Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's Official: Jesus was Black. Or was it Korean?

I hope you had a nice Christmas holiday and didn't have any strange old men trying to sneak into your house to offer presents to your children.

Given the time of year, it seems like as good a time as any to ponder the ethnicity of my homie Jesus Christ.

I was having a chat with a African fellow not so long ago, mostly about food and stuff, when he launched into an impassioned spiel about the whitewashing of history; in particular, how black people were responsible for the pyramids, and how Jesus Christ was a black man. According to this friend of mine, our minds have been brainwashed and we've been fed a Eurocentric version of history which erases black African contributions to civilisation. Which is true to an extent.

Now, let me start by saying a few things. Firstly, I'm quite open to the concept of a black Jesus. I think it would be pretty cool if the Messiah was a soul brutha. And secondly, the traditional image of Jesus as depicted by the church, frequently with blue eyes and blonde hair, is almost certainly not would he would have looked like. "Whitewashing of history" is no joke.

There is understandable resentment on the part of some black Americans, as well as some coloured people all over the world, regarding the image of a blue-eyed and blonde-haired Jesus. To them this image represents the white-is-best conditioning faced by peoples colonised by Western powers.

And wouldn't it just be a great mind-f*** to all the racist white Christian conservatives out there (who pretty much run the US and therefore the world) if their Lord and Saviour was a negro?

But really, was Jesus black? Hmm.

Type "black jesus" into google and you'll find a whole lot of material dealing with this, as well as claims that black Africans were developing civilisation while white folks were crawling around on all fours in caves. Some will tell you that Roman Emperor Septimius Severus was black, since he was born in Libya. Rapper KRS-One not only claimed Jesus was black but at one point seemed to think the (black) ancient Egyptians invented the motorcar. By the same token you can also find white supremacists who claim Jesus was clearly of Nordic stock. As were the ancient Egyptians apparently.

The evidence all this stuff is based on is pretty flimsy. A common Biblical passage used to support the black Jesus hypothesis is Revelations 1:14, describing a vision of the messiah by John the Divine: "... his head holy and his hairs were white like wool..."
It's amazing the extent to which people will be selective with information in order to support their argument. White and black supremacists interpret this same passage quite differently. White supremacists read the passage as saying Jesus's head was white, therefore he is a pale-skinned Nordic type; black supremacists see Africanness in his supposedly wooly hair. Personally I think anyone who puts that much importance on this stuff has too much time on their hands, but hey, that's just me.

If we look at the population of the Middle East today, there are certainly some people displaying clear African heritage, but the vast majority would certainly not be called "black". But you wouldn't necessarily call them "white" either, although some could certainly pass as such. You might refer to them as "Caucasian", but terms like that are woefully inadequate to describe a population, given the diversity that exists within it.

Obviously Jesus was a Jew - so he would look like a Jew, right? Well, yes, but the Jews of 2000 years ago would not have looked exactly like the Jews of today (and even today, they are a diverse people). Around 80% of Jews in the world today are Ashkenazim, descended from the Jews who settled long ago in Germany and spread throughout Eastern Europe from the 11th century onwards. While Ashkenazi Jews remained genetically distinct from their Gentile neighbours in Europe, there is nonetheless some genetic input from Northern Europeans. Thus the majority of Jews today are more European-looking than their ancestors around the time of Christ would have been.

Given the current divisions in the world in which many see a conflict between Christianity and Islamic terrorism, it is perhaps ironic that the historical Jesus probably looked very much like an Arab. If Jesus came back today and walked anonymously around some redneck Christian town, he'd probably get called "terrorist", "sand nigger" or "camel jockey". Indeed, this representation (left) of Jesus from the Coptic Church of Ethiopia (one of the first nations outside the Levant to adopt Christianity) may well be very close to the mark.

There are even some kooky Koreans out there (not many, mind you, but some) trying to claim JC as a Korean. I'm not sure if there is any evidence for this apart from a few paintings of Him created by a Korean, in Korean artistic style, which some take as "proof". Flimsy.

Clearly a particular representation of a holy figure is important to many people. For example, could Christianity have spread so rapidly across Europe if its figurehead was depicted as black, brown or yellow? Unlikely. Likewise, were it not for the largely subjugated nature of the nonwhite world during colonial times when Christianity was spreading, it is unlikely that so many nonwhites would have so readily accepted the image of a white Jesus.

But like those claims that black Nubians built the pyramids (possible, but unlikely), or that white Tocharians from Central Asia introduced rice cultivation to the Chinese (extremely unlikely, but some white supremacists believe it), speculation of the race of Jesus ignores a simple truth. If Jesus was indeed white, does that mean white people are intrinsically better? Would a black Jesus mean that black people are more holy than any other? No. Certainly His representation has an important psychological effect, but a true Christian should undoubtedly follow Jesus no matter whether he is black, white, yellow or whatever.

So it doesn't matter. But for the record, he was light brown. Let us not forget that Christianity is a Middle-Eastern religion, no less than Islam is. So all you Christians, you worship a guy who was basically an Arab. I can deal with that - can you?


