What if Jesus was Black?

“What if Jesus was Black? What if all our pictures of Jesus were of an African Jesus instead of a European one?”

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/views/2020/what-if-jesus-was-black

I originally came across this picture while browsing old books in a Pasadena, CA antique shop 40+ years ago. The brief description said it had been engraved on a stone in ancient times, that the man in the picture had reddish hair and blue eyes. Later I noticed that this same picture had entered into SDA lore i.e., that EGW said this picture looked much like the Saviour she had seen in vision. In the Jewish community, even today, one can see Jewish men with piercing blue eyes, bright red/orange hair and definitely white skin.

Totally agree with this article. The “George Floyd” era and the thinking it has spawned about white supremacy, white privilege and how it is woven inextricably into Christianity in general and Adventism in particular, has been illuminating. Will articles like this change attitudes at all? The response above, asserting that Jesus probably looked like an Ashkenazi Jew, is a classic example of the thinking based on poor, misguided research that one is up against.


I wonder why Jesus would have had the most unusual eye/hair coloring in the Jewish community…then and now?


You know I am probably odd. No I am odd but Jesus skin or eyes or hair never crosses my mind. It Jesus that’s it and that’s all for me


While many points made are valid in their context, the author is seemingly ignorant of the principles of capitalism. It is true that it isn’t endorsed by Christianity (this is a flaw in Christianity), but when it is stated that chattel slavery is part of the bedrock of capitalism, he shows that he doesn’t understand what capitalism is, or rather that he has accepted the definition of capitalism as expressed by its enemies. Most simplistic definitions of capitalism are expressions of Marxist ideology.

Capitalism is the only economic system consistent with freedom. In fact, its moral premise is best stated as “No one may initiate the use of force against another.” Freedom of thought, of judgment, of action, and the right to earn and keep the product of one’s mind is the bedrock of capitalism. When the moral premise is violated, capitalism does not exist. Slavery is the essence of anti-capitalism. As practiced in the English colonies and then in the Southern states, slavery is more in keeping with feudalism than any other economic system. The large plantation owners even saw themselves as an aristocracy in keeping with that of ancient Rome or feudal lords. We do not practice capitalism in the US. We are a mixed economy, part free and part regulated. The regulated element has destroyed the free. The term “crony capitalism” is another example of disparaging capitalism by its enemies. Whenever the element of favoritism by the power of government officials is in play, we have corruption and fascism, not capitalism.

For further reading see:

Ayn Rand: Capitalism…the Unknown Ideal
Milton Friedman: Free To Choose
Thomas Sowell: dozens of books
Walter E. WIlliams: hundreds of articles available online


A former chief of staff at Cedars Sinai Medical Center also had red hair and beard. Nobel prize writer Issac Singer not only had red hair, he was a vegetarian! EGW’s remark about the likeness of Jesus is hearsay; however, it is quite a coincidence that the alleged likeness of Jesus corresponds to what EGW supposedly saw in vision, unless it’s part of a racist scheme.

That’s because your focus is elsewhere…not on whether or not we will EVER know what Jesus looked like.

We can be “odd” Birds of a Feather in our own unique flock. :wink:

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EGW never said specifically that Jesus had red hair or blue eyes…a truly moot point.


Are we all missing the point of the article? Skin color, eye color, hair color…I see the article as being very informative as to what might be called ‘soul color’.

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…and why would you ever think to ask the question?

To be taken seriously, Adventism should be Lutheran Judeo-Christian, black or white Jesus is not a serious theological topic.

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Excellent, thought provoking article. Thanks, @Courtney Ray for sharing it. As with any good writing, it raises more questions than it answers. Please accept my gratitude.

Nice sounding argument, but I often wonder about the use of the word “freedom“. It would certainly have a different connotation to an oil executive perplexed by government regulations than to the ordinary citizen concerned about toxic waste.
The points you are making are more likely to be espoused by persons high up on the economic hierarchy than those at the bottom.
The author makes a great point here: “ And while many Christians have no problems engaging in critiques of other systems, they instinctively recoil from critically evaluating capitalism – as if any critiques of capitalism are attacks on the Bible and Christianity itself. If you don’t believe me, try it and see.”
If you want to wake up a dead dinner party, just bring this up!
I wonder if it’s time to start questioning many of our “sacred” opinions, attitudes and values.


It illustrates very well one of the points of the article. :smiley:

“ I firmly believe that these concepts that have been embedded in modern Christianity would not be present – nor would they be so difficult to extricate – if the portraits of Jesus we were exposed to weren’t European (I personally think we would be far better off if we took the second commandment seriously and avoided visual representations of God altogether).”


Even if I thought about Jesus in terms of skin, eyes, hair, height, weight, etc etc. I fail to see any relevance to his ministry or that he is my savior.

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What if Jesus. / God were FEMALE .??

Oiur “ Mother God “ would be very nurturing and caring !!


