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Feb 04 2013

Aryan Jesus

This isn’t Thor, it’s Jesus.

aryanjesus

There is a lot of cheesy Christian art that looks like this, and I get the same message from all of it. At worst, it’s freaking racist — these are people trying to draw the Ideal Man, and every time they fit him into the western, north European mold. Most charitably and at the very least, it tells me that Jesus isn’t a historical figure to these people, his reality isn’t a concern, and they need make no effort to put him in a place and time and people. He’s a legend, and so he’s a plastic figure with no strong attachment to history…but he can be freely warped to fit the ideology of the individual.

Either way, I feel no need or desire to worship or even respect a cartoon.

(via Zeno)

104 comments

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  1. 1
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    It makes sense why Jesus is shown as a blond haired, blue eyed man. It’s cause he’s Apollo. When the Christian Church started becoming the big new thing, they started re-appropriating old Greek Temples, and instead of merely painting over the old stuff, just said “well, that’s not actually a representation of Apollo, it’s Jesus. The sun behind his head is a halo.”

  2. 2
    Mario

    Next you’ll be telling me the bible wasn’t written in English.

  3. 3
    hyperdeath

    He looks like the BDSM equivalent of Che Guevara.

  4. 4
    Dunc

    Nice highlights. I wonder who does his hair, and where they got peroxide in 1st century Judea?

  5. 5
    jose

    Such nonsense. Everybody knows Jesus was a gipsy singer.

  6. 6
    consciousness razor

    He’s a shapeshifter. That’s why you see him on burnt toast so often.

  7. 7
    jeffcarr

    That’s neither Thor nor Jesus. That is Zach from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. It is a pretty good likeness.

  8. 8
    voidhawk

    In fairness to the religious folk, they draw him in a way which is the most relateable to them. Every culture has done it, from China to India to Mexico to Ethiopia.

    Some great alternatives to the ‘Western’ Jesus we’re so used to.

    http://annabellepeake.wordpress.com/tag/depictions-of-jesus/

    To the Christian, the real, physical person of Jesus isn’t as important to them as the idea of Jesus, or the ‘spiritual’ aspect of Jesus so they feel free to draw him to fit in with the art from their own cultures.

  9. 9
    jose

    If by Western you mean Anglosaxon, then yeah.

    Have a Mediterranean Jesus.

  10. 10
    consciousness razor

    To the Christian, the real, physical person of Jesus isn’t as important to them as the idea of Jesus, or the ‘spiritual’ aspect of Jesus so they feel free to draw him to fit in with the art from their own cultures.

    So are those spiritual thorns, which he wore when his spirit was tortured?

  11. 11
    JohnnieCanuck

    Simple, actually. They all conceive of their god in their own image. Their god looks like them, or their ideal version of themselves. Likewise their god thinks like they do and hates and likes whatever they hate and like.

    It occurs to me to wonder if there are African or African-American churches with images of Jesus very much lighter or even darker than appropriate for a person born in the Eastern Mediterranean back then. Somewhere, recently, I came across an opinion that such a person would have been so dark as to be regarded by most Americans as a black man.

  12. 12
    carlie

    Why doesn’t the beard match the hair?

  13. 13
    w00dview

    I am shocked that wingnuts tolerate the ‘Western’ version of Jesus. Sure, he is white but look at his long hair, scruffy beard and sandals! The guy is a freakin’ hippy! Shouldn’t wingnut Jesus have NRA membership, a nice respectable haircut, cut taxes on the Romans and refuse to heal the sick if they do not have adequate insurance cover?

  14. 14
    reasonbe

    @carlie #12 That’s hair?

  15. 15
    Nancy New, Queen of your Regulatory Nightmare

    Another huge jebus-based misconception: born in a stable, laid in a manger. Housing for both people and livestock in that area are stone, not wood. Livestock? Frequently, low-seilinged caves. Mangers? again, stone. No resemblance to the common little wooden huts.

  16. 16
  17. 17
    Utakata

    Bishounen Jesus.

  18. 18
    slowdjinn

    Carlie #12

    I know a lot of guys, myself included, whose beards grow much darker than their hair. Most of the blonds have light brown/ginger beards.

  19. 19
    Don Quijote

    Looks like Jesus is coming.

  20. 20
    twosheds1

    He doesn’t look Jewish.

  21. 21
    crocodoc

    I wonder if this guy has a big UNSCARRED tattoo across the belly

  22. 22
    David Marjanović

    these are people trying to draw the Ideal Man

    …which is actually quite interesting. Islam (I don’t know how official that is, but it’s widespread) considers Muhammad the Ideal Man: ideal father, ideal husband, ideal war leader, ideal ruler, and so on. Most kinds of Christianity, in contrast, have no theological need for this and instead picture Jesus as a sinless but otherwise average human: the “wholly man” part of “wholly God and wholly man”.

