Jump to content
270soft Forum

Are depictions of Jesus as having European features racist?


Recommended Posts

6 hours ago, admin_270 said:

Finding that just talking politics isn't inflammatory enough ... time to combine politics and religion!

It seems that some people who want to take down statues of Confederates (Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and so on) and Founding Fathers who were also slave owners (Jefferson, Washington, and so on) also want to remove depictions of Jesus as having European features, as, so they hold, these are examples of racism.

This article https://www.gotquestions.org/was-Jesus-white.html is a fairly good summary of relevant info.

One thing I would add is that Jesus was Middle Eastern, but in particular, from the western part of what we call the 'Middle East', actually the Near East. He probably would have fit in - in terms of looks - in modern day Lebanon or Syria. Yet, he also probably wouldn't have stood out in terms of looks in southern Europe - Greece, Italy, Spain, and so on. In this sense, his looks were probably fairly similar to certain whites. Would he have stood out in Holland? Probably. Scotland? Probably.

So depicting Jesus as having features similar to various whites is probably accurate. Is it likely Jesus had blue eyes? Probably not. Blonde, red, or even light brown hair (especially when an adult)? Probably not.

Are Ethiopian depictions of Jesus as looking Ethiopian racist? Probably not. Are Chinese depictions of Jesus as looking Chinese racist? Probably not. Are northern European depictions of Jesus looking northern European racist? Probably not. These are all traditions of portraying Jesus as the people around the artist looked.

Indeed, Jesus said that "whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me" - wherever someone helped someone else, they were helping him. In this sense, Jesus is associated with people of all ethnic backgrounds. St. Paul says that "in Christ, there is no Greek or Jew." In other words, in our spiritual essence, ethnic differences are not primary.

I'd take it as, since Jesus was a human incarnation of God's son (in the Christian culture I was raised with, there is some debate on if he is God or God's son) to pay for the sins of us, I'd say it would be the same as the demographic he was born in (Western Middle East) as he was meant to be the same as the human, it would be odd for him to look different from the people around him (African, pure Asian, complete white, latina, etc.) However I do question the relevancy of this, as Jesus is God's son, he should represent all, no matter what he looked like. That's what makes the debate about God much better than this, race isn't involved because nobody knows what God looks like, it's all up for interpretation as there's no position to identify him with in terms of race.

  • Upvote 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 68
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Christ is the Lord and Saviour of all humanity, the Son of God who was preached his Ministry to begin a New Covenant of Universal Salvation and allowed his own sacrifice at the Cross to pay the Wages

I'd take it as, since Jesus was a human incarnation of God's son (in the Christian culture I was raised with, there is some debate on if he is God or God's son) to pay for the sins of us, I'd say it w

User warned. Could be interpreted as calling for acts of violence. Please be more careful with your language.

2 hours ago, NYConservative said:

I'd take it as, since Jesus was a human incarnation of God's son (in the Christian culture I was raised with, there is some debate on if he is God or God's son) to pay for the sins of us, I'd say it would be the same as the demographic he was born in (Western Middle East) as he was meant to be the same as the human, it would be odd for him to look different from the people around him (African, pure Asian, complete white, latina, etc.) However I do question the relevancy of this, as Jesus is God's son, he should represent all, no matter what he looked like. That's what makes the debate about God much better than this, race isn't involved because nobody knows what God looks like, it's all up for interpretation as there's no position to identify him with in terms of race.

You've finally said something I agree wholeheartedly with.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

Look, this was settled with Arius! Enough with these heretics!

and @Conservative Elector 2

You should also add to the mix, whether he was divine at all (he was just a remarkable man) or whether he existed at all. 

I think he probably existed, even if proof isn't 100% convincing. As I'm not spiritual and don't believe in magic, ghosts, Santa Claus, etc., I think he was just a remarkable man who inspired a new religious movement. I believe Jesus died Jewish. I credit Paul with Christianity. 

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, vcczar said:

You should also add to the mix, whether he was divine at all (he was just a remarkable man) or whether he existed at all.

