The height of Jesus has been a subject of debate and controversy. It’s a subject of debate because the Bible doesn’t address the subject of height and it is a subject of controversy because there are all kinds of theories that try to guestimate Jesus’ height.
So, how tall was Jesus?
The Bible remains silent on the height of Jesus. However, anthropologists estimate that Jesus was most likely in the 5’1 to 5’5 range. This is based on the average heights of the Israelites who lived in the region during the time of Jesus.
Scientific Evidence of Jesus’ Height
At the turn of the century, a group of Israeli and British scientists led by Dr. Richard Neave set out to authoritatively determine the height of Jesus. They tried to reconstruct an image of Jesus using an Israeli skull that was dated to the first century A.D. They heavily relied on computer modeling coupled with the knowledge they had of the physical appearance of Jewish people who lived in Israel at the time. They ended up with a portrait of Jesus which was approximately 5 feet tall. Even though this was just a computer-generated model that most likely looked nothing like Jesus, most scholars agree that Dr. Richard Neave’s picture of Jesus was more accurate than what has been traditionally used as the portrait of Jesus.
Why Is the Bible Silent On Jesus’ Height?
The fact that the Bible has nothing to say about the height of Jesus is what has opened room for speculation and debate. So, why doesn’t the Bible say anything about Jesus’s height? Well, there are two main possibilities.
The first possibility is that there were other more important things to talk about. See, the ministry of Jesus had so much going on that the apostles were overwhelmed in documenting the stories. We know this from John’s account who noted,
“There are many other things Jesus did. If every one of them were written down, I suppose the whole world would not be big enough for all the books that would be written” John 21:25
This scripture makes it clear that the disciples meticulously chose the details to include in the gospel in order to avoid wasting time on trivial matters. It is therefore very likely that none of the Apostles thought knowing the height of Jesus would benefit the readers of the gospels.
The second possibility is that the height of Jesus was not spectacular. To put it simply, he was neither short nor tall but of average height. A quick study of the Bible reveals that the Bible would mention if someone was very short or very tall. However, if one had an average height, the topic wouldn’t even come up.
There are a couple of noteworthy examples that illustrate this point. The first is King Saul. The Bible described him as a handsome man who was a head taller than most (or maybe all) men in Israel (1 Samuel 9:2). Another example of a tall man in the Bible is Goliath. The Bible describes him as a giant that was six cubits and a span tall. When converted, this comes to nine feet tall which makes him arguably the tallest man in the Bible. Another example is Zacchaeus the tax collector in the days of Jesus. As the scripture illustrates, he was so short that he was unable to see Jesus in the crowds and had to climb a tree for a better view (Luke 19:3-4).
From the above examples, it would be safe to infer that Jesus was neither tall nor short – otherwise, the Bible would have mentioned it. This corroborates the estimates from anthropologists who place Jesus’ height estimate at the average height of 5’1 – 5’5.
Further Proof of Jesus’ Average Height
During the trial of Jesus just before he was crucified, it emerged that there was a criminal on trial by the name of Barabbas (Mathew 27:17). Pilate asked the crowds whom they wanted to be released between the two, and the crowd answered back that they would rather that Barabbas be released. Just like that, Barabbas went free and Jesus was sentenced to death. The cross had already been made and it didn’t matter who of the two the crowd chose – it would fit either of them. This could only mean one thing – the two men were of the same average height.
After Jesus was crucified on the cross, the Bible says the soldiers cast lots to see who would take the clothes of Jesus. Jesus had been dressed up in very costly purple garments and they didn’t want to see the clothes go to waste. This is another sign that Jesus was of average height – because his clothes would fit the centurion servant that got them.
Just like he was crucified on a cross that had been intended for another person, Jesus was also buried in a grave that had been dug for another person. Joseph of Arimathea had hewn the tomb for his family but offered to bury Jesus in it (Matthew 27:57–60). Because the tomb had not been custom-made for Jesus, it confirms that he was the average height of most men of his time.
In conclusion, the height of Jesus remains a mystery, as the Bible provides no definitive information on the subject. Nevertheless, anthropological estimates suggest that he likely fell within the range of 5’1″ to 5’5″, based on the average height of people living in the region during his era. While there have been attempts to scientifically ascertain Jesus’s height, such as Dr. Richard Neave’s computer-generated model, the Bible’s silence on this matter has left room for speculation and debate.
Intriguingly, historical events, such as the trial, crucifixion, and burial of Jesus, also suggest that he was of average stature, as he shared clothing, a cross, and even a tomb intended for others. Ultimately, while we may never know his exact height, the significance of Jesus transcends physical attributes, and his legacy endures through his teachings and the profound impact he had on the world.