Jesus Christ, son of God, savior.
Correspondence with Abgar.
that of Peter and
that of Thomas.
Jesus in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
Evidence for Jesus and Parallel Pagan Saviors
Sayings of Jesus.
The figure of Jesus looms over history taller than virtually any
other historical figure. First at the very juncture between east and
west, then into the west, and finally into the east and over the
entire globe, Christianity, the religion founded on the title he
was given, namely Christ, has become one of the most important
religions worldwide, alongside Hinduism, Islam, and very few
Modern scholars often view the figure of Jesus in two different
ways. First, there is the historical Jesus; the quest for the
historical Jesus is the search for what actually happened, in
historical terms, early in century I in Palestine. Second, there
is the Christ of faith; this figure is the son of God, the savior
worshipped by Christians of all kinds around the world.
It should be noted that this distinction between the Jesus of
history and the Christ of faith is mostly a modern one. (I say
mostly because the process of separating the one from the
other began in ancient times with skeptics such as Celsus, even
if that process has come to a culmination of sorts only more
recently with the position held by some that no historical Jesus
existed at all.)
The classic Christian fish symbol is often given a literal meaning
in Greek, as an acronym, (one of) the Greek word(s) for fish
Jesus Christ, son of God, savior.
The following texts deal with physical images or descriptions
of Jesus. Most of them are taken in their original languages from
Robert Eisler, The Messiah Jesus and
John the Baptist, appendices 20 and 21, pages 617-620.
The translations (such as they are, and quite rough) are mine,
since Eisler does not provide any.
From Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.25.6
(Latin only at this point):
Alii vero ex ipsis signant, cauteriantes suos
discipulos in posterioribus partibus exstantiae dextrae auris; unde et
Marcellina, quae Romam sub Aniceto venit, cum esset huius doctrinae,
multos exterminavit. gnosticos se autem vocant, etiam imagines, quasdam
quidem depictas, quasdam autem et de reliqua materia fabricatas, habent,
dicentes formam Christi factam a Pilato illo in tempore quo fuit Iesus cum
hominibus; et proponunt eas cum imaginibus mundi philosophorum, videlicet
cum imagine Pythagorae et Platonis et Aristotelis et reliquorum; et
reliquam observationem circa eas similiter ut gentes faciunt.
Others use signs upon themselves, branding their
disciples in the posterior parts of the right earlobe. Whence also Marcellina,
who came to Rome under Anicetus, and, since she was of this doctrine, she
led multitudes astray. They call themselves gnostics, and they also have
images, some of them painted, others moreover fabricated from different
kinds of material, and they say that a form of Christ was made by Pilate
at that time when Jesus was among men. And they display them with images
of the philosophers of the world, to wit, with the image of Pythagoras,
and [that of] Plato, and [that of] Aristotle, and [those of] the rest.
And they also make different kinds of observations of these [images],
similarly as do the gentiles.
Hippolytus, Refutation 7.20
(or 7.32 in Miller or in Wendland):
Certain of these [heretics]* cauterize their own
disciples in the back parts of the lobe of the right ear. And they prepare
images of Christ, saying that they were made at that time by Pilate.
* In context, possibly Carpocratians.
From Epiphanius, Panarion 27.6:
And there came to us now somehow a certain
Marcellina, who had been deceived by them, and she despoiled many
in the times of Anicetus the bishop of Rome, the one [standing]
in the succession of Pius and those before him. .... And thereafter
happened the beginning of the so-called gnostics. And they have
images painted lifelike in color, but also which are [made] of
gold and silver and the rest wood, which they say are reliefs of
Jesus and that these were made by Pontius Pilate, that is, the
reliefs of this very Jesus when he lived among the race of men.
And they hold these things in secret, but also [those of] certain
philosophers, of Pythagoras, and of Plato, and of Aristotle,
and of the rest, with which philosophers they also place the others,
the reliefs of Jesus, and after they set them up they worship them
and enjoin the mysteries of the gentiles.
From Antonius Placentinus, a pilgrim to the holy land:
Oravimus in praetorio ubi auditus est dominus,
ubimodo est basilica sanctae Sophiae ante ruinas templi Salomonis, sub platea
quae decurrit ad Siloam fontem secus porticum Salomonis. in ipsa basilica est
sedis ubi Pilatus sedit quando dominum audivit. petra autem quadrangulis quae
stabit in medio praeturio, in quam levabatur reus qui audiebatur, ut ab omni
populo audiretur et videretur, in qua levatus est dominus quando auditus est a
Pilato, ubi etiam vestigia illius remanserunt. pedem pulchrum, modicum subtilem,
nam et staturam communem, faciem pulchram, capillos subanellatos, manum formosam,
digita longa* imago designat, quae illo vivente picta sunt, quae posita est in
et ipsa petra ornata est ex auro et argento.
* Eisler adds quantum
in brackets at this point.
We prayed in the praetorium where the Lord was given
a hearing, where the basilica of Saint Sophia is, before the ruins of the
temple of Solomon, below the street which runs to the fountain of Siloam
following the porch of Solomon. In the basilica itself is the seat where
Pilate sat when he gave the Lord his hearing. There was also a quadrangular
rock which was standing in the middle of the praetorium, on which the
defendant would be raised who was being heard, so that he might be heard and
seen by the whole populace; on this [rock] the Lord was raised up when he
was heard by Pilate, where his vestiges still remain. His image, which
depicts him as if alive and which is positioned in this same praetorium,
traces out a beautiful foot, though a bit slender since [it has] a normal
stature, a beautiful face, hair curled under, a well-formed hand, long
And the rock itself is overlaid with gold and silver.
