Ugly Jesus

Many pictured Jesus but no one knew what he looked like …

For even the countenance of our Lord Himself in the flesh is variously fancied by the diversity of countless imaginations, which yet was one, whatever it was.

Before Constantine, most saw …

Christ at His first coming appeared inglorious

Even ugly to fulfill prophesy

not even in His aspect comely. For we have announced, says the prophet, concerning Him, (He is) as a little child, as a root in a thirsty land; and there was not in Him attractiveness or glory. And we saw Him, and He had not attractiveness or grace; but His mien was unhonoured, deficient in comparison of the sons of men,

His beauty was truer …

That the Lord Himself was uncomely in aspect, the Spirit testifies by Isaiah … Yet who was more admirable than the Lord? But it was not the beauty of the flesh visible to the eye, but the true beauty of both soul and body, which He exhibited

But could God be not only lowly but ugly? Not for a Greek …

it is impossible that He, to whom was imparted some divine quality beyond other beings, should not differ from others; whereas this person (Jesus) did not differ in any respect from another, but was, as they report, little, and ill-favoured, and ignoble.

Well hold on …

There are, indeed, admitted to be recorded some statements respecting the body of Jesus having been ill-favoured; not, however, ignoble, as has been stated, nor is there any certain evidence that he was little. The language of Isaiah runs as follows, who prophesied regarding Him that He would come and visit the multitude, not in comeliness of form, nor in any surpassing beauty … (but think of) the words of the forty-fifth Psalm, and why it is then said, Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O most mighty, with Thy comeliness and beauty; and continue, and prosper, and reign.

Ah, a favorable prediction. Kingly, comely, a Jesus for Constantine …

He was full of great grace; and to declare this the prophet said, Fair in beauty beyond the children of men.

And Isaiah? …

And if Esaias (Isaiah) saith, He hath no form nor comeliness, he affirms it either in comparison of the glory of His Godhead, which surpasses all utterance and description; or as declaring what took place at His passion, and the dishonor which He underwent at the season of the cross, and the mean estate which throughout His life He exemplified in all respects.

Feel free to picture the beautiful, suitable for his elevated Church.

8 Responses to “Ugly Jesus”

  1. Matthew Says:

    Mind you, to be fair to the 4th century, when they think of Jesus as being “fairer for the sons of men”, they aren’t thinking the same thing that Isaiah is when he says that the Servant “had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him.”

    Jesus, being fully man, had a body and mannerisms. These, I think, are what made him “unremarkable.” But the fact that he is also the God-man is what makes him so fair. When the theologians of the fourth century are thinking of Christ as radiant, most of them are not imagining that the man who walked the dirty streets of Jerusalem was himself more fair than others (or, if they are, this would be an inherently Greek way of thinking–that inner and outer beauty correlate, and not directly linked to the so-called “Triumph of the Church”). Instead, they are thinking that the inner essence of that Man which is now glorified and eternally united in the dance of the Holy Trinity was radiant.

  2. conor Says:

    Tertullian (”On the flesh of Christ”) wrote “His body did not reach even to human beauty, to say nothing of heavenly glory. Had the prophets given us no information whatever concerning His ignoble appearance, His very sufferings and the very contumely He endured bespeak it all. The sufferings attested His human flesh, the contumely proved its abject condition. Would any man have dared to touch even with his little finger, the body of Christ, if it had been of an unusual nature; or to smear His face with spitting, if it had not invited it (by its abjectness)? Why talk of a heavenly flesh, when you have no grounds to offer us for your celestial theory?”

    Jesus is not celestial, not even average. He is ugly. Yes this counters the Greek conception of divinity and the Kingly messiah of the Jews, proudly so. It fits the Church. Something else that sets her apart. She is far from worldly majesty. But the 4th century would change that.

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