The Evolution of ‘White Jesus’

Jesus in a European painting

The race of Jesus Christ has not been a simple concept around the world. There doesn’t seem to be a straight answer as to if Jesus was really Caucasian; what we know is based off history.

The below infographic provides a short insight as to how the evolution of how “white Jesus” came about.

A while back, Culturs spoke with four individuals of varying ethnic and religious Christian backgrounds and asked what they thought about Jesus being portrayed as predominately white, and it was surprising to see how deep the socialization of a white Jesus runs.

So how have you been socialized to believe?

White Jesus
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  1. I found this article very interesting. I always assumed Jesus was white but over the past year, I have learned more about Jesus and how he was actually Jewish and therefore would have darker skin like an olive tone. It is interesting to see how different religions see Jesus and how people picture him. The chart that was listed in this article was really interesting and it was interesting to see how different societies and parts of the world view Jesus and how it has evolved over the years.

  2. This article brings up a striking issue with how certain religious figures are portrayed. Like mentioned in the infographic, Jesus is from the Middle East, but as Christianity spread to Europe, white-washing occurred, especially during the Crusades. The Crusades highlighted the Western European outlook of what Jesus looked and acted like, and that translated into artwork. Over time, the “white Jesus” image stuck within Europe and was forced by colonialism. Younger me was brought up with the image of a white Jesus. I have not seen many images of Jesus as a non-white figure, so I wonder if that image is still prominent across the world from the effects of colonialism.

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