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Dutch Photographer Bas Uterwijk’s Striking Jesus Christ Historically Accurate?

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Dutch photographer Bas Uterwijk has rendered a series of images of famous people, including Jesus Christ, using artificial intelligence.

Uterwijk’s photo of the first century Middle Eastern Jewish rabbi depicts Jesus with brown skin, brown eyes, and a short beard.

The Amsterdam artist “has a background in computer graphics, 3D animation, and special effects,” according to My Modern Met.

Uterwijk created three versions of Jesus, each with a subtle change in skin tone and hair length.

Uterwijk reportedly used existing works depicting Jesus with software called Art Breeder, “which generates photorealistic images from multiple images.”

According to Teller Report‘s translation of a French article on Uterwijk’s Jesus photos:

“For one of the images, I added a little historical truth,” he explains. “In one of the three versions, Jesus has shorter hair because historians do not believe that at that time, in the region of Galilee, in Israel, a man could have had hair so long.” …

“Sometimes I try to be as realistic as possible and sometimes I try to give a representation of how we perceive a character in history,” concludes the photographer.

Warner Sallman's Head of Christ painting
Warner Sallman’s “Head of Christ,” 1940.

Contrary to popular Western interpretations of Jesus’ appearance, researchers have long suggested that the historical Jesus likely had a brown or olive complexion and short hair. Popular images of the Christian Savior in the U.S. tend to resemble an Anglo, with blue eyes, pale skin, and long, flowing hair.

White Jesus
(Photo: Hans Zatzka [Public Domain]/The Conversation, CC BY-ND)
Uterwijk’s A.I.-generated portraits include dozens of well-known figures, including Napoleon, George Washington, and Vincent Van Gogh. In addition to his website, the images can be viewed on his Instagram account.

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Faithfully Magazine is a fresh, bold and exciting news and culture publication that covers issues, conversations and events impacting Christian communities of color.


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