What Race Was Jesus Really

‘Color Of Christ’: A Story Of Race And Religion In America

What was Jesus’ physical appearance like? The numerous distinct representations of Christ convey a tale about race and religion in the United States of America. In their latest book, The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America, Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey delve into the history of race in America. Different races and ethnic groups have claimed Christ as their own throughout history, and representations of Jesus have both inspired civil rights crusades and been used to justify the murder of white supremacists.

In an interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, Blum explains that “the conviction, the value, that Jesus is white gives them with a picture in place of text.” “It keeps them from having to quote chapter and verse, which they are unable to do effectively in order to make their case,” says the author.

However, when waves of Catholic and Jewish immigrants poured into the United States, some Americans “began to worry that it was altering the face of America too much, changing it ethnically, changing it religiously,” according to the New York Times.

Those who were lobbying for immigration limits, such as religious authors and painters, began to picture Jesus as having blond hair and blue eyes.

Interview Highlights:

In regards to how slave owners portrayed the idea of a white Jesus “When slave owners attempt to Christianize their slaves, they bring Jesus in two forms: one is as a servant, and this is to say, ‘Hey look, service is good, service is godly, therefore your job service is good.’ The other is as a master, and this is to say, ‘Hey look, master, your work service is nice.’ They do, however, portray Jesus as a master.

You must follow his example and refrain from lying or stealing. As a result, when slaves accept Jesus as their master, they connect the dots by saying: ‘Okay, well, if Jesus is master, then my earthly owner isn’t my only one, and he’s certainly not my most powerful one; in fact, I have a master above my master.’ .

He too suffered.

But that wasn’t the end of his narrative.” Following that, he was resurrected, and not only was Jesus revived, but he also resurrected his friends, as in the account of Lazarus.'” So, for African-Americans who are constantly surrounded by death — and not only actual death, but also the death of families, as in seeing your wife or child transported away — this is a difficult time.

So what slaves do is basically take those models of master and servant and connect them in a different way than the slave lords intended, resulting in a brand new kind of Protestant Christianity that is very different from the one the slave masters intended.” Edward Blum is a professor of history at San Diego State University who specializes in the history of race and religion in the United States.

His earlier publications include W.E B.

(Photo courtesy of Iris Salgado/UNC Press) Specifically, how the Mormons claimed a hallowed America in which the image of a white Jesus Christ was displayed “When it came to geography, one of the issues that Americans had previously was that they wanted to stake their faith on a Jesus who had never lived in this area, and therefore had never lived in this place.

It predates Columbus, and the fact that this Jesus is white with blue eyes — it gives Americans a lengthy history; it is not a reclaiming of territory from the Indians, but rather a reclaiming of land from the Native Americans.

Smith himself claims that he is not explaining anything because these are revelations to him from on high.

Nonetheless, there is an underlying belief in Mormon theology that one’s skin tone symbolizes one’s wickedness prior to this life.” When Joseph Smith looked around at Native Americans, black Americans, and white Americans, the revelation told him that the lighter the skin, the more blessed and less sinful the individual had been in a pre-life state.

  1. And he truly believed that cultures would become more tolerant.
  2. However, people of African-American heritage are subjected to a severe curse.
  3. As a result, although Native Americans may be rehabilitated over time, African-Americans, or persons of African heritage, were seen as the ultimate outsiders.
  4. Du Bois’ group in the 1920s and 1930s, who depicted Jesus as a Southern black man who gets lynched, to put it bluntly.
  5. He might have an Afro or he could be dressed in a dashiki.

The term ‘African’ becomes significant culturally, and as a result, doing this to Jesus occurs at the same time.” NPR 2022 has copyright protection.

Was Jesus Black Or White? How One Church Leader Just Changed The Debate

Was Jesus of Nazareth, one of the most important characters in human history, a member of a race other than the Jewish race? There is no way to know for certain, but recent statements made by the leader of the Church of England indicate that it is past time to reconsider whether or not Jesus should be shown as a white male. When asked about the way the western church presents Jesus’ race in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby responded affirmatively.

