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  #1  
Old 06-14-2007, 01:21 PM
Belrix Belrix is offline
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Did Jesus really have long hair?

We've all seen the pictures of Jesus. The fine european features, blue eyes, long wavy brown hair. If it's the picture from my youth, he has a glowing heart you can see through his tunic, too. (My mother grew up Catholic).

We all know that there's no driver's license picture of the man.

But, culturally, for 1st century Jersuelem, is the long hair right? Busts of various Ceasars usually have carefully coifed, short hair. What was vogue for the Jews?

Is there any written clues to his appearance? Maybe he was a short, bald, tubby guy. Perhaps he was just a 1st century Jason Alexander.
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  #2  
Old 06-14-2007, 01:45 PM
gigi gigi is online now
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I don't have an answer but I wanted to share this tract that says He didn't. Hee. "Kids today" and their long hair imitating the Beatles.

ETA: To the extent that they purport to chare archeological evidence, I hope this is not a completely unfactual GQ post.

Last edited by gigi; 06-14-2007 at 01:48 PM..
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  #3  
Old 06-14-2007, 01:46 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is online now
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I think this is unknowable.

They only thing we know is that we have no idea what Jesus of Nazareth looked like. You are right, he could have been like Jason Alexander.
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  #4  
Old 06-14-2007, 02:15 PM
plnnr plnnr is offline
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Originally Posted by Mahaloth
I think this is unknowable.

They only thing we know is that we have no idea what Jesus of Nazareth looked like. You are right, he could have been like Jason Alexander.

While we may not have an 8x10 glossy picture of him, is there no representative art from the region and the time that exists? No mosaics, murals, or vases that show "Typical Mid-Eastern Man 30 A.D.?" I find that kind of hard to believe.
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  #5  
Old 06-14-2007, 02:18 PM
mjg6 mjg6 is offline
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Poetic justice would be a face like Mel Gibson's ;-0
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  #6  
Old 06-14-2007, 02:21 PM
capybara capybara is offline
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The earliest representation of the man that I know of has him with a donkey's head, but that's from a couple of hundred years later. I'll ponder plnnr's point meanwhile and have a look today. Meanwhile, kids, remember that the "Letter to Lentulus" is a late forgery (just in case anyone comes in here with that as evidence).
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  #7  
Old 06-14-2007, 02:28 PM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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Originally Posted by plnnr
While we may not have an 8x10 glossy picture of him, is there no representative art from the region and the time that exists? No mosaics, murals, or vases that show "Typical Mid-Eastern Man 30 A.D.?" I find that kind of hard to believe.
You have to be careful, though. What you usually see in those representations are not typical folks but upper-class people. Some of the murals in Egypt give us an idea of what the working class looked like in that place*, but are there similar pieces from Israel around the time of Christ?

*even then you have to be careful-- is that a representation of how people looked, or just a convention of how to depict them?
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  #8  
Old 06-14-2007, 02:29 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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Originally Posted by gigi
I don't have an answer but I wanted to share this tract that says He didn't. Hee. "Kids today" and their long hair imitating the Beatles.

ETA: To the extent that they purport to chare archeological evidence, I hope this is not a completely unfactual GQ post.
What, he didn't look like this?

(I shaved the beard off when people started telling me I looked like Jesus. As I was verging on neo-pagan status then, that made me decidedly uncomfortable.)
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  #9  
Old 06-14-2007, 02:30 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is online now
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Other early representations show him as clean shaven, but after about the 4th century he was always shown with a beard. (Part of this may have been so that people would not make eunuch jokes about him. An oft heard commentary is that the beard was a Byzantine symbol of power and this is repeated in the excellent film Jesus of Montreal, but I can't put too much stock in that since first Christian Emperor Constantine the Great was clean shaven as was his predecessor Diocletian and his sucessor/son Constantius were all clean shaven (and in fact his first successor to have a beard, Julian (the Apostate), was anti-Christian and returned the empire to paganism. The Shroud of Turin has probably done more to standardize the image of Jesus than anything since, though it was clearly inspired by the already notion that he was bearded and slim (though in Gore Vidal's Live at Golgotha he's depicted as obese, but then Gore's an ass).

