Friday, August 26, 2005

What Color is Jesus? II

The image “http://www.unionmbc.org/black_jesus.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
I published my prior post asking about the race of Jesus, because I was very curious about what kind of responses I would get. They were really good, I thought.... but I have been pondering this issue for a little while, because I live in a community where the question of race always seems to be at the forefront. The above picture is now a famous mural that was commisioned by our church. Now its famous, but when it was first painted, it was infamous... there was a tremendous amount of controversy, pastors visited my pastor, in mass, and demanded he take our Black Jesus down... A tribute to our pastors tenacity, it hangs behind the altar still.
Whatever our opinions about the race of Jesus, I really don't see it as a problem unless it really matters to you. After all, even Jesus held His treasure in an earthen vessel...

10 comments:

hipchickmamma said...

i find it an interesting question--but i am saddened when (typically white) people get adament or crazy about what color Jesus must have been. i do think it matters, but i think it matters most to demonstrate that Jesus in reality looks more like the Jesus in your mural than the blond-haired blue-eyed boy in many churches.

sometimes i wonder if we could see Jesus as the person most unlike us, and still feel his arms outstretched towards us in love and compassion, offering the peace only Jesus can give...could we, would be better better Christians? or at least better human beings? is our biggest mistake creating a Jesus that mirrors our reflection, rather than living our lives so that they mirror Christ?

beautiful mural btw!

voixdange said...

Your second paragraph mirrors nearly verbatim what I said to my pastor about this.

voixdange said...

But HCM, I want to tag onto that last comment, having been one of the minority white people in the communities I have chosen to serve in over the past 12 years, I can tell you it is a universal issue. What really got me to thinking about it is encountering attitudes such as gospel music is, if not the only authentic style of Christian music, at the very least superior, etc... I have been in the position of reminding myself and others that Jesus didn't sing tenor or learn Aramaic on the south side of Chicago.... It seems narcissistic concepts of Christ are everywhere, which is why we have to do personal inventory of our own attitudes consistently...

Constantine said...

I don't have a problem with the picture per se, other that it's inaccurate. Jesus wasn't physically a black man or took his heritage from Africa. (I'm not prejudice either.) So to HCM's point (though I know she meant it in a different way), "I wonder if we could see Jesus as the person most unlike us, and still feel his arms outstretched towards us in love and compassion...," I wonder too why a predominately minority church (as you describe it mi amiga) would need this "Icon?"

voixdange said...

I guess they need it for the same reason Europeans have so many times painted Jesus as a light skinned blond headed White guy. Go figure...

Constantine said...

Hey Angevoix.

Well…I’m white (EuroAmerican or whatever the PC verbiage is now) and have blond hair and blue eyes, and I don’t think Jesus looks like me.

I suspect he looked more or less like the stereotypical Middle Easterner (I’m not trying to be caustic here but candid). One of the earliest extant icons of Christ known, dating to the 6th or 7th century, is called “Christ Pantocrator – Sinai.” The original resides at St. Catherine's Monastery (Eastern Orthodox) in the Sinai desert in Egypt at the foot of Mount Sinai (“Mount Moses”). St. Catherine’s Monastery is considered by many to be the oldest working Christian monastery in the world. I say this because I hope that it gives some credence to what I’m saying about the appearance of the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

I posted a picture of this icon (it has long since been my fave) and some of my thoughts about it too on EAC. If you have a moment take a look at my posts from June 14, 15, and 28.

voixdange said...

A long time ago, I heard a discription of Jesus that was supposedly written by an artist who had seen Him. It stated that he was pretty much average with middle brown coloring and hazel eyes, which suits me just fine as I have hazel eyes! ha ha!
But I understand fully why our mural was commissioned and why it is good to have images of God that help people connect with Him. Especially for groups wihtin a society that have been severly oppressed.

jholder said...

At one of my former parishes, there was a black woman who insisted Jesus was a black woman. I have no problem with this from a certain point of view, as Jesus reaches out to all through others, however I do have a problem when the person starts saying, "no, really, the historical Jesus was a black woman." But it is interesting to think through.

Robertbobby91 said...

He was probably Arabic. Going to the area helps out somewhat, but it's been 2000 years, and people change.

Best chances are to go to Iran. The Seleucid Empire preserved some places from Roman influence.

Morenike Y said...

Well lets refer to the Bible to answer the question.

Revelation 1:13-15 13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

Wool like hair, burnt brass...sounds black to me and not even close to middle eastern. There are other descriptions of people in the bible.

Solomon 1:5 5 I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.

He must have been very dark skinned. That's pretty clear to me. Jesus came from the line of David so if David and Solomon were black, Jesus was also. It would also explain why Jesus' feet looked as if they were burned, dark skin are in his genetics. Every other Jew must have been black also since he must have looked like the average Jew in that time. Example: Ancient Egypt was a black nation. When Joseph was in Egypt as governor and his brothers went there for food and couldn't recognize him, it was probably because he looked like every other Egyptian. If he were white or middle eastern looking, he probably would've been more recognizable. Even leprosy is described as a disease that turns your skin white;

Exodus 4:6 And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.
Numbers 12:10 And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.

I think its pretty clear that the people from that time including Jesus were black. I don't know why it mattered so much to a society to change the description and deceive the people for so many years unless there was some type of hidden agenda. The saddest part is that these verses were read hundreds of thousands of times maybe even millions and nobody notices that the description of Christ in the Bible is not the same as what we have been seeing in various images claiming to be an accurate description of him.