We read at Luke 19:2-4 (NRSVCE):

" A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way."

Now, we see Jesus being depicted in movies and still pictures as a tall person; taller than his disciples are. If he was taller than others, Zacchaeus could have seen him from a distance ( well, he only wanted to see who Jesus was !) . One is therefore, inclined to believe that Jesus was of average height, or even less than that (Wikipedia says he was 5 feet 7 inches tall ). My question therefore is: Do the apocryphal teachings of Catholic Church tell us something on the height of Jesus ?

  • John 5:13 and 8:59 give examples of Jesus escaping danger by slipping into a crowd. Someone that's significantly taller than average can't do that. – Ray Butterworth Oct 15 '19 at 16:04
  • @RayButterworth “At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.” (John 8:59). There would be all sort of things to walk around on temple grounds besides people: pillars, the market place and so on. – Ken Graham Oct 16 '19 at 10:36
  • I think whether you can see a leader in a crowd depends on more factors than just the height of the leader. I was at a large annual rally with a short friend, and he could not see the stage even though it was elevated. I joked that the people at the rally should have organized themselves by height, with the shorter people in front (so that everyone could see the stage). – Tharpa Oct 16 '19 at 18:55

How tall was Jesus?

The apocrypha Do not speak of the height of Jesus, but like the apocrypha the Shroud of Turin is to be considered extra biblical source of possible information. One is free to believe it or not.

For those who desire the Shroud of Turin to be a true relic of the Passion and Crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ his height was estimated to be about 5’7” to 6’2”.

The shroud is rectangular, measuring approximately 4.4 by 1.1 metres (14 ft 5 in × 3 ft 7 in). The cloth is woven in a three-to-one herringbone twill composed of flax fibrils. Its most distinctive characteristic is the faint, brownish image of a front and back view of a naked man with his hands folded across his groin. The two views are aligned along the midplane of the body and point in opposite directions. The front and back views of the head nearly meet at the middle of the cloth.

The image of the "Man of the Shroud" has a beard, moustache, and shoulder-length hair parted in the middle. He is muscular and tall (various experts have measured him as from 1.70 to 1.88 m or 5 ft 7 in to 6 ft 2 in). Reddish-brown stains are found on the cloth, showing various wounds that, according to proponents, correlate with the yellowish image, the pathophysiology of crucifixion, and the Biblical description of the death of Jesus.

Pope John Paul II stated in 1998 that:[62] "Since it is not a matter of faith, the Church has no specific competence to pronounce on these questions. She entrusts to scientists the task of continuing to investigate, so that satisfactory answers may be found to the questions connected with this Sheet." Pope John Paul II showed himself to be deeply moved by the image of the Shroud and arranged for public showings in 1998 and 2000. In his address at the Turin Cathedral on Sunday 24 May 1998 (the occasion of the 100th year of Secondo Pia's 28 May 1898 photograph), he said: "The Shroud is an image of God's love as well as of human sin ... The imprint left by the tortured body of the Crucified One, which attests to the tremendous human capacity for causing pain and death to one's fellow man, stands as an icon of the suffering of the innocent in every age." Shroud of Turin (Wikipedia)

Shroud of Turin

A replica of the Shroud of Turin.

Wikipedia,’s article on the Race and appearance of Jesus further states:

As quoted by Eisler,:393–394, 414–415 both Hierosolymitanus and John of Damascus claim that "the Jew Josephus" described Jesus as having had connate eyebrows with goodly eyes and being long-faced, crooked and well-grown. In a letter of certain bishops to the Emperor Theophilus, Jesus's height is described as three cubits (four feet six), which was also the opinion of Ephrem Syrus (320–379 AD), "God took human form and appeared in the form of three human ells (cubits); he came down to us small of stature." Theodore of Mopsuestia likewise claimed that the appearance of Christ was smaller than that of the children of Jacob (Israel). In the apocryphal Lentulus letter, Jesus is described as having had a reddish complexion, matching Muslim traditions in this respect. Jesus's prediction that he would be taunted "Physician, heal yourself" may suggest that Jesus was indeed physically deformed ('crooked' or hunch-backed), as claimed in the early Christian texts listed above. Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Ambrose considered lack of physical attractiveness in Jesus as fulfilling the messianic prophecy Suffering Servant narrative of Isaiah 53.

The more mainstream, theological perspective, as expressed by Church Fathers Jerome and Augustine of Hippo, argued that Jesus must have been ideally beautiful in face and body. For Augustine he was "beautiful as a child, beautiful on earth, beautiful in heaven". These theological arguments were further extended in the 13th century by Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae based on his analysis of the perfection of Christ, reasoning that Jesus must have embodied every possible human perfection.

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