The question of capitalism being linked to freedom and its connection to biblical values brings up an interesting discussion.

We, especially as American Christians, point to freedom as the highest biblical value. We even say that genuine love cannot flourish without freedom. I believe there is real truth to this.

However, I would say that this view by itself is problematic. The Bible resoundingly speaks of love as its highest value, not freedom. In fact, freedom can’t be understood or practiced apart from love. Without it, freedom devolves into anarchy. It becomes, as Paul stated , an outpost for the flesh… self will run riot.

That self giving love is to be freedom’s control can be seen in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, where he talks about his rights as an apostle. He says that all things are lawful for him, but then he says, “But all things are not beneficial.” He speaks about his freedom as an apostle and believer to act as he sees fit for his own individual good, of not being constrained by food laws and scruples, but then says, “ But if my partaking should prove to be a stumbling block to the faith/spiritual well being of my brother, I will not partake and eat meat.” Paul’s sense of freedom was always tempered and run through the prism of love and care for the other.

What can we say of capitalism’s record regarding this… or of any economic system? Ayn Rand‘s fantasy of the beneficent rich who would naturally give to the less fortunate, is just that, a fantasy. Failed trickle down economics has been the result. Vulture capitalism, the inequities produced by non regulation, and the horrendous inequities of the gilded age, and the new gilded age we are seeing today, are more the natural outcome of totally free or even regulated free markets. Why? Because human beings, apart from the Spirit of God, distort freedom, and use it as a masquerade for self will run riot, unfettered greed, etc… as those in power do under any economic system. Capitalism is not exempt.

Thus, I think that any biblical stance cannot give unqualified endorsement to capitalism as being closest to its ideal. Capitalism, as any other system, must be held to the light not just of freedom, but of the relationship of freedom and obligation… the obligation to love and provide for the needs of others, and how effectively that is done where it is practiced. Capitalism has its own inherent weaknesses as does any other humanly devised economic arrangement. It must be critiqued on the biblical terms stated, all under the highest value of love.




The earliest known description comes from the times of Tiberius Caesar. Here is an English translation of it. Printed in London, 1680, Printed for Francis Smith at the Elephant and Castle near the Royal Exchange in Cornhil.
Based upon that discription, an engraving was made by John sartin in 1865/66, and this is the portrait of that. Ellen white’s testimony of this painting: Ellen White (1827-1915): “His hair was white and curly and lay on His shoulders” (EW, p. 16, 1882).
It is believed that Ellen White commenting on the picture below to have said: “Yes, yes, it looks as I’ve seen our Saviour in vision – it’s more nearly a likeness than anything I have ever seen” (Letter from Mrs. Abbie Kellogg Norton, March 19, 1935). This picture can be seen at The Ellen White Estate Museum, Washington D C.

Interestingly enough, there were others who followed this traditional account in their description of Jesus, it follows then that Ellen White copied from these accounts:
Cunningham Geikie (1824-1906): “I shall describe,” says Nicephorus, [15th century historian] “the appearance of our Lord, as handed down to us from antiquity. He was very beautiful. His height was fully seven spans; His hair was bright auburn, and not too thick, and it was inclined to wave in soft curls”” (The Life and Words of Christ, Vol. 1, p. 455, 1877).

Cunningham Geikie (1824-1906): ““There has appeared,” says Lentulus (AD 33), “and still lives, a man of great virtue, called Jesus Christ, …He is a man tall in stature; noble in appearance….His hair is waving and curly; a little darker and of richer brightness, where it flows down from the shoulders”” (Ibid., p. 456).

Ingraham, J. H (1809-1860): “…and his dark hair flowed down about his shoulders” (The prince of the House of David, p. 109, 1855).

Edward Robinson (1794-1863): “His hair was the colour of new wine from the roots of his ears, and from thence to the shoulders it curled, and falls down to the lowest part of them” (Biblical repository, Vol. 2, p.368, 1832).

F. W. Farrar (1831-1903): “His hair, which legend has compared to the colour of wine, parted in the middle of the forehead, and flows down over the neck” (The life of Christ, Vol. 1, p. 313, 1874).

Paul Wright (d. 1785): “…his hair is of the colour of a filbert full ripe, and plain almost down to his ears, but from his ears downward, somewhat curled, …and waving about his shoulders” (The New and Complete Life of our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, pp. 265, 266, 1801).
However, the Bible is absolutely silent about the physical description of Jesus, God has a purpose in this. Secret things belong unto God.

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Around the world, Jesus has been portrayed looking like “us” locally for nearly 2000 years.

It’s a good thing.


This one really caught my eye:

For more, see:



Also Mary, mother of Jesus:


“Some of our workers have fallen a prey to the spurious description of the physical features of Jesus , allegedly written by Publius Lentulus. Such have used it in the *pulpit, over the air , and in printwhich is to be regretted. This has created distrust as to the judgment and scholarship of such workers on the part of the informed.” Ministry magazine March, 1945

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