“Of course it does,” Welby responded, stressing that Jesus was already depicted in a variety of ways other than as a white guy in various areas around the Anglican church.

As many different representations of Jesus as there are cultures, languages, and understandings, you will see a Fijian Jesus.” This comes at a time when a national discussion over institutional racism is raging in both the United States and the United Kingdom, with questions of race and class taking center stage.

Getty Images’ image of Jesus Jesus’s color and ethnicity have long been a source of contention — since the beginning of the spread of Christianity, the manner in which the faith’s primary figure has been depicted has been a source of both historical and aesthetic conflict.

“Jesus of Nazareth likely had a darker complexion than we imagine, similar to the olive skin common among Middle Easterners today,” wrote social psychologist and theologian Christena Cleveland in Christianity Today in 2016.

The Eurocentric image of Jesus, according to many opponents, has been utilized to propagate white supremacy and reinforce racist tropes that deify whiteness while denigrating Black people.

Recent days have seen a deterioration of the dispute about the race of Jesus, with political activist Shaun King igniting controversy when he tweeted on Monday that “the monuments of the white European they believe is Jesus should also come down.” “They are a manifestation of white supremacy,” he asserted.

It’s true that King expressed himself in a much more nuanced manner regarding the image of Jesus in other places, but it was his early Tweets that grabbed the public’s attention and turned the discussion into a political tempest.

Perhaps, by engaging the discourse concerning Jesus’ race, the Archbishop of Canterbury recognizes that the subject should be explored through the lens of religion rather than politics, and that delicacy rather than flame-throwing should be demanded.

In actuality, even the world’s most brilliant minds will never be able to determine whether Jesus was of African or European descent.

by starting a conversation about how the representation of Jesus can be more inclusive to those seeking faith and fortitude, the Archbishop of Canterbury is expressing his hope that the conversation about Jesus can shift from a fight about what should be torn down to more of a discussion about what can be constructed.

In such case, it would be worthwhile to place confidence in Jesus, regardless of his physical appearance.

What Did Jesus Look Like?

Was Jesus of Nazareth, one of the most important characters in human history, a member of a race other than that of Jews? Everyone believes that Jesus was a white guy, but according to recent statements from the leader of the Church of England, it may be time to reconsider whether or not he should be depicted as such. When asked about the way the western church presents Jesus’ race in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby responded positively. He was frank when the reporter spoke about the way Jesus is depicted in iconography and whether it is time to “reimagine” the bodily appearance of the Christ Child.

“Whenever you walk inside their churches, you won’t find a White Jesus there; instead, you’ll find a Black Jesus, or a Chinese Jesus, or a Middle Eastern Jesus – which is the most realistic representation, of course.

Increasingly, the argument concerning racism is coming to include religious figures as well, as demonstrators target historical people whose ideologies many consider to be racist or discriminating, such as statues of American Confederate leaders.

Many people believe that the image of Jesus as a white-skinned individual with long hair, which resembles the white European population, belies the fact that he was a person of Middle Eastern descent, with a complexion that was not nearly as white and European as has been commonly depicted throughout historical times.

Many people believe that the white image of Jesus is disrespectful because it ignores the possibility that Jesus himself had a Black complexion, as others believe.

“Demolish them to their foundations.” Also, Kingadded, “demolish all of the paintings and stained-glass windows depicting a white Jesus, his European mother, and their white buddies.” It’s true that King expressed himself in a much more nuanced manner regarding the image of Jesus in other places, but it was his early Tweets that grabbed the public’s attention and turned the discussion into a political tempest.

Some political officials also exploited them to divert attention away from the very serious policy issues that needed to be discussed.

I do not believe that tossing aside all we have in the past is the best way to go about it, but I do believe that declaring, ‘That is not the Jesus who lives, that is not who we worship,’ is a reminder of God’s universality in becoming completely human, as Welby explained in the BBC interview.

But there is one thing that is undeniably true: Through the opening of a discussion about how the representation of Jesus can be more inclusive to those seeking faith and fortitude, the Archbishop of Canterbury is expressing the hope that the conversation about Jesus can shift more toward a discussion about what can be built rather than a fight about what should be demolished.

