Poéfrika: Meme findings – what did Jesus look like?
Poéfrika: What race was Jesus? Do we care? and in follow-up posts writes about two pictures of Jesus in a discussion about whether Jesus should be portrayed as black or white, and the notion that Jesus is blond and blue-eyes, because of some recent Western Christian art.
The post also appeared in Black Looks, and for that one the WordPress trackback worked in my Khanya blog, but it seems that the Poéfrika one was the earlier mention, so I thought I would link to it here as well. I think Orthodox Christians would have problems with both the first image and the second image in the meme, and would say that neither looked like Jesus.
For Orthodox Christians the true image of Jesus is more like this (acknowledgements to my daughter, who painted the ikon):
In Orthodox ikonography Jesus is shown as a Near Eastern man, not Nordic (blond and blue-eyed), nor Caucasian (like Stalin), nor African, nor Aryan (like the first image). Jesus Christ is one person (hypostasis) and so images depicting him according to any artist’s imagination depart from the truth. The “My Jesus” type of Picture, creating a Jesus according to one’s own desires and perceptions and values (whether of colour, complexion, or anything else) depicts a fantasy Jesus.
An ikon, however, is not a photograph. It does not show you what you would have seen if you had been there. It shows, rather, what most people did not see — that this is the incarnate Son of God. Ikons show Christ (and the saints) with elongated noses, not as some kind of aesthetic ideal, but to show that they breathe the air of heaven. They have small feet, because they tread lightly upon the earth. Christ’s clothing is red and blue, to show the divine and human natures, but in one person. But he still looks Near Eastern, just as ikons of St Peter the Aleut show him as Aleutian, and those of St Moses the Black show him as African. Jesus Christ was a real person, not someone’s conception of an idealised type of humanity.