News of a simulacrum – identified as usual but with no real justification as Jesus – not only in this city, but just a few streets away from where I write this.
The image (above) is on the wall of the Mayho Chinese Takeaway in Neville Road, Sunderland. It was brought to general attention, via the Sunderland Echo newspaper, by Ian Ridley and Lawrence Boys, who had called in for a takeawy.
Ridley: “We were quite drunk at the time and went to get something to eat. We were waiting four our meal outside when we saw it. It was Jesus looking right at us, we were shocked and couldn’t believe it. It’s a miracle !
“The best thing about it is the face is actually facing the direction of St Luke’s church so it looks like it’s supposed to be there.”
Why are simulacra that look like bearded figures inevitably identified as Jesus ? No-one has the faintest idea what he actually looked like, if indeed he actually was an identifiable historical person.
The New Testament includes no description of the physical appearance of Jesus before his death and its narrative is generally indifferent to racial appearances and does not refer to the features of the people it discusses. One thing we can probably bet on with any certainty is that he didn’t look like all those blue-eyed western European images that we’re so familiar with. If anything, I’d imagine he looked like a modern-day Palestinian.
Given its proximity to St Luke’s (the local Christian church) why not identify it as Luke himself ? But then, why limit ourselves to Christian deities ?
Given the nature of the business on whose wall it appeared, perhaps we should be looking towards the East.
Personally, I’d vote for Tsai-Shen, Chinese god of wealth and – I’ve heard it said – so popular that even athiests worshipped him. Certainly a fortunate sign to appear on a Chinese business.
Below is a statuette of Tsai-Shen. Compare the facial features with those of the simulacrum.
What do you reckon ?