That would be a concept worth believing in, regardless of what Jesus seems to be like in the flesh.

What Does the Bible Say?

The Bible provides only a few hints as to Christ’s physical appearance. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which comprise the first four volumes of the New Testament, contain the majority of what we know about Jesus. According to the Gospels, Jesus was a Jewish man who was born in Bethlehem and reared in the town of Nazareth in Galilee (then Palestine, now northern Israel) around the first century A.D., according to the New Testament. While the Bible informs us that Jesus was around 30 years old when he began his ministry (Luke 3:23), it tells us almost little about his physical appearance, other than the fact that he didn’t stand out in any particular manner.

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WATCH: JESUS: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE Photograph by VaultGodong/UIG, courtesy of Getty Images According to several academics, the passages from Revelation 1:14-15 provide evidence that Jesus’ complexion was a deeper shade and that his hair was of a shaggy texture.

In the light of day, his eyes were like a blaze of fire, and his feet were like burnished bronze, purified as though by fire.” ‘We have no way of knowing what he looked like,’ says Robert Cargill, assistant professor of classics and religious studies at the University of Iowa, and editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review.

Thus, his appearance was that of a Palestinian Jewish guy living in the first century AD.

How Have Depictions of Jesus Changed Over the Centuries?

Some of the oldest known artistic images of Jesus date back to the mid-third century A.D., more than two centuries after his death, according to archaeological evidence. These are the paintings that were found in the ancient catacombs of St. Domitilla in Rome more than 400 years ago, and they are still in existence. The paintings represent Jesus as the Good Shepherd, a youthful, short-haired, beardless man with a lamb wrapped over his shoulders, which was one of the most popular depictions of Jesus at the time of their creation.

  1. Photograph by Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images Another early image of Jesus was discovered in 2018 on the walls of a damaged chapel in southern Israel, marking the discovery of yet another rare early portrait of Jesus.
  2. It was painted in the sixth century A.D., and it is the earliest known image of Christ found in Israel.
  3. During the fourth century A.D., the long-haired, bearded picture of Jesus began to develop, which was significantly influenced by portrayals of Greek and Roman gods, notably the all-powerful Greek deity Zeus.
  4. In these drawings, “the objective was never to depict Jesus as a human being, but rather to establish theological arguments about who Jesus was as Christ (King, Judge, and divine Son”) and divine Son,” says the artist.
  5. “They have progressed through time to become the typical ‘Jesus’ that we know today.” To be sure, not all depictions of Jesus are consistent with the prevailing picture of him that has been presented in Western art.

Cultures tend to represent major religious leaders as having the appearance of the prevailing racial identity, as Cargill elucidates. READ MORE:The Bible Claims That Jesus Was a Real Person. Is there any further evidence?

What Is the Shroud of Turin?

One of the most well-known of the many possible relics associated with Jesus that have surfaced over the centuries is the Shroud of Turin, which was discovered in 1354 and has since become a worldwide sensation. According to believers, Jesus was wrapped in the piece of linen after he was crucified and that the shroud contains a clear image of his face. Many experts, however, believe the shroud to be a forgery, and the Vatican itself refers to it as a “icon” rather than a relic in its own documents.

Fine Art Photographs/Heritage Photographs/Getty Images “The Shroud of Turin has been debunked on a couple of occasions as a medieval forgery,” says Cargill.

READ MORE: According to a forensic study, the Shroud of Turin does not represent Jesus’ burial cloth.

What Research and Science Can Tell Us About Jesus

Using an Israeli skull dating back to the first century A.D., computer modeling, and their knowledge of what Jewish people looked like during that time period, the retired medical artist Richard Neave collaborated with a team of Israeli and British forensic anthropologists and computer programmers to create a new image of Jesus. Though no one claims that this image is an exact reconstruction of what Jesus himself looked like, scholars believe that this image—roughly five feet tall, with darker skin, darker eyes, and shorter, curlier hair—is more accurate than many artistic depictions of the son of God, despite the fact that no one knows what Jesus actually looked like.

The typical man’s height at the period was around 5-feet-5-inches (166 cm), so he may have stood about that height.

