Why Is Jesus Portrayed As White

The long history of how Jesus came to resemble a white European

The post was published on July 22, 2020, and the update was published on July 22, 2020. By Anna Swartwood House, [email protected], University of South Carolina No one knows what Jesus looked like, and there are no known photos of him during his time on the earth. According to art history professor Anna Swartwood House’s article published in The Conversation, the depictions of Christ have had a tortuous history and have had a variety of functions throughout history. When it comes to portraying Jesus as a white, European guy, there has been heightened scrutiny during this era of reflection on the history of racism in our culture.

Prominent scholars, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, have urged for a reexamination of Jesus’ image as a white man in the gospels.

1350 to 1600 and how it has changed through time.

However, the image of Jesus that has been replicated the most is from a different historical period.

Sallman, a former commercial artist who specialized in creating artwork for advertising campaigns, was successful in marketing this photograph across the world.

Sallman’s painting is the culmination of a lengthy tradition of white Europeans who have created and disseminated images of Christ that are in their own image.

In search of the holy face

Several first-century Jews from Galilee, a region in biblical Israel, shared the same brown eyes and skin tone as the actual Jesus, according to speculation. No one, however, is certain about Jesus’ physical appearance. In addition, there are no known photos of Jesus during his lifetime, and whereas the Old Testament kings Saul and David are specifically described in the Bible as “tall and attractive,” there is no evidence of Jesus’ physical appearance in either the Old or New Testaments. Even these passages are in conflict with one another: The prophet Isaiah writes that the coming messiah “had no beauty or majesty,” yet the Book of Psalms states that he was “fairer than the children of mankind,” with the term “fair” referring to physical attractiveness on his person.

that the earliest representations of Jesus Christ appeared, amidst worries about idolatry.

Early Christian painters frequently used syncretism, which is the combination of visual formats from other civilizations, in order to clearly show their functions.

In some popular portrayals, Christ is depicted as wearing the toga or other qualities associated with the emperor.

Viladesau says that Christ’s mature bearded appearance, with long hair in the “Syrian” manner, combines elements of the Greek god Zeus with the Old Testament character Samson, among other things.

Christ as self-portraitist

Portraits of Christ that were considered authoritative likenesses were thought to be self-portraits: the miraculous “image not formed by human hands,” or acheiropoietos, which means “image not made by human hands.” This belief dates back to the seventh century A.D., and it is based on a legend that Christ healed King Abgar of Edessa in modern-day Urfa, Turkey, through a miraculous image of his face, now known as the Mandylion.

  1. The Mandylion is a miraculous image of Christ’s face that was created by the Holy Spirit.
  2. If we look at it from the standpoint of art history, these objects served to strengthen an already established picture of a bearded Christ with shoulder-length, black hair.
  3. Some people did this to express their identification with Christ’s human suffering, while others did it to make a statement about their own creative potential.
  4. In this, he posed in front of the camera as if he were an icon, his beard and luxurious shoulder-length hair evoking Christ’s own.

In whose image?

Interestingly, this phenomena was not limited to Europe: there are 16th- and 17th-century paintings of Jesus that include elements from Ethiopia and India, for example. The image of a light-skinned European Christ, on the other hand, began to spread throughout the world as a result of European commerce and colonization in the early centuries. The “Adoration of the Magi” by the Italian painter Andrea Mantegna, painted in A.D. 1505, depicts three separate magi, who, according to one contemporaneous story, came from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, adoring the infant Jesus.

However, Jesus’ fair complexion and blue eyes show that he was not born in the Middle East, but rather in Europe.

Anti-Semitic beliefs were already widespread among the majority Christian population in Mantegna’s Italy, and Jewish people were frequently divided into their own districts of large towns, according to Mantegna.

A move toward the Christianity symbolized by Jesus might be signified by even seemingly insignificant characteristics such as pierced ears (earrings were traditionally connected with Jewish women, and their removal with a conversion to Christianity).

Much later, anti-Semitic groups in Europe, especially the Nazis, would strive to completely separate Jesus from his Judaism in favor of an Aryan caricature, a move that was ultimately successful.