    Indeed, 2 or 3 years ago, I had to listen to an angry Christmas sermon* by a Jesuit-educated** Catholic priest who told his congregation to stop demythologizing*** Jesus as merely a good person. He said, in as many words, that he knew people who were better people than Jesus, and even named one**** – before reaching the end and saying that the whole point of Christmas and Christianity was “that Jesus is God”.

    * Mom’s will be done, at least on Earth, forever & ever, amen.
    ** IIRC.
    *** Yeeeeah… not the word he used.
    **** As you won’t be surprised to learn, that guy wasn’t a celebrity. I had never heard the name before and promptly forgot it.

    It makes sense why Jesus is shown as a blond haired, blue eyed man. It’s cause he’s Apollo. When the Christian Church started becoming the big new thing, they started re-appropriating old Greek Temples, and instead of merely painting over the old stuff, just said “well, that’s not actually a representation of Apollo, it’s Jesus. The sun behind his head is a halo.”

    *lightbulb moment*

    He looks like the BDSM equivalent of Che Guevara.

    X-D X-D X-D X-D X-D

    cut taxes on the Romans

    :-D Cut taxes so your taxes may be cut?

    @carlie #12 That’s hair?

    Yeah, I was wondering.

    Bishounen Jesus.

    FTW.

  23. 23
    rr

    If that’s a made-in-America Jesus where’s his rifle?

  24. 24
    Nick Gotts

    Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort@1,

    Do you have a citation for that?

  25. 25
    Jadehawk

    obligatory

  26. 26
    Alverant

    #11
    The problem with that is people insist that Jesus was a real person. If they really believe that then they shouldn’t be altering his appearance to match theirs. So we have this duality that not only was their savior a real person but also looked like themselves instead of a person living in that region. A person, I should add, if he were alive today would be suspected of being a terrorist on skin color alone.

    Also I remember reading a story years ago about a passion play where the role of Jesus was being played by a black man. There were protests and threats against the actor.

  27. 27
    dianne

    I have the oddest impulse to spend the rest of the morning reading Jesus and Mo now…

  28. 28
    Sastra

    I love the reconstructed image of the 1st century Jewish man in voidhawk’s link at #8, and it got me thinking about what would happen if someone today who carries around a very different mental picture of Jesus were to meet the actual historical inspiration for the story.

    Scruffy, suspicious, eschatological, dark, and deeply focused on his own people and own concerns of the time, there’d probably be little resemblance to the handsome and idealized modern fairy-tale image Jesus invented inside the believer’s head. This Jesus is your own best friend, commiserating when you lose your contact lenses and celebrating when you find them, always and everywhere being exactly the right person, saying exactly the right thing, in exactly the right way. You have such faith that he is the Right One for you.

    I can’t help but think that an actual meeting would make the infatuated believer feel like they’ve been catfished. I mean, they don’t even Skype or talk on the cell phone or anything.

  29. 29
    vaiyt

    Also I remember reading a story years ago about a passion play where the role of Jesus was being played by a black man. There were protests and threats against the actor.

    When everyone thinks Jesus looks like them…

  30. 30
    Owlglass

    I anyway always wondered what Jesus did during his 30 something years “off camera”. At one point he must have been a normal person, with everything that comes with being human, where it’s not always possible to maintain absolute dignity. But he is supposed to be “the most innocent of men” (W. L. Craig), whatever that means. Of course his job was that of a tekton, a house-builder of some sorts. So he actually worked at a consruction site, hit his fingernails with a hammer a few times but never sweared, shielded his mind completely from the dirty jokes told by his colleagues, of course never did anything at any sunday, never got drunk. Oh, you mean, house building is symbolical? Actually, he is described as a charismatic, witty as well as an arrogant dude. Maybe he was an inch ahead of his time, but doesn’t deserve the credit he is given even by non-believers. Confucius’ teachings were five hundred years earlier, more coherent and contained much less dangerous ambiguity:

    But those my enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, bring here, and slay them before me. Jesus (Luke 19:27)

    Of course not meant as it sounds like! Not at all. Shamelessly Ripped out of Context™ to advanvce the communist-hitler-mao-stalin-atheist agenda. Note that the word “slay” in the original is the word used for slaughter/cut animals to pieces.

  31. 31
    PZ Myers

    That is not Zach! That is my son, Alaric, who is thin and has long red hair and a beard.

    Zach will be in Minneapolis this spring for SkepTech — I should bring Alaric and the two of them can do a Jesus-Off.

