The most common answer goes like this. He was not blond and blue-eyed like they show in the movies and in popular paintings. He was darker than that like the people who live in North Africa today. But there is a problem with that response. The average American today looks nothing like the average person living the average American when the Europeans first arrived 500 years ago. So why would we expect the average North African today to necessarily resemble those from 2,000 years ago?
Others cite phrases in the Bible that say, “His hair is like lamb’s wool. His eyes are like blazing fire, his feet like burnished bronze and his voice like the sound of many waters.” which would indicate a very black man with a deep voice. And there are a few depictions of Christ like this in some Black churches today and in some ancient statues and paintings. But wait a minute. The second commandment forbids the production of “graven images,” that is idols. So how come there are so many depictions of Jesus Christ, Black or as white?
Muslims have no depiction of Jesus Christ or any of the prophets, neither do Jews, or many Christian sects. However, Catholics and many Protestant sects do have icons, usually of a white Jesus. And note that it is Catholicism and the Protestant sects with the white Jesus icon that send out missionaries right behind and along with the European conquerors and colonizers. The literal meaning of the word “Catholic” is “universal.” The Catholic Church purports to be a Church for all. However, how can any church or faith be all-encompassing if it holds that certain members look like God and certain members do not? Once, the prophets or God himself, as many Christians hold Jesus Christ to be, is pictured as white, then all who are not white automatically assume an inferior status.
However, there is an even deeper question that we have yet to address. Did Jesus Christ really exist? Because this is a mainly Christian country, the mass media acts as if Jesus Christ is an undisputed, real historical figure. As a result many, if not most, are not aware that there is a major historical debate as to whether or not such a person actually existed. Who one believes, or does not believe in, is a purely personal matter. But it is a fact that there is a great controversy over Christ’s authenticity.
Here is a little quiz. Who am I talking about. He died in his thirty-third year. He said the man married to his mother was not his father. He said he was fathered by a God. He was called, “King of Kings.” And the name “Issus” was connected to him. Who was that? Jesus? Yes, but all these things are also true of Alexander the Great!
The Persians invaded and conquered Egypt in 666 BCE. The Greeks under Alexander came in 333 BCE. Alexander’s general Ptolemy, after Alexander’s death, inherited the throne of Egypt and was declared Pharaoh. His was the last Pharaonic dynasty; its final member was Cleopatra. After Cleopatra, the Romans seized Egypt. The Romans, at first, persecuted the Christians until, that is, the Emperor Constantine converted to the Christian faith.
However, Walter Williams in The Historical Origins of Christianity disputes that last claim. He offers evidence that Constantine did not convert to Christianity, but instead, in fact, created Christianity. Williams asserts that the Romans were not putting to death Christians. They were persecuting the last stubborn holdouts of the ancient Egyptian religion. He ceased his attacks on them once they agreed to convert Egyptian religion into Catholicism. That is why the earliest statues of Christ and his mother are Black because they are based on the Egyptian holy figures Isis and Osiris. Note, Notre Dame and many European cathedrals are built on sites that were originally temples to Isis. Also note, how in Southern Europe the “Mother of God,” is given as much if not more veneration than Christ, that is, because says Williams, and many others, Mary is really a refiguring of the goddess Isis, and Jesus is a refiguring of Osiris. (Over the course of many centuries the portrayal of Jesus Christ and his mother, which were originally Osiris and his mother Isis, got lighter and lighter until the time of Michelangelo when the transformation was complete.)
The Romans badly needed a central religious figure to hold together its ever expanding Empire. Observe that one of the titles of the Pope is “Pontiff.” One of the titles of the Roman Emperor was “Pontifex Maximus.” Also, look at the hat, called the “mitre,” that the Pope and the bishops of the Catholic Church wear. It is based on the double crown of the Egyptian pharaoh. The pharaoh was the intermediary between the people and the gods in ancient Egypt, the Roman Emperor and later the pope assumed that role.
So we see that starting with the simple question, “What color was Jesus Christ?” we can explore a host of historical questions and issues. But bottom line, what is the truth? Only you can decide that for yourself, but unless you read and think for yourself, you will let others make up your mind for you and decide your fate. What a terrible waste.
By Dr. Arthur Lewin, author of Africa Is Not A Country: It’s A Continent www.AfricaUnlimited.com www.ReadLikeYourLifeDependsOnIt.com