The United States Heats Up Due to the Debate on Whether Jesus Was White or Not

ENTRE News – Various ancient paintings with figures of color and harsh political differences have revived the debate about the ancient image of Jesus Christ as a white man. One of the classic depictions of the figure of Jesus is in a painting by maestro Leonardo Da Vinci entitled The Last Supper. In the painting, Jesus is depicted as a white man, with a beard and shoulder-length hair.

The debate regarding Jesus’ skin color is one of the oldest debates in religion. Many Hollywood films also depict Jesus as white. However, a different picture appears in many ancient paintings and religious political movements.

Christena Cleveland, theologian and social psychologist and also the author of the book ‘God Is a Black Woman’, who spent most of her childhood in an evangelical church, admitted that she once gasped when she saw a painting of Jesus Christ.

In the painting, the resurrected Jesus is surrounded by his enchanted disciples, including ‘Doubting Thomas’ who touches the wounds on Christ’s body.

The painting looks like an ancient relic found in a long-forgotten desert monastery in the Holy Land, a Byzantine-style fresco filled with sharply contoured figures, awash in deep blues and blood oranges.

But there was another color in the picture that caught his attention. Jesus is depicted as a man of color, somewhere between brown and black, and so are his disciples. Cleveland realized that he had always imagined a Norse-looking Jesus who looked like Thor. Now, she realizes that she is more like her, a black woman. For Cleveland, Jesus’ changing skin color changed the way he viewed the meaning of Easter.

“When I look at the Passover story, I see Jesus a victim of state-sanctioned violence. I see Jesus surrounded by black and brown people who wish they could do something, but don’t have the power at the time,” Cleveland said.

“And I see people who are victims of a system that cannot see their full humanity and assumes the worst in them. But in the end there is still hope,” he said.

“The universe does tend towards justice, even though the plot is long,” said Cleveland.

Many scientists and archaeologists now agree that Jesus was most likely a man with brown skin and brown eyes, more akin to a Middle Eastern Jew or Arab man. Black theologians such as the Reverend Albert Cleage portrayed Jesus as a man of color and a revolutionary.

During the George Floyd racial events of 2020, some activists called for statues depicting White Jesus to be torn down along with Confederate monuments.

Reverend Dante Stewart said, in an essay entitled, ‘How I Learned that Jesus was Black’, this idea of ​​a black Jesus is an illustration of opposition to black people at the top of the social hierarchy.

“I see why they insist on saying that Jesus was black,” he said.

“They didn’t talk about the color of His skin during His earthly ministry, even though it certainly wasn’t white,” Stewart said.

“They talked about his experiences, about how Jesus knew what it meant to live in an occupied territory, knew what it meant to be part of an oppressed people.”

Christena Cleveland recognizes the risks of questioning the image of a white Jesus. He admitted that he received many death threats after writing in his column about Jesus’ skin color. He said the experience taught him how much white Christian nationalism and white Jesus have merged.

“Why does it matter to you that Jesus is not white — unless you need a white Jesus?” he said.

Motive for debate

The question of Jesus’ skin color is a serious one this Easter for at least two reasons. First, while the classic Norse image of Jesus remains a popular image today in some churches, the movement to replace this white Jesus has long taken root in America.

In many Christian circles, namely progressive mainstream churches, churches of color shaped by liberation theology, and among biblical scholars, displays of a striking white Jesus are considered outdated, and, to some, offensive.

In a multicultural and rapidly diversifying America, more and more Christians want to see a Jesus who looks like them. In contrast, in some states, the spread of white Christian nationalism has flooded social media with images of the traditional white Jesus, sometimes decorated with red former US President Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ (MAGA) campaign hat.

Former President Trump sells the ‘God Bless the USA Bible’ which contains passages from the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (Declaration of Human Rights) – linking patriotism to Christianity reinforcing the image of a white Jesus that is central to Christian nationalism.

Second, there is a new debate about the identity of Jesus in history. Some critics of the Israel-Hamas war claim that Jesus was a ‘Palestinian Jew’. Some Christians don’t worry whenever they are asked about Jesus’ appearance. They say the Easter story has nothing to do with the colors and message of Jesus.

They quote scriptures such as Galatians FOR4D 3:28, 29: (“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”)

“Whether Jesus is depicted in contemporary art and icons as white, black, brown, Hispanic or Middle Eastern, should not matter, for the physical Jesus was simply a vessel used to carry something far more important, namely the spirit of his father; God ,” wrote Antony Pinol in a column entitled, ‘Why Jesus’ Skin Color Doesn’t Matter’.

According to him, when people become too focused on Jesus’ physical characteristics, it becomes more difficult for them to develop a deeper relationship with God. To him, the color of Jesus’ skin made no difference.

“It doesn’t fundamentally change what he stood for and the kind of message that is at the heart of Christianity and what Jesus stood for in his life and actions,” Pinol said.

“He could be any color and it wouldn’t change the message.”

Christina L. Barr, a pastor and author who has worked in Republican politics, said all people are sinners and Jesus died for all of them, regardless of the color of their skin.

“Heaven is not exclusive to rich or white people. God’s hand is extended to everyone,” he said.

In a column in Black Tea News, he imagined Jesus returning to contemporary America as a black man. There would be initial excitement among some people until Jesus began preaching about abandoning sexual immorality and greed, he said.

“The moment he offends abortion providers by saying that God hates hands that shed innocent blood and admonishes Americans for our greed, he will be called a bigot and cancelled,” he explained, taking aim at his pro-abortion policies. US Democratic Party.

Still a mystery

Apart from this debate, the scriptures themselves do not explain the color of Jesus’ skin. One of the interesting elements of the New Testament is that not even Jesus’ disciples knew what Jesus looked like in the Easter stories.

One disciple mistook Jesus for a gardener, two other disciples walked beside him on the street without recognizing him, and the remaining disciples did not recognize him at first when they met him on the beach.

Writer Frederick Buechner once tried, memorably describing them as encountering “a new and terrible version” of Jesus, “disfigured by the mutilation of the Cross” standing up and moving toward them with “unspeakable power.”

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