Edward J. Blum and Paul HarveyThe Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America

University of North Carolina Press, 2012

by Kristian Petersen on July 25, 2013

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Religion] Jesus has inspired millions of people to both strive for social justice and commit horrific acts of violence. In the United States, Jesus has remained central in the construction of American identities and debates about Jesus have frequently revolved around his skin color and bodily appearance. In The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America (University of North Carolina Press, 2012), we get a history of Americans’ encounters with images of Jesus and the creation of them. Edward J. Blum, professor of history at San Diego State University, and Paul Harvey, professor of history at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, have carefully mined a plethora of sources, including paintings, drawings, music, poetry, sermons, visions, and other historical documents, to reveal the rich conversation Americans have had around religion and race. The Color of Christ offers a chronological history from the colonial period to the present that weaves through the construction of Jesus’ image in various Christian groups consisting of primarily white members, and appropriations and challenges within Native Americans and African Americans communities. In our chat, Blum and Harvey discuss the ups and downs of American religious history, offering various vignettes of Jesus’ role in determining opinions about race. They also help us think about being an author, including issues of public scholarship, hustling as an academic, creating a book website, successful peer review, editorial control, and co-writing a book.

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