  32. 32
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    I anyway always wondered what Jesus did during his 30 something years “off camera”. At one point he must have been a normal person, with everything that comes with being human, where it’s not always possible to maintain absolute dignity.

    There was a whole bunch of non-canonical gospels about Jesus as a child and young adult. They survive in a few scraps and verses. The post-Nicene purging of unacceptable gospels was pretty thorough.

  33. 33
    Owen

    PZ@31 – “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased”?

  34. 34
    richardelguru

    I bet he ith Thor, with thothe thpikey thingth in hith hair.

  35. 35
    glodson

    When did Jesus find time to hit a salon?

  36. 36
    glodson

    Bishounen Jesus.

    That’s a thing, apparently.

  37. 37
    Bill Openthalt

    A crown of thorns gently lowered on the head,
    not a single drop of blood,
    not a single bead of sweat,
    it is Barbie’s Ken, I bet.

  38. 38
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Well, I don’t care if it rains or freezes,
    Long as I have my aryan Jesus
    Riding on the dashboard of my car
    Through all trials and tribulations,
    We will travel every nation,
    With my aryan Jesus I’ll go far.

  39. 39
    voidhawk

    #10

    I mean, there was a physical Jesus but what he looked likearen’t as important to them as what he supposedly represented.

    *’Them’ being the relatively sane ones who wouldn’t o nuts at the sight of a black jesus.

  40. 40
    Rob Grigjanis

    I just wish the Aryans would reclaim the word ‘Aryan’, already.

  41. 41
    voidhawk

    *isn’t as important to them – Sorry.
    *go nuts even.

  42. 42
    flek

    The portrayal of Jesus hasn’t always been the same. Before the bearded guy we recognize today he was shown as a young, bushy-haired, beardless shepherd usually with a sheep or two. And blonde, European Jesuses have shown up here and there for centuries in Christian art. In art history we usually just dismissed them as, “LOL, blonde, white Jesus.” Though since they were usually images of ‘risen’ and ‘heavenly’ spirit Jesuses floating about that the whiteness and blondness might have been more of an effort to portray him as glowing, like he’s emanating holiness rather than it being Norwegian Jesus..

    This Jesus however appears to have gotten a yellow seaweed and tentacle wig. The stylization seems out of place in the image, like the artist just didn’t know how to draw the hair so he ripped the hair out of a comic book.

  43. 43
    Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    He would have stood out a bit in 1st century Palestine.

  44. 44
    Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    I suppose that he could have been a legionary recruited from a Germanic tribe, but that has it’s own problems.

  45. 45
    Sastra

    I thought at first that this drawing looked like a rather weak, wimpy version of Jesus — but then I realized this guy has just had a bunch of nasty-looking thorns pushed down on his head and all it’s doing is making him start to sneeze.
    Damn, but that’s tough.

  46. 46
    Marcus Ranum

    There was a story that Alexander VI used his son, Caesare Borja, as the model for images of jesus. Which is kind of funny since Caesare was a notorious, syphilitic, rake.

  47. 47
    Cynickal

    A) Jesus is Jewish
    B) the earth is 6000 years old

    Pick one.

  48. 48
    Nick Gotts

    Damn, but that’s tough. – Sastra

    Nah – he just can’t remember the safe word.

  49. 49
    Lynna, OM

    Jesus has his hair done in LA. That’s a Hollywood makeover if I ever saw one.

    Eyebrows plucked. Skin buffed. Beard expertly trimmed. Hair red carpet ready. Fake thorn crown from the props department.

  50. 50
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re woodview @13:

    …but look at his long hair, scruffy beard and sandals! The guy is a freakin’ hippy! Shouldn’t wingnut Jesus have NRA membership, a nice respectable haircut, …

    back in the ’70′s there really was an outcry that the typical portrayal of Jesus with long hair was a “hippy” delusion, that Jesus “really” sported a crew-cut (close cropped noggin). They didn’t advocate that he carried a rifle, but still, “He wasn’t a hippy” was pretty loud. Can’t give a cite (too long ago) but it really was there (somewhere).

    re carlie @12:

    Why doesn’t the beard match the hair?

    [sidenote] The beard rarely “matches” the hair; typically matches _pubic_ hair which is different than the mane. (“rug matches the drapes” is a common myth) Learned that from stage makeup artists who tried to be sure the (artificial) beard was _different_ from the ‘locks. [end sidenote]

  51. 51
    drxym

    I once went into a KFC on the roof of the World Trade Center, Bangkok and there was a full size statue of Colonel Sanders placed outside. But this Colonel Sanders looked more like a fat Ho Chi Minh with distinctly Asian features. I guess even in fast food outlets it pays to cater to your local audience’s preconceptions.

  52. 52
    David Marjanović

    There was a whole bunch of non-canonical gospels about Jesus as a child and young adult. They survive in a few scraps and verses. The post-Nicene purging of unacceptable gospels was pretty thorough.

    Most non-canonical ones look younger than most or all canonical ones, though.

    PZ@31 – “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased”?

    Day saved.

    That’s a thing, apparently.

    I am so not clicking on that link.

    Caesare Borja

    Cesare Borgia.

    Eyebrows plucked. Skin buffed. Beard expertly trimmed.

    Chest shaved?

  53. 53
    David Marjanović

    The beard rarely “matches” the hair

    Mine does, the hairs just seem thicker.

    But this Colonel Sanders looked more like a fat Ho Chi Minh with distinctly Asian features.

    Col. Sanders does look a lot like Ho Chi Minh.

  54. 54
    ChasCPeterson

    It makes sense why Jesus is shown as a blond haired, blue eyed man. It’s cause he’s Apollo. When the Christian Church started becoming the big new thing, they started re-appropriating old Greek Temples, and instead of merely painting over the old stuff, just said “well, that’s not actually a representation of Apollo, it’s Jesus. The sun behind his head is a halo.”

    not buying it.
    For one thing, did (why would they?) the Greeks portray Apollo with blond hair and blue eyes? Depictions of Apollo might be one source of the halo convention, and maybe a model for early beardless depictions of Jesus, but the rest is far less simplistic. You can google it.

  55. 55
    chrismorrow

    Anti-racist speaker Tim Wise makes this point about White Jesus, and how he usually gets the response from defensive Christians that it doesn’t matter because Jesus “stands for” all humankind (never mind that Jesus’s being a Real Physical Dude is supposed to be one of Christianity’s unique selling points, or so many a Protestant has claimed). Wise replies to this that if it really doesn’t matter, then surely it would be no big deal to change his color/race every once in a while. This year he can be black, next year Asian, and so forth. AFAIK no church implements anything like this.

    David Marjanović:

    Indeed, 2 or 3 years ago, I had to listen to an angry Christmas sermon* by a Jesuit-educated** Catholic priest who told his congregation to stop demythologizing*** Jesus as merely a good person. He said, in as many words, that he knew people who were better people than Jesus, and even named one**** – before reaching the end and saying that the whole point of Christmas and Christianity was “that Jesus is God”.

    This surprises me; I don’t think it’s typical apologetics. Yes, the humanness of Jesus is often emphasized, but never any moral shortcomings, so far as I know. I feel like this priest was going for originality.

  56. 56
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Yes, this is a real [e]book.

  57. 57
    Lynna, OM

    David M. @52

    Chest shaved?

    Of course. He has been manscaped all over. Waxing was involved.

  58. 58
    Furr-a-Bruin

    For what it’s worth, most of the pop-culture depictions of Thor are off, though arguably not as far as many of Jesus’. One of Thor’s affectionate nicknames was “Old Redbeard” – so any depictions of him as blond and/or beardless are obviously incorrect.
     
    As a big slice of my ancestry is German and Danish, I went through a period of tormenting christians by saying that if I was going to be religious, it made more sense to me to follow a faith that was consonant with my ancestry – thus I should be praying to the gods of the Norse pantheon than to follow an entirely foreign faith. Some of the fireworks this produced were truly entertaining; I read up a bit on Norse mythology to be able to sustain the gag.

  59. 59
    Rob Grigjanis

    Chas @54: “did (why would they?) the Greeks portray Apollo with blond hair and blue eyes?”

    Yes. Athenaeus: The Deipnosophists, book 15, chapter 50;

    Leto once in Delos, as they say,
    Did two great children bear,
    Apollo with the golden hair,
    Bright Phoebus, god of day.
    And Artemis, mighty huntress, virgin chaste.
    On whom all women’s trust is placed.

    Many, many more recent references saying blue eyes, golden hair.

  60. 60
    CJO

    The sun behind Apollo’s head, or, more frequently Helios’s, was a halo. The Christians did adopt the already widespread halo convention in representing divine figures (at first only Jesus, but later saints too, and Jesus got the cruciform halo to set his apart), but that didn’t entail identifying a pre-existing representation of a pagan divine figure with a representation of Jesus.

    I don’t know of any surviving instances of that kind of conflation, but there’s no question that depictions of Apollo, Helios, Sol Invictus, and Dionysius were strong influences on the earliest Christian iconography featuring a representation of Jesus as a man, and not, for instance, a lamb, an anchor, or the famous fish. And portrayals of Isis and Harpocrates (Greek deity derived from baby Horus) were clearly the model for the classic Virgin and Child motif. The solar associations were natural for pagans adopting a monotheistic creed, as the times (3rd-4th c. CE) featured a current of quasi-monotheistic belief centered on one or another solar personification as the Big Guy.