“Can you imagine what Jewish Galileans looked like 2,000 years ago?” he wonders.

“It’s likely that they didn’t have blue eyes or blond hair.”

Jesus wasn’t white: he was a brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jew. Here’s why that matters

The portrait of Jesus on my bedroom wall was a reminder of my upbringing in a Christian family. It’s still in my possession. It’s a little schmaltzy and tacky in that 1970s kind of way, but it was one of my favorites as a small child. Jesus appears to be kind and friendly in this photograph, and he smiles tenderly down at me. He has also been described as having light hair, blue eyes, and being exceedingly white. The difficulty is that Jesus was not of European descent. If you’ve ever been inside a Western church or walked through an art museum, you could be forgiven for believing differently.

  • Although this is not a contentious issue from an academic standpoint, it is a fact that many of the millions of Christians who will meet to celebrate Easter this week seem to have forgotten.
  • A white man, a guy who looks like Anglo-Australians, a guy who other Anglo-Australians can easily connect with, will be presented as Jesus in the majority of these churches, according to the report.
  • He is a good example of what I mean.
  • Alternatively, consider some of the most renowned paintings depicting Jesus’ crucifixion – Rubens, Grunewald, Giotto – and we can see the European prejudice in presenting a white-skinned Jesus once more in action.
  • Taking the myth of the contrite prostitute and putting it to rest All of this is irrelevant, isn’t it?
  • When it comes to representation and the necessity of varied role models, we as a culture are fully aware of their relevance.
  • In interviews since then, Nyong’o has expressed her sentiments of inferiority as a young lady, claiming that she felt this way since all of the ideals of beauty she saw around her were of women with lighter skin tones.

If we can acknowledge the value of racially and physically diverse role models in our media, why can’t we do the same for religious role models as well?

The Passion of the Christ, a 2004 film directed by Mel Gibson, starred Jim Caviezel.

Orthodox Christian iconography differs significantly from that of European art – for example, if you walk into a church in Africa, you’re likely to encounter an African Jesus on the walls of the building.

It enables members of the mainstream Christian community to distinguish between their commitment to Jesus and their sympathy for persons who are physically different from themselves.

It also has consequences for the theological premise that people are created in the image of God.

It has been historically documented that Christians have been among the most virulent perpetrators of anti-Semitism, and it continues to show itself in the “othering” of non-Anglo Saxon Australians.

It would be devastating if we were forced to face the truth that the body that rested on the cross was a brown body: one that had been broken, tortured, and publically killed by an authoritarian state.

How might this change our attitudes? Finally, and perhaps most radical of all, I can’t help but wonder what could happen if we were more conscious of how God in the flesh and savior of the entire world was not a white guy, but was rather a Middle Eastern Jew who lived thousands of years ago.

What race can Jesus and Santa be?

The controversy about the ethnicity of Jesus Christ has raged for a very long period, probably hundreds, if not thousands, of years, according to some estimates. In 2020, though, the ramifications of that dispute may be felt much more acutely, with opponents alleging that portraying Jesus as Caucasian is a means of sustaining white supremacy. The Washington Post reports that Warner E. Sallman’s 1940 picture “Head of Christ” – which has been printed more than a billion times – is credited with having a crucial part in this representation of Christ as a white man.

  • Indeed, when asked in what ways it is permissible to picture Jesus, the majority of Americans said that portraying him as having Middle Eastern ethnic features is the most acceptable representation of the son of God.
  • In addition, half of all Americans (52 percent) believe it is OK to represent Jesus as a Black person.
  • The Archbishop himself cited examples of having seen a Black Jesus, a Chinese Jesus, a Middle Eastern Jesus, and a Fijian Jesus, among other people of different ethnicities.
  • Fewer than half of Americans believe it is acceptable for Jesus to be shown as Hispanic (44 percent), Native American (43 percent), South Asian (40 percent), or East Asian (25 percent) (38 percent ).
  • The majority of Americans (34 percent) object to Christ being shown as any of the non-white races we inquired about, yet just 3 percent believe it is improper to depict Jesus as any other race or ethnicity.

