Today is Dec. 25th, 2012 so I will do a special post on Jesus Christ!
A few days ago I was watching a documentary on Youtube that was talking about the resurrection, final 6 sightings, and ascension of Jesus Christ and it got me to wonder a very obvious question “How tall was Jesus Christ? What was Jesus’s height?”
Of all the people in human history I could have done a height analysis on, I think it would only be appropriate if I tried to make an educated guess on the man that has probably effected more people in human history than any other person. Interestingly, a book from 1978 called “The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History” makes the claim that Jesus is only #3 in the rankings, behind his muslim counterpart Muhammad and Isaac Newton. However, I would guess to choose who is more influential is probably a more personal/ bias opinion between historians since everything is all subjective, unlike height.
For a reference, I did use Wikipedia, Biography.com
To start off, we know that Jesus born in a manger/stable close to the town of Bethlehem from the lack of inn space, which is in present day Palestine from the New Testament. That is the story that is told in Western Orthodox Christianity. It seems that his mother and “father” Joseph were average people. Joseph was a sheperd . Jesus was raised in the town of Nazareth, of Galilee, which is in modern day a large region in northern Israel. The predominant languages spoke then were in ascending order of prominence, Semitic Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek in that region of Israel.
We know he is Jewish. I once tried to figure out whether the term “Jew” and “Jewish” refers to either a group of people based on religion, ethnicity, or race. I think at least in the US, the term “Jew” and “Jewish” is used interchangeably in all contexts, for religion, ethnicity, and race. For me, I still can’t get the word to be defined and be accurately used.
If I tried to define Jesus as Jewish in terms of race, it would tell me very little. From Wikipedia on the Appearance of Jews Based On Stereotypes this is quoted…
“In caricatures and cartoons, Jews are often depicted having dark skin, curly black hair, large hook-noses, thick lips, large dark-colored eyes and wearing kippahs…Jews are commonly caricatured as having large noses or hook noses. Jews are also portrayed as swarthy and hirsute. There is a brown, edible woodland fungus, Auricularia cornea, commonly referred to as “Hairy Jew’s ear”.“
From past memory, the stereotype of Jews which I remember is that they are never described as “tall” but either average height or short. From JewishEncyclopedia.com…
“The average height of Jews is 162.1 cm.; span of arms, 169.1 cm.; and girth around the chest, about 81 cm.: so that they are the shortest and narrowest of Europeans. Their skulls are mainly brachycephalic; that is, the breadth is generally over 80 per cent of the length. This has been used as an argument against the purity of race, as most Semites—like the Arabs and Syrians—are dolichocephalic, or longheaded. But, as Jewish skulls are almost the broadest in all Europe, it is difficult to say how this characteristic could have arisen from any mixture: it is probably due to cerebral development.”
This figure is not indicated whether they are talking about men, women, or the average of all people.
It depends on the Jewish group…Ashkenazi Jews are usually tall. 90% of the Ashkenazi ( white ) Jews I’ve met are over 6’0″ or in the 5’10” – 6’1″ range…The Mizrahi and Sephardim Jews are usually more like 5’6″ – 5’9″ but it varies. The main reason these eastern European Jews are tall is because most eastern europeans are tall Jews or Gentiles. I personally am one fourth racial Jew and I am 5’4″ at almost 16 years of age … guess the height gene was prominant?…Actually the shorter Jewish guys, I’ve met are Ashkenazi, they were 5’7″-5’9″. The Sephardi that I met in Central, South America, Mexico included ranged from 6’4″ to 6’8″.
It seems that the term Jews encompasses many groups of people, Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, Sephardim, etc.
From JewishEncyclopedia.com, it would appear that the website is very negative towards Jews because it claims that on average, the Jews are about 1-3 shorter than the “gentiles” that surround them.
From these sources, it is clear that Jesus being ethnicity Jewish does not help me at all in figuring out how tall he is.
It would seem that the present day Israel has an average adult male height of 5′ 9.5″ and female is 5′ 5.5″ (source). If we take into consideration that present day Israel (and it’s territory of Palestine) is a developed country (at least the Tel Aviv part) with all the modern amenities like shopping centers which would indicate the people there are getting at least the enough food, right amount of nutrition when they are young and not suffering from malnutrition, we could say that for the people there, they have reached their genetic peak in that region. I have said before that there is really no “genetic peak” because I am quite positive that the children of israelites who relocate to the netherlands will end up probably 3-4 inches taller than their immigrant parents.
In terms of racial mixture and purity, that is impossible to pinpoint without DNA devices. The region of israel has been fought over, overrun, ransacked, and had its people raped and pillaged at least a half dozen major times in its history. The Mongols, the Christians during the Crusades, the ottomans, the turks, the Egyptians, the Hittites, the persians, babylonians, assyrians, they have all come through and left a genetic imprint on its people. So it is not really possible to determine the height of Jesus using standard average height based on ethnic group data.
