Well, thanks largely to the Christian faith becoming institutionalized and commercialized by the Roman Catholic church, we got the center of the church body planted in Italy. In Europe. Even though the church’s roots were in the Middle East. So, with all the European artists back in the day, Jesus got a lot of play in paintings. As a white guy. Very white.
Truth is, Jesus most likely wasn’t white.
He probably wasn’t black either. And the afrocentric Christians (and even non-Christians) who recolor Jesus as a fully black man are just overcompensating in the other direction.
Let’s face it: Jesus was born and raised in the Middle East. The ancient Hebrews probably weren’t very pale. Let’s remember that a lot of the people who went to Israel when it became its own country again after World War II were European Jews, which probably explains a lot of the current whiteness over there. And I’m sure the Middle East has paled a bit in general skintone-wise with activity and intercourse in the Mediterranean, especially with colonialist and expansionist attitudes among Europeans that continued into the 19th and even 20th centuries. And even in Jesus’ time with Greeks wandering around the area, well, Greeks can be pretty dark themselves sometimes. All that strong Aegean sunshine.
No, Jesus was most likely some shade of tan, and we need to get used to that. Painting Jesus in our own color (for those of Caucasian and African descent) may be comfortable, but it also is wrong. Making him look European or African is intellectually and spiritually dishonest. And frankly, if I were to cast Jesus for a movie, I think the person on top of my short list would be Naveen Andrews, who plays Sayid on Lost.
Oh, and ABC, for having mentioned your hit TV show on my wildly popular blog (cough, cough), you know, it would be cool with me if you wanted to send the boxed sets for the first three seasons.
(Image is of actor Naveen Andrews)