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Austin Cline

Jesus' True Colors

By January 2, 2004

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There is some debate about what color Jesus' skin would have been. Traditionally Jesus has been portrayed as white - very, very, very white. Most scholars - and most people with some sense - realize that he at the very least had dark skin, considering where he came from. Feelings about the matter run pretty high - and go beyond debate.

News 5 in Cleveland, Ohio, reports on how a baby Jesus from a nativity display was stolen, repainted, and returned:

The figurine was accompanied with a note that said the darker paint more accurately represents his skin color. "I thought I would point out that Jesus was not an Aryan but actually a man of color," the note said. "Although you probably knew this but would rather not be reminded." The note apologized for taking the statue and said the statue's painting wasn't racially motivated.

I suppose the deed could have been performed by a rogue biblical scholar who is dedicated to historical accuracy, but aside from that it seems to be that race is probably playing a role somewhere in here. As the report notes, most culture re-create Jesus in their own image.

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November 25, 2010 at 8:14 pm
(1) Sherri says:

Thankful for your article… I’m researching skin color of the participants in the nativity scene for a crochet project for my 2nd grader niece. Do I “go accurate” or do I stick with the yarn colors suggested by the pattern, which say that baby Jesus’s face is to be baby pink (the rest of him is a white blanket and he looks like a peanut), Mary & Joseph, the Shepherd, and 2 of the 3 Wise Men are “Aran” yarn color and the 3rd Wise Man has “coffee” colored yarn for his face and hands (rest is covered by clothing).

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