There’s currently a big to-do about Fox News idiot Megyn Kelly’s assertion that both Santa and Jesus were white. (Actually, further betraying her pig-ignorance, I believe she said “are white.”) As a result, well-meaning folks like gentle, liberal Christians have been posting images of a dark-skinned Jesus on Facebook, Google+, and probably Twitter, as if I give a shit about Twitter.
What’s odd about all the paintings of Jesus that you’ll see is that he looks like a woman, under all that facial hair. He is the omnisexual answer to some people’s need to feel forgiven for some transgression. But all this is beside the point. Nobody knows what Jesus looked like, and nobody cared one way or the other, until Paul came along. We tend to think of the Gospels as some sort of unique bit of writing, but in fact there were thousands of people writing all manner of hagiographical accounts of their favorite magician. (Yes, Jesus was also a magician. Read here.) The followers of Apollonius of Tyana certainly wanted him to be revered in the way Jesus later was; but they didn’t have a Paul on their side. And few know how many Apocalypses there were at the time: they were as well known, and as well regarded, as Science Fiction paperbacks. There were hundreds of them, and many still exist from that time. They all share certain characteristics. Lots of secret numbers; lots of explosions and death; supernatural beasts on the lines of the Hydra or Gorgon; mystical baloney. One of them was chosen, the one by John, probably because it was the only one that mentioned Jesus. It’s not any Jesus that the four Gospels prepare us for, though; clearly, this author has a rather different idea of nice guy Jesus.
The fact is this: Jesus was unknown by any but a few people at the time of his death. Nobody particularly gave two squirts of goat shit, with the probable exception of his brothers and some women he had impressed. He was just another dead guy.
Leave it to persuasive writing, though, and a guy like Paul, and you can exploit the times and the people to create a superstructure to an insane idea. From Paul came a church, and from the church came more theologizing about a dead guy about whom nobody had written during his lifetime. Makes one wonder about the direct quotes that we see all through the New Testament. (I especially love the direct quotes of all those crucified with Jesus and those of the Centurion; given that nobody who wrote the gospels was anywhere near the crucifixion.)
It’s such small potatoes, this thing about Jesus being white, brown, black, or black and blue. It really doesn’t matter. He’s just another dead guy. Very dead guy, of course, because 2000 years is a really long time.