What Did Jesus Look Like? (from Religious Tolerance)
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  #10  
Old 06-14-2007, 02:31 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Originally Posted by plnnr
While we may not have an 8x10 glossy picture of him
Speak for yourself, slick.

Last edited by KneadToKnow; 06-14-2007 at 02:31 PM..
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  #11  
Old 06-14-2007, 02:31 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is online now
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Originally Posted by Sunspace
What, he didn't look like this?

(I shaved the beard off when people started telling me I looked like Jesus. As I was verging on neo-pagan status then, that made me decidedly uncomfortable.)
Hmm. Interesting resemblance. Very Lothaire Bluteau as Jesus.

Eunuchs--- have him scrubbed and sent to my chambers. Give him a ruby anklet. And some type of musky fragrance but not too bold.

Last edited by Sampiro; 06-14-2007 at 02:34 PM..
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  #12  
Old 06-14-2007, 02:55 PM
plnnr plnnr is offline
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow
Speak for yourself, slick.
Did you write his agent or were you able to find his home address? Is it autographed? I suspect you could get a pretty good dollar for it on eBay.
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  #13  
Old 06-14-2007, 03:14 PM
GargoyleWB GargoyleWB is offline
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Originally Posted by plnnr
Did you write his agent or were you able to find his home address? Is it autographed? I suspect you could get a pretty good dollar for it on eBay.
I have one, but it's a band-promo photo when he was with The Apostles.
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  #14  
Old 06-14-2007, 03:26 PM
gigi gigi is online now
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Originally Posted by Sunspace
What, he didn't look like this?
yum
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  #15  
Old 06-14-2007, 03:30 PM
Captain Lance Murdoch Captain Lance Murdoch is offline
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He had long hair. He was also tall, athletic, had six pack abs, light-colored skin and perfect teeth. Don't you ever look at pictures of him?

Seriously, every depiction I've seen from that place and time show men with short hair. Not proof, but there is no reason I can think of to support the long hair idea.
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  #16  
Old 06-14-2007, 03:37 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Originally Posted by Captain Lance Murdoch
He had long hair. He was also tall, athletic, had six pack abs, light-colored skin and perfect teeth. Don't you ever look at pictures of him?

Seriously, every depiction I've seen from that place and time show men with short hair. Not proof, but there is no reason I can think of to support the long hair idea.
One thing I would expect is that the long wavy hair (a la Albrecht Durer) pretty much has to be out of the question. Given the type of hair most commonly seen on people who live in that part of the world, I would expect it to be fairly curly, and, if allowed to grow out, would tend to do so in all directions, rather than mostly downwards.
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  #17  
Old 06-14-2007, 03:40 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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I looked at the tract, and I'm amazed anyone is still this worked up about long hair.
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  #18  
Old 06-14-2007, 03:44 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Jesus could have looked however he wanted to. Who's to say he didn't change his appearance from time to time, when it would help his ministry?

Anyway, here's the obligatory Wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Images_of_Jesus
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  #19  
Old 06-14-2007, 03:46 PM
Giles Giles is offline
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Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus
I looked at the tract, and I'm amazed anyone is still this worked up about long hair.
They've made a connection with something else:
Quote:
Originally Posted by the tract
God is thus associating the "SHAME" of long hair with the "VILE" affections of the sodomites and homosexuals. Our generation has made long hair acceptable and is seeking to legalize and popularize homosexuality. Now, we have homosexual churches and other churches that gladly welcome them into their membership. Long hair and homosexuality do not always go together, but they are very compatible. They both represent a revolt against God given nature, and against His precious Word.
So Jesus could not have had long hair because he was straight, and not gay -- that's why he never married, and why he hung out with 12 other young men all the time. Really very simple when you think about it.
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  #20  
Old 06-14-2007, 03:46 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Originally Posted by Sunspace
What, he didn't look like this?

