Skip to comments.'Cross' shows Jesus as being a black man
Posted on 10/25/2006 6:22:33 PM PDT by Nachum
LOS ANGELES - It's a familiar image for millions of Christians: Jesus Christ, with a crown of thorns, hanging from the cross. What color is he? In a controversial new film opening Friday, he is black.
"Color of the Cross" tells a traditional story, focusing on the last 48 hours of his life as told in the Gospels. In this version, though, race contributes to his persecution.
It is the first representation in the history of American cinema of Jesus as a black man.
"It's very important because (the film) is going to provide an image of Jesus for African-Americans that is no longer under the control of whites," says Stephenson Humphries-Brooks, an associate professor of religious studies at New York's Hamilton College and author of "Cinematic Savior: Hollywood's Making of the American Christ."
What Jesus looked like has long been debated by theologians around the world. Different cultures have imagined him in different ways, says Stephen Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University. In Japan, Jesus looks Japanese. In Africa, he is black. But in America he is almost always white, like the fair-haired savior painted by Leonardo Da Vinci in "The Last Supper" in 1495.
While some black churches have images of a black Jesus behind the altar and others have claimed Christ was black, Prothero says "none of those arguments or images have filtered much into the mainstream."
Filmmaker Jean Claude LaMarre set out to change that with "Color of the Cross." LaMarre, who plays Jesus, wrote, directed and financed the film. It will open in 30 theaters in predominantly black neighborhoods.
"Black people in this country are the only race of people who worship a god outside their own image," says LaMarre, 38, adding that showing Christ as a black man is "the most poignant way to deal with the issue of race in this country because it goes to the heart of how we look at the world."
It also provides a positive image of blacks, something that's been scant in the U.S., says the Rev. Cecil "Chip" Murray, longtime leader of L.A.'s First African Methodist Episcopal Church and a producer of the film.
"It could be revolutionary because, for four centuries in our nation, blacks have been at the lowest end of the stratum," he says. "I think it will traumatize the United States more than it will foreign nations who, to some extent, don't have a centuries-old concept of equating black with negativity."
Humphries-Brooks agrees. Other countries are likely to view the film "in a more detached manner," he says, "because of the way (they) see our race-relations problem."
Why does race matter in the story of Christ?
"Jesus isn't in the hands of historians," Prothero says. "What we have now is our own debate and, in that debate, race has to be a factor because race is a big predicament in American life."
Film is a powerful place to have the discussion, says Humphries-Brooks, who calls the medium "one of the last places that is quasi-public for the formation of values in America."
"Artistic and aesthetic views are as important in developing religious values as the words we speak. Everybody goes to the movies. Not everybody goes to the same church."
Filmmaker LaMarre thinks the film can only have a positive effect.
"The message is that color, a colored Jesus Christ, doesn't matter," he says. "That's why the movie is important. When you have one prevailing image out there, it suggests color does matter."
The most arrogant but hardly the smartest.
""The message is that color, a colored Jesus Christ, doesn't matter," he says."
No, no. I say outsource his job (that of being a God) to India!
Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of Man. He can be any color or all colors, it comes with the territory.
What color are the ROMANS in this film? Lily white (and therefore "evil"?!?!)
The truth is that none of the Gospels give us even a hint about what Jesus looked like. I think. however, that Daviv is said to have red, curly hair, and one migh assume, blue eyes. Can't say where thisw cqme from, though.
A-hunka, hunka, burnin' love, at that!
/...the arrogance goes to the Texas fellow who started this whole debate by an unintelligent rationalization .... My other posts speak for themselves...and to be honest... it is usually you guys that pick the first fight....rarely the other way around.....so the arrogance thing...or more so "chip on your shoulder" for some reason makes it necessary to attack another state...not sure why
Most beautiful religious artwork. (Post 99)
Traditional Ethiopian image of Jesus
There are only three possible choices for race. Jew is not one of them.
While Jesus was indeed a Jew, that is not a race, but an ethnicity.
Pretty funny, lol!
I have a picture of the virgin Mary next to my desk. In it she is hold the baby Jesus, is about 16 or 17 and is an American Indian.
I like the picture because it reminds me (I am white) that out of one of the most exclusive religions sprang forth the most encompassing one. We are not man, or woman, free or slave, Jew or gentile, just children of God.
If portraying Jesus as white, black, Hispanic, Asian or green with red stripes helps someone develop a closer more personal relationship with God, so be it.
If the most presing concern they have is that Jesus phyically resemble them, then they don't get it and they have larger issues they need to address.
He wasn't blue eyed, with blond hair and a perfectly bronzed tan.
Neither was he black.
Get over it people and actually read the message he was trying to give you instead.
So does this mean that suddenly chr*stianity is a "good" religion and liberals have to respect it?
Thank you! May I know the source of the information, as I am a history enthusiast. Thanks again.
And man, imagine his NOSE!
That is the single funniest post I have read in a long time!!!
This piece of commercial trash is nothing more than an "entertainment vehicle" aspitring to "blockbuster" status, whose script and pre-screenings have been focusgrouped to death, and which is targeted at a particular segment of the movie going audience that the bean counters in Hollyweird expect to respond and swallow the hook. Who might that be? I'd say, blacks (of course) but also guilt-ridden urban whites, religious and non-religious, as well as mindless new-agers (all of them white, as we know!) Whatever, that's only my guess, and you can bet that the money people have those expectations scientifically charted out.