  1. it's just a story the romans put together when rome was falling,
    get over it

    check out:

  2. 1.Okay, I don't believe that Jesus was black, but not because it's impossible; it's simply because many people accept as a starting point that Jesus Christ was a real, living breathing godman who walked. There's next to no evidence outside of the Bible to show that such a remarkable character existed. And you would think someone like Jesus the Christ--who raised the dead, turned water into wine, walked on water--would be hard to miss. By all indications, all that's written in the bible is well, a story. That's all. It's not literal fact.

    That said, people can imagine Jesus Christ as whatever they want him to look like: black, white, Korean, etc.

    2. Blacks or afrocentrics do not believe Nubians built the pyramids. Nubians were people from what is presently Sudan.
    Blacks, however, do believe that the original ancient Egyptians were black, but not necessarily Nubians, since that's a specific ethnic group.
    There's nothing wrong with this theory, since the Asiatic people who presently make up the majority did not originate in Africa. They came there from elsewhere, and to believe that when they arrived they saw no one there, is to subscribe to the theory of the white South Africans. They believed that South Africa is rightfully theirs because when they got there, no blacks were there. The Europeans would have you believe similar theory about the conquer of the Americas. There were people there first. Egypt may have been overrun by Asiatic peoples who overwhelmed the native population, but since it is a country in Africa (despite the bicontinental theory being pushed) the original inhabitants would be black (not Nubians).

    3. Yes, the term "Caucasoid" is misleading.

  3. "So all you Christians, you worship a guy who was basically an Arab. I can deal with that - can you?"

    Heh. Awesome.

    I got nothin' on this topic, but I'm glad I came over from SWPD to check you out. I think you just made it onto my blogroll. Go Aussie!

  4. @ Mel - I'm pretty certain that Jesus did exist, although whether or not he was indeed the son of God or just an ordinary dude is a matter for faith rather than history.

    Talking about "what Blacks think" is a bit iffy as far as I'm concerned. I'm certainly not trying to imply that there is one view among Afrocentrics or black people in general. I mentioned Nubians because this is what my Sudanese friend (who I mentioned in the post) was talking about. He claimed the Nuba people built the pyramids because they also built them to the south in Sudan, and because they are shown in some artwork to be pharaohs in Egypt. What archaeology seems to suggest however is that the Nubians emulated the building styles of their dominant Egyptian neighbours. For a period, Nuba was in ascendancy and conquered Egypt, holding it for several hundred years, which is perhaps where the black pharaoh story comes from. However I'm not sure that the builders of the pyramids were black African per se.

    While the Arab conquests of Northern Africa (spurred by the rise of Islam) would have increased the "Caucasian-ness" of the region, the pre-Arab peoples (Berbers, etc) appear to have been a mixed population, but seemingly more "Caucasian" than black African. The obstacle of the Sahara desert seems to have prevented black Africans from becoming more dominant in along the northern coast. So while I think the ancient Egyptians would have had their share of black African DNA, my educated guess is that they were still closer to a modern Middle-Eastern phenotype.

    But as I believe you are saying as well, all these categorisations into "black" or "Caucasian" are problematic because the dividing lines are just too blurry throughout the regions around the Sahara.

  5. Interesting posts you have, though I think Christianity is dead and will be redeemed and brought to fruition and perfection through Thelema. Check out my blog at if you will. Love is the law, love under will. ;)

  6. @Eurasian Sensation.
    1.I don't dispute that the Egyptians, and many North African peoples, are an ethnically mixed population. Egypt has been the victim of invasion since its inception, and its location makes it right for an ethnically mixed group.

    However, the argument of the Sahara is tricky. What many people don't realize about the Sahara is that it was not always so arid. There's evidence from National Geographic to suggest it once sustained life. Today, the country of Egypt is a desert, but we know it was once fertile land. The region has gotten hotter and more arid, but it was not always that way.

    2.I'd imagine that if the pyramids were built by superior Asiatic peoples, they would've brought their superior pyramid building skills from their original homelands.Yet, nothing in the Middle East resembles anything in Egypt. It's pyramids are unique to the architecture of that region.

    3. Egyptologists are biased. I am not Afrocentric (I don't believe Cleopatra or Ramses the great were black, for instance), but I am troubled by the way Egyptologists try to push the bicontinental theory for Egypt, and the way they try to dismiss Khufu as the builder of the Sphinx. It's true that just because his name is on it, it doesn't mean he built it, but, I can't help feel that if he didn't have such an "African" sounding Egyptian name they wouldn't dispute it so aggressively; they refuse to call him by his original name, choosing the Greek version Cheops.

    4.There's no evidence to indicate a man named Jesus the Christ lived. All the evidence is third party evidence, at best.

    Sorry for the long post.

    1. With all these evidence enquiry going around, i wonder if there is any genuine evidence of you or mine great great grand parents who lived a 1000 years in time. Yet we are here. voilaaa

  7. Oops, I meant Pyramid of Giza, not Sphinx.