(I shaved the beard off when people started telling me I looked like Jesus. As I was verging on neo-pagan status then, that made me decidedly uncomfortable.)
Are you kidding? Looking like Jesus is practically a prerequisite to being a neo-pagan male. Take my husband (please!)
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  #21  
Old 06-14-2007, 03:50 PM
gigi gigi is online now
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Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus
I looked at the tract, and I'm amazed anyone is still this worked up about long hair.
It's like they haven't update it since 1972.
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  #22  
Old 06-14-2007, 04:05 PM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giles
They've made a connection with something else:

So Jesus could not have had long hair because he was straight, and not gay -- that's why he never married, and why he hung out with 12 other young men all the time. Really very simple when you think about it.
I always found the whole long hair = gay thing odd, since I have never met a single gay man with long hair. In fact, they generally seem to have short, neatly cropped hair.
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  #23  
Old 06-14-2007, 04:14 PM
Antinor01 Antinor01 is offline
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Originally Posted by gigi
yum
I'm so glad I'm not the only one that thought that.
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  #24  
Old 06-14-2007, 04:18 PM
FlyingDragonFan FlyingDragonFan is offline
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I remember a magazine a few years ago, probably around 2000, had a cover with an illustration of what Jesus would have looked like, in general, basing it on information about what Jewish working-class people from that part of the Middle-East had as physical characteristics. He was shown as having a somewhat fleshy, round face, middle-dark skin, with shortly cropped, curly dark-brown skin and a trimmed beard. I forget which mag it was, maybe Nat'l Geo or Scientific American.

Definitely not the pretty, caucasian image popular in the Bible Belt. Old Edna down in the trailer park would have definitely called the cops if she saw him strolling past her place, 'cause there's a terrorist in the neighborhood!
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Old 06-14-2007, 04:38 PM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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Originally Posted by FlyingDragonFan
I remember a magazine a few years ago, probably around 2000, had a cover with an illustration of what Jesus would have looked like, in general, basing it on information about what Jewish working-class people from that part of the Middle-East had as physical characteristics. He was shown as having a somewhat fleshy, round face, middle-dark skin, with shortly cropped, curly dark-brown skin and a trimmed beard. I forget which mag it was, maybe Nat'l Geo or Scientific American.

Definitely not the pretty, caucasian image popular in the Bible Belt. Old Edna down in the trailer park would have definitely called the cops if she saw him strolling past her place, 'cause there's a terrorist in the neighborhood!
See the last link in post #9.
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  #26  
Old 06-14-2007, 04:40 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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There's a Ro,man carving that shows a clean-shaven shepherd with a sheep that some have claimed was supposed to be the earliest representation of Jesus, but I don't see why it should be identified with Jesus -- It could as easily be the Good Shepherd from the parables, if it's even Christian.

The idea of a long-haired, long-bearded Jesus is consistent with orthodox practice, which gives the idea extra weight. Add to that the fact that some people think that he was a Nazirite (who didn't shave or ciut their hair), and there's more. Then the "Letter to Lentulus" that capybara cites also describes him that way.

None of this constitutes anything like a reason to think he looked that way, of course, let alone proof. In his Gospel According to Matthew, pier Paolo Pasolini shows a Jesus with an incredibly short beard. I think his hair is pretty short, yoo, but I don't recall for certain. Heck, look at Matthew Garber in Godspell -- no beard at all, and a white guy's Afro for hair.
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  #27  
Old 06-14-2007, 04:43 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyingDragonFan
I remember a magazine a few years ago, probably around 2000, had a cover with an illustration of what Jesus would have looked like, in general, basing it on information about what Jewish working-class people from that part of the Middle-East had as physical characteristics. He was shown as having a somewhat fleshy, round face, middle-dark skin, with shortly cropped, curly dark-brown skin and a trimmed beard. I forget which mag it was, maybe Nat'l Geo or Scientific American.

