Tags: forensic | depiction | jesus | popular mechanics

Forensic Expert's Jesus Face Gets Mixed Reviews – As Always

Image: Forensic Expert's Jesus Face Gets Mixed Reviews – As Always

Face of Jesus image from Popular Mechanics magazine. (Newsmax)

By    |   Wednesday, 16 Dec 2015 08:08 AM

A forensic expert's depiction of Jesus Christ for an article in Popular Mechanics years ago has been getting attention – as it always does as Christmas nears.

Richard Neave, a retired medical artist from England's University of Manchester who has reconstructed faces of King Midas of Phrygia and Philip II of Macedonia, was asked by the magazine to use his research skills to try to determine what Jesus looked like.

Historical depictions of Jesus often run counter to Western images that have become popular throughout the years, said the magazine. Neave depended on the Bible itself looking for small clues to help unravel the mystery.

"Matthew's description of the events in Gethsemane offers an obvious clue to the face of Jesus," said the magazine's Michael Fillon. "It is clear that his features were typical of Galilean Semites of his era." 

"And so the first step for Neave and his research team was to acquire skulls from near Jerusalem, the region where Jesus lived and preached. Semite skulls of this type had previously been found by Israeli archeology experts, who shared them with Neave." 

Through his research of people living in the region at the time, Neave went on to describe Jesus as someone with possibly short, curly dark hair, standing about 5-foot-1, weighing about 110 pounds.

Neave said any depiction of Jesus is difficult because there are no drawings or direct physical descriptions of him, according to Raw Story.com.

"The fact that he probably looked a great deal more like a darker-skinned Semite than westerners are used to seeing him pictured is a reminder of his universality," Charles D. Hackett, director of Episcopal studies at the Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, told Popular Mechanics. "And [it is] a reminder of our tendency to sinfully appropriate him in the service of our cultural values."

According to The New York Times in 2004, the depiction of Jesus has been hotly debated for ages, particularly against Hollywood's versions of him in the movies, including Jim Caviezel (2004) in ''The Passion of the Christ,'' Jeffrey Hunter in ''King of Kings'' (1961), Willem Dafoe in ''The Last Temptation of Christ'' (1988) and Max von Sydow in ''The Greatest Story Ever Told'' (1965).

Popular Mechanics revived the Jesus image for an article this past January.

"This new conceptualization of Jesus is based in large part on the work of Richard Neave, a medical artist retired from the University of Manchester in England," CNN reported back in 2002 after the image served as the cover of that December's issue of Popular Mechanics.

"Using archaeological and anatomical science rather than artistic interpretation makes this the most accurate likeness ever created," Jean Claude Bragard, producer of the BBC program "Son of God," told The London Times.

CNN noted that Bragard had used the image one year earlier for his television series.

"It isn't the face of Jesus, because we're not working with the skull of Jesus, but it is the departure point for considering what Jesus would have looked like," he is reported as saying.

The British newspaper The Telegraph reported in 2001 that the theological consultant for the miniseries took serious issue with its content.

Canon Tom Wright, the Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey, referred to the reconstruction of Jesus' face as one of the "flaky bits" of the program, the Telegraph reported.

The 14-year-old image from the miniseries is attracting renewed attention, with numerous press accounts appearing in recent days.

Many of the media articles on the image take particular relish in having a Christ shorn of the flowing blonde hair popular in traditional Western portrayals.

"Gone are the buttercup locks," an article on Yahoo News proclaimed.

Neave admitted in a 1998 interview with the BBC that when reconstructing a skull for a murder investigation "a body will sometimes have hair remains with it but it is impossible to know how the victim had his or her hair cut. "


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A forensic expert's depiction of Jesus Christ for an article in Popular Mechanics years ago has been getting attention – as it always does as Christmas nears.
forensic, depiction, jesus, popular mechanics
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2015-08-16
Wednesday, 16 Dec 2015 08:08 AM
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