The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Jesus was not caucasian white as most of America likes to present him as

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/12/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 297 times Debate No: 94678
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




Simply stated, Jesus was not "white". Most of mainstream America (as well as other parts of the world, but I live here) like to portray Jesus as a Caucasian. This is not correct.

The con side will argue that he is "white"


This is a sensitive topic, obviously. I wouldn't want to sound as though I'm defending a racist and wrongheaded school of thought. But allow me to reframe this with historical perspective. Let us first consider our terms.

Principally, we must turn to the figure of "Jesus." This question rests on the presupposition that the biblical Jesus is a particular historical figure, which is an argument that I believe fails under close scrutiny. Next, I take issue with your conflation and definitions of "White" and "Caucasian." The theory that white people are actually a singular race, coming out of the Caucasus mountain region, has been proven to be a particularly sticky remnant of an outdated type of historical thought. Indeed, if you've ever met any people from the Caucasus, they are noticeably different than those that are native English. There is no such race as "white." Now, if there is no such thing as a singular whiteness, then what does whiteness entail: 1) an actual physical description of skin color and certain other features. But, obviously, there is a decent amount of differentiation in what might be considered "white." So, the only real marker is that one might be "whiter" than others around him to be described as white. & 2) historical privilege. In the Roman times in which Jesus is supposed to have lived, the ruling class of Romans and Greeks in Judaea would have been olive-skinned mostly. So Jesus didn't look like the ruling class. However, Jesus is noted to have spoken in Greek with Pontius Pilate. This portrays him as someone who is knowledgeable enough to know the lingua franca of the trading world, and we can assume that he was fluent in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek (though not necessarily Latin). As someone who was rather educated, in a time and place when relatively few could read and write, much less in three languages, it could be claimed that Jesus did possess a certain amount of privilege for his day.

There are very few secular historical records of the life of Jesus. Basically everything we know about him comes from the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John in the New Testament. Significant historical research has pointed to the fact that there was a pre-gospel, known as the "Q Source," which served as the source material for Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John was written separately later, in poetic Greek for an audience of converts. That leaves us with essentially two sources for the existence of Christ, along with a footnote by Josephus of Alexandria (which is more likely to have referred to Barabbas actually.)

Was there someone named Jesus alive in first-century Judaea? Most certainly! It would be like asking if there was someone alive today named Josh. In fact, the New Testament itself gives us the name of another "rabble-rouser," scheduled for sentencing on the very same day in Roman Jerusalem, Jesus Bar-Abbas (Barabbas, coincidentally, means "son of the father.") So, even if there was a certain man named Jesus with a following, it's quite likely there was more than one! Moreover, several previous and contemporary Classical religious myths tell of a Messiah-like figure, son of god, born of a virgin, who dies for his people. Without significant data to bolster the gospels, one could easily say that the gospels are flawed themselves, and thus as a source for the life of Jesus they also must be dismissed as entirely factual. To believe in him, this one Jesus Christ, to believe in his very existence, requires faith, which I will--for the sake of this argument--disregard as being incapable of withstanding rigorous scrutiny. One can take a quick "out" on this question by re-framing it in this light and I would pose my answer as: if Jesus is not, in fact, an historical figure, then Jesus is just as white as you want to imagine him to be, since he's only a myth anyway. And, importantly, he's just as black or asian or whatever else you might want him to be as well.

But, let us now examine this question under the assumption that Jesus Bar-Joseph was a real, historical figure, one and the same with the Jesus referenced in the New Testament. Given the nature of this assumption, I must now use those gospels as the sources for my argument, though I maintain that they are, at best, on shaky factual ground. This Jesus was a Jewish man, born in Bethlehem, son of Mary & God, reared by Joseph, and he fled to Egypt with his parents soon after he was born. The gospels also share that he was "of the House of David," which alludes to the fact that he was red-haired and ruddy, as David was. In fact, many artists throughout history have depicted Jesus as red-haired for this very reason. DNA evidence has proven the existence of relatively fair-toned, redheaded Jews living in Judaea at the time. If Jesus was red-haired and lighter-toned, a rare (~1% or less of the population) genetic mutation in the eastern Mediterranean region, a place occupied mostly by people with more typically Mediterranean skin and hair, then he was fairer-skinned and lighter-haired than most, which is the first description of "whiteness" which I gave previously. The biblical Jesus can thus be surmised to have been a redhaired Semite with a ruddy complexion. While it may not square with the exact concept of "whiteness" which mainstream America accepts, it can nonetheless be argued that Jesus Bar-Joseph could have been a "whiter" person than most in his time and place. This is not to say that he resembles a white Anglo-Saxon or similar western European, but that is not essential to the definition of whiteness which I am employing.
Debate Round No. 1


First, I was kind of hoping for a racist reply as this is the behavior and thinking I want to shine a light on. It's inherintely against the ideals of Christianity and for those who see him as white and belittle other races, I was hoping to show a different point of view.

