There has been an abundance of research and speculation as to what Jesus and the persons mentioned in The Bible might look like. It's most likely that they were not white.
This topic has come up many times in my Bible study group, and the most cited scientific assessment is that Jesus had brown eyes, black hair, and olive skin. His hair and beard were also likely short, as that was the style most accepted by Jewish men at that time. He just got whitewashed by European artists and the churches who sponsored them so that He would have an appearance which predominantly white Christians there could relate to. And so... depicting Him as Black so that Black Christians can relate to Him better should not be at all controversial. In fact, since Jesus is meant to be The Way and The Light for ALL humanity and ALL things to ALL people, these gorgeous photographs by James Lewis could be seen as endorsed by the tenants of Christianity. As for me personally? I just think they're absolutely stunning works of art. I've posted a few samples below, but you can see the entire series (and find a link to buy prints) on the James Lewis Pinterest.
Jesus Christ, The Only Begotten Son of the Living God ©James Lewis
Apostle Paul of Tarsus, Disciple of Jesus Christ ©James Lewis
Apostle Matthew, Disciple of Jesus Christ ©James Lewis
Daniel The Prophet ©James Lewis
Moses, Prophet & Deliver of Israel ©James Lewis
Mary & Joseph, The Parents of Jesus Christ ©James Lewis
Cain & Abel, Sons of Adam & Eve ©James Lewis
There's a lot of characters depicted... and even some abstract concepts, like The Holy Trinity...
The Holy Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Ghost ©James Lewis
I suspect some characters got included just because they're incredibly hot...
Queen Jezebel, Evil Wife of King Ahab ©James Lewis
Prince Absalom Third Son of King David ©James Lewis
I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me. — John 10:14
When I was a kid, there was a show called Gimme a Break! which starred Nell Carter as a Black housekeeper for a white man with his two white daughters (and later, Joey Lawrence?)... in one episode Nell dropped by her family's home with the younger daughter. On the wall was a photo of Black Jesus. The little girl said "I think something happened to your Jesus at the Photomat!" — queue laughter — And that's when I found myself wondering... "How do we know WHAT Jesus looked like?" Since I left the Catholic Church fairly early in life (they did not like me asking questions about stuff they were teaching that I couldn't find in The Bible... like Purgatory) I never got much further than that. But over the past several years that I've been participating in a "Bible Study for Non-Christians" group, it always comes up.
I don't know why these photos would be considered any more "controversial" than all the blonde-hair blue-eyed Jesus depictions, but my guess is that they will be. There's an awful lot of hate and ignorance masking as "Christianity" out there.
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