The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Images Of Jesus & Other Biblical Personalities

The Last Supper, ca. 1520, by Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli is the best recreation of the DaVinci version.

Leonardo da Vinci painted his version of "The Last Supper" from 1494-1498. It's famous. It's special. It's important. What it isn't, is historically accurate ... at all. Using only European models, in a European environment, da Vinci painted a distinctively European portrait of what was actually a very Palestinian moment that took place a full 45 generations before the painting was created.

How different did your family look 45 generations ago?

If you did a portrait of the United States, using European models, of what America looked like 45 generations ago, how accurate would it be?

It might be missing a few Native Americans, right?

Do you think it would be offensive for the most famous portrait of America in 500 A.D. to exclusively use British models?

Let's flip the logic for a few moments in a way that may disturb your racial sensitivities a bit more.

What if we painted a portrait of Hitler and his army, but chose to use only African models? That'd be weird, right?

Or what if we did a portrait of George Washington and his first cabinet and used only young Latino models? That'd be pretty funny, right?

Well, this portrait of the distinctively European Jesus and his European posse is just as laughable as those scenarios and it is chronologically, geographically, and ethnographically offensive to lift it up as anything other than art.

So, why then, do prominent predominantly white churches continue to display this portrait and other European images of Jesus, his disciples, and of other biblical personalities when even the most basic research details how historically inaccurate they are?

If you are fully aware that Jesus didn't have blonde hair and blue eyes, what's the payoff for displaying him as such?

If you know that Jesus wasn't a European model from 1500 A.D., but a Palestinian carpenter from a completely different point in history, why do you continue to advance this iconography?

Deliberate or subconscious, showing these images during worship, displaying them around a sanctuary, showing them as singers sing, is a form of racism and white supremacy. Jesus didn't look like that. You know he didn't. What's disturbing is why accurate images of him have such a hard time catching on.
Could it be that the idea of a short, stocky, brown-skinned man with dark curly hair, and a broad nose is just too hard for the racial proclivities of white churches to promote? Might attendance go down? Might interest wane? Who knows?
What is clear, is that in spite of historical evidence that Jesus looked nothing like a da Vinci model, this imagery remains popular in white churches nonetheless.

While these churches may sincerely have no idea that many people, myself included, find the continued, almost exclusive promotion of this imagery offensive, it's time that we at least discuss the real reasons why white churches love these images so much.



"The issue is one of "privilege" and it lingers under the umbrella of "man-made" religion.   A spiritual state that has an inherent basis in bigotry and in many cases outright racism. "  The Pardu 

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