Do we know what Jesus actually looks like?


Tertullian was actually apparently sort of big about Jesus being unattractive, because he believed that it is the fufillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

Let us compare with Scripture the rest of His dispensation. Whatever that poor despised body may be, because it was an object of touch and sight, it shall be my Christ, be He inglorious, be He ignoble, be He dishonoured; for such was it announced that He should be, both in bodily condition and aspect. Isaiah comes to our help again: “We have announced (His way) before Him,” says he; “He is like a servant, like a root in a dry ground; He has no form nor comeliness; we saw Him, and He had neither form nor beauty; but His form was despised, marred above all men.” Similarly the Father addressed the Son just before: “Inasmuch as many will be astonished at You, so also will Your beauty be without glory from men.” (Isaiah 52:14) For although, in David’s words, He is fairer than the children of men, yet it is in that figurative state of spiritual grace, when He is girded with the sword of the Spirit, which is verily His form, and beauty, and glory. According to the same prophet, however, He is in bodily condition “a very worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and an outcast of the people.”

Jesus is Jesus and will be Jesus, whether He was actually a tall, physically fit person who looks like Robert Powell or Jim Caviezel or Johnny Depp or whatever or He was actually a short, stocky guy with a receding hairline 2000 years ago.


He was also the Son of God. I think he would have looked Jewish, but also have been the image of male perfection. After all, he did all things perfectly and was divinely concieved, so I would imagine his genetic profile to have been perfect too. That said, I think he probably was tall, dark, and very good–looking, no imperfections, with an athletic physique as he worked as a carpenter for years.

Obviously this isn’t factual, but it makes sense to me.


I once asked a Greek friend about tekton. He has a good knowledge of classical Greek and he told me he is unaware of the word tekton ever having been used to designate any trade other than a carpenter.


I guess it depends on how you define carpenter.
Tekton to the best of my knowledge means an artisan or craftsman, in particular wood builders or carpenters.

Not that I’m some expert in koine Greek or anything like that.


This is how I define carpenter:


Sure, when you go Greek deep. But when you go Hebrew deep, it gets really fun! Especially when you look at all of the ways that the same Hebrew word that translates to “Tekton” in Greek is used in the Old Testament.

Here is one place to start, for anyone interested…


There have been 3D models built from the Shroud. He had a strong frame and arms, indicating he worked hard for a living before starting his public ministry.

In Notre Dame (Vatican property) in Jerusalem, you can see this life sized 3D image.


The idea that Jesus was a woodworker is old - there was already a popular belief among early Christians that Jesus was a guy who made plows and yokes.

There was a symbolic reason for this: since Jesus died on a wooden cross, apparently the early Christians thought that it was fitting that He should be making wooden yokes (the yoke evoking the patibulum, the crossbeam).

I think Father said this earlier, but while the idea of Jesus making yokes and other mundane implements is still plausible, the type of carpentry we see in some religious art - where Jesus and Joseph make large tables or cabinets or stuff like that - is a bit unlikely, because high-quality wood was rare and were usually imported. In other words, there’s a very slim chance that imported decent lumber (the cedars of Lebanon, etc.) will end up in a small backwater rural village like Nazareth.

At that part of the world, you’d get more jobs and money working with stone - which were in abundance (seriously, they are even standing on it) compared to wood. With stone, you could build houses or even make bowls or cups or jars. (Most Jews took the purity laws of the Old Testament seriously; unlike pottery or wooden utensils, bowls or cups made of stone are thought to be immune to ritual impurity, which is which they were in high demand, especially for the more pious folks.)

The thing is, it’s not like Joseph or Jesus would have worked only with wood or only with stone; maybe it was both. Many artisans in those days were not just people who specialized in one single particular thing to the exclusion of others, nor were many farmers just farmers and nothing else. Actually, it would seem that many people were not stuck to one single kind of job: a lot of working peasants would have had a side job or trade of sorts. Who knows, maybe Joseph and Jesus built houses or made stone cups; maybe they made yokes or plows, maybe they were also repairmen who fixed boats or some small furniture or some leaky roof.


His hair only reaches his jawline on the shroud, and it was probably weighed down with sweat and blood.


Patrick.—Yet another theory about what kind of work Jesus did, and where he did it:


Okay, I cannot read 190 replies to see if you have seen this, and hopefully you have already. If not, you will want to see it:

Physical Description of Jesus


I not only don’t know, I don’t care. Sometimes you see Jesus portrayed as mixed-race, same as his mother, sometimes you see him as being Southern European, sometimes you see him as being Eastern Asian, sometimes you see him as other things in art. Honestly, I think the message is much more important.


I’ve read the entire Bible, Genesis to Revelation, there’s never a physical description of Jesus.


I couldn’t remember any either, except the prophetic ones in Isaiah, and I never understood those to be literal descriptions of what he looked like.


That’s true, but to a limited extent.

Salvation history is important. It’s not irrelevant (as some want to claim).

Christ existed as a real human person.

Salvation history goes through Abraham, Moses, the times of the prophets and kings, etc. etc.

Christ was Incarnate as a member of the Jewish race. He was (in his human nature) truly a descendant of Abraham. We cannot either forget or deny it. We cannot ignore it either.

If we ignore the fact that he lived in a given (and very specific) time and place and had a certain genealogy/ancestry (even if we don’t know every detail of every generation) then He becomes a mythical figure; and that is unacceptable in our Christian faith.

Every Advent, the Church reminds us of this. We read the genealogy of Luke and/or Matthew for a reason. Granted, they don’t agree and they’re probably not strictly accurate in the historic sense; but the message behind them is essential.

