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Re: Jesus as a man of colour

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  • RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Mark Goodacre writes:
    Message 1 of 8 , Dec 26, 2000
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      Mark Goodacre writes:

      << Agreed too. One of the elements I've most enjoyed in researching
      this, for me new topic has been material on African American
      biblical interpretation. One scholar I had not heard of before has
      written lots of interesting stuff on this, Cain Hope Felder, e.g. see
      his fascinating article “Blacks in the Bible and in Bible Lands”,
      _Sphinx_ (Summer 1999), on-line journal:
      http://www.apa1906.org/sphinx/sum99/p069.htm >>

      Thanks for the URL. I feel that we need to beware of ideology, on both
      sides. The portrayal of Jesus as 'normatively' White is flagrantly so;
      insofar as we speak of Jesus as being among us; 'one of us'; or as the church
      as his body, I feel it's legitimate for any group of believers to portray him
      as looking like themselves; this makes a theological statement about their
      relationship to him.

      The danger arise when we normatise these portrayals. To portray Jesus as
      having been, historically, a white man, is surely an important part of the
      overall White racist/imperialist project. Not only is the normative man
      claimed as White, God himself becomes White; 'one of us', and therefore not
      'one of them'. 'They' have a flawed, inferior humanity which is not subsumed
      to God in Christ, and, by implication at least, is thus rejected. Powerful
      stuff.

      What is happening when Jesus is portrayed as historically Black? Of
      course there are numerous references to Africa in the Bible; mere proximity
      makes this inevitable. And, of course, Whites have often suppressed this. But
      when we portray Jesus as Black, we make a theological statement. Black is now
      accepted into God, and, to any Black person, this can only be a good thing.
      Are Whites still accepted, or are they now rejected, as the White 'god'
      rejected Blacks? If Jesus brought 'good news to the poor... to let the
      oppressed go free' then we can't complain when the oppressed claim him as one
      of themselves. But when any group of people claim Jesus as having been
      normatively, historically, one of them, there are such potential dangers in
      that claim that I feel we have to tread warily. Cain Hope Felder, in that URL
      you cited, goes to a lot of trouble to point out the falsity of dividing
      humankind into 'races', but they have become so much a part of the fabric of
      our modern epistemologies that it is going to be extremely difficult to make
      any claim about the 'racial' identity of Jesus, while at the same time
      preserving undamaged the universality of his message.

      Regards,

      Robert Brenchley

      RSBrenchley@...
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