Black Jesus

African Jesus
Jesus wasn’t European. He wasn’t African either.

I’ve blogged previously on some of the moronic theories surrounding Afrocentric thinking; this image, liberated from Facebook, illustrates one of my favourites.

Like many nonsensical ideas, this is based on a grain of truth: some European artists did paint Jesus as white, and often blond with blue eyes. There are two main reasons for this, the first being simple ignorance; the second being that the Vatican, on a relentless mission to persecute Jews, tried to hide the awkward fact that their Messiah (if he had indeed existed) was a Middle Eastern Jew.

From the Afrocentric perspective, the inaccurate depiction of Jesus as a northern European could only mean one thing: yet another white conspiracy to steal the true history of the black man.

The top two pictures seem to based on a moronic misreading of Revelation 1:14-15:

14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.

So the designers of this image have decided that “hair white like wool” means Jesus sported an afro (they’ve obviously never seen a lamb) and “feet like bronze glowing in a furnace” means he had dark skin (they’ve obviously never seen molten bronze either).

This leaves the map, which is deliberately misleading. The continent of Africa is shown, with an inset showing the Middle East (which isn’t in Africa, although it is adjacent to Egypt).

This is about as nonsensical as conspiracy theories come, and incredibly easy to pick apart. So why do people believe it? This theory results from the collision of two strong and conflicting memes. The African diaspora has experienced incredibly brutal treatment from white society, but also received Christianity from whites. The impulse to separate the two is natural. Perhaps it would be more intellectually honest to reject Christianity altogether; many have of course done so. Some have adopted Islam (though this comes with the problem that it, like Christianity, originates outside Africa). Others have tried to adopt African animist beliefs, but this is fraught with difficulty. Animist belief varies widely from place to place in Africa, and has only been documented in recent centuries. Of course, adoption of Atheism may resolve much of this conflict, but is a step too far for Afrocentrics raised in strongly Christian homes.

Unfortunately, the teaching of myth as history is strong in the Afrocentric tradition, and it perpetuates rather than resolves the problems faced by the black diaspora in Europe and America. Teaching black children to adopt evidence-free dogma, rather than scientific reasoning, relegates them to the educational second ranks in Western society. Teaching a child to question, to look for evidence, and to keep an open mind, is essential to success in a modern, rational society.

The saddest thing of all is that, rather than celebrate the true strengths of African civilisation, which are unique, the Afrocentrics try to impose Western measures of success on Africa, and end up looking foolish in the process. The painting of Jesus (essentially a Roman invention) as a black man is a great example of this.

15 thoughts on “Black Jesus”

  1. While the Vatican has had difficulties with the fact that Jesus was a practicing Jew, it has never denied that he was Jewish. Christianity, with the exception of the Marcionite heresy, has relied upon its Judaic roots for its legitimacy as its successor.

    That some people of the African Diaspora like to portray Jesus as an African matters little. Naturally people want to reinforce their association with their spiritual inspiration. In the same way British Celts imagined themselves at times as being one of the lost tribes of Israel, before linguistics and genetics scotched such fantasies completely. (Make the pairs Bore Da, Good Morning, Guten Morgen, Boker Tov (Welsh, English, German, Hebrew)- delightfully enticing to the romantically inclined especially as the Welsh Celts left the Med millenia ago)

    And could Jesus have had brown hair and blues eyes. Well possibly, even President Assad has blues eyes (as do many others) and I don’t think anyone is suggesting that he isn’t native to the region. Other than black hair is quite common in the region, albeit not straw or near-white blond. In addition conversion to Judaism was far more common during Biblical times than it was following the establishment of Christianity as a separate faith, and so Jesus’s ancestors could have been from various ethnic groups.

    The continuing problem for Christians is that Jesus never refutes the validity of the Mosaic Covenant and the notion that the Israelites are God’s Chosen People. This is left to Saul / Paul sometime after Jesus is crucified. Enthusiasts may like to read High Schonfeld’s interpretation of the life of Jesus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Passover_Plot) if they want to amuse & intrigue themselves for a while. Additionally if Judaism is refuted in its entirety then Christian reliance upon the Old Testament & 10 Commandments comes crashing down.

    I think far important than this silliness, is the treatment of Mary Magdalene by the Vatican and her gross defamation. Far from being a prostitute, she is most likely to be Jesus’ wife. In Jewish law at the time only a wife or other near relative could claim a man’s corpse. And it is Mary the Mother and Mary Magdalene who claim Jesus’ body, do they not in the NT? Would the religious authorities allow a common prostitute claim the body of someone to whom they had no familial connection. It wouldn’t happen in UK now and it didn’t happen 2000 years ago.

  2. “the teaching of myth as history is strong in the Afrocentric tradition, and it perpetuates rather than resolves the problems faced by the black diaspora in Europe and America. Teaching black children to adopt evidence-free dogma, rather than scientific reasoning, relegates them to the educational second ranks in Western society.”

    this goes for everyone , of all colours , creeds and dogmas.

