Jesus as a man of color

KC09 030

Nobody knows what Jesus looked like.  The Bible gives no description, there are no contemporary texts describing him, and the first images in art of Jesus post-date the historical figure by nearly 300 years!

The famous Latin church father St. Augustine (d. 430) made note of this but went on to say that Christians would necessarily give a visual appearance to Jesus in their mind’s eye as they read about his life and miracles, and prayed, and this was fine.

A Patriarch of Constantinople took it one step further in the 10th century by saying that different ethnic groups of Christians around the world would give a face to Jesus that matched there own.  That was only natural.

Image 46

Christ was a Semite, so we should assume that he must have looked more like folks who nowadays live around the Mediterranean, than those who live in northern Europe.  That’s common sense.

The most frequently-reproduced image of Jesus is said to be that by Warner Sallman.  It derives from a miraculous vision he had in 1924, and was perfected in 1940.

Sallman’s Jesus is copper toned, and that makes sense.  But he’s also blue-eyed!  Which only makes sense when you discover that Warner Sallman was the son of Swedish immigrants.

Which may also explain why it was that the role of Jesus in the famous 1965 epic The Greatest Story Ever Told went to the Swedish actor Max von Sydow.

And so it goes….