Panel Discusses ‘Seeing Jesus in Color’

Hartford Seminary took on the topic of why so many historical Jesus scholars are white, and what that means, during a panel discussion on Oct. 28, 2019.

Dr. Anthony Le Donne, Associate Professor of New Testament at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, talked about his own experience as a professor and as executive editor of the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus.

Dr. Le Donne spoke about the differences in teaching mostly white students in Northern California who understood the parables about Jesus as “myths and metaphors” and in teaching a much more diverse group of students in Dayton, Ohio, who “were not interested in my demythologizing Jesus.” In their lived experience, they saw evidence of Jesus performing miracles, he said.

He also pointed out that scholars who study the historical Jesus are almost exclusively white and male using a European framework in their research.

Dr. Hossein Kamaly, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Holder of the Imam Ali Chair for Shi’i Studies and Dialogue among Islamic Legal Schools at Hartford Seminary, then responded to Dr. Le Donne’s presentation.

He said Muslims views Jesus “neither of color nor white” since skin color and/or race are not part of the narrative of the Qur’an. He suggested that adding an Islamic perspective to the conversation about Jesus may help “expand the narrative” about him.

A lively discussion moderated by Dr. Lucinda Mosher, Faculty Associate in Interfaith Studies at Hartford Seminary, followed.

Watch the video of the event here:

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