A Scientist Showed Us What Jesus Really Looks Like

December 14th 2015

When you picture Jesus Christ in your head, what do you see? A white man, long blonde hair, and blue eyes? That's the image that has been handed down through popular culture—featured on TV programs like the History Channel series, "The Bible," and seen in portraits of the Son of God that date back to the Renaissance.

But just because everyone seems to insist that Jesus looked like a typical white male, that doesn't make it accurate. In fact, a forensic anthropologist named Richard Neave developed a image of the Christian figure that is pretty far removed from the face we're used to—but one that was informed by historical evidence and computerized tomography.

Here's what most people think Jesus looked like:

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Here's what Jesus really looked like, according to Neave:

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Neave is an expert in forensic facial reconstruction, and by taking three Semitic skulls from Israeli archeological sites (near where Jesus is believed to have been born), he was able to use computerized x-ray and ultrasound techniques to construct a model of Jesus' face. Based on anthropological and genetic data, he came up with the image pictured above.

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In reality, Jesus was most likely dark-skinned with a broad nose and dark, short hair. The Bible doesn't actually weigh in on his physical characteristics, beyond saying that Jesus "had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him." And historians say that the lack of specificity is deliberate, intentionally designed to appeal to a diverse range of ethnicities.

Yet a lot of people, including Fox News host Megyn Kelly, appear convinced of Jesus' whiteness. In 2013, Kelly assured her viewers that both Jesus and Santa Claus were white men, saying "[j]ust because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn't mean it has to change."

"Jesus was a white man, too," Kelly added. "It's like we have, he's a historical figure that's a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just want kids to know that."

We tend to project ourselves onto the people we look up to, and without an understanding of the historical context, it can be easy to accept the image of Jesus that has been most commonly depicted throughout the centuries.

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"The myth of a white Jesus is one with deep roots throughout Christian history," the Atlantic reports. "Perhaps fueled by some Biblical verses correlating lightness with purity and righteousness and darkness with sin and evil, these images sought to craft a sterile Son of God. The only problem was that the representations were historically inaccurate."

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