From the Doctrine of Addai:
When Hannan, the keeper of the archives, saw that Jesus
spoke thus to him, by virtue of being painter for the king, he took
and painted a likeness of Jesus with choice paints, and brought it
with him to Abgar the king, his master. And, when Abgar the king saw
the likeness, he received it with great joy and placed it with great
honor in one of his palatial houses.
This is one episode from the Abgar
Andreas of Jerusalem:
But Josephus the Jew also records in the same way
that the Lord appeared with joined eyebrows, beautiful eyes, a long
countenance, humped over, well grown.
Scholion to John of Damascus, On the
Orthodox Faith 4.16, in two manuscripts of the Paris National
...since also Josephus the Jew, as some say....
records in the same way that the Lord appeared with joined eyebrows,
beautiful eyes, a long aspect [or face], both humped over and well
Nicephorus Callistus (Migne, Patrologia Graeca 145, column 747):
He was seven spans tall, with beautiful eyes
and a long nose, having tawny hair, black eyebrows, a sloping throat,
as not having an altogether upright and taut growth of the
Nicephorus Callistus, Church History
And while this Gennadius was serving as high priest
there was also a certain painter who, having dared to depict the savior
after the pattern of Zeus, won as compensation for the deed the withering
of his hand; Gennadius healed him with prayer after he had openly confessed
the act. It is thus necessary to see that short and curly hair is more true
to the savior, as we have found out from the historians.
Theodorus Anagnostes, Church
In the time of Gennadius the hand of the painter
who had dared to depict the savior in the form of Zeus was withered;
Gennadius healed him through prayer. And the historians say that the
other pattern for the savior, the one with short and curly hair,
Theophanes, To Year of the World
5955 (Latin courtesy of Anastasius Bibliothecarius,
Chronography in Three Parts):
Sequenti anno cum pictor quidam pingere salvatorem
secundum similitudinem Iovis praesumpsisset, arefacta est manus eius,
quem peccatum suum confessum sanavit Gennadius. aiunt enim quidam
historicorum quod crispis et raris capillis schema in salvatore magis
And in the same year the hand of a certain
painter, who had dared to depict the savior according to the likeness
of Zeus, was withered; Gennadius healed him through prayer after he
declared it. And certain ones of the historians say that the pattern
with short and curly hair is more familiar on the savior.
Anonymous scholion, περι
(concerning the human form of the Lord):
The form of the godman among us, as taken in by his
eyewitnesses and apostles. He was a perfect [or mature] man in the prime of
life, neither too big nor too small, not unusual of musculature [or flesh],
somewhat humped, with long hair drawn together and curly, unshorn, unshaven,
uncovered, divided toward the brow, with separated locks, a long nose,
brown in the pupils of the eyes, swarthy, with a long neck, an average beard,
not made ugly by the length of the hairs, but rather dignified by the gravity of
Anonymous Byzantine homily defending iconolatry:
* Refer to Luke 1.2.
No translation yet.
The letter of Lentulus Publius, an ancient or medieval forgery
of which more can be learned in the Catholic
praeses S. P. Q. Romano: Adparuit nostris temporibus et adhuc est
homo magnae virtutis nominatus Christus Iesus, qui dicitur a
gentibus propheta veritatis, quem eius discipuli vocant filium
dei, suscitans mortuos et sanans languores. homo quidem
staturae procerae, spectabilis, vultum habens venerabilem,
quem intuentes possunt et diligere et formidare; capillos
vero circinos et crispos aliquantum coeruliores et fulgentiores
ab humeris volitantes; discrimen habens in medio
capitis iuxta morem Nazarenorum; frontem planam et
serenissimam, cum facie sine ruga ac macula aliqua, quam
rubor moderatus venustat; nasi et oris nulla prorsus est
reprehensio; barbam habens copiosam et rubram, capillorum
colore, non longam sed bifurcatam; oculis variis et
claris exsistentibus. in increpatione terribilis, in admonitione
placidus ac amabilis, hilaris, servata gravitate, qui
nunquam visus est ridere, flere autem saepe. sic in statura
corporis propagatus, manus habens et membra visu delectabilia;
in eloquio gravis, rarus et modestus, speciosus
inter filios hominum. valete.
Lentulus, president of Jerusalem, to the
senate and the people of Rome: There appeared in our times, and
still is, a man of great power1 named Christ Jesus, who
is said by the people to be a prophet of truth, whom his disciples
call the son of God, since he resuscitates the dead and heals those
who are sick.2 He is indeed a man of tall stature,
notable, having a venerable countenance, whom those who gaze upon
him can both love and dread; hair truly wavy and curly,
considerably bluish and shining, fluttering from the shoulders;
having a part in the middle of the head according to the custom of
the Nazarenes; a flat and most serene forehead, with a face without
any wrinkle or spot, which a moderate redness embellishes; nothing
of his nose or mouth is at all reprehensible; having an abundant
and reddish beard, the color of his hair, not long but bifurcated;
his eyes being varying and bright. In his reproaches he is terrible,
in his admonition placid and amiable, cheerful, but his gravity
preserved, who no one has ever seen to laugh, but often to weep.
He is extended in the stature of his body, having hands and arms
delectable to see; grave in his eloquence, rare and modest,
splendid among the sons of men. Be well.
1 Or virtue.
2 Or languishing.
Some of these texts appear to insist on short hair for the
savior. Confer 1 Corinthians 11.14-15.