The most common answer, “He was not blond and blue-eyed like they show him in movies and paintings. He was darker than that, like the people who live in North Africa today.” However, the average American today looks nothing like the average American 500 years ago when Columbus arrived. So why expect the North Africans of today to necessarily resemble those of more than 2,000 years ago?
Some point to phrases in the Bible that say, “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 depictions of Christ like this in some Black churches, and some ancient statues and paintings show him this way. However, doesn’t the second commandment explicitly forbid the making of “graven images?” So how come there are so many depictions of Christ, as Black or 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 Catholics and the Protestant sects with the white Jesus icon that sent out missionaries in the wake of the European conquerors and colonizers. Note that the literal meaning of “Catholic” is “universal.” The Catholic Church purports to be universal, a faith for everyone. However, how can any faith that holds that certain of its members look like God, and others do not, be all-encompassing? Once the prophets, or God himself, as many Christians hold Jesus Christ to be, is pictured as any color, then all who are not of that color would have to have a lesser status.
However, there is an even deeper question. Did Jesus Christ really exist? Because this is a predominantly 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 historical debate as to whether or not such a person really existed. Who or what one believes, or does not believe, is a purely personal matter. But it is a fact that there is great controversy over Christ’s authenticity.
Here is a little test. Tell me, who am I referring to? He died in his 33rd 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. It has been claimed that Christ is a re-configuring of the supreme Western conquerer, Alexander, as a supremely religious figure.
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. The Ptolemaic line was the last Pharaonic dynasty; its last 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, created it! Williams says that the Romans were not putting Christians to death, that they were persecuting the last stubborn remnants of the original, ancient Egyptian religion. Constantine, says Williams, ceased his attacks on them once they agreed to convert Egyptian religion into what is now known as Christianity. That is why the earliest statues of Christ and his mother are Black. They are based on the Egyptian holy figures Isis and her son, Osiris.
Notre Dame and many European cathedrals are, in fact, built on sites that were originally temples to Isis. Notice, how in Southern Europe the “Mother of God,” is often given as much, if not more, attention and veneration than Christ. Williams, and others, say this is because Mary is really a refiguring of the goddess Isis, and Jesus is a recasting of her son, Osiris.
The Romans badly needed a central religious figure to hold together their ever expanding Empire. Observe that the Pope is called the “Pontiff.” One of the titles of the Roman Emperor was “Pontifex Maximus.” Also, look at the hat, called the “mitre,” that the Pope and all 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, the Roman Emperor and later the pope assumed that pivotal role. After the fall of Rome, the various kings that rose up across Europe claimed to rule by, “Divine Right.”
So we see that starting with the simple question, “What color was Christ?” we can explore a host of historical issues and perspectives. But, bottom line, what is the truth? Only you can decide. However, unless you read and think for yourself, others will make up your mind for you and thereby decide your fate. Would that not be a waste?
by Dr. Arthur Lewin, author of Africa Is Not A Country: It’s A Continent www.AfricaUnlimited.com www.ReadLikeYourLifeDependsOnIt.com