Why Does Jesus Have Long Hair & Blue Eyes?

I was just wondering why is it that every picture I see of Jesus, he has long hair, light skinned and has blue eyes?

Is it common that somone from the Middle East have light skin and blue eyes?

I have seen plenty of pictures of Jesus with dark skin and brown eyes, I think it all depends on the artist’s perception.

European artists in the Middle Ages and Renaissance generally portrayed Biblical subjects in a manner that they (or their patrons) considered to be “ideal”, or that would be inspiring to their audience. Such representations tended to look European rather than being convincing portraits of people from the Middle East. These pictures have set a precedent for later representations.

Having said that, there certainly have been representations of Jesus with darker features. Here’s an icon from the Byzantine Catholic Church for instance.

To underline the point, perhaps I should add that in most Biblical paintings from the Renaissance, people are generally shown wearing contemporary (i.e. Renaissance Italian, French or Flemish) costumes rather than Middle Eastern dress, and the buildings and landscapes are local to where the artist lived, not Middle Eastern ones.

The Annunciation by Carlo Crivelli
The Adoration of the Shepherds by Giorgione
The Carrying of the Cross by Simone Martini

I think mostly because of cultural bias, whether unintentional or not. People tend to draw human images they are familiar with, thus a light skinned person would typically draw light skinned people and vice-versa. However much of the pictures I have seen depict him as olive skinned and brown-eyed, but again, largely because that was the color of the artist. There are exceptions of course.

This link has quite a few interesting images. You can really see flavorings of the era/culture in which they were created. Although not in the above link, I have even seen african versions of him.

Because he might be mistaken for a terrorist otherwise.

This site has pictures of Jesus from several non-Western cultures.

Warner Sallman. That’s why. He’s the culprit.

A related thing: Why is it that in the “Biblical” movies and TV programs, the Jews always have some sort of modified British accent. You never hear them speaking like, oh, say, Fran Drescher or Gilbert Gottfried.

SDMB forgive me, for I am cite-less.

There was an American artist (whom I believe died recently) who painted what had been like the definitive painting of Christ. We’ve all seen it, usually in hospital waiting rooms, it seems. Dagnabbit, I can’t find it online and I don’t have time to keep looking. Anyhow, he was likely influenced by the European art himself, but he painted this 3/4 bust view, with straight brown hair and blue eyes, etc. back in the '40s or so. It became a very well-distributed and copied image, sort of defining the modern idea of the look of Christ. He did a lot of this art, including illustrated children’s books.

I saw a story about this artisit and that painting on TV, following his death. Their point was how that painting really seemed to resonate with (presumably white-euro) people and became the model for subsequent depictions and castings for Jesus. Sorry I no longer remember enough detail to Google it out, but it was an interesting piece. I’ll try to find it.

I knew I should have waited. You’re exactly right, Snake-Hips–that’s the guy. Here’s the painting:


And I got some details wrong–I’m at work!!! Can’t work and SDMB at the same time! I’ll go away now.

Also, in the early middle ages a letter (forged, but they didn’t know that then) appeared which purported to be a letter to a governor named Lentulus in which the writer described this Jesus character (hazelnut colored long hair parted down the middle, etc). Justified some of the conventions that had developed. A google search on Lentulus might give some interesting information.

Because the Jews are the bad guys.

That’s what meant Life of Brian wasn’t a religious movie. Even though they all had British accents, they talked like normal Brits instead








I hate that painting. When the Antichrist comes, he’ll look just like the guy in that painting, I’m sure of it. It’s “Jesus as a wuss.” I really dislike that painting.

Now, a good “Christ Pantokrator” or “Christ the Teacher” type Ikon, those I like.