The possibility of having any (actual) image of Jesus Christ is an age long mystery that some believe can never be unravelled.

Coming early 20th century, the latest iconograph many tend to have ignorantly accepted as the image of the son of Mary was only designed by American painter Warner Sallman. Rated as an “extraordinarily successful work of Christian popular devotional art”, in the “portrait painting of Jesus of Nazareth” category, “The Head of Christ”, which had been reproduced over half a billion times worldwide by the end of the 20th century is only one out of numerous pieces of artwork by modern day painters especially of the western world.

Read also, Reginal Daniels’ sin

Majority faithfuls especially of African descent appear to have been swayed by a second-fiddle mentality; which is inspired simply by “white predomination”.

The truth of the matter is that much of what we claim to know about Jesus’ looks is a product of artistic creations by various early European painters and ‘drawers’.

Mainly as we were not told of Christs’ glimpses in the Scriptures, painters and mosaic-creators would often resort to the artistic canons of their time to create a visual image of the “Man of Galilee”. The implication of this is that some of the earliest depictions of Jesus were all mere reflections of the pattern of diverse dimensions of Biblical people and places.

As a matter of fact, widely held ‘sacrosanct’, especially by some Africans who have in actuallity been bamboozzled into mental and religious neo-subjugation, believing like the supremacists made them to reason, that “Christ is white and anything good can not be black”

Sallman who painted “The Head of Christ” was a professional illustrator working with a religious magazine known as Covenant Companion. One day he urgently needed to get a cover image done for the February, 1924 issue of the medium. Sallman had dedicated a lot of time and energy into his task in consideration of the very close deadline. He wanted to do a face of Christ, but wasn’t satisfied with his ideas. Hovering in the back of his mind was a statement by E. O. Sellers, the night director of Moody Bible Institute,

“…make Him a real man. Make Him rugged, not effeminate. Make Him strong and masculine, not weak, so people will see in his face He slept under the stars, drove the money changers out of the temple, and faced Calvary in triumph.” Just as it is discernible in the polular artwork.

Anything worth doing is worth doing, and well… Little wonder Sallman was unable to find precisely the right idea at first.

With the curtain of deadline about to be drawn, Sallman saw a vision early one morning of the face he must draw. He went up to his studio and made a sketch. Years later he converted that sketch to a painting–the best-known representation of Christ done in the twentieth century.

Less than a century old, The Head of Christ when considered today alongside older images or paintings of Christ like the relatively unknown first-century Alexamenos graffito, to the famous sixth-century Egyptian Pantrocrator is one huge successful effort at a highly instructive depiction of Christ as strong, real, rugged, compassionate and the true Pontracrator.

But to the majority adherents, the portrait by Sallman is not just another one, they believe it is a product of divine inspiration reveals to Sallman in a miraculous dream. Isn’t any surprise the The Head of Christ is also venerated in the Coptic Orthodox Church, after twelve-year-old Isaac Ayoub of Houston, Texas, who was diagnosed with leukaemia, saw the eyes of Jesus in the painting shedding tears; Fr. Ishaq Soliman of St. Mark’s Coptic Church in Houston, on the same day, “testified to the miracles” and on the next day, “Dr. Atef Rizkalla, the family physician, examined the youth and certified that there were no traces of leukemia” With episcopal approval from Bishop Tadros of Port Said and Bishop Yuhanna of Cairo, “Sallman’s Head of Christ was exhibited in the Coptic Church”, with “more than fifty thousand people” visiting the church to see it.


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