Definitely not the pretty, caucasian image popular in the Bible Belt. Old Edna down in the trailer park would have definitely called the cops if she saw him strolling past her place, 'cause there's a terrorist in the neighborhood!
Here it is
Quote:
(CNN) -- The Jesus pictured on the cover of this month's Popular Mechanics has a broad peasant's face, dark olive skin, short curly hair and a prominent nose. He would have stood 5-foot-1-inch tall and weighed 110 pounds, if the magazine is to be believed.
They reconstructed this face from a 1st Century Jewish-Palestinian skull. It's not intended to be seen as "the face of Jesus," so much as the face of a typical Jewish peasant of the era. They gave their reconstruction short hair because of a passage in Corinthians (wher Paul says it's "disgraceful" for man to have long hair), but Paul was a Hellenized Jew whose views on fashion probably could not be taken to reflect the realities of the Gallilean peasantry. Shaving beards was probably especially unlikely, one because it was against rabbinic law and two because it wasn't very easy or practical for those without access to barbers.

It's hard to know about the hair. Some guys might have hacked it off for comfort. Palestine in general (and Galilee in particular), had been largely Hellenized but the extent to which the fashion, culture and language had permeated the lower classes isn't known with a lot of certainty and the Jewish populace was notoriously resistant to assimilating foreign culture (especially occupying cultures).

My guess is that Jesus at least had a beard and probably (but not certainly) had long hair. I think we also can't rule out the possibility of a big-ass Jewfro.

Last edited by Diogenes the Cynic; 06-14-2007 at 04:46 PM..
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  #28  
Old 06-14-2007, 04:45 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Originally Posted by plnnr
Did you write his agent or were you able to find his home address? Is it autographed? I suspect you could get a pretty good dollar for it on eBay.
It's actually a publicity still from later in his career, taken during the "Three Days in Hell" tour.

It's not flattering. He looks half dead.
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  #29  
Old 06-14-2007, 04:51 PM
Martian Bigfoot Martian Bigfoot is offline
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Originally Posted by FlyingDragonFan
I remember a magazine a few years ago, probably around 2000, had a cover with an illustration of what Jesus would have looked like, in general, basing it on information about what Jewish working-class people from that part of the Middle-East had as physical characteristics. He was shown as having a somewhat fleshy, round face, middle-dark skin, with shortly cropped, curly dark-brown skin and a trimmed beard. I forget which mag it was, maybe Nat'l Geo or Scientific American.

Definitely not the pretty, caucasian image popular in the Bible Belt. Old Edna down in the trailer park would have definitely called the cops if she saw him strolling past her place, 'cause there's a terrorist in the neighborhood!
That would be this picture.
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  #30  
Old 06-14-2007, 05:07 PM
plnnr plnnr is offline
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow
It's actually a publicity still from later in his career, taken during the "Three Days in Hell" tour.

It's not flattering. He looks half dead.
Yeah, his publicist really screwed up letting that one out to the public.
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  #31  
Old 06-14-2007, 06:16 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is online now
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Originally Posted by toadspittle
I always found the whole long hair = gay thing odd, since I have never met a single gay man with long hair. In fact, they generally seem to have short, neatly cropped hair.
A lot of southerners believe "earring = gay" and debate "which ear is the gay one?", which I find ironic because most of the gays I know stopped wearing earrings altogether when they became fashionable and overdone.


BTW, the "What did Jesus look like" link I had above also has the reconstruction of the 1st century Palestinian. Apparently the answer "A Young Yasser Arafat" didn't please a lot of people as in Christian art I've seen recently he's still the same looking guy. Until Kirk Cameron makes a pronouncement though we won't know for certain.
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  #32  
Old 06-14-2007, 06:35 PM
Pithy Moniker Pithy Moniker is offline
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Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir
Anyway, here's the obligatory Wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Images_of_Jesus
This picture makes me think of the ghosts in Pacman.