Santa Claus

Considering the fact that Jesus Christ was, at least according to Christian belief, a genuine person, we may assume that there is a proper answer to the issue of his race, even if we will never know what it is. So how does it stand with regard to the other prominent character associated with Christmas — Santa Claus? As most Americans over the age of nine are well aware, the red-coated gift distributor is not genuine. Therefore, portrayals of him as being non-white should be fine, right? At least, it doesn’t appear to be.

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In a later section of the same broadcast, Kelly would also announce that Jesus is white.

In spite of this, a huge majority of Americans (67 percent) believe that a Black Santa is quite appropriate.

It’s also OK to depict Santa as being Hispanic (63 percent), Native American (61 percent), Middle-Eastern (60 percent), East Asian (59 percent), or South Asian, according to the majority of Americans (58 percent ).

In general, a majority of Americans (56 percent) believe it is okay to depict Santa as belonging to any of the races we inquired about in our poll. Only 8% of Americans believe Santa can only be shown in a white suit, yet 21% object to at least one non-white Santa depiction in a Christmas card.

Men are more likely than women to have a problem with non-white depictions of Jesus and Santa Claus

As a result of our research, we discovered that males are generally more judgemental regarding the race of Santa and Jesus than women. In the case of Santa, males are about twice as likely as women to agree that Santa’s representation as a member of a particular race is inappropriate. When it comes to Jesus, the distinction is only somewhat less significant. With the exception of Middle Eastern, where there is no difference, older Americans are typically significantly more inclined to agree that portrayals of Jesus as belonging to a certain non-white race are undesirable.

  1. People are least likely to agree that it is improper to depict Jesus as a member of their own race, according to polling data.
  2. Additionally, the 19 percent of Hispanic individuals who believe a Hispanic Jesus is undesirable is lower than the 27 percent of white and Black people who believe the same.
  3. As many as 42 percent of Black Americans believe such a depiction is unacceptable, compared to only 16 percent of Hispanic and 13 percent of white Americans.
  4. Once again, there is a significantly higher level of opposition to Santa Claus being shown as white among Black Americans (20 percent) than among other ethnic groups (6 percent of Hispanics and 3 percent of white Americans).
  5. Methodology: A total of 1,067 people from the United States were included in the study.
  6. The data have been weighted and are typical of all adults in the United States (over the age of 18).

What race was Jesus?

QuestionAnswer We know that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem and raised in the town of Nazareth in the Galilee region of northern Israel, even though the Bible does not describe His physical appearance as a human (Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4–7; 4:16; John 7:42). As a result, Jesus Christ was a Hebraic Jewish guy from the Middle East. When we trace Christ’s lineage back to his father, we see that he was a multi-ethnic Jew, as well. Various races and cultural lines were represented in his lineage, including Moabite via Ruth and Canaanite through Rahab, as well as characteristics from other races and cultural lines.

  1. As time passed, however, painters began to depict Him with European characteristics like as pale complexion, a beard, and long light brown hair.
  2. And, as the son of a carpenter, he was almost certainly very browned as a result of his exposure to the sun.
  3. Possibly, this is one of the reasons why God chose to remain mute in His Word on the subject of the hue of Jesus’ skin.
  4. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, came to identify with people of all races and ethnic backgrounds (Matthew 28:19).
  5. In fact, comprehending Christ’s mission—which includes becoming part of the human race (John 1:14; Philippians 2:6–7)—is far more significant than defining His racial ethnicity (or lack thereof).
  6. God desires that we accept one another despite our differences (Galatians 5:22).

In that case, we may agree with the apostle Paul, who stated, “There is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor between male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (there is no distinction between male and female in Christ Jesus) (Galatians 3:28; see also Ephesians 2).

There is no such thing as a Jew or a Gentile, nor is there such such thing as black, white, yellow, or red.

He was neither.” It was he who came from that area of the world that straddles Africa, Asia, and Europe.

He is a citizen of the entire world.” Instead of asking “What race was Jesus?” it would be more appropriate to ask “What race was Jesus for?” The emphatic answer is, “the whole human population.” Questions regarding Jesus Christ (return to top of page) What ethnicity did Jesus belong to?

