Are most images of Jesus false since they contradict Paul's admonition against long hair?


Full Question

Aren't all images of Jesus false? In 1 Corinthians 11:14 Paul tells us long hair is degrading to and unnatural for a man. All the pictures of Jesus show him with long hair, so they must be false images.

Answer

The pictures we have of Christ do not derive from any physical description we have of him in the Bible, because there is none. The basic image comes from a long artistic and iconographic tradition. Nothing in that facial image contradicts the Bible.

Part of the problem here is how long is long? We know from archeological materials, such as Middle Eastern carvings and Egyptian tomb paintings, that Jews wore what we would consider today as long hair and beards. Hair reached down to the shoulders on men. Women wore hair down to the waist.

Paul was telling Corinthian men that wearing hair down to the waist as women did would be effeminate and unnatural. You assume the length and cut of a Jewish man's hair in the first century was as it is for most men today, but that's a misconception which results in your misinterpretation of Paul's epistle.


Catholic Answers Staff