Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Color of Christ: How Has Art Affected Racism in the Church?

By Emily Andersen
The painting “Adoration of the Child” by Gerrit van Honthorst, painted in about 1620, depicts baby Jesus surrounded by others from the nativity story. The painting is on display in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.
Christian churches around the world have produced a lot of artistic representations of scripture over the years, and the most commonly depicted figure is Jesus Christ. Recent racial protests in the United States have led some to question some of the best-known depictions of Christ, which usually portray him as white. According to BYU religion professor Mark Ellison, who specializes in early Christian art, the earliest known images of Jesus came from Rome around 200 A.D. “Most of the time, depictions of Jesus reflect the culture of the artist more than historical details about Jesus himself.” Ellison said over time, the European depiction of Christ became very common, and that was the artistic history that early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints inherited. [More]