What Personality Type Was Jesus Christ?


In the field of Psychology, personality types are commonly defined as a collection of traits that are thought to occur consistently together in people’s thinking, behavior, and emotions. Since Jesus Christ was a real human being, many people are interested to know what his personality type was.

Jesus’ personality, as it’s revealed in the Gospels, doesn’t easily fit inside the framework of popular inventories such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Yet, in one study, participants answered questions that revealed their perception of Jesus was strong in the areas of Extroversion and Feeling.

Can Jesus’ personality be measured or labeled? Does Myers-Briggs have weaknesses? Was Jesus an introvert or an extrovert? Do some people project a personality type on Jesus? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Jesus Christ
What’s the best way to learn about Jesus’ personality? See below

Can Jesus’ personality be measured or labeled?

A “personality” refers to the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. When some people ask about Jesus’ personality type, they generally want to know if he was an introvert or extrovert, funny or serious, and other contrasts that people create in their imaginations.

Others wonder is how Jesus would have scored on the well-known Myers-Briggs personality test. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) survey has 93 questions. After participants answered them, the test results categorize respondents into 16 different personality types synthesized into labels such as:

  • Introvert (I) versus Extrovert (E)
  • Intuitive (N) versus Sensory (S)
  • Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F)
  • Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P)

While some Christians are proponents of the MBTI, it’s important to recognize that it’s an imperfect measuring tool that even many of its fans acknowledge is flawed.

Criticism of Myers-Briggs

For example, one critic states: “Research tells us that a person’s traits and behaviors continue to change over time based on environmental factors and cognitive orientation.”

The writer continues: “With this knowledge, the Myers-Briggs test falls short and the need for a diagnostic tool that accurately assesses an individual’s aptitude is more significant than ever.” [1]

Squeezing Jesus into a personality type according to the MBTI, or any other assessment, may be interesting for some people, but it’s of little benefit to understanding Jesus of the Gospels better.

The best way to learn about Jesus’ personality

Any results from doing this exercise will likely reveal more about the person doing it rather than Jesus. Reading the Gospels and learning about Jesus’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is the best way to learn about what he was like.

Jesus personality type
Was Jesus an introvert or an extrovert? See below

Was Jesus an introvert or an extrovert?

An important 2004 study surveyed people’s perception of Jesus’ personality. While the results didn’t shed light on Jesus according to the Gospels, they were helpful in providing insight about Bible readers.

In the Gospels, there are times when Jesus fits the profile of an extrovert. Yet, there are other scenes in which his actions fit the profile of an introvert.

Verses about Jesus that reflect the tendencies of an extrovert

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, an extrovert is “a typically gregarious and unreserved person who enjoys and seeks out social interaction.” In the verses below, Jesus’ actions fit the profile of an extrovert.

  • Matthew 9:35-36, “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
  • Mark 1:38-39, “And he said to them, ‘Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.’ And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.”

Verses about Jesus that reflect the tendencies of an introvert

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, an “introvert” is “a typically reserved or quiet person who tends to be introspective and enjoys spending time alone.” In the verses below, Jesus’ actions fit the profile of an introvert.

  • Matthew 14:13-14, “Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
  • Matthew 26:36, “Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here, while I go over there and pray.'”

The Gospels reveal that Jesus transcends categories like introvert and extrovert. To squeeze him into being simply an introvert or extrovert is to dismiss part of the Bible’s revelation of him.

Christian cross
What’s the danger of projecting personality on Jesus? See below

Projecting a personality type on Jesus

The 2004 study suggests that people tend to project upon Jesus, not only their own personality but what they perceive the ideal personality to be.

“The perception of an extraverted Jesus might reflect a tendency within American culture to value extraversion over introversion (Keirsey, 1998). If one assumes extraversión to be better, one might conclude that Jesus, being the perfect human being, would have been an extrovert.” [2]

Projecting a personality type upon Jesus can occur by attributing one’s own tendencies to him or by seeing in him what a person perceives is the best kind, whether they possess it or not. Both of the possibilities are dangerous because they read into the Gospels, rather than read out of them.

Eisegesis vs exegesis

Eisegesis refers to “interpreting a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one’s own ideas” (emphasis added). Exegesis refers to “an explanation or critical interpretation of a text” (Merriam-Webster).

In other words, eisegesis is reading into the text and exegesis is reading out of the text in alignment with the historical context, literary genre, and authorial intent. The first approach starts with an idea and tries to find it in the text, as opposed to reading the text and discovering its true, original meaning.

Conclusion

One of the study’s most important conclusions is: “If we perceive Jesus’ behavioral preferences as simply a reflection of our own, we run the risk of making Jesus similar to us rather than seeking to be like Him.”

It continues: “There is also the tendency to assume that what we would do in any given situation is what Jesus would do, which could lead to a failure to look critically at our own behavior, and perhaps too critically at the behavior of others of different personality types.” [2]

References:
[1] Source
[2] “Students’ Perceptions of Jesus’ Personality As Assessed by Jungian-Type Inventories” (Howell, Susan H. Source: Journal of Psychology & Theology, 32 no 1 Spr 2004, p 50-58.

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see the About page for details.

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