In art, every culture presents Christ according to its own ideals of a 33 year old man. In art, that’s fine.

But we cannot (absolutely cannot) forget that in theology and salvation history, the Incarnate Christ was a true man. He only appeared one way, even though we have no record of precisely how He looked.


True. But the description of His family heritage (in broad terms) is certainly given and is essential to Salvation History. It cannot be denied.


Really awesome. I love it. I’ll have to check out the sources later. Thank you!


One reporter says hair the color of chestnut , the other golden - but, especially if mostly straight at the top, as described, it would look catch the sun and look quite quite light in the bright midday sun, especially with predominately black haired folks around Him. Jesus and Mary’s ancestor King David was “ruddy” - traditionally interpreted as red-haired. [And another ancestral relation, Esau - brother direct relation Jacob -
Esau means “red”.]. And one witness describes Jesus’ eyes as gray, the other blue - and blue eyes often take both casts. The typical Jewish person we think of has black or very dark brown hair and dark brown eyes, so its understandable to assume that Jesus was like most Jews we think of, but in reality, not all Jewish people have the same coloring. They have variety! And as one witness of Jesus wrote, his less-common Jewish coloring helped him stand out in the crowd - which was a certainly a Grace for the many who were seeking Him in crowds.

I have not read the replies, but I know many will have said, “I don’t care what he looks like”. To me that’s a sort of defensive reply, as in, “I don’t want to spoil it by imagining wrong, so, I’d rather not know.” [editing to add: I mean, they do not want to risk believing an untruth, which is understandable]. And of course, it is not what matters ultimately about any person. But besides being souls we are material beings in a world both physical and spiritual, and Jesus came as a physical being and he did have a particular unique look, as all persons do. I am an artist and I have really wondered. So when I found that above-linked website, it rang true to me. Not only that, it matches the physical description of Jesus and Mary by mystic Maria Valtorta, who wrote of the life of Christ as Jesus mystically showed her, and she described everything she saw, including the physicality of Jesus and Mary, and the disciples, Gamaliel - everyone, as well as showing us, through their interactions and conversations, their vibrant and unique personalities.

Maria Valtorta is a visionary I trust, as do many priests, bishops, cardinals, theologians and cloistered monks and nuns. Finding the above link was a great blessing to me, but it was second to the blessing of stumbling on Valtorta’s Poem of the Man-God. Its thousands of pages have blessed me greatly. Here is my favorite story of many, many favorite and beloved parts of the work, The Adoration of the Shepherds.

It is private revelations so no one is obliged to accept it as inspired by God. I believe it is the gospel fleshed out, and great learned Catholic theologians have studied it extensively and found it completely consistent with Holy Scripture. And as well, non-religious astronomers, historians, and anthropologists also find it miraculously and completely correct. (see this Catholic Monk’s website for amazing detailed articles by learned supporters of Valtorta’s works).


For those who prefer quick skims, here is an “approval list” from the above, just-mentioned monk’s site on the works of Valtorta:


Re. Publius Lentulus:

(1) There is no such post as a ‘Governor’ or ‘President of Judaea’. There were prefects, and after AD 44, procurators. While the Gospels do use the word hēgemon (‘leader’, traditionally rendered as ‘governor’ in our Bibles) to refer to Pilate, this is an unofficial term.

(2) There was no prefect or procurator under the name of ‘Publius Lentulus’; some versions of the text present Lentulus as Pilate’s predecessor, but from records (Josephus for example) we see that his predecessor is actually named Valerius Gratus. Also, since Pilate was the prefect of Judaea for a ten-year period (the common reckoning is around AD 26-36), Lentulus would have seen Jesus and have become aware of His power and divinity BEFORE He even embarked in His public ministry and acquired a following.

(3) Lentulus addresses the Senate in his letter. In reality, officials abroad would have written directly to the Emperor.

(4) A pagan Roman writer from the early 1st century would not have employed the expressions, “prophet of truth”, “sons of men”, or “Jesus Christ”. The former two are Hebrew idioms, the third - a uniquely Christian expression - is taken from the New Testament. This pretty much gives away the real author as a later Christian.

(5) We have no record of this letter, the different manuscripts of which vary from each other (the version presented here is actually just one of these), in antiquity. In fact, all the ancient writers seem to be unaware of the existence of this letter. The earliest time we can trace this letter is apparently, the late 15th century: among the purported descriptions of what Jesus looked like (there were quite a number of them that appeared ever since the Iconoclast controversy), this is pretty late.

According to the Old Catholic Encyclopedia:

Different manuscripts vary from the foregoing text in several details: Dobschutz (“Christusbilder”, Leipzig, 1899) enumerates the manuscripts and gives an “apparatus criticus” . The letter was first printed in the “Life of Christ” by Ludolph the Carthusian (Cologne, 1474), and in the “Introduction to the works of St. Anselm” (Nuremberg, 1491). But it is neither the work of St. Anselm nor of Ludolph. According to the manuscript of Jena, a certain Giacomo Colonna found the letter in 1421 in an ancient Roman document sent to Rome from Constantinople. It must be of Greek origin, and translated into Latin during the thirteenth or fourteenth century, though it received its present form at the hands of humanist of the fifteenth or sixteenth century. The description agrees with the so-called Abgar picture of our Lord; it also agrees with the portrait of Jesus Christ drawn by Nicephorus, St. John Damascene, and the Book of Painters (of Mt. Athos). Munter (“Die Sinnbilder und Kunstvorstellungen der alten Christen”, Altona 1825, p. 9) believes he can trace the letter down to the time of Diocletian; but this is not generally admitted.

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