Insisting Jesus Was White Is Bad History and Bad TheologyRoundup: Talking About History
tags: Christianity, Race, Jesus
Jonathan Merritt is senior columnist for Religion News Service and author of A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars.
Fox News television host Megyn Kelly told viewers on her December 11 broadcast that Jesus and Santa are both white men.
"Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn't mean it has to change," Kelly said. "Jesus was a white man, too. It's like we have, he's a historical figure that's a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just want kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy in the story and change Santa from white to black?"
Setting aside the ridiculousness of creating rigidly racial depictions of a fictitious character that does not actually exist—sorry, kids—like Santa, Kelly has made a more serious error about Jesus. The scholarly consensus is actually that Jesus was, like most first-century Jews, probably a dark-skinned man. If he were taking the red-eye flight from San Francisco to New York today, Jesus might be profiled for additional security screening by TSA.
The myth of a white Jesus is one with deep roots throughout Christian history. As early as the Middle Ages and particularly during the Renaissance, popular Western artists depicted Jesus as a white man, often with blue eyes and blondish hair. Perhaps fueled by some Biblical verses correlating lightness with purity and righteousness and darkness with sin and evil, these images sought to craft a sterile Son of God.
The only problem was that the representations were historically inaccurate....
comments powered by Disqus
- What Robert E. Lee Wrote to The Times About Slavery in 1858
- ICC orders Mali extremist to pay $3.2 million in reparations
- Political Rage Over Statues? Old News in the Old World
- Deadly U.S. Embassy Bombing in Kenya Was ‘Avoidable,’ According to Scorching New Memoir
- There are certain moments in US history when Confederate monuments go up
- Eric Foner says in an interview that it’s not necessary to remove Confederate statues
- Philip Zelikow says the government should crack down on armed groups of militants
- Conservatives complain that a "Pro-gay U.S. embassy features ‘art’ by anti-Trump professor”
- N. D. B. Connolly says Charlottesville showed that liberalism can’t defeat white supremacy
- Historian William I. Hitchcock schools policymakers: Ike never threatened to use nukes in North Korea