White Jesus abroad

As Europeans conquered ever-more-distant regions, they carried a European Jesus with them to share with the people. Jesuit missionaries developed painting schools where new converts might learn about Christian art in the European tradition. It was created in the school of Giovanni Niccol, the Italian Jesuit who founded the “Seminary of Painters” in Kumamoto, Japan in 1590. The altarpiece, which is small in size, combines a traditional Japanese gilt and mother-of-pearl shrine with a painting of a distinctly white, European Madonna and Child.

Saint Rose of Lima, the first Catholic saint to be born in “New Spain,” is shown in a picture by artist Nicolas Correa from 1695, in which she is seen metaphorically married to a blond, light-skinned Christ.

Legacies of likeness

Edward J. Blumand is a scholar. During the decades after European colonization of the Americas, some say that images of a white Christ were connected with the logic of empire and could be used to justify the persecution of Native and African Americans. Paul Harvey makes this argument. Although America is a mixed and uneven society, the media portrayal of a white Jesus was disproportionately prominent. A huge majority of performers who have represented Jesus on television and in films have been white with blue eyes, and this is not limited to Warner Sallman’s Head of Christ.

  • It is true that representation matters, and viewers must be aware of the intricate history of the pictures of Christ that they see and absorb.
  • See the source article for more information.
  • Raphael is an artist who creates collections.
  • Inform your social network connections about what you are reading about by posting on their pages.

How an iconic painting of Jesus as a white man was distributed around the world

After being printed a billion times, the image came to define what the major figure of Christianity looked like for generations of Christians in the United States – and elsewhere. According to Carr, the director of ministry and administrative support staff of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Maryland, Sallman’s Jesus “expressed the image of God” for many years before his death. When she grew up and began to study the Bible on her own, she began to have questions about that artwork and the message it was sending out to the world around her.

  • Not for the first time, Sallman’s portrayal of Jesus and the influence it has had on not only theology but also the wider culture have been called into question.
  • Beginnings are modest.
  • As William Grimes of the New York Times put it in 1994, “Sallman was a Christian painter and illustrator whose most iconic work, ‘Head of Christ,’ attained a worldwide notoriety that makes Warhol’s soup look delightfully esoteric.” Sallman died in 1968.
  • Sallman, a Chicago-based commercial artist who grew up in the church that is now known as the Evangelical Covenant Church, was a member of the denomination that is now known as the Evangelical Covenant Church.
  • His strategy was successful.

A replica of the original “Head of Christ” was painted by Sallman for the school, but the original “Head of Christ” was sold to the religious publisher Kriebel & Bates, and so was born what Lipan refers to as a “Protestant icon.” According to Matthew Anderson, associate professor of religious studies at Concordia University in Montreal, “this specific picture of Jesus coincided with the start of the ‘Mad Men,’ of the marketing agency.” With little time, the picture traveled swiftly, being printed on prayer cards and distributed by a variety of groups, missionaries, and churches of all denominations: Catholic and Protestant; evangelical; mainline; white; and black.

  1. During World War II, copies of the Bible were distributed to soldiers by the Salvation Army and the YMCA through the United Service Organizations (USO).
  2. A variety of products with the picture were sold to the public including pencils, bookmarks, lamps and clocks.
  3. What the scholar David Morgan has described as a “picture of Jesus” came to pass as a result.
  4. Historically, according to Anderson, it has been usual for individuals to represent Jesus as a member of their own culture or ethnic group.
  5. Some of the earliest depictions of Jesus showed him to have “extremely dark complexion, maybe African origin,” according to him.
  6. The Chicagoan had been influenced by a long heritage of European painters, the most renowned of whom was the Frenchman Leon-Augustin Lhermitte, who had lived in the city for many years.
  7. “It’s impossible to overlook a very Nordic Jesus,” he asserted.

It was during the civil rights struggle that Sallman’s picture of a Scandinavian savior came under fire for perpetuating the idea of a white Jesus in the minds of subsequent generations of Americans.

This week, the activist Shaun King called for the removal of sculptures representing Jesus as a European, as well as Confederate monuments, since the representation is a “form of white supremacy,” according to the activist.

she said on Twitter.