I only used Caucasian since it's what I pick on forms for my race, unless it just says white. You have good points around this, but I didn't specifically mean historically from the Caucasus region.

My point is that Jesus, especially in America, has a tendency to be shown as similarly skinned to the average white American. Given the area he was born, that his parents would have been of much darker skin, that it simply makes no sense.

Furthermore, if he was white as I've seen in pictures/movies in church growing up, why wouldn't any of his disciples try to use this as a further mark of purity. His "look" is never really discussed and that leads me to believe he would look just like others born in the region and therefore different than the classic portrayal.


Jesus is often shown to be white in the context of a White European society, which is the source of much of American culture. But he is also portrayed as black and Asian, if you're going to church in Senegal or Korea. This, as I have stated previously, may be just as valid as any "historical" depiction, due to the lack of an actual historical record. This point remains unanswered by my opponent, though there is a rich tradition defending the historicity of a Christ, yet that argument has not been raised.

I would point out that the same fallacy which my opponent accuses the "Middle-American" strawmen of using is one which he is himself guilty: by saying that he categorically didn't look a certain way, isn't that wrong in the same way as blindly believing that he did?
Debate Round No. 2


You're getting pretty deep on me here. Deeper than I intended. I will not debate against the valid points you made "But he is also portrayed as black and Asian, if you're going to church in Senegal or Korea. ". That's not the point of the debate.

This was more so for Christians who are racist and have this white Jesus in their minds. I was hoping to shed some light that he was most likely middle eastern looking, which shocks racist Christians that I'm hoping to make a point against. I agree with what you're saying above, but it's off the topic I was going for.


I share my opponent's distaste for silly assumptions and backwards thinking, and we have a shared dislike of egocentric thinking and a lack of education and curiosity. It may be obvious that I took this argument to serve as a devil's advocate.

This is a question that many may have thought of as less of a question for debate and more of an obvious fact. But in raising the question in the way that he has, my opponent stepped into the dangerous waters of certainty, when religious currents are almost always murkily uncertain. I believe that my points have been salient, and for the large part unanswered by my opponent. I encourage those voting to cast their ballots in favor of the strongest argument, and not their own beliefs, as the challenge of debating for an unpopular opinion is the very reason that I myself entered the debate. And with this in mind, I can declare that I have been successful in presenting an argument which has bested my opponent's argument. I hope that the points I have raised will compel the readers to challenge even their most deeply held beliefs, in hopes that they may see more clearly in the light of reason.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Peepette 2 months ago
PRO contends that the Biblical Jesus was not white/Caucasian as depicted in the States.

CON contends there is no distinctive white race, accepting the assumption of a historical Jesus of the New Testament, being a Jew from the House of David, Jesus would have had similar coloring as David, relatively fair-toned, redhead; atypical of others living in the region. This attributes to his "whiteness."

PRO: Doesn"t dispute CON"s claims, but offers his point of debate that the classical depiction of Jesus as a white person is inaccurate since he would have been similar in skin tone as others who lived in the region.

CON rebuts that Jesus" depiction is reflective of a particular society. He is rendered differently in other cultures. And points out that PRO is also in err to state Jesus had a particular look since history on the topic is lacking. Yes, PRO did not address the historical accuracy or lack of for Jesus" existence; not pertinent. But CON did impose a "snap" upon PRO"s that it is a fallacy to make any claim on Jesus" appearance since there is no historical data to prove anything.

PRO concedes to CON's description of Jesus and states the debates purpose was to take white Christian superior thinking individuals down a peg, a goal unmet since CON took an unanticipated tact. Win to Con.
Posted by TheBenC 2 months ago
So seeing Jesus as white is belittling other races? What about people who have a black Jesus statue?

I have known many Jews throughout my life. They were all pretty damn white, in fact they were whiter than Michael Jackson in a spotlight!

America did not do this, by the way. It was middle ages Europe. That is where the paintings began and everyone got their impression of what Jesus looked like.

Show me a picture of what Jews looked like 2000 years ago and you prove your point. Otherwise, Jews can have many different skin tones. For you to say you know he has a specific skin color is...well that's racist.

"He was a Jew, he must have been dark"! lol
Posted by missmedic 2 months ago
Next thing you will saying is that Santa Clause is not white..................
Posted by jesusismywarrior 2 months ago
I believe that he had a darker-tanned skin, but I neither think he was black, nor white. In Italy, most portraits we have, portray him as a pale-looking white man, sometimes even with blue eyes, which I don't necessarily agree with.
Posted by warren42 2 months ago
This is a fact.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Peepette 2 months ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments