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Ramon Moreno wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • What should our response be as Catholics to the claim that Jesus is described as a black person in Revelations 1:14 and that we have images representing Him with light skin and long straight hair?

Ramon

  { How should we respond to the claim that Jesus is described as a black person in Revelations 1:14? }

John replied:

Ramon,

First of all, you start by reading the text and nowhere does mention skin color in  Revelations 1:14.

14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 

Secondly, the text is using symbolic language. Just look at the rest of the text. Even in the last portion of that verse:

. . . and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 

  • Who has fire-colored eyes?, or
  • Is the Apostle John trying to says Jesus had bloodshot eyes?

All that said; this is completely irrelevant to our faith.  

Jesus was a Jew from the (Mediterranean/Middle East).  The portrayal of Jesus as a blond-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned man is most likely very inaccurate.  Pictures and statues of Him are simply representations made by artists. There is no Church teaching about Jesus's physical appearance, except for the fact that the Scriptures tell us He now, and will forever, bear the scars of the Crucifixion.   

It's more than likely that Jesus resembled the typical Jew. He got His DNA from Mary and her ancestry so He likely had darker skin, perhaps dark olive with dark hair. He might have had curly hair, but it would have been long and there is no evidence that he had hair typical of Africans. 

Yes, there were some Ethiopians that intermarried (and with Israelites), so the genes were somewhere in the gene pool but if someone wants to claim He had African type hair based on one allegorical text in Revelation, that says His hair was white as wool, they clearly don't know how to read.

The operative words in verse 14 are  white and like.  It doesn't say His hair was like wool. It says, it was white and again that's symbolic. The word wool is there to describe the word white, not the style of his hair. Anyone who has a Junior High School education ought to be able to read and understand that.

But if some guy wants to believe Jesus is a black man, based on that verse, I would assume there was a political (or some other) motivation.

What is important is that we know Jesus, was the Word Made Flesh, the Second Person of the Trinity Incarnate and who, for us men and for our salvation, suffered, and died for our sins, that whosoever believes in Him (with genuine faith and fidelity) will be saved.

All this other stuff is nonsense.

John

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