Last edited by Pithy Moniker; 06-14-2007 at 06:35 PM..
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  #33  
Old 06-14-2007, 06:47 PM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham
Heck, look at Matthew Garber in Godspell -- no beard at all, and a white guy's Afro for hair.
Victor Garber, actually, who 30-odd years later would become famous with a new generation as Alias's Jack Bristow.
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  #34  
Old 06-14-2007, 08:59 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is online now
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Victor Garber, actually, who 30-odd years later would become famous with a new generation as Alias's Jack Bristow.
I was thinking just yesterday how much Garber resembles Houdini, and Christ was a Jew who escaped from death... odd. Victor Garber is divine and I never knew it.
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  #35  
Old 06-14-2007, 09:37 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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Originally Posted by toadspittle
I always found the whole long hair = gay thing odd, since I have never met a single gay man with long hair. In fact, they generally seem to have short, neatly cropped hair.
You've never met my friend Stefano, then. He's got the long-haired bearded gay hippie thing down perfect. And he's a Christian, too.
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  #36  
Old 06-14-2007, 09:41 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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Originally Posted by WhyNot
Are you kidding? Looking like Jesus is practically a prerequisite to being a neo-pagan male. Take my husband (please!)
I guess I was still in the "separating myself from the default culture" phase.

Last edited by Sunspace; 06-14-2007 at 09:46 PM..
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  #37  
Old 06-14-2007, 11:03 PM
groman groman is offline
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Ok, I can't believe this thread has gone on long enough without anybody commenting on the following subjects:

a) Jews were not allowed to depict people, no? I'm not expecting that many romans to chisel the likenesses of random jewish carpenters in stone, so I wouldn't expect any depictions of any lower class jews from the period to show up.

b) Not cutting one's hair was part of the sacred Nazirite vow and it's not clearcut whether Jesus was a Nazirite or not.


My WAG? Jesus had a jewfro
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  #38  
Old 06-14-2007, 11:50 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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Originally Posted by Sampiro
Eunuchs--- have him scrubbed and sent to my chambers. Give him a ruby anklet. And some type of musky fragrance but not too bold.
Wow! I impressed Sampiro! And gigi and Antinor01!

Pity that pic is 15 years old. Ah, if I only knew then what I know now...
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  #39  
Old 06-15-2007, 12:51 AM
Diceman Diceman is offline
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Originally Posted by groman
Ok, I can't believe this thread has gone on long enough without anybody commenting on the following subjects:

a) Jews were not allowed to depict people, no? I'm not expecting that many romans to chisel the likenesses of random jewish carpenters in stone, so I wouldn't expect any depictions of any lower class jews from the period to show up.
Right. It was considered idolatry. Still, I have to imagine that the gospels would have said something if Jesus' appearance was too far from normal.

My total WAGs about Jesus' appearance are that he almost certainly had a beard. Perhaps some historians on this board could enlighten me here, but I've always suspected that most people aside from the Greeks and Romans probably thought of shaving as being, well, kinda gay. ("Why do those grown men try to make themselves look like little boys? ") Plus, it's a major pain in the ass which is really done strictly for vanity's sake, and first-century peasants didn't have that kind of free time. As for his hair, Jesus may have gotten it cut occasionally, but a working-class man like Jesus probably tended to let it grow.
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  #40  
Old 06-15-2007, 06:25 AM
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I think Jesus was bald and wore a really bad toupee.

Or he looked like this...
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  #41  
Old 06-15-2007, 07:16 AM
AWB AWB is offline
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Originally Posted by Giles
So Jesus could not have had long hair because he was straight, and not gay -- that's why he never married, and why he hung out with 12 other young men all the time. Really very simple when you think about it.
What made me wonder about Jesus's sexuality:

John 13:23 - Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.

John 21:20 - Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
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  #42  
Old 06-15-2007, 07:26 AM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Originally Posted by AWB
What made me wonder about Jesus's sexuality:

John 13:23 - Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.

John 21:20 - Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
Isn't it pretty well established that that "disciple whom Jesus loved" moniker is how John referred to himself?

