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Matthew Coomber is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at St. Ambrose University, in Davenport, Iowa. At an imposing 6 feet 9 inches tall, he is easy to spot around campus.

And Assistant Professor Matthew Coomber is taller than Goliath.

Goliath versus Old Testament Assistant Prof Matthew Coomber

Goliath versus Old Testament Assistant Prof Matthew Coomber

Taller than Goliath?! Yes. According to the earliest version of the biblical narrative of David versus Goliath – preserved in the Greek LXX translation of 1 Samuel 17 and in the Dead Sea scroll 4QSama – Goliath is “four cubits and a span”. The cubit was not a precise measure at the time the narrative was first composed, but estimates usually put a cubit at about 45cm (just under 18 inches) and a span about half that (22.5cm, or just under 9 inches). That would make Goliath 202cm (6 feet 8 inches) tall. So, on that measure at least, Matthew Coomber is taller than  Goliath by 3 cm (an inch)!

Matthew Coomber is also 1 foot 4 inches taller than other people in Iowa, who all look like this:

Radar O'Reilly

Radar O’Reilly of Iowa: 5’5″ (1 foot 3 inches shorter than Goliath, but a few inches taller than your average-sized ancient Jew)

(The Masoretic Text, the Greek translation by Symmachus, and the Vulgate each put Goliath’s height at six cubits and a span, or 293cm (9 feet 7 inches). But as that seems to be a later exaggeration of Goliath’s height, we’ll just ignore that inconvenient “little” detail for these purposes.)

Assistant Professor Matthew Coomber has a keen interest in how the Old Testament interacts with modern issues of social justice, and has taken on the … well, er … Goliath of Corporate Globalization in Re-Reading the Prophets through Corporate Globalization (Gorgias Press, 2010) and again in the edited volume, Bible and Justice: Ancient Texts, Modern Challenges (Equinox, 2011).