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Active Questions

Why is Jesus Christ depicted in paintings as a white man?
Race, Religion & Politics / 12:54 AM - Thursday July 28, 2011

Why is Jesus Christ depicted in paintings as a white man?

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in Israel. So shouldn't he have the skin and features of a Middle Eastern man? Racists could argue that Jesus was given the features of "the greatest race", but the apostles were all mortal men, but in Da Vinci's The Last Supper, they are all white. Why is this? Even Mary and Joseph are made to look white. Why is this? Can anyone explain it to me?

- Asked by alexdelarge655321, A Life of the Party, Female, 22-25, Construction

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White guys are so full of themselves that they can't imagine anybody awesome as not being one of them.

- Response by A Player, Female, 26-28, Who Cares?

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Most of those paintings were by European artists. They even made American Indians look like themselves.

- Response by chesterdad, An Intellectual Guy, Male, 66 or older, San Francisco

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Men who wrote the bible and the painter must have been white. Seriously.

- Response by sailormoon, A Creative, Female, 36-45, Other Profession

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they are Jewish , and look a lot like 'white" people.

- Response by headscratching, A Mr. Nice Guy, Male, 46-55, Science / Engineering

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Yeah since most people from the Middle East have darker skin you would think Jesus would look like Siad on Lost...I think if you are black you will see Jesus as Black or if you are White you see him as White...I just don't know I guess I will be surprised some day! Also maybe it was just a precursor to the future since most of Christianity is White and the Middle Eastern religions are darker skin?? I just don't know.

- Response by kmf1, A Life of the Party, Female, 46-55, Minneapolis, Who Cares?

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llz..thz the funniest question ever. K Darling Leonardo was in about 1400 something. It wasn't a time where people had cars, trains, gas stations, or airplanes. It wasn't a time, when there was electricity, or that MTV. It was pre medivial Europe. Next thing you're going to ask would be why didn't Da Vinci turn the limelight on. llz..
Answer is simple, there weren't any black, or brown people in Italy at that time. Africa was cultrally cut off during that period from Europe due to rise of Islam, and there wasn't a mass immigration of some sort going on at that time.
So Leonardo who used to live in Italy with white people, had read bible, and he drew what he knew. To prove that you can check all of the paintings of leonardo, and try to find one guy looking like 50 cent in it. You won't find one, coz it was medivial europe.
You're not only dismissing one of the greatest works of history, due to a racial issue, but you're disrespecting one the greatest pieces of art ever.

- Response by playaarrow, A Player, Male, 29-35, Toronto, Science / Engineering

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There is an interesting explanation for this, and it's mostly political, as are many things where art is 'funded' ...

At this point in time, most of the great works of art were commissioned by the Roman Catholic church, and pretty much all of it had to have the Church's approval before it could be displayed.

For an interminable period before da Vinci, and for some years after, there was this little "conflict" going on between the Catholic church and a group of middle eastern people called "Muslims." Maybe you've heard of them...

Do you really think that art depicting the Savior of All, as looking remotely like the people against whom the church had been fighting for a few centuries would have (a) 'sold' (b) been approved by the Church (c) even been created ?

You're an artist, you fill in the blanks...

But remember, there was no NEA handing out grants to "heretics" at that time, there were dire consequences for crossing the will of the Church.


- Response by A Career Man, Male, 46-55

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Because man creates his deities in his own image...not the other way around.

- Response by drumboi2, A Guy Critical, Male, 56-65

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Why is Santa Claus dipicted as a fat, white, old male? Just accept it at it is...nobody REALLY knows for sure until you die...

- Response by englishrose4945, A Life of the Party, Female, 66 or older, Miami, Alternative Medicine

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Because the Bible was written by white men.

- Response by misskitty420, A Cool Mom, Female, 29-35, Student

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I would persume that Jesus was actually tanner with more body hair because that is how middle eastern men would look like.

- Response by bruz420, A Couch Potato, Male, 29-35, San Francisco, Medical / Dental

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Aren't Jews white in some way? They are not dark skinned at all, are they?

- Response by int24h, A Career Man, Male, 36-45, Alternative Medicine

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whats this jesus you speak of?

- Response by strongbow, A Jock, Male, 29-35, Who Cares?

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He was born a Jew, and is depicted much the same. The apostles were all Jewish, and are depicted as much the same.

There is an old saying...only the ignorant look for racism to answer all the questions.

- Response by A Life of the Party, Male, 29-35, Who Cares?

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Why is Jesus Christ depicted as Mexican in Mexico?
Why is Jesus Christ depicted as Chinese in China?
Really it does not matter to me as long as we serve the same Christ..God is love.

- Response by mobysdick, A Mr. Nice Guy, Male, 46-55, Who Cares?

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Out of all the questions about Jesus, you're concerned about why he's portrayed as white in paintings?

Not why did he have to die, so that his all powerful Dad could forgive sins?


- Response by ponadidas, A Life of the Party, Male, 29-35, Pittsburgh, Other Profession

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I don't know I wondered that also

- Response by pinkskittles722, A Sportif, Female, 18-21, Fitness

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"Why is Jesus Christ depicted in paintings as a white man?"

History's written by the winners.

- Response by alecsmart1, A Guy Critical, Male, 46-55, Celebrity

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Honey...take it one further....why do men insist on creating a god in the image of themselves and then claiming it is the reverse....the answer is the same as why Americans depict Jesus as white. Egocentrism. There might be something that connects us all but IMO it don't look like no white old man.

- Response by joybird, A Creative, Female, Who Cares?, Therapist

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Same reason aliens are depicted as little green people: it sells.

- Response by iowaczechartist, A Thinker, Female, 46-55

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I was in the home of the elder of an all-Black church. They had a painting on the wall of a Black suffering Christ. I thought it was fascinating that the artist was able to relate Christ as suffering for Black people that way. Nobody has a picture of Christ. If it was so important, Christ would have made sure to have some kind of sculpture or other lasting art made of him while he was on Earth. Since He didn't command it, it was probably for the best of everyone. All we know is His human mother was Jewish.

- Response by beachinbeachboy, A Jock, Male, 46-55, Consulting

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I've seen some that depict a darker color. Remember in the 1960'a and 1970's that all the bad men on TV were black? Never did you see a white man doing bad things. I suppose it's all along the same lines.

- Response by daffodils2008, A Thinker, Female, 56-65, Medical / Dental

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does it matter what colour a fairy tale is painted anyway?

- Response by sphincterboy, A Trendsetter, Male, 66 or older, Dhaka, Celebrity

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It does matter how Jesus or any deity is depicted. It affects how the children see themselves.

- Response by An Intellectual Guy, Male, 29-35, New Orleans

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