Question about racial depictions


I often see Native American Jesus, Madonnas, Black Jesus, Madonnas, Asian Jesus, Madonnas etc… but my question is, why does everyone want to claim Jesus and the Holy Mother for their own ethnicity? I met a person today who claimed Jesus was black. I explained that that was highly unlikely, but they actually believe Jesus was black. Does anybody else see example of people believing that Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Moses, Abraham and all those figures were not middle eastern Jews?


I’m not a self-hating guilty southern white guy or anything, but just to add to your list that Western Europeans did the same thing. Notice that most of the Jesus’ in western art (film especially!!) had blue eyes?

Not a lot of Jews in the 1st century had blue eyes and fair skin…:wink:


I think the reason why He is depicted a little ethnically different, like an Asian Jesus in Asia, a darker Jesus in Zaire, is just to help people better relate I guess. Did God not prove how much He loved us by sending His only Son to live among us in human form, both human and divine? I’m Catholic, but my parents are agnostic/atheist now. My mom asked why we worship a white Jesus. But, I know he’s not asian, I know He was Jewish, and it doesnt matter. God chose to reveal himself through his chosen people. But, that doesnt mean that they are superior to everyone else. It just means that God chose to reveal himself to all of humanity through the Jews. But, yah, basically I think it just boils down to being better to relate to God.


There’s a less ethnocentric reason for depicting Christ as having blonde hair and blue eyes—we draw many of our artistic depictions of the religious from the Middle Ages and the Rennaissance. Artists tended to rely upon models, and given they likely didn’t have Jewish models available to them, they would tend to use whom they did have. Once some of these images became popular, they would tend to become “the model” for subsequent ones.

At least until someone like a Rembrandt would come along and redefine the model, of course.


I think, as someone has pointed out, its to make us more able to relate to Jesus. Jesus brought God to us (being both fully divine and fully human). He allows us to relate to God. For some this is difficult when God looks differently from them. I know its harder for me to relate to pictures of an African American Jesus or an Asian Jesus or even a Jewish Jesus. The icons and pictures and statues are supposed to help us focus our prayers through them to the reality in heaven, right? So does it matter if those icons aren’t historically accurate?


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