Ya, have a branching tree something like this

1. Did Jesus exist? -> No

2. Yes, then was Jesus just an influential moral teacher? -> Yes

3. No, then was Jesus just a entirely human spiritual master? -> Yes

4. No, then was Jesus in some unique sense divine but not God? -> Yes

5. No, then was Jesus God?

This is a rough sketch. A lot of the debates are pretty technical, especially around 4. and 5. Can understand why Constantine just wanted to make one view official and then move on, TBH.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I do believe in the written word of the Bible. However, I don't care about the modern representation of Jesus at all. Everyone shall have their own idea about how our savior looks like. Saying that I'd also be highly skeptical about taking down old depictions in order to change his look to a more tanned representation, because an illuminated manuscript might just show how the artist himself viewed Jesus. It's not necessarily an order for others to view him the same.

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

Ya, have a branching tree something like this

1. Did Jesus exist? -> No

2. Yes, then was Jesus just an influential moral teacher? -> Yes

3. No, then was Jesus just a entirely human spiritual master? -> Yes

4. No, then was Jesus in some unique sense divine but not God? -> Yes

5. No, then was Jesus God?

This is a rough sketch. A lot of the debates are pretty technical, especially around 4. and 5. Can understand why Constantine just wanted to make one view official and then move on, TBH.

Yeah, something like that. In regards to Constantine, I'm not sure if it was the technical debates that pushed him for an official view or if it helped him politically to have an official view and be the chief endorser of that view.

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Conservative Elector 2 said:

I do believe in the written word of the Bible. However, I don't care about the modern representation of Jesus at all. Everyone shall have their own idea about how our savior looks like. Saying that I'd also be highly skeptical about taking down old depictions in order to change his look to a more tanned representation, because an illuminated manuscript might just show how the artist himself viewed Jesus. It's not necessarily an order for others to view him the same.

The written word of the Bible should be tempered in the Creationist aspect by the Epistle of Barnabas (the decision of the Nicene Council to exclude it from the "official" books of the New Testament was a big mistake that led to so loggerheads between the Church and the growing forces of science and reason, and even today has Christians and self-identified Christians wanting to control school curiculums with Creationism, with the simple answer was in an Epistle by an Apostle of Christ discarded over 1600 years ago for political, and even superstitious reasons), and the fact that many notable aspects of the Bible are misunderstood, and misapplied, because the context of being covered is not fully grasped to modern, or even Medieval, readers (like the guy who has sex with his brother's widow, and then does the "porn stud external discharge," onto the ground, as SOMEHOW being a lesson and prohibition against both birth control and masturbation, as taught by many Churches today, when it was nothing, remotely, at all to with either, and that's not at all what person in question is doing - it's about a violation of old Hebrew custom, fallen to the wayside except among some Haredi, - that is, when, a man dies without siring a son, but his wife still gives, his brother should give his wife a son in his memory - rejected out of how own vanity and a fear his own sons by his own wife would be overshadowed. That's a very good example of misunderstood context in a Biblical story).

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

What do you mean by Creationism?

The belief that the first few chapters of Genesis are literal, objective truth and that, ipso argo facto, all science that contradicts it is false and to be disregarded.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Patine said:

The belief that the first few chapters of Genesis are literal, objective truth and that, ipso argo facto, all science that contradicts it is false and to be disregarded.

I see. Yes, it's interesting that the largest denomination in Christianity doesn't hold to this view (nor do many others), but the Creationist view as you articulate it often dominates popular treatment of the subject - perhaps because it often seems to fly in the face of various things it looks reasonably certain that we know from other domains of inquiry. I think Barnabas' general view on this subject has largely won out, though.

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, vcczar said:

and @Conservative Elector 2

You should also add to the mix, whether he was divine at all (he was just a remarkable man) or whether he existed at all. 

I think he probably existed, even if proof isn't 100% convincing. As I'm not spiritual and don't believe in magic, ghosts, Santa Claus, etc., I think he was just a remarkable man who inspired a new religious movement. I believe Jesus died Jewish. I credit Paul with Christianity. 

IIRC, most historians do indeed believe that he at least existed as a historical figure.

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, ThePotatoWalrus said:

IIRC, most historians do indeed believe that he at least existed as a historical figure.

