Do we know what Jesus actually looks like?


Is it on record that Saint Joseph owned a horse? Because, I’m under the impression that he own a donkey. This could give some insight into how wealthy he was.


A horse? Probably not. Owning a horse for riding (as opposed to a farmer who might have had one for ploughing or a merchant who had one to pull a cart) would have been for the truly wealthy—the Roman category of “equestrian” level of income.

A donkey? Probably not. I don’t see why he would have needed one. As city-dwellers, it would have been unusual.

A poor farmer or shepherd might have had a donkey or two anyway (or mule or ass). It isn’t necessarily an indication of wealth.


Joseph and Mary offered the poor peoples sacrifice at the temple. How would your theory fit in with that?


First of all, I don’t understand why some people (not you as such, but just some people here) have such a problem with history when it comes to reading the Bible. Again: that is not directed at you.

Archeology (and common sense) tell us that a carpenter was a skilled profession and carpenters had a middle-class income. There is nothing in that knowledge that challenges the Christian faith in the least way.

There is a definite theme in this thread that popular piety somehow overrules known facts. It is most unfortunate. Art and popular piety that developed centuries after the fact, don’t change the facts of history.

Archeology tells us that carpenters in that time and place made a good income. Why should that bother anyone?

Let me be clear: I am not saying that I think you have a problem with it, but others in this thread certainly do have a problem with historical facts.

Now, to get back to your question:

The requirement was to offer “a ransom” sacrifice.

I don’t know how strict the law was with regard to substituting a turtledove and pigeon (total 2 of each) for a lamb. I don’t know what was the cutoff point in terms of income.

However, being unable to afford a lamb would have been very poor indeed; pretty much destitute. If they could not afford a lamb, then neither could they have afforded to make the trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem. So that tells me that they actually could afford a lamb, but for some reason they were permitted to substitute the dove and pigeon.

It might even be that they were permitted the substitution because of the distance involved. There was no reason why it had to be done at the Temple, so the entire trip was optional for them.

It might be that Luke intentionally avoided mentioning the sacrifice of a lamb as a substitute because it would be improper to sacrifice a lamb as a substitute for the Lamb of God (yes, that theme is more from John, but nevertheless it might apply).

Luke was a Greek, not a Jew. Therefore he might have been quoting the law and he got the important part right while missing the lesser detail. The Law (ie Exodus 13) itself does not mention a lamb, only a substitute sacrifice for the firstborn male.

Luke’s Gospel continues a few lines later to say that they went to Jerusalem every year, so that means they had to have the income to be able to do that. It’s about 100 miles each way. Even making good time, that’s a week’s walk (no travel on the Sabath), a week of Passover and a week back. That’s quite an annual vacation for a poor family, since they had to buy most of their food along the way. They really could not have been poor given rest of the infancy narratives.

I don’t know how much a lamb would have cost at the time. Obviously, the cost would vary by many factors. I’m trying to lookup some online conversions. I’ll get back here if I find anything.


A lamb would have cost roughly 2 days wage for a common laborer.

Apparently (as I read online) there is a Passover song dating to the 2nd century AD that speaks about buying a passover lamb for 2 zuzim (a re-struck denarius). So that puts the cost of a lamb at about (yes about) 2 denari

According to Matthew 20 and John 12, a denarius was a typical day’s wage for an unskilled worker.

So that puts the cost of a lamb at about the equivalent of 2 days unskilled labor.

According to one source a carpenter (unknown what kind) in Rome during the reign of Augustus made about 60 denari per day.

So even if we assume a 1 to 4 ratio of costs of Jerusalem to Rome (which appears fair based on what I’ve been reading) that might make St Joseph’s income at about 15 denari per day.

Conclusion a sacrificial lamb would have been about 1 to 2 hours wage for St Joseph.
That’s based on what I could find on the internet. I wouldn’t stake a thesis on that, but it seems reasonable based on what I could find.

Here is an interesting read for some information


He had a beard, short hair, and was pretty buff. He was a carpenter, builder, whatever you want to call it!:grin::grin::grin::grin::grin:

I’m not sure that He would be handsome or distinguishable. Isaiah 53 and John 5 seem to say otherwise.


Where do you get the short hair? Again, the man on the Shroud has long hair.


But how do we reconcile this with the height of the man on the Shroud? Anyone else?


You keep repeating the same question.

Because we don’t know that the Shroud is authentic.

We don’t need to reconcile it.

We know from archeological evidence that that the average man of 33 years in that time and place was 5 feet tall. We know this. It is a fact. We know it from many very reliable sources such as graves

If a grave is cut into a wall of stone and that grave is 5 feet and 4 inches long, we know that it had to be cut for a man shorter than that. If a stone sarcophagus was made to hold a 5 foot tall man, we know that he was no taller than 5 foot. We have the bones of people who lived at that time. We know their height.

Do you see the difference here?


Yes, but based on so many things, I think the man on the was Shroud was Jesus. I guess you don’t.


Or, the Holy Family could have given away every penny of their excess wealth to the poor. That seems to be a more fitting reason for why the Son of God was born in a lowly stable (if your theory holds true, why didn’t Joseph line the innkeeper’s pockets with his middle-class wealth that night in Bethlehem to get his pregnant wife a room that wasn’t a cave outside in the cold?), and why Joseph and Mary chose to offer the two turtle doves instead of a lamb.


I don’t understand questions like this. We can rule out photographs, videotapes, digital photography, or movie film, etc. as direct records. So, is your question something like this, is there a painting of Christ or a sketch? Probably not. I don’t know what the possible range of answers could be, except perhaps a written description of Jesus. What have I overlooked? What would possibly answer your question?


