Are Biblical Epics Epically Racist?
Whitewashing the Bible is nothing new. It has been a mainstay of Western culture for centuries — from pallid Byzantine icons to Leonardo da Vinci’s lily-white “Madonna of the Rocks” to Charlton Heston’s roles in “The Ten Commandments” and “Ben-Hur.”
These depictions always provoke debate. What did Jesus really look like? What color was Mary’s hair? God doesn’t actually look like Gandalf, does he? Historians, anthropologists and geneticists have all weighed in — and the consensus seems to be that Moses probably looked nothing like Charlton Heston and Jesus little like his Byzantine portraits.
In an interview with The Washington Post, the theologian and historian Reza Aslan, author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” explained to Max Fisher that Jesus was a Galilean, and “as a Galilean, he would have been what is referred to as a Palestinian Jew. He would look the way that the average Palestinian would look today. So that would mean dark features, hairy, probably a longer nose, black hair.”