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What race was Jesus? No one knows for sure

He has been venerated and worshiped for more than two thousand years. Every day, a large number of people seek to him for guidance. Despite this, no one has ever seen the face of Jesus. That hasn’t dampened humanity’s imagination or its desire to bring Jesus as close as possible to its hearts and minds. Consequently, when an outpouring of controversy about whether Jesus was a white man descended upon the world during the Christmas season, it struck a holy chord. “That sentence has a lot of baggage,” said Rockwell Dillaman, pastor of the Allegheny Center Alliance Church in Pittsburgh.

Given that his message is one of God and love, isn’t his race a moot point?

It served as a stark reminder of how difficult it is for anyone, even a historical person commonly thought to be above the realm of humanity, to transcend race and ethnicity.

As Blum said, “Jesus claimed many things about himself – that he is the Son of God, that he is the Son of Man, that he is the Light of the World.” “Can you tell me what race is light?

As a result, many academics assume that Jesus must have had dark complexion and beard, and hence must have appeared “Arab.” According to Doug Jacobsen, a professor of church history and theology at Messiah College, “he would most likely be categorized as a person of color in today’s society.” When Megyn Kelly, a Fox News personality, criticized a Slate.com post titled “Santa Claus Should Not Be a White Man Anymore,” she questioned the validity of that viewpoint.

  1. “Jesus was a white guy, too,” Kelly added, igniting a nationwide debate over history, custom, and the appropriateness of a white Christmas for today’s society.
  2. According to Jacobsen, “it’s just a factually false statement.” This is an uninformed statement, not a purposefully deceptive one, according to the author.
  3. What is the source of the innumerable images of a European guy with straight hair, light complexion, and, in many cases, blue eyes that appear when a Google image search for “Jesus” is conducted, if this is so obvious?
  4. According to Blum, the first representations of Jesus arose some hundred years after his death.
  5. According to Blum, diverse Jesus representations multiplied throughout Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa between 700 and 1500 A.D., including a large number of black Jesus figures.
  6. “They treat him as if he were one of their own.” It is a pastor’s book that has Bible pictures drawn from several international cultures, including a Last Supper in which everyone is Thai and depictions of Jesus dressed in Chinese or African garb.
  7. Despite the need of humanity to identify with the divine, another option is sometimes missed.

According to Blum, by the 1500s, Europeans constituted 90 percent of the Christian population.

White Jesus depictions first became popular in America in the early 1800s, according to Blum.

Today, the idea of Jesus as a white man is deeply embedded in American culture.

“Jesus is pure white, devoid of language.

“There’s this idea that Jesus was a white man that’s buried deep down inside of me.

According to this argument, Jews are now mostly white in America.

Despite this, Jews did not originate in Europe and were for many centuries thought to be a distinct nonwhite race unto themselves.

When it comes to Jesus, “the categories of white and black, which come out of the American experience, just don’t make a whole lot of sense,” says Joseph Curran, an associate professor of religion at Misericordia University in New York.

“I don’t believe that those categories are really significant.” Carol Swain, a professor of race at Vanderbilt University who describes herself as a “Bible-believing believer of Jesus Christ,” believes that the entire issue is completely pointless.

“Whether he’s white, black, Hispanic, or whatever you want to call him,” Swain added.

The Christian faith holds that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, she explained. “That’s the only element of the narrative that counts to me – not the fact that he was of a different race.”

Jesus wasn’t white: he was a brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jew. Here’s why that matters

The portrait of Jesus on my bedroom wall was a reminder of my upbringing in a Christian family. It’s still in my possession. It’s a little schmaltzy and tacky in that 1970s kind of way, but it was one of my favorites as a small child. Jesus appears to be kind and friendly in this photograph, and he smiles tenderly down at me. He has also been described as having light hair, blue eyes, and being exceedingly white. The difficulty is that Jesus was not of European descent. If you’ve ever been inside a Western church or walked through an art museum, you could be forgiven for believing differently.

  • Although this is not a contentious issue from an academic standpoint, it is a fact that many of the millions of Christians who will meet to celebrate Easter this week seem to have forgotten.
  • A white man, a guy who looks like Anglo-Australians, a guy who other Anglo-Australians can easily connect with, will be presented as Jesus in the majority of these churches, according to the report.
  • He is a good example of what I mean.
  • Alternatively, consider some of the most renowned paintings depicting Jesus’ crucifixion — Rubens, Grunewald, Giotto — and we can see the European prejudice in presenting a white-skinned Jesus once more in action.
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The importance of diverse role models

Lupita Nyong’o (left) has expressed her thoughts of inferiority as a young lady, claiming that she felt this way since all of the ideals of beauty she saw around her were of women with lighter skin tones. (Photo courtesy of Reuters’ Eduardo Munoz) All of this is irrelevant, isn’t it? Yes, it does, in a very genuine way. When it comes to representation and the necessity of varied role models, we as a culture are fully aware of their relevance. The Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o rocketed to popularity in 2013 after receiving the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her part in the film 12 Years a Slave.

  1. It wasn’t until she witnessed how the fashion industry embraced Sudanese model Alek Wek that she realized that black might be attractive as well as white.
  2. (Photo courtesy of Tony Bransby) If we can acknowledge the value of racially and physically diverse role models in our media, why can’t we do the same for religious role models as well?
  3. Many faiths and cultures represent Jesus as a brown or black guy, and this is not uncommon.
  4. However, these are rarely the pictures that we see in Protestant and Catholic churches in Australia, and it is to our detriment.
  5. I would even go so far as to claim that it causes a cognitive mismatch, whereby one might feel intense compassion for Jesus while feeling minimal empathy for someone from the Middle East.

It also has consequences for the theological premise that people are created in the image of God. If God is constantly shown as white, then the default human becomes white as well, and such thinking is at the heart of racist ideology.

What if Jesus resembled an asylum seeker?

It has been historically documented that Christians have been among the most virulent perpetrators of anti-Semitism, and it continues to show itself in the “othering” of non-Anglo Saxon Australians. What if the historical Jesus had more in common with Indigenous Australians or asylum seekers than with everyone else? (Source: Romeo Ranoco of Reuters) What would our church and society look like if we simply remembered that Jesus was brown — and if we were confronted with the reality that the body hung on the cross was an oppressive regime’s brown body that had been broken, tortured, and publicly executed — is something I can’t help but wonder about this Easter.

How might this change our attitudes?

Robyn J.

The original version of this article published on The Conversation.

Race and the Priesthood

The Church today rejects the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions committed in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; and that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are in any way inferior to anyone else, including white people. All forms of racism, past and present, are categorically condemned by church leaders today, without qualification. 24 In the years since that historic day in 1978, the Church has focused on the future, as membership among Africans, African Americans, and other people of African origin has continued to expand at an alarming rate.

The Church affirms that salvation through Jesus Christ is possible to all members of the human family, subject to the criteria set out by the Creator of the universe.

In the second book of Nephi, a phrase states that God “denieth none that cometh unto him, black and white, bound and free, male and female;.

26

What race was Jesus?

For most of history, people have represented Jesus as a mirror of their own ethnicity or color. A large number of painters began representing Jesus as a Caucasian guy with light brown, wavy hair and blue eyes during the Middle Ages. However, this is a distorted representation of reality. The Bible is unambiguous about Jesus’ ancestry; his lineage is not a mystery. The genealogy of Jesus is traced in Matthew 1:1–17 from Abraham to David to Joseph, and in Luke 3:23–38, it is traced all the way back to Adam.

  1. (Luke 4:16).
  2. Jesus’ physical appearance as a man is unknown; he would have had olive-brown complexion, brown to black hair, and brown eyes, but the Bible does not include any information about his physical appearance.
  3. It is possible that Judas was forced to point out which man Jesus was among His followers to the Roman soldiers who had come to capture Him because Jesus appeared to be the same as the rest of them (Matthew 26:47–49) played a factor in this.
  4. It is beneficial to have a realistic knowledge of Jesus’ race in order to avoid misrepresenting Him to the rest of the world.
  5. In Acts 4:12 and John 3:16–18, it is said that Jesus is the sole Savior for all people, regardless of their ethnicity.
  6. Any individual, regardless of race, who turns away from sin and toward Jesus in faith has the potential to be forgiven of his or her sins and to be adopted into God’s family (John 1:12–13).
  7. However, the Bible teaches us that race is not the most essential factor in life.

