letters to surfers

Since Jesus belonged to the same pristhood as Melchizedek, and Melchizedek was a Canaanite, and therefore black and curly haired, I imagine him as black like me. Why did European artists begin painting him as white?

Answer by Robert Brow  (www.brow.on.ca)   June 2000

Thank you for your comments about Melchizedek. In the Bible he is certainly a very interesting character as discussed in Hebrews 5:10-7:17. Melchizedek (my king is just, righteous) belonged to a very ancient royal priesthood and in Abraham's day he reigned in the city which later became Jerusalem. It was in Canaanite territory at that time, but we do not know what his racial origins were. My own guess is that he was Sumerian by race, as was Abraham (see the book on Ishmael the Arab).

In the wisdom of God the Bible does not tell us whether Jesus' skin was black, brown, yellow, or white. Nor do we know if he was black haired or fair haired, straight haired or curly haired, with or without a beard or mustache, or any other detail of his physical appearance. This allows people of every race to view Jesus as one of their own. We have no original depiction of Jesus, but inevitably artists of every nation have imagined him to be like themselves.

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