What Did Jesus Look Like?

What Did Jesus Look Like?

Joan Taylor has written a really good post over at ASOR’s Ancient Near East Today website discussing the issue what Jesus may have looked like. She first discusses the issue that most of our contemporary and iconic images of Jesus date from the Byzantine period or later, beginning some 300 years after Jesus and reflecting more the images and ideals of periods and cultures different from that of Jesus:

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Heel bone from Italy only the second set of physical remains bearing the marks of crucifixion yet discovered

Heel bone from Italy only the second set of physical remains bearing the marks of crucifixion yet discovered

Though there is no doubt that crucifixion, well attested in literature, was a form of torture and execution in the Roman Empire (and other cultures); however, there is almost no evidence, in terms of physical human remains, of the practice. Forbes has an article (using information from an article in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences) which highlights the discovery of only the second set of human remains bearing the marks of crucifixion. This discovery was made in Italy. Previously, the only other remains had been found outside of Jerusalem in 1968, in an ossuary bearing the name: Yehohanon ben Hagkol.

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Machaerus Ostraca being translated by Dr. Christopher Rollston

Machaerus Ostraca being translated by Dr. Christopher Rollston

Dr. Christopher Rollston is working on translating ostraca inscriptions found at Machaerus. Machaerus is the site where, according to tradition, John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded under the reign of Herod Antipas. The location is in Jordan. Read a tiny bit more about Machaerus, the ostraca, and the work at the George Washington University link.

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10th Century Manuscript of Exodus, in Hebrew transliterated with Arabic and with traditional Hebrew vowel points

10th Century Manuscript of Exodus, in Hebrew transliterated with Arabic and with traditional Hebrew vowel points

Viewable online at the British Library is a fragmentary codex of Exodus (containing Exodus 1:1-8:5 in 21 folios, including covers) with Hebrew transliterated into Arabic, but with traditional Hebrew vowel points. The work is incredible and beautiful and dates from the 10th century. It was purchased from an antiquities dealer in Jerusalem in the 19th century.

Here’s a summary of the contents from the British Library:

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