  61. 61
    dianne

    Wouldn’t the picture more likely be of Baldur than Thor?

  62. 62
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    I know a lot of guys, myself included, whose beards grow much darker than their hair. Most of the blonds have light brown/ginger beards.

    Mine’s the opposite, actually. My hair is now darkened to light brown, but my facial hair (such as it is) is pale blond all the way to white.

    Dianne
    Balder would certainly be a closer mythological cognate to Jesus than Thor would be, yes.

  63. 63
    David Marjanović

    This surprises me; I don’t think it’s typical apologetics. Yes, the humanness of Jesus is often emphasized, but never any moral shortcomings, so far as I know.

    Oh, there’s a difference between abstaining from evil and doing good. Sinless Jesus is still, I guess, supposed to have practiced the former, but less of the latter than some other people.

    One of Thor’s affectionate nicknames was “Old Redbeard”

    …I had no idea. But the Pffft! of All Knowledge confirms it:

    “In Norse mythology, largely recorded in Iceland from traditional material stemming from Scandinavia, numerous tales and information about Thor are provided. In these sources, Thor bears at least fourteen names, is the husband of the golden-haired goddess Sif, is the lover of the jötunn Járnsaxa, and is generally described as fierce-eyed, red-haired and red-bearded.”

    Footnote:

    “On the red beard and the use of ‘Redbeard’ as an epithet for Thor, see H.R. Ellis Davidson, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, 1964, repr. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1990, ISBN 0-14-013627-4, p. 85, citing the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason in Flateyjarbók, Saga of Erik the Red, and Flóamanna saga. The Prologue to the Prose Edda says ambiguously that ‘His hair is more beautiful than gold.’”

  64. 64
    Rob in Memphis

    Take off the crown of thorns, put some guyliner on him and make his hair a little more red and you wind up with a Jesus who looks a lot like Tim Minchin, ironically enough.

  65. 65
    Owlglass

    34, richardelguru wrote: I bet he ith Thor, with thothe thpikey thingth in hith hair.

    Speaking of which, two calendar mottos: “Your god was nailed to a cross, my god had a hammer. Any questions?”, and while we are at it, the other one:“Jesus promised the end of all wicked people. Odin promised the end of all ice giants. I don’t see many ice giants around.”

  66. 66
    lpetrich

    About 2500 years ago, a certain Xenophanes noted that people imagine that their gods are in their physical likeness, black people worshipping gods that look like black people and northern Europeans worshipping gods that look like northern Europeans. He also speculated that horses and cows and lions would do the same if they could.

    Xenophanes would have gotten a chuckle out of all these depictions of Jesus Christ.

  67. 67
    rr

    So if I make this guy my BFF then his dad won’t beat me up?

  68. 68
    Elena

    glodson @36:

    Nah, that’s just an amerimanga Bible they published some time ago. There is in fact a real manga series about Jesus and Buddha being best friends and living in a Tokyo suburb, and it is a running gag there that Jesus looks like Johnny Depp. Some scanlations are out there in the wilds.

    There’s a trailer for the movie (coming next May) here, too. The angry old woman is their landlady, who suspects Buddha and Jesus are NEETs. Then it segues into Jesus’ Mixi blog (in which he recaps TV series. He’s a bit of an otaku).

  69. 69
    jefferylanam

    Roman men of the time usually kept their hair short and their beards shaved. Jews probably would have grown beards and worn longer hair to keep themselves distinct.

    Hair that color, though, would have been almost unheard of anywhere in the early Roman empire.

  70. 70
    CJO

    Hair that color, though, would have been almost unheard of anywhere in the early Roman empire.

    Nonsense. Britain, Gaul, and the Rhine frontier all would have had many people with fair skin and light hair.

    And it’s not unheard of, though it is rare, in people of native Mediterranean descent. There’s supposed to be a strain of light hair among native Anatolians (pre Turkish conquest), and the Roman nomen Flavius meant “golden haired” and the common cognomen Rufus meant “red-haired”.

  71. 71
    Thomas Berger

    Religion gains far more ground by appealing to emotional dynamics, in this case ingroup emotional structures, than it does by making coherence its main goal. Would many church goers still relate to the pictures if Jesus was depicted with greater (purported) accuracy? Perhaps some, but the vast majority are not going to understand or could care less and only feel the emotional appeals of seeing someone who looks more like them, perhaps with some twinging different to show that this was a different era. The fact that such is so readily reproduced and non-criticized as it is presented to children . . . well creates people who just reproduce such thought and desires and non-critical attitudes.