Each and every human being has sinned and has been estranged from God (Romans 3:23; 6:23).

Ephesians 2:8–9 states that those who are adopted as children of God through faith in Jesus Christ are family with one another and are a member of the body of Christ.

It is written in the Bible that God desires all peoples to unite under His wing: ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,’ says the Bible (Galatians 3:28).

Even throughout His public ministry to the Jews, Jesus was outspoken in his opposition to their racial views.

According to Acts 8:14–17 and 10:44–48, his followers discovered that the Holy Spirit was given to everyone who placed their faith in Jesus, even Samaritans and Gentiles.

Jesus has the ability to bring all people together, regardless of their differences; he welcomes the outsider into His family.

He himself is our peace, who has united us both in his flesh and has destroyed the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, in order that he might create in himself one new man instead of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing hostility.

Truths that are related: Was Jesus a Jew or a non-Jew?

Was Jesus of Nazareth a black man? What was Jesus’ physical appearance like? What do we know about the historical Jesus, the one who lived and died? Who exactly is Jesus? What is the identity of Jesus Christ? Return to the page: The Truth About Jesus Christ.

Why Jesus’ Skin Color Matters

After one of my recent lectures, a Christian college student approached me and asked if black people are uncomfortable with the fact that Jesus is white. I responded, “Jesus is not white. The Jesus of history likely looked more like me, a black woman, than you, a white woman.” I wasn’t shocked by this student’s assumption that Jesus was of European descent, or the certitude with which she stated it. When I am in US Christian spaces, I encounter this assumption so often that I’ve come to believe it is the default assumption about Jesus’ appearance.

In most of the Western world, Jesus is white.

In all likelihood, if you close your eyes and picture Jesus, you’ll imagine a white man.

Not only is white Jesus inaccurate, he also can inhibit our ability to honor the image of God in people who aren’t white.

Princeton biblical scholar James Charlesworth goes so far as to say Jesus was “most likely dark brown and sun-tanned.” The earliest depictions of an adult Jesus showed him with a “Oriental cast” and a brown complexion.

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Truth Be Told Truth Be Told is a series on privilege, power, and how churches can be more attuned to both as they live out the gospel.

Previous Truth Be Told Columns:

  • There are several articles on this page: A Unified Church is Gospel Witness
  • The Gap in Our Servant Leadership
  • The Black Church as a Refuge
  • And more.

The Color of Christ: The Son of God & The Saga of Race in America: Blum, Edward J., Harvey, Paul: 9780807835722: Amazon.com: Books

*Five-Star Review* How did Jesus come to be represented as being white? Also, why is he seen as an inspiration by both white nationalists and slave owners alike? A complicated history of religion and race in America is traced by Blum and Harvey, who illustrate how racial politics have influenced religious practices as well as how religion has been utilized and misused in the practice of racial politics. Despite the attempts of Puritans to avoid images of Christ, Christianity in America grew to rely on a picture praising Europeans as its central figure.

It is the authors’ investigation into how the image of Christ has been constantly remade to suit the social politics of individual nations, mostly blond-haired and blue-eyed but at times and places decidedly Middle Eastern, even Native American, black, and Hispanic, as believers have struggled to depict Christ in accordance with their deepest yearnings, that they have written about in their book.

Photographs and other images of Christ add to the overall appeal of this extremely engaging book. -Vanessa Bush, in her own words

From the Inside Flap

What is it about the image of Jesus Christ in America that has been used to excuse the atrocities of white supremacy while also inspiring the righteousness of civil rights crusades is a mystery. A tapestry of American dreams and visions-from witch hunts to web pages, from Harlem to Hollywood, slave cabins to South Park, Mormon revelations to Indian reservations-are woven together in The Color of Christ by Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey to demonstrate how Americans have remade the Son of God visually time and again into a sacred symbol of their greatest aspirations, deepest fears, and mightiest struggles for racial power and justice.

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