Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 14 Share on Twitter 1 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Life Arts    H4'ed 3/22/17

Identity Purge: The Search for the Jew in Jesus in Renaissance Art

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages) (# of views)   15 comments
Author 56926
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Bernard Starr
Become a Fan
  (11 fans)

Baptism of Chrst by Pietro Perugino
Baptism of Chrst by Pietro Perugino
(Image by Wikimedia Commons)
  Details   DMCA

In 2013, I published a book entitled Jesus Uncensored: Restoring the Authentic Jew. In it, I argued that Jesus' Jewish identity had been obliterated in early Church teachings, as well as in Medieval and Renaissance art. At the time, several friends commented, "But everyone knows that Jesus was Jewish."

Was that true, I wondered? Did most people know that Jesus was born and died a devoted Jew?

In fact, when I probed deeper, I found that most people believed that Jesus either "used to be Jewish," or that he was born Jewish but soon or later became a Christian. The absurdity of these claims becomes clear when we consider that Christianity did not exist during Jesus' lifetime.

Then I discovered that in the vast archives of Medieval and Renaissance paintings of Jesus, there is no visual evidence that Jesus was Jewish -- or had any connection to Judaism. In these artworks, Jesus, his family and his followers are often represented as Renaissance-era Christians, and placed in settings alien to their Jewish roots.

In most of these paintings, Jesus and his followers are depicted as blond, fair-skinned Northern Europeans, and they are surrounded by anachronisms of Renaissance Christianity -- such as crucifixes, saints and church settings.

And although there are depictions of Jesus as being black, Asian, or of other ethnicities, they too show no evidence of Jesus' connection to Judaism.

In viewing these artworks, I kept asking myself: where is Jesus the Jew? I continued to search, but could not find him.

This purge of Jesus' Jewish identity is no small matter. As I studied these artworks, I became increasingly aware that they contributed to historical anti-Semitism by converting Jesus into a Medieval or Renaissance Christian, thus separating him from Judaism and enhancing the perception of Jews as "the others."

This made it easier for already anti-Semitic societies to demonize and persecute Jews, especially when the "Christ killer" moniker was added.

So should these pieces of art be condemned? Absolutely not.

Renaissance artworks are major cultural and artistic contributions, and they should be celebrated as such. At the same time, though, art historians, curators and critics should acknowledge the distortions of biblical history in these creations -- something they have still failed to do.

Were art scholars and historians to restore Jesus' Jewish identity -- through both their teaching and writing -- they would enrich our understanding of the true historical context of Medieval and Renaissance religious art, and also contribute to the reconciliation of Christianity and Judaism -- a process that has been underway since Vatican II in 1962.

That reconciliation is one goal of my documentary film, Identity Purge: The Search for the Jew in Jesus in Renaissance Art. The film also provides a rich new view of Jesus and his followers, through a grand tour of art history that will forever change your understanding and appreciation of Renaissance art.

Click below to view the film.

 

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Interesting 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Bernard Starr Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linked In Page       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Bernard Starr, PhD, is a psychologist and Professor Emeritus at CUNY, Brooklyn College. He is a past president of The Brooklyn Psychological Association and past president of The Association for Spirituality and Psychotherapy. At Brooklyn (more...)
 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Corporations Plan for Post-Middle-Class America

Mind Control: How Donald Trump Has Transformed Americans into Pavlov's Dogs

How Congress Became a 'Cathouse' of Prostitutes Paying Off Their Pimps

The Pandemic Disease of the 21st Century Is on the Rise

Reza Aslan: Why Aren't You a Jew?

Why Have Art Historians Been Silent About the Falsification of Biblical History in Artworks?

To View Comments or Join the Conversation: