To hear Fox News host Megyn Kelly tell it anyway. Back in December she declared for all the world to hear that:
“Jesus was a white man, too. It’s like we have, he’s a historical figure. That’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa. I just want kids to know that.”
Reza Aslan, a scholar of religions and author of the recent bestseller “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”, doesn’t dispute at all Ms. Kelly’s claim (at least not the one about Jesus). In a recent interview with Max Fischer of the Washington Post, Mr. Aslan was asked what leads people to want to convey Jesus Christ in their own images? His reply, unsurprisingly, was that it’s human nature;
“That is the entire point of the Christ.
Let me put in a little bit more of a metaphysical way, but I think it will make more sense. The foundational metaphor for God in Christianity is man. What is God? Christianity tells you God is man, and so man is the metaphor for what God is in Christianity, because God became a man in the form of Jesus. How do you know, how do you define God? Think of the perfect man. God is infinitely good, infinitely caring, infinitely compassionate. God is all the greatest human attributes that you can imagine.
That’s what God is. It’s a sort of central metaphor.
What that does, however, is that by saying that God is man, God is a man, it allows you to then define what man is. If you’re Chinese, then God is a Chinese man. If you’re Middle Eastern, then God is a Middle Eastern man. If you’re a blond, blue-eyed, white suburbanite woman, then God is a blond, blue-eyed suburbanite.
This is precisely why Christianity is the largest religion in the world. Because that central metaphor allows you to then thoroughly absorb this conception of Jesus as God into whatever your own particular understanding of humanity is.”
This is why Jesus can look like this…
And I get that this point may seem to trivialize The Big Picture, that being that the crucial focus should be on what Jesus accomplished as a man and a prophet rather than what he could have possibly looked like.
But the fact of the matter is that through the ages, right up to our modern society, we’ve seen the Bible used as a power tool rather than an inspirational one. He who controlled the book controlled the imagery, controlled the perceptions and the intentions of God Itself. And that intention would be whatever the owner of the book wanted it to be: The Gospel According to _________ (fill in the blank).
For centuries, only those of the papacy were even allowed access to the original texts of the gospels and regular folks relied on such “authorities” to hand down the scriptures as they saw fit. Easy to see how corruption and manipulation could follow in the wake of such power. Doesn’t it always?
Can we trust that the various publications of the Christian bibles ranging from the sixty-six books of the Protestant canon to the eighty-one books of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church canonas, hadn’t been co-opted and transcribed in a fashion that was most beneficial for the ruling party of the times? Nope.
It’s why I opt for a spiritual approach (ie; forming my bond with The Omnipotent One through my own experiences, observations, perceptions and sensibilities) rather than the present religious doctrine now available to us all. I just can’t trust the source.
The Personification of Jesus Christ
So, history has it that in 1492, the Roman Catholic Church was fighting the Holy Crusades against the Middle Eastern Islamics who had already taken control of Constantinople in Turkey and were moving steadily northward into Germany. This, of course, threatened the stronghold that the Holy Roman Emperor and the Church had over the world at that time.
One of the biggest strategic obstacles that faced Pope Alexander VI, who was head of the papacy at this time, had been the unalterable fact that Jesus, the prophet of Christianity and the man who their entire religion was based on, physically looked the same as the Islamics that they were fighting against.
The original Christians were most certainly Middle Eastern people of color, but by the time Alexander ascended to the head of the Church, Europeans had long since taken control of the doctrine. However, Jesus was represented in paintings, carvings and sculptures as the dark-skinned man of Middle Eastern origin of which he was. This led to good Christians folks becoming very unhappy about the Catholic Church’s almost daily massacres of Jews and Muslims, because the “enemy” being killed looked like their Jesus.
So, historical innuendo has it that Pope Alexander (born Roderic Llançol i de Borja and of Spanish decent), using the age-old bait-and-switch tactic, ordered every image of art depicting a Semitic Jesus destroyed and commissioned the one and only Leonardo Di Vinci to recast Jesus in the image of his son, Cardinal Cesare Borgia. This was all done with the express intent of passing off Jesus as European and quelling, somewhat, the uproar over the massacre of the “infidels”.
The most celebrated period in Europe known as the Renaissance, where images of the now “whitewashed” Jesus (as well as his parents, friends, neighbors and of course his initial most devoted followers, the Apostles) abounded, legitimized the new face of The Christ which is still revered by Catholics all around the world to this day, questioned by few.
“The greater our knowledge increases the more our ignorance unfolds.” – JFK