Nnedi Okorafor, PhD (@Nnedi) is a social media influencer.

Anthea Butler, an associate professor of religious studies and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania, has also expressed concern about the negative impact of images of a white Jesus on the African-American community and other communities.

According to her, Jesus looked “like the folks who were beating you up in the streets or setting dogs on you.” she added.

“If Jesus is white and God is white,” she asserted, “then authority must also be white,” she continued.

Blum, co-author of the 2014 book “The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America,” have shown reluctance to abandon the picture of Jesus as being white.

See also:  What Places Did Jesus Visit?

Using solely white to represent Jesus, according to Tisby, has religious ramifications.

To say that Jesus is black, or, more broadly, to say that Jesus is not white, is to say that Jesus identifies with the oppressed and that God is not alien to the experience of marginalized people, but rather that God is on the side of those who, in Matthew 25, Jesus refers to as ‘the least of these,'” he explained.

  1. Almost a decade after Sallman painted his “Head of Christ,” the Korean artist Kim Ki-chang developed a picture cycle depicting the life of Christ in traditional Korean clothes and surroundings, with figures from Korean folk religion as supporting characters.
  2. Blum expressed himself.
  3. “This one appears to be simple to give up.” More recently, Sofia Minson, a New Zealand artist of Ngti Porou Mori, English, Swedish, and Irish background, recreated Sallman’s Jesus as an indigenous Mori man with a customary facial tattoo.
  4. Furthermore, there are various popular representations of Jesus who is African-American.
  5. McKenzie’s design was picked as the winner since it was based on a black woman.
  6. Carr says she is attempting to avoid pigeonholing Jesus into a single picture these days.

According to her, “It’s not so much the painting as it’s my query about who Jesus is.” “It’s more accurately a representation of the person who I view across the aisle as representing a different Jesus.”

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.

Jesus was not white. Here’s why we should stop pretending he was.

Photos courtesy of Unsplash; collage courtesy of Angelo Jesus Canta Recently, many people have asked me what I think about the (valid) criticisms leveled towards White Jesus portrayals, such as the iconic painting “Head of Christ” by Warner Sallman, which has garnered worldwide attention. The first thing to point out is that Jesus did not appear in that manner. We don’t know what Jesus looked like since the Gospels don’t mention it, but we do know that he wasn’t of European descent. After all, he is referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth,” which indicates that he was born in Nazareth, a little village in Galilee with a population of 200-400 people.

  1. The (valid) criticisms of the prevalence of White Jesus portrayals, such as the iconic painting “Head of Christ” by Warner Sallman, have prompted several inquiries from people in the last few days regarding my thoughts on the subject.
  2. Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) on Twitter: The date is June 25, 2020.
  3. John Meier, author of the seminal series of books, A Marginal Jew, on the genuine Jesus, if we were to encounter Jesus today, we may be surprised, given the European pictures we’re used to seeing of him.
  4. There are two Mahers in the shot; they are two of my Galilee friends, two cousins, both named Maher.
  5. They’re also both really kind people, which makes it easy to consider them as representations of Jesus.
  6. As a result, I believe that today’s Jesus should be depicted more accurately to how he (probably) appeared, which is why I source photos for my Daily Gospel tweets from creative sites such as ” Lumo,” which depict Jesus in a manner that is more accurate to how he (again, probably) appeared.
  7. And in many portrayals of Jesus, particularly in stained glass, he is not only white, but the purest white possible—whiter than anybody else on the planet!

And that has the most devastating consequences for those who do not appear to be like that.

So, what does the fact that Jesus is white and you are not say about your connection with him say about you?

The representations of the saints are frequently equally as awful as the secular representations.

Augustine, who was born in North Africa and came to Europe as a young man.

For Mary, we witness the same pattern repeating over and over again.

Which is, to put it bluntly, incorrect.

A poor Galilean lady, to put it mildly.

When I recommended that Jesus and Mary be painted as black people, he immediately expressed skepticism.

pic.twitter.com/Xyk8QC9DK5 J.

I was eventually gifted with wonderful pictures of Jesus and Mary dressed as Ethiopians.

White Jesus, on the other hand, was what he had been taught by white priests.

What was the appearance of that?

(I’ll leave aside the question of what his glorified body looked like after the Resurrection, but the fact remains that it was him.) Consequently, it is critical to recall where Jesus of Nazareth originated from, what people from that region look like now, and what they (presumably) looked like in the first century.

  • Neither were Mary or the apostles, for that matter.
  • pic.twitter.com/tCQpx0Baba • James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) on Twitter on June 25, 2020 But here’s what I have to say: Every culture must have images of Jesus that are inculturated into it.
  • That is why I enjoy seeing representations of Jesus from several cultures and in a variety of colors.
  • Alternatively, there is Janet McKenzie’s well-known ” Jesus of the People.” Alternatively, one of my favorite photos, theCrucifixion scene at Hekima College in Nairobi, Kenya, by Englebert Mveng, S.J., before which I have prayed several times, is seen here.
  • No, not if it involves destroying photos.
  • As a substitute, we should promote representations of Jesus that have been assimilated into the societies in which he currently exists.
  • I was eventually gifted with wonderful pictures of Jesus and Mary dressed as Ethiopians.

White Jesus, on the other hand, was what he had been taught by (surprise, surprise) white priests.

Because Jesus is most often discovered in persons who are outside of your normal social circle.

But much more essential than the graphic pictures of Jesus that we employ (which are significant, to be sure) is the ability to recognize Christalive in each and every individual.

Christ has taken up residence in them.

But, maybe more crucially, increased attempts to discover Christ in each and every individual.

As Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

is a Jesuit priest. America’s editor-in-chief, the Rev. James Martin, S.J., is a Jesuit priest, author, and editor at large.

The long history of how Jesus came to resemble a white European

Hemera Technologies courtesy of AbleStock.com/Getty Images This article has been republished from The Conversation under the terms of a Creative Commons license. Read the original story, which was published on July 17, 2020, for more information. When it comes to portraying Jesus as a white, European guy, there has been heightened scrutiny during this era of reflection on the history of racism in our culture. At a time when demonstrators in the United States demanded for the destruction of Confederate monuments, activist Shaun King went even farther, stating that paintings and artwork representing “white Jesus” should be “demolished.” It is not only him who is concerned about the image of Christ and how it is being used to maintain beliefs of racial supremacy.

  • As a European Renaissance art historian, I am interested in the changing image of Jesus Christ from A.D.
  • It was during this time period that some of the most well-known images of Christ were created, from Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper” in the Vatican to Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” in the Sistine Chapel.
  • It is Warner Sallman’s light-eyed, light-haired “Head of Christ” from 1940, and it is a beautiful piece of art.
  • Sallman’s collaborations with two Christian publishing houses, one Protestant and one Catholic, resulted in the inclusion of the Head of Christ on a wide range of items, including prayer cards, stained glass, fake oil paintings, calendars, hymnals, and night lights, among other things.
See also:  How Did Jesus Fast For 40 Days

In search of the holy face

Several first-century Jews from Galilee, a region in biblical Israel, shared the same brown eyes and skin tone as the actual Jesus, according to speculation. No one, however, is certain about Jesus’ physical appearance. In addition, there are no known photos of Jesus during his lifetime, and whereas the Old Testament kings Saul and David are specifically described in the Bible as “tall and attractive,” there is no evidence of Jesus’ physical appearance in either the Old or New Testaments. Even these passages are in conflict with one another: The prophet Isaiah writes that the coming messiah “had no beauty or majesty,” yet the Book of Psalms states that he was “fairer than the children of mankind,” with the term “fair” referring to physical attractiveness on his person.

that the earliest representations of Jesus Christ appeared, amidst worries about idolatry.

Early Christian painters frequently used syncretism, which is the combination of visual formats from other civilizations, in order to clearly show their functions.

In some popular portrayals, Christ is depicted as wearing the toga or other qualities associated with the emperor.

Viladesau says that Christ’s mature bearded appearance, with long hair in the “Syrian” manner, combines elements of the Greek god Zeus with the Old Testament character Samson, among other things.

