Physical Description of Jesus from a Roman Letter

description of Jesus
A reconstruction of the face of Jesus Christ from the Turin shroud.

There is a very interesting manuscript in one of Rome’s libraries. Publius Lentulus, a Roman senator and Governor of Judea during the reign of Augustus, wrote a letter to the Emperor, in which can be seen a description of the physical appearance of Jesus Christ.

Here’s what the letter states (in translation):

“Publius Lentulus, the Governor of the Jerusalemites to the Roman Senate and People, greetings. There has appeared in our times, and there still lives, a man of great power, called Jesus Christ.

The people call him prophet of truth; his disciples, son of God. He raises the dead, and heals infirmities. He is a man of medium size; he has a venerable aspect, and his beholders can both fear and love him.

His hair is of the colour of the ripe hazelnut, but below the ears wavy and curled, with a bluish and bright reflection, flowing over his shoulders. It is parted in two on the top of the head, after the pattern of the Nazarenes. His brow is smooth and very cheerful with a face without wrinkle or spot, embellished by a slightly reddish complexion. His nose and mouth are faultless. His beard is abundant, of the colour of his hair, not long, but divided at the chin. His aspect is simple and mature, his eyes are changeable and bright.

He is terrible in his reprimands, sweet and amiable in his admonitions, cheerful without loss of gravity. He was never known to laugh, but often to weep. His stature is straight, his hands and arms beautiful to behold. His conversation is grave, infrequent, and modest.

He is the most beautiful among the children of men.”

There is a lot of controversy around the authenticity of this letter because some expressions used in it originated in the Hebrew language and a Roman writer would not have employed them. It is considered apocryphal but nevertheless an interesting depiction of one of the most important figures in human history.

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