The view that Jesus did not exist is not a common view amongst scholars who study the issue. Doesn't mean it's wrong! And of course it could be (and almost certainly is) partially correct, in the sense that historical details may be incorrect in the Gospels and other texts.

A perhaps decent summary is here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_myth_theory

Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

The view that Jesus did not exist is not a common view amongst scholars who study the issue. Doesn't mean it's wrong! And of course it could be (and almost certainly is) partially correct, in the sense that historical details may be incorrect in the Gospels and other texts.

A perhaps decent summary is here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_myth_theory

I think the strongest evidence for Jesus is that there is evidence that James, the brother of Jesus, existed. Paul mentions having met him. He's given more time than Jesus in Josephus. In all evidence, he is mentioned as the brother of Jesus. I also, think James is probably similar to Jesus, ideologically (The theory, "Whatever James was, Jesus was also.") I think Paul's break and anger with the Jesus's followers in Jerusalem shows a difference between those that knew Jesus personally and Paul, who only hallucinated Jesus. Also for this reason, I think Jesus was a remarkable man -- a very Jewish man, originally as he may be---, and that Paul created a mythical, Hellenized Jesus based loosely off the historical Jewish one.  In my opinion, Paul is the Muhammad of Christianity. 

I think Jesus is very much in the Socrates mold:

  • Both may have been the most intelligent, social, theoretical geniuses of their time. 
  • Both may have been illiterate, as neither wrote anything down, but they made up for it with a rare verbal intelligence and were likely multi-lingual. Both probably had near-photographic memories or were leaning towards that direction. They may not have been able to read, but they'd remember lectures and readings of texts they heard. 
  • Both were outcasts and misunderstood, even by people close to them. 
  • Both were fearless, both were executed by the government, and both took their deaths so calmly as if it were destined. 
  • Both preferred to live in what today we would call poverty, although strangely Socrates believed in aristocratic government ruled by philosopher-kings (However, this might be just Plato talking through Socrates). I think Jesus was a proto-socialist. 
  • Neither were selfish and seemed to have some desire in making the world better, especially among the poor (I'm kind of stretching this in regards to Socrates, since he sometimes didn't see slavery as unjust, but the fact that he saw it as unjust in most senses, was somewhat rare for his time). 
  • Both had followers that took what they said and sort of ran away with it. We can't be certain that Plato's Socrates is 100% accurate as he is likely a hybrid of Plato himself. We can say the same of Jesus. Those that knew him -- James, Peter, and etc. probably also corrupted the teachings of Jesus somewhat--- Paul moreso, as he never met Jesus and doesn't seem to really get a long with Jesus's closest followers, as if he's angry that he was a belated "apostle." Came in too late. Paul operates under a kind of power drive based off his written tone much of the time. His "love" and "hope" epistle is beautiful, but it's also one of those "look in the mirror" sort of situations based off some of his other letters, although he may be redifining "love" and "hope." I see Paul as a kind of Stalin figure-- What if Stalin had gotten into religion rather than politics (Stalin wanted to be a priest but was rejected). 

I don't think any major sect of Christianity likely resembles the Christian Judaism that existed in Jesus's life up to the time Paul reached Rome. My favorite forms of Christianity -- those I can kind of get on board with, are those that seem to encompass what I like best about Jesus. I find Unitarianism and some of the Gnostic Christianities as good, harmless, healing, tolerant, pro-active, etc.--Things I think all religions should be. One would would be hard pressed to find a Unitarian or Gnostic Christian using their faith to go to war, to hate, to exclude others, or to justify inequality or inequity. They're what I think is God-like, even if I'm neither religious or spiritual. Unitarians are hyper-tolerant, especially those today. What I like about the Gnostics is the idea that that sin isn't sin, but that ignorance is sin. Here's an example of Gnostic Jesus:

"Now, since it has been said that you are my twin and true companion, examine yourself, and learn who you are, in what way you exist, and how you will come to be. Since you will be called my brother, it is not fitting that you be ignorant of yourself. And I know that you have understood, because you had already understood that I am the knowledge of the truth. So while you accompany me, although you are uncomprehending, you have (in fact) already come to know, and you will be called 'the one who knows himself'. For he who has not known himself has known nothing, but he who has known himself has at the same time already achieved knowledge about the depth of the all."