Christ as self-portraitist

Portraits of Christ that were considered authoritative likenesses were thought to be self-portraits: the miraculous “image not formed by human hands,” or acheiropoietos, which means “image not made by human hands.” This belief dates back to the seventh century A.D., and it is based on a legend that Christ healed King Abgar of Edessa in modern-day Urfa, Turkey, through a miraculous image of his face, now known as the Mandylion.

  1. The Mandylion is a miraculous image of Christ’s face that was created by the Holy Spirit.
  2. If we look at it from the standpoint of art history, these objects served to strengthen an already established picture of a bearded Christ with shoulder-length, black hair.
  3. Some people did this to express their identification with Christ’s human suffering, while others did it to make a statement about their own creative potential.
  4. In this, he posed in front of the camera as if he were an icon, his beard and luxurious shoulder-length hair evoking Christ’s own.

In whose image?

Interestingly, this phenomena was not limited to Europe: there are 16th- and 17th-century paintings of Jesus that include elements from Ethiopia and India, for example. The image of a light-skinned European Christ, on the other hand, began to spread throughout the world as a result of European commerce and colonization in the early centuries. The “Adoration of the Magi” by the Italian painter Andrea Mantegna, painted in A.D. 1505, depicts three separate magi, who, according to one contemporaneous story, came from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, adoring the infant Jesus.

However, Jesus’ fair complexion and blue eyes show that he was not born in the Middle East, but rather in Europe.

Anti-Semitic beliefs were already widespread among the majority Christian population in Mantegna’s Italy, and Jewish people were frequently divided into their own districts of large towns, according to Mantegna.

A move toward the Christianity symbolized by Jesus might be signified by even seemingly insignificant characteristics such as pierced ears (earrings were traditionally connected with Jewish women, and their removal with a conversion to Christianity).

Much later, anti-Semitic groups in Europe, especially the Nazis, would strive to completely separate Jesus from his Judaism in favor of an Aryan caricature, a move that was ultimately successful.

White Jesus abroad

As Europeans conquered ever-more-distant regions, they carried a European Jesus with them to share with the people. Jesuit missionaries developed painting schools where new converts might learn about Christian art in the European tradition. It was created in the school of Giovanni Niccol, the Italian Jesuit who founded the “Seminary of Painters” in Kumamoto, Japan in 1590. The altarpiece, which is small in size, combines a traditional Japanese gilt and mother-of-pearl shrine with a painting of a distinctly white, European Madonna and Child.

Saint Rose of Lima, the first Catholic saint to be born in “New Spain,” is shown in a picture by artist Nicolas Correa from 1695, in which she is seen metaphorically married to a blond, light-skinned Christ.

Legacies of likeness

Edward J. Blumand is a scholar. During the decades after European colonization of the Americas, some say that images of a white Christ were connected with the logic of empire and could be used to justify the persecution of Native and African Americans. Paul Harvey makes this argument. Although America is a mixed and uneven society, the media portrayal of a white Jesus was disproportionately prominent. A huge majority of performers who have represented Jesus on television and in films have been white with blue eyes, and this is not limited to Warner Sallman’s Head of Christ.

It is true that representation matters, and viewers must be aware of the intricate history of the pictures of Christ that they see and absorb.

The Surprising Story Of How Jesus Became A White Guy

It is in the public domain. Carl Heinrich Bloch’s painting of a white Jesus Christ, painted in the nineteenth century, is on display. For over 2,000 years, the person of Jesus Christ has been a source of respect and worship. Christ is revered as the major figure in Christianity, and representations of him adorn the walls of churches, houses, and museums across the globe. But why does Jesus appear to be white in the majority of these depictions? Throughout western Europe, as Jesus’ followers extended out of the Middle East, sometimes by committed missionary labor, sometimes through more violent ways, people began to fashion Jesus into their own image.

Although researchers have a better understanding of what people looked like in the Middle East during this time period, they do not believe they were light-skinned in the first century. Despite this, a white Jesus continues to be the paradigm in most contemporary representations. Why?

