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26 November 2012

Jesus and Race in the U.S.

Over at Fresh Air, historian Edward Blum talkes about he and Paul Harvey's book, The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America. I have yet to read the book, but it seems to have a lot of sociology going on. Specifically, it's about racialized depictions of Jesus in the U.S.

What I find interesting is that host Terry Gross insists on asking, "No, but what color was he really? and she misses the point, that the color/race/ethnicity of the historic Jesus is entirely beside the point that people have been recasting Jesus to look like them (or sometimes not). Like translations of the Bible, physical artistic representations of Jesus are texts, meaning that they are symbolic transmissions of meaning. Just as people tend to interpret the Bible to fit their beliefs regardless of the authors' original intentions, people tend to paint Jesus to match their sense of who they want him to be irrespective to his historic identity.


  1. I know ... I should have just held my ground and said something like "the fact that you are insisting on that question has a history - there is a history to why we are obsessed with looks and bodies, and it's that history we tried to tell in the book." Oh well, the price of admission to be on the air.

  2. Indeed. It was a good interview, Edward. I generally think Terry does a really good job. I can't wait to read the book. I'd love to review it for the blog!