  72. 72
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    Religious criticisms aside, that is a well-done bit of work. I’m a bit jealous…

  73. 73
    michaelbusch

    The worst example I’ve seen of this pattern of Jesus-as-the-artists-fantasy was at the visitor’s center of the Mormon complex at Temple Square in Salt Lake. All of these wall-sized pictures of stuff that never happened, with Jesus as a clean-shaved blue-eyed white guy.

    @voidhawk:

    The last example at your link brings to mind the Buddha-esque depictions of Jesus/Mary by Kirishitan crypto-Christians in Japan. But there the motivation was as much to hide Christianity as it was the local style of art.

  74. 74
    FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!)

    And speaking of depictions of Jesus:

    The inimitable, aforementioned Tim Minchin

  75. 75
    atheist

    An odd philosophical flip-side to the Christians who create Christ in their own image, are the Atheists who are offended by the notion that such a person as Christ might ever have existed. Certain Atheists endeavor to prove that the individual described as Christ in the New Testament did not exist. I always thought this fixation on Christ’s non-existence was a strange echo of the blond, blue-eyed Jesus. It should be enough to consider the historic existence or nonexistence of Christ irrelevant.

  76. 76
    atheist

    (I mean Atheists offended to consider that a Jesus — by whatever actual name — may have existed as a man, not as a God.)

  77. 77
    suttkus

    People, please. That doesn’t look at all like Thor. Thor as red hair. It’s practically the only bit of description he gets in the mythology and people keep getting it wrong!

    Thor has red hair.

    If the image you are looking at isn’t a red head, it isn’t Thor. Period. End of discussion.

    DAMN YOU JACK KIRBY! I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU FOR THIS!

  78. 78
    Brian

    Anyone else reminded of Ray Bradbury’s “The Fire Balloons”?

  79. 79
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    …Atheists who are offended by the notion that such a person as Christ might ever have existed.

    Interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such an atheist. Care to provide a link?

  80. 80
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    I always thought this fixation on Christ’s non-existence was a strange echo of the blond, blue-eyed Jesus.

    If by “a strange echo of” you mean “not at all the same thing as”, I think I see your point.

  81. 81
    robster

    We drove past one of those churchy things this morning. Out the front, stuck to the wall was this same bloke nailed to a stick! He was, didn’t look at all comfortable but he’s been there for a while so it can’t be too bad.

  82. 82
    mildlymagnificent

    It occurs to me to wonder if there are African or African-American churches with images of Jesus very much lighter or even darker than appropriate for a person born in the Eastern Mediterranean back then. Somewhere, recently, I came across an opinion that such a person would have been so dark as to be regarded by most Americans as a black man.

    I remember being fascinated by the story of the madonna representation some newly converted Maori produced. The church was horrified. She had tattoos all. over. her. face. So they had fifty conniptions and got all huffy about it. They didn’t recognise that this was the Maori depiction of extremely high status, the more tattoos, the higher the rank. If they’d had any sense they could even have coopted it as a local version of the standard ‘queen of heaven’ notion.

    More interesting to me, is the US only extravagance of insisting that Jesus was black. I’d only encountered it as a rather silly idea in the classic ‘Everyone’s a little bit racist’ routine in Avenue Q. Then, one weary night, I’m idly channel hopping and came across this doco about a church. And they really truly don’t envisage Jesus as a Jewish man of his time who also happened to be god, they claim that he really was a black man just like them. Maybe overtones of ‘just like’ MLK, but that’s just me overanalysing. I didn’t see anything – but I might have missed earlier stuff – about what this might mean for Mary and for acceptance among the apostles but it was really, really strange.

    Not just taking in the notion of these remote ‘historical’ figures and assimilating them to your local conventions as the Maori had done, and as mainstream, European based christians have always done, but maintaining your own preferred version in face of all that is known and written and theologised and historified about the who, when, where, of texts they read every day. You see everyone doing it. But it becomes even more strange when you see the black and asian versions of the same basic human impulse. Your god must always be like you and your neighbours.

  83. 83
    Rob Grigjanis

    WAM @80: “If by “a strange echo of” you mean “not at all the same thing as”, I think I see your point.”

    No, I can see atheist’s point, I think. Marxist-Leninist atheists denied Jesus’ existence. No Jesus (divine or not), no Christianity. It served their purpose.

    Nordic Jesus is a not-so-subtle signifier of Northern European Christian supremacy. It served their purpose.

  84. 84
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    The first image in the link at 8 is from a reconstruction that I’ve been able to find only in Popular Mechanics. The article also has a series of other images of Jesus.