Early Depictions Of Jesus

Although the Bible recounts the life of Jesus Christ — whose given name was Yeshua — it has little information regarding his physical appearance. The prophet Isaiah characterizes Jesus as possessing “neither beauty nor grandeur,” according to the Old Testament. The Book of Psalms, on the other hand, explicitly contradicts this, describing Jesus as “fairer than the sons of mankind.” Several other descriptions of Jesus Christ in the Bible provide only a few further hints. As recounted in the Book of Revelation, Jesus’ hair is described as being “white wool,” his eyes as “flames of fire,” and his feet as being “burnished bronze, purified as if in a furnace.

  • Unsurprisingly, considering the persecution of early Christians, one of the first recorded images of Jesus Christ is a mocking of the historical figure of Jesus Christ.
  • The inscription says, “Alexandro bowing down before his deity.” It is in the public domain.
  • Illustrations of Jesus Christ with a more favorable connotation have been found dating back to the third century.
  • the good shepherd lays down his life for the flock,” numerous early images of him with a lamb have appeared.
  • It is noteworthy that he does not have a beard in this portrait.
  • It is in the public domain.
  • And when Christianity began to spread throughout Europe, pictures like this one began to emerge on walls all throughout the continent.

Depictions Of Jesus’ Race Under The Romans

However, even though early Christians worshipped in secrecy, passing along illicit images such as the ichthys to convey their religion, Christianity began to achieve widespread acceptance in the fourth century. After that, the Roman emperor Constantine turned to Christianity, and representations of Jesus Christ began to appear in more places than ever before in history. It is in the public domain. A representation of Jesus Christ found in a catacomb near Constantine’s Roman home, dating from the fourth century.

  • Jesus has a halo, he’s in the top-center of the composition, his fingers are clasped together in a benediction, and he’s definitely from the European continent.
  • A significant feature of Jesus’ appearance is that he possesses the wavy, flowing hair and beard that may be found in many contemporary portrayals.
  • The reason for this is that white Christians were spreading vigorously around the globe, invading and converting as they went, bringing with them visions of a white Jesus.
  • When it came to colonizers, white Jesus had a dual role.

His race had a role in the establishment of caste systems in South America as well as the repression of indigenous people in North America.

The Modern Look Of The White Jesus

As the ages passed, representations of Jesus in white grew increasingly common in popular culture. Because early artists wished for their viewers to identify Jesus — and because they dreaded being accused of heresy — identical pictures of Jesus Christ were repeated over the course of history. In 1940, the concept of a white Jesus received a significant boost from American artist Warner E. Sallman, who depicted Jesus Christ as having white complexion, blonde hair, and blue eyes in a series of paintings.

  • Twitter The Head of Christ by Warner E.
  • For example, according to New York Timesjournalist William Grimes, his ” Head of Christ” has gained widespread recognition, “making Warhol’s soup appear positively esoteric by comparison.
  • While frescoes may have fallen out of favor, modern-day depictions of Jesus may be seen in films and television shows, among other places.
  • Jeffrey Hunter (King of Kings), Ted Neeley (Jesus Christ Superstar), and Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) were all white actors who appeared in the films mentioned.
  • In fact, even Haaz Sleiman, a Lebanese actor who starred as Jesus Christ in National Geographic’s “Killing Jesus,” has pale skin color.

Some activists have called for an end to the association between white Jesus and white supremacy, with one stating that “the Jesus you saw in all the black Baptist churches was the same as those who were beating you up in the streets or setting dogs on you.” Others have called for an end to the association between white Jesus and white supremacy.

Various artists, like Korean artist Kim Ki-chang, have painted Jesus Christ in traditional Korean garb, while others, such as Robert Lentz, have shown Jesus as a Black man.

Their portrayals of Jesus Christ as a person of race are a little more accurate than the historical record.

See also:  What Race Was Jesus According To The Bible

Despite the fact that it is almost inevitable that pictures of Jesus in white will continue to exist, many people are receptive to fresh representations of the Savior.

It is, without a doubt, a text that leaves lots of opportunity for interpretation. Consider looking into the myth of a white Jesus, learning about the tomb of Jesus, and learning about the actual tale of who authored the Bible after that.

