When people talk about the appearance of Jesus, the controversy is almost always about his skin tone and eye color. A whole tradition of Western artwork and moviemaking erroneously depicts the Galilean rabbi with light-colored eyes and skin, when archaeological evidence and, shucks, common sense maintain that he had much darker features. But what about the rest of his body? In particular, what about those body parts that mark him as male, which are so central to our understanding of who Jesus was?
Newly published scientific investigations into the Turin Shroud have identified the outline of the scrotum and right hand thumb of the man outlined on the cloth. If the Shroud is authentic, this would seem to supply clear evidence that Jesus was, in fact, male. But a recent book by Giulio Fanti and Pierandrea Malfi aside, the majority of scholars believe that the Shroud is almost certainly a medieval forgery.
Which brings us back to the question: how do we know Jesus had male genitalia? To be sure, his behavior in the Gospels and the way that he is described by early Christian sources presuppose that he was male, but this does not necessarily tell us as much about his gender as we might think.