We know from the results of North Korea and South Korea that malnutrition will decimate the stature of its people. From an old article entitled “Longevity & health in ancient Paleolithic vs. Neolithic peoples” by Ward Nicholson it said that men who lived in the Hellenistic times (300 BC-100 AD) were about 172 cm and women were around 156 cm.
His physical characteristics: We do not know whether he was tall or short. The image on the Shroud of Turin (believed by many to be the burial shroud of Jesus) is of a man variously estimated to be 5′ 11½” to 6′ 2″ tall. Jews who lived in the 1st century CE were much shorter than this. Writer William Harwood comments: “According to a medieval writer, [the Jewish historian] Josephus described Jesus as an old-looking man, balding, stooped, with joined eyebrows and approximately 135 cm (4ft 6 in.) tall.” 2 This is based on the standard 46 cm. long regular cubit — an ancient unit of distance. Using the 53 cm. special cubit, Jesus’ height would have been about 156 cm (5ft 1in.). Harwood also makes the point that if Jesus were really 6 feet high, his height would have been so remarkable that he would certainly have been described as a very tall person by the writers of the Christian Scriptures.
If I was to take an educated guess I would say that Jesus would probably not be the 5′ 11″-6′ 2″ that seems to be suggested by the Shroud Of Turin. The fact is that 6′ 0″ by today’s standards can be considered tall in some nations and even in some parts of the US, due to ethnic demographics. The other suggested height of 5′ 1″ seems more reasonable, although it seems to me to be a little on the short side, but how would I know what the average male height of people in biblical israel be.
From another credible source TheGospelCoalition.Org entitled “What did Jesus Look Like?” by Justin Taylor…
From an analysis of skeletal remains, archeologists had firmly established that the average build of a Semite male at the time of Jesus was 5 ft. 1 in., with an average weight of about 110 pounds.” I admit that it feels a bit strange to think of being over a foot taller than Jesus! But it’s good to have our cultural preconceptions—even prejudices—challenged.
It would seem that the 5′ 1″ figure appears again, and this time it is estimated from skeletal remains found by archeologists.
From an old article on Popular Mechanics entitled “The Real Face Of Jesus” we find that the same source is cited where the idea is that Jesus was an average height male being Galilee Semite. It says that Jesus was a carpenter so we know that he was probably very muscular and he worked in the sun so his face was probably more wrinkled, darker, which would make his complexion to be olive colored, or Meditarrenean. It would be restated that the real historical Jesus was considered to be not attractive, but very average looking.
Even some religious scholars which tried to do the research from biblical quotes like HERE end up to show that Jesus was just average height, the same size as his disciples. In the end, he made the point that the size of one individual does not determine whether they are a good man.
Conclusion: Most of the results point to the idea that Jesus was 5′ 1″. We do know that in the writings, Jesus and people in his area sustained themselves on bread and fish. Fish does have protein but not as much as cow. A diet of bread and fish technically will keep a human alive, but definitely not allow them to grow to their full potential. Jesus height probably we stunted by his diet. Plus, we know that Jesus also practiced the art of fasting like so many other religions. I wrote about the idea of Intermitent Fasting to increase height “Increase Height And Grow Taller Through Intermittent Fasting” but we have to remember that Jesus did not start preaching his message until he was after the age of 30. There seems to be no indication after his birth that Jesus was anything special or spiritual for an extended amount of time. If the effects of fasting was to wok at all, he never practiced it when he still growing. His hard labor life means that he was probably slouching a little. We saw from the other studies that technically, the Bedouin/Arabic/Semitic people of that region from 2000 years ago were probably not the tallest group of people. Environment had a lot to do with it. I am almost certain that after the Roman Empire fell, during the dark ages of Europe, the average height of people there was probably 2-3 inches shorter than back 300 years when the Romans had plenty of food and meat to eat. If we then try to extrapolate this idea that subsequent reversal of time back to the time of early roman empire, we could say that the average roman male was probably between 5′ 3″- 5′ 5″. Jesus was alive during that time, but he was not roman, and he did not live the same life. The 2 inches of difference which would result from the lifestyle difference and the hardship of his life suggest the value by archeologists is quite accurate. In conclusion, I would say that the real height of the historical Jesus Christ was probably between 5’0- 5′ 2″.
To end this post, it seems that even the creators of Family Guy caught on to this idea that Jesus is probably shorter than the modern idea of average height. I have embedded a video from Family Guy – Second Coming Of Jesus from Hulu.com below. Enjoy.