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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

04 October 2005

Were Jesus or Moses Black?

Q: Were Jesus and Moses black? What role did black people have in the Bible?

A: As far as anyone knows, both were probably medium- to dark-tan. Considering that they were Semitic — that is descended from Noah’s son Shem and, as are modern Arabs and Jews, from Abraham — they probably didn’t look unlike many people now living in the Middle East. While there are some fairer complexioned Jews and Palestinians, this isn’t the norm.

If it makes any difference to anyone, Jesus may have had ancestors from lower Africa or elsewhere, since some of those mentioned in his genealogy were not Hebrew. We don’t know all of those married into the family. As for others in the Bible, no one is specifically named as black, although the Ethiopian met by Philip in Acts most likely was. Others may have been, as well.

Of course, Scripture tends to not dwell on skin color, as I discussed in a previous column, Mixed-Race Marriages.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


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