Why Do We Still See Jesus With Long Hair in Art?

Most artistic depictions of Jesus feature his long hair and beard, but a recent discovery in Shivta, Israel, showed Jesus with short, curly hair and an oval face. This new depiction was created using bone scans, computer modeling, and knowledge about Jewish men at that time.


Many paintings of Jesus depict him with long hair, but the biblical text actually promotes maintaining short hair for good health. Long hair was associated with false prophets and pagan gods, while short hair symbolized wisdom in ancient Greece and Rome. However, like most Jewish men of that era, Jesus likely had long hair and a beard.


The Bible uses various symbols to represent Jesus’ divinity, including his white hair, which signifies purity and holiness. Depicting Jesus with long hair helps differentiate him from others. Most Jewish men at the time had short hair due to lice issues, so the portrayal of Jesus with long hair likely evolved later to reflect his divinity.


The image of Jesus with long hair and a beard comes from Byzantine art, prioritizing symbolism over historical accuracy. In Jesus’ time, most Jewish men had short hair to distinguish themselves from women. Jesus may have taken a Nazarite vow, which typically involved growing long hair, but the New Testament does not explicitly mention this.


Historical evidence does not support the claim that Jesus wore long hair. It is more likely that he had short, neatly maintained locks by cultural norms. Depicting Jesus with long hair in art is a longstanding tradition that might not accurately reflect his appearance.