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May 7, 2011

What Did Jesus Look Like?

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

Story in today's Wall Street Journal details a new art exhibit that is coming to Philadelphia and Detroit that tends to show Jesus not as some ancient beach-buffed man but as what some would expect Him to look like. Through the eyes of Western European painters, we've always had an ideal of what the Lord and Savior of the world would look like:

Did Christ really have awesome abs? Western art has frequently stumbled over the contradiction between the ascetic figure of Jesus of Nazareth and the iconography of Christ inspired by the heroic, Hellenistic ideal: Christ as beautiful, tall and broad-shouldered, God's wide receiver; blue-eyed, fair-haired, a straight aquiline nose, Christ as European prince.

This new art exhibit showcasing the paintings of Rembrandt  shows Jesus in a different human light:

The poor and ascetic Jesus likely was small and thin and almost certainly olive-skinned, with black hair and brown eyes, and so Rembrandt painted him. In this he anticipated much more recent studies of what the historical Jesus was like. The savior of Rembrandt's faith was a young man with a sweet, homely face, heavy-lidded, stoop-shouldered and wan.

Rembrandt's recasting of Christ culminates in the 1648 "Supper at Emmaus," where the unprepossessing figure of Christ seems almost stunned, slack with preoccupation, rapt in a conversation no one else hears. The painter's Jesus is no hero of suffering and sacrifice; instead, he's a kindly, hungry pilgrim.

Honestly, I don't care about what Jesus looked like as He walked the earth. I only care that He took my sins upon His broad shoulders and that He gave up His life for me.


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