How Jesus Became ‘White”

Though I know a bit of Christianity, it never occurred to me to question why Jesus Christ is portrayed as a White, though he was from the Middle east.

I did some search.

First I came up with this article in Salon.

Is Jesus White?

The first century Jewish writer Josephus (37-100 AD) penned the earliest non-biblical testimony of Jesus. He reportedly had access to official Roman records on which he based his information and in his work Halosis or the “Capture (of Jerusalem),” written around 72 A.D., Josephus discussed “the human form of Jesus and his wonderful works.” Unfortunately his texts have passed through Christian hands which altered them, removing offensive material. Fortunately, however, Biblical scholar Robert Eisler in a classic 1931 study of Josephus’ Testimony was able to reconstruct the unaltered testimony based on a newly-discovered Old Russian translation that preserved the original Greek text. According to Eisler’s reconstruction, the oldest non-Biblical description of Jesus read as follows:

“At that time also there appeared a certain man of magic power … if it be meet to call him a man, [whose name is Jesus], whom [certain] Greeks call a son of [a] God, but his disciples [call] the true prophet … he was a man of simple appearance, mature age, black-skinned (melagchrous), short growth, three cubits tall, hunchbacked, prognathous (lit. ‘with a long face’ [macroprosopos]), a long nose, eyebrows meeting above the nose … with scanty [curly] hair, but having a line in the middle of the head after the fashion of the Nazaraeans, with an undeveloped beard.”

This short, black-skinned, mature, hunchbacked Jesus with a unibrow, short curly hair and undeveloped beard bears no resemblance to the Jesus Christ taken for granted today by most of the Christian world: the tall, long haired, long bearded, white-skinned and blue eyed Son of God. Yet, this earliest textual record matches well the earliest iconographic evidence.

The earliest visual depiction of Jesus is a painting found in 1921 on a wall of the baptismal chamber of the house-church at Dura Europos, Syria and dated around 235 A.D. The Jesus that is “Healing the Paralytic Man” (Mark 2:1-12) is short and dark-skinned with a small curly afro – see below.

Scroll down for video.

Jesus earliest Image
Jesus earliest Image


Image Of Jesus
Image Of Jesus

Then I checked Wiki and I came up with this information.

The race and appearance of Jesus have been discussed on a number of grounds since early Christianity, although the New Testament includes no description of the physical appearance of Jesus before his death and its narrative is generally indifferent to racial appearances.[1]

Despite the lack of direct biblical or historical references, from the second century, various theories about the race of Jesus were advanced and debated.[2][3] By the Middle Ages a number of documents, generally of unknown or questionable origin, had been composed and were circulating with details of the appearance of Jesus. Now these documents are mostly considered forgeries.[4][5][6] While many people have a fixed mental image of Jesus, drawn from his artistic depictions, these images often conform to stereotypes which are not grounded in any serious research on the historical Jesus, but are based on second or third hand interpretations of spurious sources.[7]

By the 19th century theories that Jesus was European, and in particular Aryan, were developed, as well as theories that he was of black African descent. However, as in other cases of the assignment of race to biblical individuals, these claims have been mostly subjective, based on cultural stereotypes and societal trends rather than on scientific analysis.[8] For two millennia a wide range of artistic depictions of Jesus have appeared, often influenced by cultural settings, political circumstances and theological contexts.[9][10] Beyond being Jewish, there is no general scholarly agreement on the ethnicity of Jesus.[11]

Images of Jesus Through the Ages.
Images of Jesus Through the Ages.


  1. Well Researched Article. Church would never accept that Jesus was dark skinned , short & hunch -backed !


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