Cesare Borgia and the White Jesus Christ

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This article is also the first Article of the Month ever published by Ctruth.
The topic chosen was “art”. This article contains an exploration into a controversy in art history. A thank you goes from Ctruth to the patrons for voting on the topic.

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The notion that the depictions of Jesus Christ as a white man began with Cesare Borgia (1475-1507) have come to my attention multiple times over the past few months. A popular notion is that prior to Borgia’s life, Jesus Christ was portrayed as a black man. Here is a link to some quotes about the alleged shift from black Jesus to white Jesus.

Here’s an image that shows what the claim without Cesare Borgia looks like:

Here’s one that shows what it looks like with him:

This article contains 7 depictions of Jesus which predate the year 1475. Five are of Christ depicted as a child (during the magi’s visit) and five are of Christ during his crucifixion. There are at least 50 other depictions of which I’m aware that show a white Jesus and predate the year 1475.

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^ The earliest crucifixion in an illuminated manuscript, from the Syriac Rabbula Gospels, 586 AD
^ Salterio de Ingeborg de Dinamarca (12th c.)
^ Anonimo Germano (1240)
^ Jacopini da Reggio (1285)
^ Pietro Cavallini Santa Maria (1296-1300)
^ Giotto (c.1330)
^ Pietro Lorenzetti (1335-40)
^ The Magi: Bartolo di Fredi (1380)
From a Spanish Altarpiece (c.1400)
Fra Carnevale (c.1445-1467)

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Unless all these images have been misdated, I think it is safe to say that white Jesus did not originate with Cesare Borgia. However, the dates above are based on the traditional timeline.

For more images of Jesus Christ as an infant/child, explore the articles we have uploaded in the Changing Images of Magi series.

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