There is no point in trying to force the idea that the Holy Family was poor. It is a pious thought, but it is not based on any known facts.

What we do know for a fact is that the profession that St Joseph held, that of a carpenter/builder was a middle class income profession. We know this from history. History actually has written records of people’s incomes and archeology actually knows that carpenters in that time/place were well-paid.

Why are you insisting on forcing something that contradicts known facts? The Holy Family having a middle-class income in no way threatens the Christian faith.

As for you question:

  1. There were no rooms available. That’s what the Gospel records. The Gospel does not say that they couldn’t afford to rent a room, but that nothing was available. Do you understand the difference?

  2. I’ve already addressed the issue of the doves and lamb. A lamb was actually not a big expense, and only the poorest of the poor would be unable to afford one. Therefore, there was probably some other reason. If they were that poor, they would not be able to afford an annual unpaid vacation to Jerusalem. Do you see the logic in that? Poor people didn’t take month-long annual vacations 100 miles away from home.


I think it’s a fair question.

We do have some contemporary images of people from that time period. I don’t see a problem with someone asking if such a thing exists with regard to Christ.


This image has always bothered me. Its rife with subjective liberties that attempt to make the Holy Face of Our Lord look like the mug shot of a Geico Caveman after a DUI. Two of really stand out to me. First, the hairstyle. So what if that was the most common way men in 1st century Judea wore their hair. That doesn’t mean Our Lord’s hair was like that. I refuse to believe that Our Lord would have allowed Himself to be so unkempt. As far as I know, His hair has never been described in that manner in any private revelation. Next, the facial expression. This generated image wears a confused, almost paranoid look on his face. This is entirely the bias of the “scientists” who developed this image. They could have just as easily planted a look of kingly and serene confidence on His face, just like He wears in Western art.


I don’t need to force it. Tradition tells us it was so. The poverty of the Holy Family isn’t just a “pious thought”, its a critical aspect of Who they are.

Ok. I’m not arguing against that. I’m saying that it is reasonable to suppose that St. Joseph, Our Lady, and Our Lord, gave all they had to the poor except that which they absolutely needed for themselves and that which they offered to God.

You don’t know what St. Joseph did with his money. Just because he made a good salary doesn’t mean he kept it for himself. I’m postulating that based on what we know about the Foster Father of Christ, about his Holy Wife, and their Divine Child, they more than likely gave away their excess wealth.

Indeed, the Gospel tells us that there were no rooms available. If Joseph had the right amount of coin on him, perhaps the Gospel would have told us something different. Kind of like how you get the “sorry, there are no table available” at a fancy restaurant. And then a rich patron walks in behind you and BAM! there’s a table for him!

Again, you provide A reason but you don’t provide THEE reason. You’re right. A lamb wasn’t a big expense. A man with a decent income like Joseph should have been able to afford the lamb. Unless, he gave all his money away to the poor and could only afford the turtle doves.

Calling the Holy Family’s trips to Jerusalem “vacations” doesn’t seem right. But if we call it what it actually was - a pilgrimage - now it comes in to focus. This is more befitting of the Holy Family - making the journey to Jerusalem for the glory of God in the utmost poverty, having given away all of their excess.



Of course, the alleged shroud of Turin


[quote=“FrDavid96, post:135, topic:458942”]
There is no point in trying to force the idea that the Holy Family was poor. It is a pious thought, but it is not based on any known facts. [/quote]

The Bible. Not just a pious thought: a pious belief based on the accounts in Sacred Scripture that indicate that they were poor.

No, we do not know this for a fact. The facts actually contradict this position.

“It’s true that Joseph is called a tektonos in Matthew 13:55, but the Greek word tekton simply means “craftsman” and does not connote anything with regard to level, skill, or income, and the rendering “master craftsman” is not etymologically supportable. The scanty biblical evidence indicates that the Holy Family was poor, not middle-class, certainly not affluent.”

The belief that the Holy Family had a middle-class income is not accurate, and not a known fact or even a widely held position. (See above quote and link.) That belief contradicts the Biblical accounts, which, in fact, threatens the Christian faith!

On what grounds do you dismiss the Gospel accounts? That they were being poetic or dramatic?? The only way to hold this view is if 21st Century speculative scholarship has more weight than a 1st Century historical account. (A Divinely Inspired account, at that!)


You “already addressed it,” but not adequately. For a faithful first century Jew who could afford a lamb to instead use the poor man’s sacrifice (for his first born son!) would require an explanation! Either he wasn’t pious, or he was poor. To say “there probably was some other reason,” is not convincing. Ockham’s razor—the simplest solution is usually the correct one. The Biblical account indicates that they were poor and that Joseph and Mary were pious, even strict, Jews. Jews were required to sacrifice a lamb. “A lamb was actually not a big expense, and only the poorest of the poor would be unable to afford one.” If they could not afford one, they could substitute. They substituted.

Logical conclusion: they were, in fact, poor but faithful Jews.

Unlikely conclusion: the Biblical account is wrong and they were middle-class, so they could afford a lamb but chose not to, which means they were also unfaithful Jews or there was some unknown reason for them to violate Jewish sacrificial laws even though they could have easily afforded not to.

There is only logic in that IF they were “taking a vacation.” Jesus’ family were pious Jews. They were strictly required to make three pilgrimages a year to the Temple. Because they were poor, they could only make one. Not a vacation. A pilgrimage for which they would make a great many sacrifices, and they could make only one of the three pilgrimages the Old Testament called for. However, going on only one pilgrimage was an acceptable practice for a first century Jew who could not do more, so we can still consider them to be faithful Jews.

If you can refute what I have posited above, please do so.

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