It’s hard to know what to say about Jeffrey Goldberg’s latest piece. Drawn to racial territory by the Fox News trailblazer who said that Santa is white, Goldberg says in “I’m dreaming of a white Jesus,” that it is important to remember that Jesus looked Jewish; that Hanna Rosin, author, Atlantic editor, and (Goldberg alleges) his friend, also is “classically Semitic in appearance”; and Palestinians are an invention of the last 100 years.
Goldberg takes on Reza Aslan, author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” who told the Washington Post that Christ can look however you want him to. Not so fast, says the ethnologist.
It is important, however, to understand how the historical Jesus — who was a Jew of Israel, born in Judea, raised in the Galilee — might have looked and how he dressed and ate and thought and prayed, because Christians have labored for many centuries, in a not-benign way, to Europeanize, and de-Judaize, their savior’s image. This campaign was an indispensable component of the church’s age-old project to separate its savior from his faith, and to therefore turn Christianity against its mother religion.
The most recent manifestation of the desire to de-Judaize Jesus has come not from European Christian churches, but from anti-Israel activists in the Arab world, who have engaged in a campaign to assert that Jesus was, in fact, a Palestinian (in other words, a member of a people that did not come into being until roughly 100 years ago), and that the Jews are guilty of deicide and genocide, among other -cides….
The genetic truth, as best we know, is more complicated and interesting than Aslan suggests. Jesus might have looked like a Palestinian; he might also have looked like a Bedouin, or a Druze or a mizrachi Israeli, those Israelis descended from the Jewish communities of the greater Middle East. He might have even had the physical characteristics of Ashkenazi Jews, descendants of the Jews who found their way to Europe from the land of Israel. The reason Jesus could have looked like a member of any of these groups is simple: Today, they all share an enormous number of overlapping genetic characteristics….
Hanna [Rosin], whose mother is from Aden, in southern Arabia, and whose father’s origins are in Syria and Turkey, is classically Semitic in appearance…
As a matter of faith, Christians should picture Jesus any way they want; as a matter of history, though, it’s important to recognize that Jesus was Jewish, in multifarious ways.
All these assertions only show how much Goldberg looks at the world from a tribal standpoint. I wonder what Rosin thinks of the oafish shout-out.
H/t Max Blumenthal:
Jeff Goldberg fears Palestinians will steal Jesus http://t.co/IZaN0BZ88C
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) December 16, 2013