    If he was a man of his time, he doubtless also had fleas and lice like everyone else.

  85. 85
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Northern Italians frequently have blue eyes and blond hair.

  86. 86
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    No, I can see atheist’s point, I think. Marxist-Leninist atheists denied Jesus’ existence. No Jesus (divine or not), no Christianity. It served their purpose.

    Nordic Jesus is a not-so-subtle signifier of Northern European Christian supremacy. It served their purpose.

    If that’s what atheist means, they can say so. But to come onto one of the most well-known and intellectually rigorous atheist websites and say that a disbelief in the historical Jesus is “a strange echo” of a Nordic Jesus, and that the disbelievers are offended by the thought of a historical Jesus, smacks of false equivalency.

    There is a compelling case against the existence of a historical Jesus. Google “the case against the historical jesus” and this is the first hit you’ll get. I’d challenge you to find an equally compelling case for the Nordic Jesus.

    Now of course atheist is right about one thing: the existence or non-existence of historical Jesus has no bearing on the truth of Christianity as a religion. But that’s a strawman; I’d venture to say that almost all atheists accept the historical Joseph Smith or L. Ron Hubbard, yet reject the beliefs of Mormonism and Scientology. The case against historical Jesus is just a trump card: not only are the claims of Christianity irrational and untrue, they’re also based on the life of a person that never existed. But the arguments against the historical Jesus are serious, and they’re made not to take offense at anyone who disagrees, but rather in the spirit of setting the historical record straight.

  87. 87
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    Amongst iconophiles in the early xtian church there were two favourite ways of depicting Jeebus:

    1. As a blond haired young male slave from northern europe, that had been castrated at puberty just as he started to sprout a beard.
    2. As a young boy of Arabic descent, having dark curly hair and (obviously) no beard.

    Both were seen as epitomes of male attractiveness. (ie: to other men. They are essentially gay icons.)

    .

    (Check out… “Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire” – Judith Herrin)


    Re Apollo: As I recall, both Apollo and Zeus were nordic (even though Zeus had had black hair and beard.)

  88. 88
    Rob Grigjanis

    WAM @86: “the arguments against the historical Jesus are serious”

    I know there are such arguments. I also know that Soviet propaganda didn’t give a damn about the truth, or good arguments, and that their intent was to take offense at those who disagreed.

    Just because good arguments for a position exist, does not mean that all those who take that position act in good faith.

    A link.

  89. 89
    atheist

    @What a Maroon, el papa ateo – 4 February 2013 at 6:26 pm (UTC -6)

    …Atheists who are offended by the notion that such a person as Christ might ever have existed.

    Interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such an atheist. Care to provide a link?

    Honestly I don’t have one, these are conversations I’ve had both in real life and on Facebook.

  90. 90
    atheist

    @ Rob Grigjanis – 4 February 2013 at 7:27 pm (UTC -6)

    Marxist-Leninist atheists denied Jesus’ existence. No Jesus (divine or not), no Christianity. It served their purpose.

    Right, that’s what I was getting at, thanks. Even if it were somehow shown that the historical figure Jesus existed, it should have absolutely no effect on Atheism, which is about lack of divinity.

  91. 91
    Azuma Hazuki

    @90/atheist (aren’t we all?)

    Actually I suspect there was such a person simply because it’s not that unusual a description. He is hardly the only person at the time to espouse the beliefs he did; “messiah fever” was practically a job description from around/after the Maccabees to ~100AD or later.

    What’s more surprising is that people don’t more often consider that the Jesus we “know” is very likely a composite of many real people. Jesus (Yeshua/Yehoshua, Joshua was a very common name.

  92. 92
    katansi

    This person has skill they could clearly be putting to better use. That’s so disappointing.

  93. 93
    jonathangarner

    Maybe it’s just Brett from Flight of the Conchords wearing a blonde wig? ;)

  94. 94
    atheist

    @Azuma Hazuki – 4 February 2013 at 11:37 pm (UTC -6)

    Actually I suspect there was such a person simply because it’s not that unusual a description. …

    What’s more surprising is that people don’t more often consider that the Jesus we “know” is very likely a composite of many real people. Jesus (Yeshua/Yehoshua, Joshua was a very common name.

    Both interesting points. I suppose a composite Jesus could account for inconsistency in the text.

  95. 95
    atheist

    @What a Maroon, el papa ateo – 4 February 2013 at 8:50 pm (UTC -6)

    If that’s what atheist means, they can say so. But to come onto one of the most well-known and intellectually rigorous atheist websites and say that a disbelief in the historical Jesus is “a strange echo” of a Nordic Jesus, and that the disbelievers are offended by the thought of a historical Jesus, smacks of false equivalency.

