I was talking with one Mythicist, and he claims that Church fathers dissagree about Jesus's appearence so much that He was just their invention.

On Celsus's claim that Jesus was ugly and small, Origen agrees. Tertullian and Irenaeus said something simillar. John of Damascus and Hierosolymitanus say Jesus was unibrowed and crooked. Some bishops sent letters to byzantine emperor Theophilus and described he was three cubits tall and Ephrem Syrus also said this. In short, earliest Church Fathers generally agreed that Jesus was short and nothing special in look.

However, later Church Fathers describe Jesus completey differently.

,,When Jesus saw great crowds around Him" (St. Matthew 8:18) wrote: "The people were really attracted to Him and they loved Him and marveled at Him, desiring always to be looking upon Him. Who would want to leave while He was doing these marvelous deeds? Who would not want to simply get a glance at the face and the mouth only when He was doing wonders, but even when He was just looked upon, simply He was just full of grace." This is what the prophet David meant when he said that He was the most beautiful among the sons of man.

Now if the physical body of sweetest Jesus was so beautiful then when He was bearing a corruptible body, how much more beautiful is it now that it has become incorruptible and glorified and His divine face is shining in heaven infinitely more brightly than the sun? This is why St. John Chrysostom has sought with his eloquent homilies to move us to do everything we can so that we may achieve and enjoy the sweetest vision of the glorified and most beautiful and most desired divine face of Jesus. For if one is to be deprived of the vision of the most beautiful and most desired face of Jesus, this is truly a worse calamity than a thousand hells." St. John Chrysostom

Unauthentic letter of Publius Lentulus describes Him this way:

,,He is a man of medium size (statura procerus, mediocris et spectabilis); he has a venerable aspect, and his beholders can both fear and love him. His hair is of the colour of the ripe hazel-nut, straight down to the ears, but below the ears wavy and curled, with a bluish and bright reflection, flowing over his shoulders. It is parted in two on the top of the head, after the pattern of the Nazarenes. His brow is smooth and very cheerful with a face without wrinkle or spot, embellished by a slightly reddish complexion. His nose and mouth are faultless. His beard is abundant, of the colour of his hair, not long, but divided at the chin. His aspect is simple and mature, his eyes are changeable and bright. He is terrible in his reprimands, sweet and amiable in his admonitions, cheerful without loss of gravity. He was never known to laugh, but often to weep. His stature is straight, his hands and arms beautiful to behold. His conversation is grave, infrequent, and modest. He is the most beautiful among the children of men."

Even Muslim hadiths describe Him differently:

,,The Prophet mentioned the Massiah Ad-Dajjal in front of the people saying, Allah is not one eyed while Messsiah, Ad-Dajjal is blind in the right eye and his eye looks like a bulging out grape. While sleeping near the Ka'ba last night, I saw in my dream a man of brown color the best one can see amongst brown color and his hair was long that it fell between his shoulders. His hair was lank and water was dribbling from his head and he was placing his hands on the shoulders of two men while circumambulating the Kaba. I asked, 'Who is this?' They replied, 'This is Jesus, son of Mary.'" Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Number 649

Gospels don't describe His appearance, but they say Jesus could easily be lost from he sight in the crowd and that the soldiers divided his garments and cast lots for seeing who will get His clothes, which implies He might have been somewhere of their (soldiers') height.

Now, this Mythicist argues, that, if Jesus existed, than people would remember how He looked like, even though it's unimportant or not described in the Gospels. Now, He can accept these descriptions that Jesus is beautiful as simple exagarations. However, what both me and this Mythicist find strange is that if He was really small and ugly, then Jesus wouldn't simply get lost in the crowds, He would actually b noticeable and Judas wouldn't have to kiss Him for soldiers to recognize Him. So by this, he argues Jesus never existed and Christians simply weren't sure how to paint Him.

Is this argument for non-existence legit and how to respond to it? Thanks in advance!

  • Can you clean up what parts of the question are quotations? For example, you claim the fifth paragraph was written by St John Chrysostom, but the paragraph includes "This is why St. John Chrysostom has sought..." which is obviously not what St John Chrysostom would write. Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 19:44
  • christianity.stackexchange.com/q/39333/23657. Related
    – 007
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 19:49
  • 2
    I think responding to a mythicist about an unknowable thing (Jesus’ appearance) is off topic here and opinion based.
    – 007
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 19:51
  • Also related. christianity.stackexchange.com/a/7036/23657
    – 007
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 20:20
  • As can be easily glanced from a simple reading of their content, the patristic passages you quote or reference are simply pious speculations based on various biblical verses; none of them purports to be an extra-biblical eyewitness account.
    – user46876
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 0:20

1 Answer 1


There is not as much disagreement over Jesus' appearance as your question indicates.

In fact there is near unanimity amongst Christians on the matter of his appearance - specifically virtually all Christians agree that we do not know what he looked like. The scriptures record nothing of his physical appearance, and there are no other authoritative descriptions of him. While various people have speculated on what the might have looked like, given the norms of his day, nobody outside the conspiracy-theory fringe claims to have any certainty.

Celsus was not a Christian, and wrote what he wrote as part of an attack on Christianity. He also lived 100 years after Christ, could have have seen him and was unlikely to have met anyone who did. Origen did not "agree" with Celsus, and most of what we know about Celsus comes from Origen's refutation of his thought, though it is also possible that Origen did not refute Celsus' accusations of 'ugliness', since it has never been important to Christian thought that Jesus was beautiful.

The quote you ascribe to "St John Chrysostom" is not actually from him, or any of the other church fathers, but from Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes (Boise, Idaho, USA January 2004), who gives a confusing series of nested quotes, some of which are drawn from St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite (1749-1809), who in turn partially quotes Chrysostom but makes it unclear where the Chrysostom quotes end. The parts that I have been able to attribute to Chrysostom are commenting on the "attractiveness" of Jesus being based on the good and miraculous works he was doing, not on his appearance.

The "letter of Publius Lentulus" is fictional and dates from the fifteenth century.

The majority of opinion (and it is opinion) is that Jesus probably looked neither very beautiful nor very ugly, making it easy for him to be "lost in the crowd", although many would put that down to supernatural intervention. Other questions on this site discuss the issue of Judas' identification of Jesus, and how it might have been necessary even if Jesus had a distinctive appearance.

To answer your actual question the lack of knowledge about the appearance of Jesus does not in any way cause doubt about his existence. It was perfectly normal in those days, when making a likeness of someone was a major undertaking and was done only for those at the absolute pinnacle of political importance, that nothing was known about the appearance of people who definitely existed. To my knowledge no record has survived of the appearance of many major figures from the time, but that does not cause us to doubt their existence.

  • 1
    Thank you for clearing that up to me! The issue for that Mythicist is not as much as lack of knowledge of Jesus's appearance, but these dissagreements, which you explained. You say Jesus was probably neither beautiful nor ugly, I think that too, though that quote from Celsus and ,,admiting" by Origen seems suspicious to me. I guess it is possible Celsus was simply exagarating and that Origen also exagarated. I honestly thought this was a good argument, but now I am little embarassed for posting this question:)
    – curious
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 20:44
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    I added more about Celsus. Your Mythicist seems remarkably ill-informed. Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 21:08

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