked by ragingloli (49025points) 1 month ago

The depiction as a white guy, with a beard and long curly hair.

According to this video, this common depiction of Jesus was the direct result, during the christianification of the Roman Empire, of religious authorities attempting to make Jesus visually more palatable and acceptable to the common populace, who still adhered to Greco-Roman religion, by making Jesus closely visually resemble the common depiction of Zeus.
This would also explain the common visualisation of the christian god, too, as a white man with long curly hair and a beard.

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32 Answers

Love_my_doggie's avatar

Interesting.

Now, could someone explain why Jesus is shown as having soft, flawless hands, when the man did physical labor as a carpenter?

KNOWITALL's avatar

We weren’t around then, but it makes sense that His image would change based on the people you’re trying to convert.

Joaquin Phoenix did a great job in Mary Magdalene on Netflix. A very humanistic portrayal.

kritiper's avatar

Curly hair? Like a Brillo pad??

Zaku's avatar

No, like Zeus.

Makes sense.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think it’s spot on.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Curly hair? Like a Brillo pad??

Like God in the Sistine Chapel.

janbb's avatar

Here’s a really good article that discusses the evolution of the image of Christ:

https://sc.edu/uofsc/posts/2020/07/conversation_white_jesus.php

Mimishu1995's avatar

I’m not surprised. In fact, this phenomenon of making religious figures look more appealing to certain culture happened outside of Christianity too. Everyone knows Buddhism came from India, but when it came to China and subsequently my country, we have a goddess that is sometimes depicted like a traditional Chinese woman, with traditional Chinese dress an all. My country even has an entire legend for the origin this goddess. According to the legend, she was an ordinary woman who was wrongly accused of killing her husband. She then disguised herself as a man and became a monk, only for a loose woman to seduce and take revenge on her when she failed to seduce her. She died and was appointed goddess by Buddha himself.

Maybe this phenomenon is more common than we think.

LostInParadise's avatar

What do you think would happen if someone depicted Jesus more realistically as a dark skinned Semite? Can you imagine the outrage?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@LostInParadise Christians who are bible-based always knew this. No outrage or shock here haha!

Why do you think we promote Isreal as an ally politically?

janbb's avatar

@KNOWITALL It’s spelled Israel.

LostInParadise's avatar

@KNOWITALL, Have you seen any realistic pictures or statues of Jesus?

Nomore_lockout's avatar

We would do better as a society, if we would worry less about what He looks like, and more about trying to follow His precepts.

Dutchess_III's avatar

When I was a practicing Christian I taught in the pre school at church. One Easter I got a wild hare to physically depict Moses floating about in his reed boat as an infant. It was quite elaborate, featuring a baby pool with water in it, and tootsie pops dressed up as tulips to be the Reed marsh where he was found.
I only had white dolls, so I took one of them and painted the face brown (the rest of the body was in a swaddling cloth.)
It was a hit.

Demosthenes's avatar

I think it’s plausible. I don’t think we’ll ever know but it’s an interesting theory. The fact is that Jesus tends to be depicted in different ways depending on the culture and he tends to be depicted more like the people of the culture in question. That’s what happens with a religion exported to so many different peoples. The same thing would probably happen in Islam if it weren’t forbidden to depict Muhammad…

Zaku's avatar

@Call_Me_Jay “Like God in the Sistine Chapel.”
– Mmm, though that’s God, not Jesus or Zeus, and is less curly than Zeus.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@LostInParadise Quite often, actually. My bibles have no pictures of Jesus just all relative areas.

@janbb Yes I spell it wrong sometimes when I’m busy but you don’t really need to post it every time do you? Just saying, it’s annoying more than helpful unless you just really enjoy making people feel bad constantly.

janbb's avatar

@KNOWITALL I understand. I don’t know that I’ve done it before. Sorry.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@janbb It’s fine, I’ll try to do better but I struggle with that one for some reason.

LostInParadise's avatar

@KNOWITALL, Have any of the pictures you have seen of Jesus looked like this?

kritiper's avatar

I never really saw Christ with “curly” hair. Long and wavy, okay, but not curly. To me, curly is like afro. I would never think to describe someone’s hair as “kinky.” That sounds snarled, like a rats nest of hair, too troublesome to try to pull a comb through…
Just sayin’...

Dutchess_III's avatar

I had a version of this picture hanging in my house. Only in my picture Jesus is looking at the “camera” with a kind smile, but he had on the same clothes. Done by the same artist obviously

ragingloli's avatar

And who could forget this famous depiction

Nomore_lockout's avatar

@ragingloli Don’t think. He looks like a California surfer from the mid 70s, dressed for a night on the town, I think the Middle Eastern look is more realistic.

ragingloli's avatar

@Nomore_lockout
It is Ewan McGregor as Obi wan Kenobi.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@LostInParadise I think you may be underestimating my interest in religions, in general and certainly my interest in my Savior. :)

Regardless of his skin color, He is very important in my life and appearances are the least of my concern.

I’ll post my favorite pic in my profile for a bit.

LostInParadise's avatar

That picture does an excellent job of obscuring skin color. Everything in the picture is tainted brown, including the tunic. It is not possible to determine what the face color is.

Brian1946's avatar

I heard that the summers in Nazareth are hotter than Hell, so wouldn’t JC have at least occasionally lost the beard and long hair, not to mention those stifling robes? ;-o

So sad that the only time he got to cool off, was when he was on the Cross. ;-(

@janbb

“It’s spelled Israel.”

Raelly? Graet Ceasar’s ghost, I had no idae!

Dutchess_III's avatar

(She was talking to KNOWITALL @Brian1946.)

The nomads in the desert dressed neck to toe in white and wear turbins. Hundreds of years showed this was the best way to stay hydrated between water holes.

Nomore_lockout's avatar

Nomads have more sense than Westerners, when it comes to desert climes. And that seems to have been true for the last two thousand years, at least. I read an online article a few weeks back, about three different Roman expeditions into Africa in the late First Century BCE, also First Century C.E. One made it as far as what we now call the Niger River, one made it to what is now Chad, and one more through Egypt, along the Nile into Nubia and Ethiopia. Those guys mast have been baking in those helmets and cuirasses. I’d bet the tribes they encountered were dressed much more sensibly.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@LostInParadise Exactly, it doesn’t matter in the slightest bit.

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