Jesus Christ Depicted as a White Man – Student Anthology

An Image of Jesus Christ as a Caucasian Man Emily Crowell is a writer who lives in New York City. A brown or blonde-haired, blue-eyed, light-skinned angelic guy comes to mind when most of us are asked to see Jesus in our minds’ eye when we are asked to visualize him. As for Jesus, according to the Bible, he was of Jewish descent; at the absolute least, his skin tone would have been a deeper olive shade and his hair would have been curly and black. In terms of appearance, he would have resembled someone of Middle-Eastern ethnic origins rather than someone with Western or Northern European characteristics.

In the United States, the Ku Klux Klan utilized the image of the white Jesus to explain and support their concept of white supremacy, which they called “white supremacy.” The 1915 film Birth of a Nation, which depicts a racist “history” of the United States during the Reconstruction era, had a significant role in the establishment of the Ku Klux Klan in the early twentieth century.

When white actors in blackface chased after white ladies with the intent of raping them, the audience gasped.

As Jesus spread his hands over the nation that the Klan had saved, they felt a sense of comfort” (141).

According to a 1965 Saturday Evening Post article, “Fierce-eyed preachers, most of whom were self-ordained, began to shout in public the twisted doctrine they had proclaimed in the secrecy of the Klaverns – that Jesus Christ was not a Jew, that the Pope of Rome was Anti-Christ, that the Negro was a beast that must be destroyed.” Fairly 28 (Martin and Fairly 28).

  1. According to reports from North Carolina, a robed Klansman stated: ‘.When I put on this robe, it’s a beautiful feeling.
  2. The KKK would have found it more difficult to maintain its theology of white supremacy in the Protestant South if they did not have the support of a white Jesus to support them.
  3. For anti-Semites in general, and especially for those who sought the annihilation of Jews from the human race, the fact that Jesus was a Jew poses a significant difficulty.
  4. Head in his article “The Nazi Quest for an Aryan Jesus” (70).
  5. Jesus battled against the materialism of His day, and hence against the Jews” (Head 55-56).
  6. He wanted to persuade or at the very least appease a people, the vast majority of whom identified as Christian, by providing evidence that not only was Jesus not a Jew, but that Jesus actively battled against the Jews in his lifetime.
  7. However, while the default image of Jesus is that of a white man, there is increasing acceptance of non-white Jesus images in today’s society — for example, the stained glass black Jesus at a specific church in the Birmingham, Alabama.
  8. When a guy who purportedly espoused a concept of brotherly love is exploited as a symbol for a nasty, murderous group such as the Ku Klux Klan, there is clearly something wrong.
  9. The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America is a book on the color of Christ.
  10. “The Nazi Quest for an Aryan Jesus,” by Peter M.
  11. The first issue of the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus was published on January 1, 2004.

EBSCOhost (accessed September 20, 2014). Harold H. Martin and Kenneth Fairly are the authors of this work. “There’s nothing we can hide.” p. 27-33 in the Saturday Evening Post on January 30, 1965. EBSCOhost (accessed September 21, 2014).

The Problems With White Jesus

Patrick Saint-Jean, SJ, TJP contributor, has written a new book titled The Spiritual Work of Racial Justice: A Month of Meditations with Ignatius of Loyola. The following is an extract from the book. In spite of how much it saddens me, I cannot ignore the truth that Christianity served as the breeding ground for racist attitudes. Land theft from indigenous peoples and African enslavement were explained centuries ago by the church, which held the conviction that God was on the side of white Christians.

  1. White Christians were already practicing the doctrine that would one day be known as “Manifest Destiny,” as they sought to ease their unsettled consciences with their conviction in their own God-given greatness.
  2. According to theologian Kelly Brown Douglas, white people’s conviction in their inherent superiority is America’s original sin, which resulted in slavery and unfair treatment of indigenous people, as well as today’s racism and feelings of fear and anger toward immigrants and minorities.
  3. Despite this, America takes great pleasure in being a Christian nation.
  4. While the founding fathers of the United States were concerned about equality for “all men,” the Constitution designated Black Americans as just three-fifths of a human being.
  5. Until the eighteenth century, however, Jesus was almost always shown as a Jewish man with black eyes and dark hair.
  6. It battled with the morality of removing more and more territory from Native Americans while, at the same time, tensions over slavery were rising throughout the country.
  7. Many concerned Americans began to rely on his picture as a source of unity and consolation in the absence of words.

