“Why is Jesus always portrayed as a white man when the Bible clearly states that he had feet of bronze and hair of wool? And why are the angels always portrayed as white? I know in the grand scheme, race really does not matter at all but, it would be nice to see a brown face on here occasionally . Ascension is about everybody, not just white people, right?”
Right. And those are good points.
I’ve heard on occasion the suggestion that Jesus was either black or swarthy, rather than white. I’m not sure I can decide the matter personally. I’ve tended to rely on the description that Sri Ramakrishna furnished after he saw and merged with Jesus.
Swami Saradananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, would have heard from Sri Ramakrishna’s own mouth his description of Jesus. What Saradananda records is that Ramakrishna’s description of Jesus was of “a marvellous god-man of very fair complexion.”
I post the passage below this comment, from Saradananda’s book on Sri Ramakrishna.
We’ve wanted our portrait of Jesus to be as genuine as possible and so we tend to use one that was psychically generated. I’ve since lost track of the provenance.
Regarding the reference to bronze and wool, I had assumed they referred to how his body shone and the thickness or luxuriance of his hair. But I could be wrong. Hopefully this year any mystery will be definitely solved.
I’ll also ask Jesus the next time we speak to him (or someone else I know does, such as my wife) whether or not the portrait we use does him justice.
On whether angels are white, not-white, or some white and some not, I’ll need to ask Archangel Michael the next time we have him on the radio show. Of myself, I have no insight into the question.
We welcome any article suggestions from readers on the question. There is one relevant article on the site on the “White Brotherhood.”
I personally am not aware that there is a color “white.” I’m under the impression that what is being referred to by that word is the color that results from the sum of all colors, but again here I’m strictly unlettered.
If you’re aware of good material to publish on this subject or related themes, perhaps forward it to us with our thanks. We’d be happy to look at all issues on this subject or from other readers with similar questions on similar or other racial or religious backgrounds.
From Swami Saradananda, Sri Ramakrishna, the Great Master. Madras, Sri Ramakrishna Math, 2 vols, 1979-83, 338-9.
The Master … had become acquainted with Sambhucharan Mallick, who used to read the Bible to him. Thus he came to know of the pure life of Jesus and the faith he had founded, and the desire to follow the Sadhanas of that path arose in his mind. Scarcely had that desire arisen in his mind when the Divine Mother fulfilled it in a marvellous way and blessed him. . …
The Master used to say that he sat one day in [Mallick’s] parlour and was looking intently at [a] picture [of Mary and her Son] and thinking of the extraordinary life of Jesus, when he felt that the picture came to life, and that effulgent rays of light, coming out from the body of the mother and the Child, entered into his heart and changed radically all the ideas of his mind!
On finding that all the inborn Hindu impressions were disappearing into a secluded corner of his mind and that different ones were arising, he tried in various ways to control himself and prayed earnestly to the Divine Mother, “What strange changes art Thou bringing about in me, Mother?” But nothing availed. Rising with a great force, the waves of those impressions completely submerged the Hindu ideas in his mind. His love and devotion to the Devas and Devis vanished, and in their stead, a great faith in, and reverence for Jesus and his religion occupied his mind. …
The waves of those ideas had a mastery over his mind in that manner for three days. At last, when the third day was about to close, the Master saw, while walking under the Panchavati [grove], that a marvellous god-man of very fair complexion was coming towards him, looking steadfastly at him. As soon as the Master saw that person, he knew that he was a foreigner. … His long eyes gave a wonderful beauty to his face….
The Master was charmed to see the extraordinary divine expression of that handsome face, and wondered who he was. Very soon the person approached him, and thereupon from the depth of the Master’s pure heart came out with a ringing sound, the words, “Jesus the Christ! the great Yogi, the loving Son of God, one with the Father, who gave his heart’s blood and put up with endless tortures to deliver man from sorrow and misery.” Jesus, the god-man, then embraced the Master and disappeared into his body and the Master entered into ecstacy, lost normal consciousness and remained identified for some time with the omnipresent Brahman with attributes. Having attained the vision of Jesus thus, the Master became free from the slightest doubt about Christ’s having been an incarnation of God.