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Jesus' Appearance

July 22, 2009

As mentioned in my previous article (The Far Horizon), my wife and I lived for an extended period in Israel. This provided opportunity not only to become familiar with the geographical features of the land, but the culture that derived from a biblical legacy. I did not come across anyone who doubted the historical credibility of Jesus, although many were not persuaded by his claims. Now with a plethora of consipiracy theories, the Jesus of history provides a needed reality check.

We are told that the average height of males at the time was about 5 foot 4 inches. Even if Jesus were a little above average, he likely did not exceed the height of my brother at 5 foot 8 inches, let alone appoach my nearly 6 foot 3 inches.

He was no doubt sturdily built. This is not surprising for one who labored as a carpenter, thought by some to be more along the line of a stone mason, until thirty years of age. Moreover, in that he was able to sustain a vigorous itinerent ministry. Finally, in various incidental ways.

One would assume that he was dark complected, in keeping with his Semitic origin. Conversely, he was probably not blond and fair skinned as depicted in Pilot's alleged letter to Tiberius Caesar. In more general terms, he had no strikingly unusual features, since this would have solicited the ricidule of his adversaries.

He had an exceptionally strong voice that allowed him to address large audiences. Some years ago a study was done to determine whether such was possible. One site seemed especially well qualified. It resembles an ampitheater, extending from the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

The first thing that impressed people was that he spoke with authority. This was unlike the rabbinc tradition, which relied heavily on religious precedent.

I would gather that he was one of those relatively rare individuals who gives his or her undivided attention to another. The martyr/theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was said to be of this cast, as were two physicians that come readily to mind.

While the dogma of the Trinity may seem obscure, C. S. Lewis maintained that it has practical implications. In particular, he imagines a very ordinary believer addressing the Father in prayer, with intercession from the Son, and enablement by the indwelling Spirit.

This, in turn, recalls a time when I was leading a Bible study in a Chicago coffee house. One of the participants had long hair. When intending to speak, he would toss it aside---so that his speech would not be muffled. Thus alerted to his intention, we awaited his comment. "Man," he exclaimed concerning Jesus, "God was all there!" So it must have seemed to some who encountered him. Accordingly, it bears repeating: "God was all there!"

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