How Tall Was Jesus: What Science Says

Image source: Pixabay

Many people wonder how tall was Jesus, while this is impossible to be 100 percent sure, below we estimate that Jesus could have been as tall as 6’2″.

Jesus is a central religious figure, but he was also a man who walked this earth. How told was he according to history and science? This article is not about religion but about the man himself, and about what we know about him according to history and science.

Whatever your own beliefs and feelings about Jesus, his influence not just among Christians of every denomination (Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox) but in the history cannot be doubted.

He is one of the most influential people in history.

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. – Jesus Christ

What Do We Know About Jesus?

One of the most fascinating things about Jesus as a man is how little we actually know about him.

Image source: Wikipedia

But it is not all a matter of faith, we do know a few things about the man.

He was born in the Roman province of Judea (part of present-day Israel, Jordan, and Palestine). He had a short life (about 30 years). The precise dates of birth and death are unclear but it is believed that he was born about 4 BC and died at around 30 or 33 AD.

Jesus is now known both as Jesus of Nazareth and as Jesus Christ. During his lifetime he was a Jewish preacher and a religious leader. According to Christian belief, he is the incarnation of God the Son and, therefore, the prophesied Messiah or Christ.

Most of what we know about Jesus’s life and preaching activities comes from the four canonical gospels in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). But there are also references to his life in other books of the New Testament.

There are also other apocryphal accounts of his life, many of which were used by early Christians, but which did not become included in the New Testament. For example, the gospels of Peter, Thomas, or Judas.

Most biblical scholars agree that those apocryphal gospels were written much later than the canonical ones and are, therefore, much less reliable as accounts of Jesus’s life.

Although the authors of the four canonical authors are anonymous, they have been attributed to four people who knew Jesus closely and have become known as the four evangelists for that reason.

The Gospel according to Mark is attributed to John Mark, who was a close associate to Peter; the Gospel according to Mathew and the Gospel according to John is attributed to two of Jesus’ disciples, and the Gospel according to Luke is attributed to a companion of Paul.

It is important to notice that the canonical gospels are not one-hundred percent reliable from a historical point of view. Although this is an area of controversy about scholars there seems to be something of a consensus in considering Matthew, Mark, and Luke (the Synoptic Gospels). According to that, John would be the least historically reliable gospel of them all.

Image source: Wikipedia

What Did Jesus Look Like?

One of the questions about Jesus that the gospels is about Jesus physical appearance.

But researchers have sought to answer that question in more recent years. For example, the book What Did Jesus Look Like? By Joan Taylor is an investigation into Jesus´ physical appearance.

In it, its author attempts to go beyond all the many artistic renderings of Jesus. In an article she wrote for the Church Times, Taylor tells of her early travels to Israel and Palestine and of her fascination she felt when she encountered ancient pieces of cloth. She was surprised because the advances in archeology have proved that what people wore in the first century Judea is more like the clothes people world in the Greco-Roman world, unsurprisingly since Judea was a Roman province.

In an article about her book that she penned for the Church Times, she talks about how she was aware that Jesus would have looked like a Sephardi Jew or a present-day Palestinian.

She also describes how she went back to different sources in her attempt to piece together how the historical Jesus, as opposed to much later artistic representations of him, would have looked like.

Avoiding Stereotypes

The problem with trying to imagine Jesus as a modern-day Jew in terms of his physical appearance is that there are many non-Jewish people only have the caricature of the hooked nose or the dark skin to go by.

In fact, there are many distinct groups with under the Jewish cultural community. Although two main groups are usually identified: the Ashkenazim, originally from central Europe and the Sephardim, originally from Spain; there are also many smaller groups such as African Jews, Italian Jews, Cochin Jews, etc.

So, trying to condense the way Jewish people look to a handful of traits is not only reductive but inaccurate.

Looking at how tall present-day Jewish males are on average will also not be very helpful in shedding light on how tall Jesus was.

It is impossible to know exactly how tall Jesus was, or even to ascertain whether he was a tall or a short man for that historical period.

Image source: Wikipedia

If we were to follow the image on the Shroud of Turin, we would conclude that Jesus could have been as tall as 6’2’’. But that is too tall for men who lived in the 1st century BC. If he had been that tall, this feature would have been remarked by writers of the New Testament but, as we know, there are no mentions to this.

Archeological research seems to indicate that the average Semite male during Jesus’ estimated lifetime was 5’1’’ tall. This is the only reliable scientific evidence there is to estimate Jesus’ tallness. This is, of course, too little to make any firm claims to how tall Jesus was but it is all we have.

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1 Comment

  • The shroud is likely authentic – there isn’t much doubt now that the c14 dating on such a cloth is problematic, it has been re-dated using other means to the period of Jesus, and along with the testing and details of the image, the AB blood of a torture victim, and many many other details, and how it was formed (or not formed. With that said, this means that indeed there was a man of the size shown in the shroud at the time of Jesus. In addition the shroud man’s height is difficult to ascertain, but it is said to be 5 ft. 9 in. and 5 ft. 11 – not 6′ 1″. Furthermore there would be no reference to Jesus’ height in the Gospels as there is no reference at all to how he looked – nothing re: eye color, hair color, build, etc. Just my 2 cents…

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