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Image of Christ Explored

Professor Edward J. Blum's book, "The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America," will be released in September.
Edward J. Blum and Joanna Brooks discuss
Edward J. Blum and Joanna Brooks discuss "The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America."

SDSU history professor Edward J. Blum is receiving much attention regarding his soon-to-be released book that chronicles the evolution of religious figures' appearances in relation to different races, religions and ages.

Blum's "The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America" covers what happens when the Christian incarnation of Jesus collides with the American body obsession.

"Anyone can create their own representation of Jesus," Blum said. "In this book, I discuss how these representations have changed over time and how images of Jesus affect different races and religions."

The book has a website with more than 400 images, texts, songs and videos for readers to analyze, along with interactive sections.

Reviews and reactions

SDSU religious studies professor Rebecca Moore offered her reaction to the book:

"When I talk about the 'Black Christ” in certain religious studies classes, students frequently feel challenged, offended, and angry. Most students come to the university thinking that Jesus was white. Although they know intellectually that cannot be true, given the time and place in which he lived, they nonetheless bear the images our culture gives them, such as the blue-eyed, buff figure of James Caviezel from The Passion of the Christ.

That is why Ed Blum and Paul Harvey’s book on The Color of Christ will be useful in so many courses, from U.S. History, to Religion in America, to the History of Christianity. They chronicle the story of religion and race in the U.S. through an in-depth analysis of representations of Jesus. By examining our prejudices and presuppositions, the authors reveal how extensively ideas about Jesus have shaped American life and culture."

The Atlantic news website and The Daily Beast also featured the book.

Jesus, race and politics

Blum discussed the book with Joanna Brooks, chair of SDSU's Department of English and Comparative Literature (Video above).

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