Last edited by KneadToKnow; 06-15-2007 at 07:26 AM..
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  #43  
Old 06-15-2007, 07:54 AM
Diceman Diceman is offline
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow
Isn't it pretty well established that that "disciple whom Jesus loved" moniker is how John referred to himself?
There are other theories, but this is the traditional interpretation.
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  #44  
Old 06-15-2007, 07:59 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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b) Not cutting one's hair was part of the sacred Nazirite vow and it's not clearcut whether Jesus was a Nazirite or not.
groman: look up at my post #26.
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  #45  
Old 06-15-2007, 10:44 AM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow
Isn't it pretty well established that that "disciple whom Jesus loved" moniker is how John referred to himself?
That's the traditional interpretation but it's far from "established." The author of GJohn never identifies the BD. Even the attribution of authorship to the Apostle John is a 2nd Century tradition (and regarded as a spurious one).
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  #46  
Old 06-15-2007, 01:22 PM
capybara capybara is offline
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Ok, I thought the art historical record could help more, but I'm not finding much that helps. The problem is is that the earliest Christian art we have is Roman, really (as is the early Jewish art we have-- synagogue at Dura Europos, say, but that's from the 3d century and a Roman garrison town). So any images of Hebrews we have from the era are really in a Roman tradition (perhaps there's something from the Parthian side of things?).

Also possible that if the Roman trend at the time was short hair and clean-shaven that the Hebrews might have done the opposite as a political gesture. I doubt he had straight long hair in any case-- I think the short wavy 'jewfro' is a good guess.

On Romans and beards-- around the time of Jesus I think the beard was totally out of fashion for Romans, but comes back in in the early 2d century when Hadrian starts his fancy Greek philosopher posturing, and Marcus Aurelius further popularizes it.
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Old 06-15-2007, 01:43 PM
yabob yabob is online now
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Originally Posted by capybara
...
On Romans and beards-- around the time of Jesus I think the beard was totally out of fashion for Romans, but comes back in in the early 2d century when Hadrian starts his fancy Greek philosopher posturing, and Marcus Aurelius further popularizes it.
Yeah, Scipio Africanus (236183 BC) is often credited with popularizing shaving in Rome. He was a victorious general and a very popular public figure, so a lot of citizens would have emulated him. There are some claims that Hadrian grew a beard to hide a bad complexion, but whatever the reason, he kicked off a hundred years of bearded emperors.
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  #48  
Old 06-15-2007, 02:15 PM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is offline
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Googling "depictions of Jesus" sure produces some odd results.

I like this one.
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  #49  
Old 06-15-2007, 02:53 PM
cmkeller cmkeller is offline
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It's possible that the similarity of "Nazirite" (meaning the type of vow which includes not cutting hair) and "Nazerene" (meaning a person from Nazareth) in Latin-descended languages led to the depiction of him as long-haired in modern Western art.

In Hebrew, the two words are not related - the "z" in Nazirite is a zayin, while the "z" in Nazareth is actually the "tz" sound of the letter tzadee.
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  #50  
Old 06-15-2007, 03:15 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Quote:
It's possible that the similarity of "Nazirite" (meaning the type of vow which includes not cutting hair) and "Nazerene" (meaning a person from Nazareth) in Latin-descended languages led to the depiction of him as long-haired in modern Western art.

In Hebrew, the two words are not related - the "z" in Nazirite is a zayin, while the "z" in Nazareth is actually the "tz" sound of the letter tzadee.
It's more complex than that -- I'm no expert on Hebrew or Aramaean, but my understanding it that the description of Jesus -- rendered as "Yeschu ha Notzri" in some of the books I've read -- is somewhat ambiguous. It's been translated as "Jesus the Nazorean" by some, without an attempt to interpret that. Some think it meant Jesus was a Nazirite. Others claim it means "inhabitant of Nazareth". Others go further and say that it is misinterpreted as "of Nazareth", and that there are no contemporary records of a town of Nazareth, and that it was made Jesus' home town by later writers solely on the strength of that title.
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