Most people in the West have a certain picture in their mind when they think of Jesus. In most cases, it is probably not at all accurate. In this article, historian Joan Taylor explores what Jesus looked like as well as what he most likely wore.

As it says in the article, “the sociologist Chris Shilling argues, {our bodies} are “both personal resources and social symbols that ‘give off’ messages about identity.”

What are messages that Jesus “gave off” through his appearance?

Consider what parts of Jesus’ real appearance are the hardest for you to accept. Why? What values and beliefs in your culture make it difficult to accept.

Why do people persist in creating visual images of Jesus that are inaccurate? What cultural issues are involved? Is it possible to use different cultural or ethnic images of Jesus but still communicate the same “message” that Jesus’ appearance originally “gave off”?

Reading the article and working through these questions is a great exercise in developing intercultural competence!


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