    I didn’t really mean to say Atheists who disbelieve in a historical Jesus are equivalent to Christians who believe in a very particular Jesus. They aren’t equivalent in Western society anyhow. I do suspect there is a philosophical similarity, though.

  96. 96
    w00dview

    Stevem @ 50:

    back in the ’70′s there really was an outcry that the typical portrayal of Jesus with long hair was a “hippy” delusion, that Jesus “really” sported a crew-cut (close cropped noggin). They didn’t advocate that he carried a rifle, but still, “He wasn’t a hippy” was pretty loud.

    Interesting stuff. Worshiping a guy who is portrayed to look exactly like the sort of people you despise has got to be major example of cognitive dissonance.

  97. 97
    atheist

    @mildlymagnificent – 4 February 2013 at 7:23 pm (UTC -6)

    More interesting to me, is the US only extravagance of insisting that Jesus was black. I’d only encountered it as a rather silly idea in the classic ‘Everyone’s a little bit racist’ routine in Avenue Q. Then, one weary night, I’m idly channel hopping and came across this doco about a church. And they really truly don’t envisage Jesus as a Jewish man of his time who also happened to be god, they claim that he really was a black man just like them. Maybe overtones of ‘just like’ MLK, but that’s just me overanalysing. I didn’t see anything – but I might have missed earlier stuff – about what this might mean for Mary and for acceptance among the apostles but it was really, really strange.

    Yup. For your entertainment, here’s rapper KRS-ONE with a classic of the genre: (“Why is that”, Boogie Down Productions, sometime in the late 1980s).

  98. 98
    Anri

    Now of course atheist is right about one thing: the existence or non-existence of historical Jesus has no bearing on the truth of Christianity as a religion.

    I take it you don’t know many fundamentalists…

  99. 99
    laurentweppe

    Somewhere, recently, I came across an opinion that such a person would have been so dark as to be regarded by most Americans as a black man.

    So Chris Rock really was an apostle!?

    ***

    The problem with that is people insist that Jesus was a real person. If they really believe that then they shouldn’t be altering his appearance to match theirs.

    I call this “Mustavebeenism”, as in “Every Great Man Must Have Been -input one’s most important tribal marker-”: a frequent intellectual vice:
    You’ve got many versions of this: Every Great Man Must Have Been White: therefore Jesus was white, Alexandre Dumas was lilly-white and this guy did not exist
    Also: Every Great Man Must Have Been a right-winger, Therefore it’s okay for one Sarkozy to claim that Jaurès (the guy who founded the french socialist party) was in fact a right-winger or for one GOP to claim that Lincoln & Roosevelt the Elder would have been a-ok with the current republican party biggotry and alliance with the Dixiecrats.
    Or, Every Great Man Must Have Been an atheist, therefore Ben Franklin & Thomas Jefferson & Barack Obama are all atheists. What? Their private correspondance and behavior says otherwise? Fuck off: religion is for morons so there’s no way that these superior intellects were religious
    Or, of course, Every Great Man Must Have Been an Heterosexual Male, so Marie Curie did nothing and all the work was done by her husband and Leonard da Vinci banged Mona Lisa before painting her

  100. 100
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    Thanks for the explanation, atheist. I do think you’ll find that there aren’t many around here who are offended by the thought of a real Jesus; I suspect that if compelling evidence were found that the Jesus of the Bible existed (say, an execution order signed by Pontius Pilate), they’d accept it, without changing their minds about the supernatural bits.

  101. 101
    myeck waters

    RE: long-haired Jesus

    I was in first grade at Our Lady Queen of Peace elementary school when the panic over the Beatles and their long hair reached the nuns. We were preparing ourselves for our First Communions and the nun running our FC prep decided my hair was too long and therefore I was not fit to give my First Confession of our sins. Since a lot of the school discipline was based on the principle of humiliation, she ordered me to the front of the class, pretty close to the nice picture of the soulful-looking man with the long hair and beard (and visible heart), and gave a speech about how disgusting my hair was.

    I didn’t have the words for it yet, but that was my first experience with that weird feeling that the person who is supposed to be an authority figure has no idea what they’re talking about.

  102. 102
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    I also know that Soviet propaganda didn’t give a damn about the truth, or good arguments, and that their intent was to take offense at those who disagreed.

    Not to go all true Scotsmen on you or anything, but the Soviets were something more than just ateists.

  103. 103
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    um, or even atheists.

    [Note to self: don't forget to Preview.]

  104. 104
    atheist

    @What a Maroon, el papa ateo – 5 February 2013 at 8:02 am (UTC -6)

    Not to go all true Scotsmen on you or anything, but the Soviets were something more than just atheists.

    Indeed.

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