In the above -- Note another similar connection with Socrates. Socrates said, "I only know that I know nothing."

Then I like this quote from Gnostic Jesus: 

"If you use all that is within you, what you use will save you.; If you do not use all that is within you, what you do not use will destroy you."

Naturally, to achieve the above, one will have to make a lifelong effort to wipe away the sin of ignorance, achieve what is said in the quote just before this, and proceed to use every ounce of your knowledge, every ounce of your intellect, every ounce of your energy, and every ounce of your strengths in the things that you do. It also implies that people need to branch out. You can't know all that is within you without curiosity. Life is lifelong exploration of the self. Find out what you like, dislike and what is a strength and what is a weakness, and then confirm these multiple times with experience and such. 

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, vcczar said:

I think the strongest evidence for Jesus is that there is evidence that James, the brother of Jesus, existed. Paul mentions having met him.

Yes, follow it back. If Paul knew James and Peter, and so they weren't mythical, it starts to seem strange that Jesus was mythical.

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, vcczar said:

Both may have been illiterate

Seems unlikely to me that Jesus wasn't literate. Gospel accounts include him reading in the temple and writing on the ground. He was obviously very familiar with Hebrew scriptures.

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, vcczar said:

I think Jesus was a proto-socialist.

Not really. He didn't think government was the focal point for helping the poor. Rather, a voluntary basis with the individual. Strong communitarian emphasis.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

Seems unlikely to me that Jesus wasn't literate. Gospel accounts include him reading in the temple and writing on the ground. He was obviously very familiar with Hebrew scriptures.

I don't think everything that happened in the gosepls happened. I think if something appears in all three of the synoptic gospels, than it probably happened. The reading in the temple happens only once, I believe. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, admin_270 said:

Not really. He didn't think government was the focal point for helping the poor. Rather, a voluntary basis with the individual. Strong communitarian emphasis.

 

Communitarianism is also proto-socialist. Proto-socialism doesn't have government as focal point for helping the poor. Many proto-Socialists were anarchists, individualist communes, and utopianarianism

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, vcczar said:

I don't think everything that happened in the gosepls happened

Sure, but the evidence we have suggests he was literate. You say Jesus never wrote anything down, but we have an historical account that contradicts that (writing on the ground).

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, vcczar said:

Communitarianism is also proto-socialist. Proto-socialism doesn't have government as focal point for helping the poor. Many proto-Socialists were anarchists, individualist communes, and utopianarianism

If that's how you define it, then sure. But I want to push back a bit here. The importance of helping the poor to Jesus lay to a significant degree in the voluntary aspect of it. Socialism undermines that. In this sense, he was not proto-socialist.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

Sure, but the evidence we have suggests he was literate. You say Jesus never wrote anything down, but we have an historical account that contradicts that (writing on the ground).

A lot of scholars think he was just doodling on the ground and had a rudimentary knowledge of letters and numbers. We don't know what he wrote or exactly what is meant by writing in this instance. You can google all kinds of arguments on this. My belief in his illiteracy is based off:

  • I don't think all the things in the gospels actually occurred, possibly not much of it. 
  • That if he was the son of a carpenter in a small town that there's a high chance of illiteracy. 
  • He never wrote anything down for his disciples, which is strange if one is trying to establish a religious movement. His disciples--fishermen and such-- were probably mostly illiterate as well. 
  • I don't see "writing on the ground" as strong evidence of real writing, and it is possible that his episode never even occurred. Overall, I think using gospels as evidence is a little weak since the author's weren't personally there. They're getting this 2nd hand, which could be unreliable. I don't remember if this "writing on the ground" episode happens in all 4 gospels, but if it happens only once or twice, I think it is easier to dismiss it as potentially apocraphal. 

I'd say I'm about 70% believing he's illiterate and 30% believing there's a chance for literacy. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

If that's how you define it, then sure. But I want to push back a bit here. The importance of helping the poor to Jesus lay to a significant degree in the voluntary aspect of it. Socialism undermines that. In this sense, he was not proto-socialist.

So you think he would have done nothing if all of his disciples opted to not help the poor? 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...