  3. “this goes for everyone , of all colours , creeds and dogmas”

    Of course, but in my experience it’s a particular problem in black communities, and does real damage to kids’ prospects. Perhaps this difference is magnified here in the UK, where religious/mythical belief is pretty low among the white community but high in the black community.

  4. All societies are susceptible to myth creation, if only as a means to bind themselves together. IMO Africans are no more susceptible to this than any other group.

    In Britain we have created a mythological past regarding WW2, which presents ourselves as stoically noble.

    In Ireland modern nationalism glossed over the facts of the famine to be able to present a paradigm in which there was the simple paradigm of the “English” oppressing the “Irish”.

    The USA has woven a massive body of myths around the War of Independence, and the roles of the colonialists and the British.

    And on and on it goes regardless of creed, nation or ethnicity.

    We deride the African diaspora for their myths because we in our arrogance think that we are somehow rational and objective, whereas they are not. The written word, whether it be the Bible, the Quran or daily media, is exceptionally powerful, as are the repeated popular messages.

    Let us also not overlook that the Bible we know is a translation of a translation. Jesus spoke Aramaic and probably read Hebrew. His words have to be understood in the context of Judean society of its time. Yet how often is the King James Bible repeated as though it were the perfect representation of the message of Jesus, with no reference to its historical context. The popular western Christian & atheist understanding of the Old Testament suffers even more as it lacks the contribution of the Talmud to explain how people understood those words 2000 years ago, and from this has come the slanders that Christianity and atheism has projected towards Jews and Judaism.

    It is correct IMO to say that these myths pose a threat to communities as it creates a false image upon which they rely, and leads them into conflict with others. It also leads to inappropriate responses.

    1. “All societies are susceptible to myth creation… IMO Africans are no more susceptible to this than any other group.”

      That’s a nice sentiment, but the facts don’t bear that out.

      Remember “Adam”, the torso found in the Thames? Killing of children to harvest body parts for “magic” still happens in West Africa http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2002/jun/02/ukcrime.paulharris

      How about the regular killing of albinos and harvesting their parts for magic? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/tanzania/7687951/Seven-new-albino-killings-in-Tanzania-and-Burundi.html

      The mass branding of children as witches (who are then beaten, abused and driven from their villages). http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide/series-8/episode-1/

      I personally met a man in Ghana who wasting away. To my untrained eye, he perhaps had AIDS or advanced cancer. When I suggested he should see a doctor, he said there’s no point, because his brother-in-law had cursed him, and doctors don’t understand witchcraft. Ghana is a thriving modern country, and has universal healthcare, yet medieval beliefs are alive and well.

      Over 90% of Nigerians believe in God. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/wtwtgod/3490490.stm

      Yes, all societies have myths, but the existence of science-based education is a vaccination against nonsense. When did you last hear of a witch being lynched in Western Europe?

  5. I hear what you’re saying but I would counsel caution. To my mind belief in witchcraft & magic as is present in Africa and some other places, may not be fundamentally different from other obscenities perpetrated by humans.

    Isn’t the Anti-Semite’s belief that Jews are somehow superhuman and capable of exerting pernicious control over the world very much the same. Isn’t the hysteria & violence of the Nazi period much the same as the witch-hunts of Africa?

    The latter example you cite of someone dying because they believed they were cursed. Is this really so different from the young woman who starves herself because she has been convinced by media manipulation that she is overweight, even though she is almost skeletal.

    If we are removed by science and learning from Africa, then I would suggest that step is a very small and recent step and we in the West retain a great capacity to believe in the irrational.

  6. “If we are removed by science and learning from Africa, then I would suggest that step is a very small and recent step”

    Totally agree – Africa is developing at the speed of light. With the possible collapse of Europe’s economic model underway, and the fast rise in African economies, the gap is closing fast.

    1. Black is first and the epitome of all things. Europeans still cant understand all the facets of ancient african understanding. Secondly jesus’s name was actually Horus. Even the truth in the catholic church praises horus and isis secretly. All that is today interms of math, science and religion is of african decent. The difference is that europeans didnt and dont understand the ancient african philosophy so instead they decided to steal and adopt as their own. Therefore they came up with this “white jesus” and bs. European decent please stop it. We were first and whats sad is my blacks dont understand or know that we are royalty and are first. Europeans didnt become prominent until the africans 12 dynasty. How rich is your history. Why is it africans pulled europen countries out of dark ages and not the other way around. Do research before speaking

      1. Perhaps instead of attacking, you reply with a mature, descent argument showing examples and evidence. People are far more open to your opinion and have an actual beneficial debate if you approach with a civil discussion.
        And like Alex said, cite your sources, I would like to research.

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