14) His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his
eyes were as a flame of fire;
15) And his feet like unto fine
brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
first century Jewish writer Josephus (37-100 AD) penned the earliest non-biblical testimony of Jesus. He reportedly had access
to official Roman records on which he based his information and in his work Halosis or the “Capture (of Jerusalem),”
written around 72 A.D., Josephus discussed “the human form of Jesus and his wonderful works.” Unfortunately his
texts have passed through Christian hands which altered them, removing offensive material. Fortunately, however, Biblical
scholars in a classic 1931 study of Josephus’ Testimony was able to reconstruct the unaltered testimony based on a newly-discovered
Old Russian translation that preserved the original Greek text. The oldest non-Biblical description of Jesus read as follows:
“At that time also there appeared a certain man of magic power … if it be meet
to call him a man, [whose name is Jesus], whom [certain] Greeks call a son of [a] God, but his disciples [call] the true prophet
… he was a man of simple appearance, mature age, black-skinned (melagchrous), short growth, three cubits tall, hunchbacked,
prognathous (lit. ‘with a long face’ [macroprosopos]), a long nose, eyebrows meeting above the nose … with
scanty [curly] hair, but having a line in the middle of the head after the fashion of the Nazaraeans, with an undeveloped
This short, black-skinned, mature,
hunchbacked Jesus with a unibrow, short curly hair and undeveloped beard bears no resemblance to the Jesus Christ taken for
granted today by most of the Christian world: the tall, long haired, long bearded, white-skinned and blue eyed Son of God.
Yet, this earliest textual record matches well the earliest iconographic evidence.
earliest visual depiction of Jesus is a painting found in 1921 on a wall of the baptismal chamber of the house-church at Dura
Europos, Syria and dated around 235 A.D. The Jesus that is “Healing the Paralytic Man” (Mark 2:1-12) is short
and dark-skinned with a small curly afro - see below.
has now been supported by the new science of forensic anthropology. In 2002 British forensic scientists and Israeli archaeologists
reconstructed what they believe is the most accurate image of Jesus based off of data obtained from the multi-disciplinary
approach. In December 2002 Popular Science Magazine published a cover story on the findings which confirm that Jesus would
have been short, around 5”1’, hair “short with tight curls,” a weather-beaten face “which would
have made him appear older,” dark eyes and complexion: “he probably looked a great deal more like a dark-skinned
Semite than Westerners are used to seeing,” they concluded. The textual, visual, and scientific evidence agrees, then:
Jesus likely was a short, dark-skinned Semite with short curly hair and dark eyes.
1:15 describes Christ as the “image of the unseen God” and in the Gospel of John (12:45; 14:9) Jesus declares
that whoever sees him has seen God. What Jesus “looks like” then is not irrelevant as it is in some way a pointer
to God Himself.