I am with you....It doesn't matter.
That said logically, he was most probably pigmented similarly to others native to that region. Thus not European or African or Asian, but Jewish. Yep, my Savior was a jew (what would OBL say?).
But to me, it is so much rubbish to worry about the skin color of the Son of God who died for my sins. I am just thankful he did.
The Romans weren't really racist in the modern sense. In fact, the City of Rome appears to have been founded by a mixed gang of exiles and outlaws from a number of different tribes. They had to invent their own tribes in the early years in order to run the city as they felt it should be run.
They took slaves, like everyone else, but it wasn't a racial issue. And eventually Britons and Gauls could become Romans.
The Jews were different because they were stubborn about their religion. And they wanted to crucify Jesus because they thought his claim to be the Messiah was blasphemous.
Pontius Pilate had to agree for political reasons, because if he didn't go along he would have lost his job, accused by the Jews of being soft on revolutionaries.
P.S. Jews could become Roman citizens, too, and many of them were.
St. Paul was a Roman citizen, which was why he had to be taken back to Rome to be judged.
Lethal Weapon VI.
Controversial? In Asia, he's Asian, In Africa, Black, (take your pick between tall slender East African or stocky thick built West African. In Europe, you have more choices -- blue eyed Scandinavian or olive skinned Mediterranean or many shades in between.
It's nothing new. Depictions to fit with the local culture is as old as Christianity. Christ has been depicted as virtually every race and ethnicity, and unlike Mohamed, Christ does not care if or how we depict Him. And if we care, we are totally missing His message.
White hair and skin, fire colored eyes...
Was Jesus an albino???
The Roman's weren't racist in the modern sense, but they certainly thought of the Jews as a separate race. But their slavery was a matter of taking the spoils of war. There were slaves of every race. In our culture, only the blacks were thought of as a servile race. Sort of the same way that the English though of the Irish.
I was joking...;)
Jesus was a homeboy and dog is my copilot!
If they are saying that he was killed due solely or primarily to racial prejudice, that's a distortion. But most religious conflicts have, or develop, an ethnic component. The Romans almost certainly looked different from the Jews, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Pharisees were lighter-skinned, or otherwise had distinct features, from other groups of Jews. Most cultures with a caste system base it in part on appearance, because otherwise it would be too easy to "pass."
Not to mention that half of Jesus' genes came directly from God the Father, so there's no reason to believe he was the exact same hue as Mary. It's a detail as unimportant as whether he was short or tall. If Jesus didn't look like Jean-Claude LaMarre (pictured), he almost certainly didn't look like Jim Caviezel, either.
If the movie doesn't distort the central message of Christ's sacrifice, and helps bring it to a new audience, I don't see the problem. Just as I didn't have a problem with The Last Temptation of Christ or The Passion. Looking at the peripheral questions in new ways to find new insight or bring a new audience to the central message of the Gospels is as old as Christianity itself.
That is the single funniest post I have read in a long time!!!
I must admit that, as a member of that heritage, and a parent who has paid for a nose job or two....I felt it was OK to make the comment ;)
He would look the same dark color as the Jews in Israel today, he would not look like a Zulu IMO.
That said, makes no difference what color he was.
Jesus is timeless, not of any one race, culture or country... Jesus was here for all mankind (and for those who need to hear it... womankind as well).
The point of Jesus' sacrifice is truly lost on those who would rather be consumed by debating the color of his skin.
The shroud itself is far from authoritative. If it was fabricated -- or even embellished or interpreted -- solely by Europeans, there's an innate bias there. That said, that portrait looks as much Arab as European to me.
Jesus was a Jew... not African, nor Anglo, but, Jewish.
There's a lot of variation there. There are, in fact, African Jews, Anglo Jews and all manner of others.
Ethiopia had one of the oldest documented Jewish communities on Earth; most of them emigrated to Israel a few years back. Just in the last week or two, a colony of Jews in India was allowed to emigrate to Israel. They, also, have a long and documented history. The "lost tribes" aren't a new idea, and who are we to say where they'd turn up?
Why on Earth would you think that? The Jewish population in Israel today is an admixture of every population the Jews blended into in the centuries when they lacked a homeland. You have Sephardic Jews who mingled with the Spanish and Portuguese, Ashkenazic Jews who were in Central Europe, and prominent figures like Natan Sharansky, whose first name as Anatoly before he escaped the USSR.
That said, makes no difference what color he was.
True. So if it wasn't a distortion to make him look like Ted Nugent, it's also not a distortion to make him look like Bob Marley.
Christ was a Jewish Rabbi, so he would have looked like them.
No matter where the various Jews came from today, they started in Israel and a lot more area like most of Egypt that used to be theirs as well.
The Middle Eastern Jews would be tan, not light skinned or black.
In related news, Touchstone Pictures announced a new film about the life of Mohamed starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Although most of the world knows the image of the Prophet as a serious man with a bomb for a turban, immortalized in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, DiCaprio hopes to put a lighter, more feminine touch to the founder of the world's scariest religion. As for Touchstone, they just hope that the Prophet means Profit.