A Harvard-educated scholar who memorized nearly the entirety of the Bible, the Reverend James Henley Thornwell routinely preached the doctrine of white supremacy from his pulpit in Columbia, South Carolina, where he served as a church pastor in the years leading up to the American Civil War.

In the same way as other relationships in life do, the relationship between master and slave does as well.

It is not considered sinful.” Thornwell claimed that slavery was sanctioned by the Bible, just like any other social situation of man.

In the early nineteenth century, artists began to depict the Savior as not just fair-skinned but also blond and blue-eyed.

Those with white complexion were good, like Jesus, and those with brown skin were dangerous and wicked, the polar antithesis of what Jesus stood for.

Essentially, they assert that it was the notion of a white Jesus that enabled pious Christians to attend Sunday services—and then put on the robes of the Ku Klux Klan for the rest of the week in order to blow up, torture, and murder Black people.

lynchings, which occurred in every state in the United States but two,” according to the article.

Of course, not all white Christians engaged in lynchings; nonetheless, their silence allowed the brutality and death to continue.

They implicitly assumed that, since Jesus was white, whites had a monopoly on knowledge about God and the universe.

“Just as the Star of Bethlehem directed the wise men to Christ, so it is that the Klan is expected more and more to guide men to the correct life under the flag of Christ,” one Klan leader explained.

Angry white people stormed a Greyhound bus transporting the Freedom Riders on Sunday, May 14, 1961, in the state of Alabama (protestors against segregationist laws).

As smoke and flames filled the vehicle, the assailants jammed the exit door with their bodies.

‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ he said at a community meeting, “I have had the distinction of serving as the pastor of a white Baptist church in this city for the past fifteen years.

My faith holds that races should be kept apart, but I am also a practicing Christian,” she says.

We have been given this diversity in hue because of the differences in our bodies, our thoughts, and our lives, as well as our mission on the face of this planet.” Even though not all white churches took such an outspoken and overt stance in support of racism, as Jamar Tisby points out, “at a critical moment in the life of our nation, one that demanded moral courage, the American church responded to much of the civil rights movement with passivity, indifference, and even outright opposition.” You would assume that African-Americans would have united in their opposition to Christian beliefs and practices.

Instead, many Black people, including my own ancestors, turned to the Jesus of the Gospels for guidance and salvation.

They discovered a Jesus whose message was one of love, affirmation, and liberation, a Jesus who came to stand up for those who are oppressed, and a Jesus who came to stand with those who are oppressed.

As we follow Jesus through his earthly existence, we come face to face with a Divine Being who has tasted the anguish of rejection, poverty, and political oppression—and yet has risen above them all with his message of liberation and love.

In the words of Bishop Desmond Tutu, “Racism is the ultimate rejection of the Gospel,” and “it cannot be other than that all believers would resist violently this false gospel that would have people invest their hope of salvation in a pseudo-gospel.” The spiritual writer Ignatius reminds us that “above all,” he says, “remember that God seeks for solid qualities in us,” such as “patience,” “humility,” “obedience,” and “abnegation of one’s own will”—that is, the desire to serve God and our neighbor in God’s service.

Ignatius guides us in the direction of a spirituality that has nothing to do with the white Jesus, who is a false deity of superiority, prejudice, and injustice, among other things.

The deepest and most true level of humility, according to him, is complete connection with Jesus: When I desire the truth of Christ’s life to be fully realized in my own, I find myself filled with a love and a desire for poverty in order to be with the poor Christ; a love and a desire for insults in order to be more closely associated with Christ in his own rejection by people; a love and a desire to be considered worthless and a fool for Christ, rather than being esteemed as wise and prudent according to worldly standards.

These remarks raise the question: Can we find Jesus in the lives of people who have been oppressed? These words push us to consider the answer. Are we ready to serve the real Jesus, who happens to be a person of color?

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