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The Substitue Title: The Evolving Images of Jesus

Jesus Paintings

Jesus paintings are often thought-provoking and inspiring. They can help us to draw closer to our Lord and to become more like Him.

But did Jesus really look like the image we all know? A new research based on forensic methods shows that he probably had dark hair and skin with olive tone, similar to Jewish ethnicity.

The Light of the World

Throughout the Bible, Jesus is depicted as the Light of the World. He is the Light that pierces through the darkness, bringing hope and salvation to all who believe. Jesus is also the Bread of Life, that sustains us and gives strength to carry on.

Images of Jesus have been in flux over the centuries, as Christians debated what He should look like. It took many centuries before a conventional standardized image emerged. The image of a bearded Christ with long hair, a cruciform halo and a rich robe became standard.

During the High Renaissance, artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo created some of the most famous pictures of Christ in history. But perhaps the most-reproduced picture of Christ is Warner Sallman’s “Head of Christ,” which was produced and marketed from 1940 to 1942, making it the best-selling religious picture of all time. It is on everything from prayer cards to calendars and night lights.

The Bright Morningstar

The bright morning star is a deep symbol of Jesus and of hope. It is used in both Isaiah and in Revelation. Michael Wilcock points out that it is a beautiful poetic metaphor that links Christ to the deeply evocative astronomical symbol of light shining in darkness.

The earliest images of Jesus emerged in the first through third centuries A.D., amidst concerns about idolatry. They were less about capturing His actual appearance than about clarifying His roles as king and savior. To do this, they often employed visual formats from other cultures.

By the early renaissance, images of Jesus became more conventionalized. Even so, it took a while for them to reach worldwide distribution. The prevailing image was a blond, light-eyed European Jesus. It was this version that was imposed on Christian populations in the new world, through European colonization and trade. Despite this, there were some regional variations. In colonial Latin America, for example, Saint Rose of Lima was depicted with darker skin than her distinctly white, European counterparts.

The Son of God

The title “Son of God” occurs 41 times in the New Testament and affirms Jesus’ equality with the Father. Unlike the titles of demigods or heroes, it refers to nature and not office. He is God’s Son not because of His miraculous birth or crucifixion, but by virtue of His incarnation and resurrection. During the early years of Christianity, images of Jesus varied widely. It took several centuries before a conventional standardized form emerged, which typically included a bearded figure wearing an episcopal garment and a cruciform halo.

Although Christians steadfastly insist on a non-monotheistic interpretation of the term “Son of God,” they are often quite willing to accept monotheistic interpretations for many other terms that Jesus (as) used to describe Himself in the Gospels, such as prophet and messiah. This inconsistent approach undermines any attempt to understand the biblical meaning behind these other titles. It also confuses the Gospels’ message of Jesus’ (as) humanness with the doctrine of divine Sonship.

The Son of Man

The Son of Man is one of Magritte’s most popular paintings. You may have seen it reproduced on posters, T-shirts and coffee mugs. It also appears as a Facebook background or on cellphone cases and clocks. It is a strange painting, yet it’s hard to ignore it. Magritte incorporated many symbolic elements into the piece. The apple is a common symbol for temptation, and the face that can be glimpsed behind the green apple is a reminder of the death of Magritte’s mother.

The painting also references the traditional image of Jesus, which is a bearded man with long hair. This image emerged from the late 300s and became dominant in Christian art. This image was often based on classical sculpture. However, some artists continued to depict Jesus as a beardless man. This trend was especially common in Eastern Christianity. This variation reflected local racial characteristics. The beardless image was a popular choice because it was more easily recognizable as the Messiah.

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