Justin Bieber's Jesus tattoo: why in his armpit?

Justin Bieber's Jesus tattooTeen idol and professing Christian Justin Bieber has a new tattoo, it is reported, and the tattoo reads יֵשׁוּעַ, i.e. the name “Jesus” in Hebrew. At least it should read that if correctly spelled, which it is not in the text superimposed on the image I reproduce here.

This image is allegedly of part of Bieber’s body. But I had trouble finding the supposed “Jesus” tattoo. The mark to the right of Bieber’s navel is presumably the seagull tattoo mentioned in a Los Angeles Times article. But where is the new tattoo? Apparently it is what is just visible in the image underneath the armpit.

What message, I wonder, is 17-year-old Bieber trying to put across by having the name of Jesus written on one of the most hidden and smelliest parts of his body? In an interview last November he clearly stated:

I’m a Christian, I believe in God, I believe that Jesus died on a cross for my sins. I believe that I have a relationship and I’m able to talk to him and really, he’s the reason I’m here …

So perhaps he intends to honour Jesus by having his name tattooed on his armpit. But I can understand some thinking that in fact he intends to ridicule the name by his choice of where on his body he had the tattoo done.

Here in the UK he would not be allowed to get a tattoo, as he is under 18. The law sensibly protects minors from having their bodies disfigured in ways they might regret in adulthood. Unfortunately Bieber, a Canadian who is said to have had his latest tattoo done in Israel, has not benefited from this protection. But from this point of view it is perhaps for the best that the tattoo is in an easily hidden place.

This time it is not Joel Watts but his co-blogger Gez who is the author of the post at Unsettled Christianity where I found this news, The new Bieber Jesus tattoo. No doubt they have chosen this topic in an effort to lift their end of the month Alexa ratings enough to dethrone Jim West from his #1 Biblioblogger spot. So I offer this post to support their effort – and hoping it won’t do my own ranking any harm. Anyway I am following in a venerable tradition of bibliobloggers such as John Hobbins and David Ker posting about celebrity tattoos.

CORRECTION: The correct Hebrew spelling for the name “Jesus” is not יְשׁוּעַ as I wrote at first, but יֵשׁוּעַ, i.e. with the sign for a long “e” (tsere) rather than a short one (sheva) under the initial consonant. Both are pronounced “Yeshua”. Bieber’s tattoo artist presumably didn’t know which to use, as he seems to have omitted this vowel sign completely.



11 thoughts on “Justin Bieber's Jesus tattoo: why in his armpit?

  1. “I can understand some thinking that in fact he intends to ridicule the name by his choice of where on his body he had the tattoo done.”

    Perhaps it’s a silly place to have a tattoo but I wouldn’t understand at all people who think he intends to ridicule the name of Jesus by where the tattoo is placed. Thats taking it way too far saying he’s mocking Jesus in that way. Some people really boggle my mind!

  2. Ferg, if someone who wasn’t a Christian had a tattoo like that I would certainly think they were mocking Jesus. Bieber said he was a Christian. So I think there are two possibilities. Either he is not really a Christian, at least now, and wants to mock Jesus; or else he has done something which is not just silly but also apparently disrespectful. I hope the truth is the latter, and he will grow out of this kind of silliness.

  3. This is the first I’ve heard of this, and what comes to mind for me is not so much “armpit” as the rib-and-flesh relationship between Adam and Eve, i.e. marriage, which shadows the convenental relationship between God and us. Perhaps Mr Bieber is revealing a glimpse of his doctrinal position? Just a random thought!

  4. Badtanline, that’s an interesting idea but I don’t think we can confirm it, at least unless anyone reading this knows Justin or his entourage personally. I guess he is interested in marriage at some stage, and I hope he picks the right girl.

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  6. Really random how I ended up here, but in any case re: the vowels; pointing (adding of vowels) is not generally used in Hebrew. In the Hebrew Bible, pointing (adding of vowels) was something that was “added” by masoretic scribes to help keep the tradition of pronunciation while the oral tradition was dying off (this was something like 1500 years after the time of Christ).

    From what I understand, even today vowel pointing is only used in Israel to teach children while publications for adults (i.e. the newspaper) does not utilize vowels at all, but only the consonantal text.

    So, all to say, there may be no vowels on this tattoo at all…

  7. Thank you, GT. Yes, you may be right that there are no vowel points at all on the tattoo. The picture isn’t very clear. There do seem to be some marks where one might expect dots above the letter shin and inside the vav, but these might be Justin’s moles or artefacts of image compression.

  8. Maybe he just wanted the tattoo there. Why does it matter to anyone other than himself where he places his tattoos and the meaning behind it. The author of this has way too much time on his hands. No one would get a tattoo to ‘mock’ something hahaha. How pathetic. Also, in some places it’s not illegal to get tattoos under 18 If you have parental consent. People try to fight me all the time saying my tattoos were illegally done when in reality I was 16, I went to a professional parlor and my mother took me. People should mind their own business Justin did not get his tattoo for any of you he got it for himself.

  9. OH MY GOSH ARE YOU PEOPLE SO BLIND. I’ve had the same idea as him for a while. It is very clear to me that he is highly bonded with Christ. He is VERY CLOSE TO HIS HEART. Have you ever thought he might want to have something that meant everything to him permanently placed on the place of his body closest to his heart? This isn’t disrespect at all. Its devotion. PEACE OUT PPL OF EARTH JUSTIN & NIALL LUV U!

  10. OMG I CAN’T BELIEB NOBODY SAW THIS. Jesus is very CLOSE TO HIS HEART. I find it very clear he would permanently right Jesus on the part of his body closest to his heart. I have shared this idea with him for the longest time and its only logical. Hint-ur heart is close to ur armpit if u haven’t noticed!

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