I will get on with my meditation on Seccombe’s account of the crucifixion tomorrow.
Today I just want to share some random information. In yesterday’s post about Simon of Cyrene I said that the Bible does not–at least not directly–tell us any person’s skin color.
But here is something I know that most people might not have heard. Ancient Egyptian art showed northern non-Egyptians, Asiatics and Mediterranean types, with a yellow skin color. It showed Egyptian men with a reddish skin color and Nubians (from the region of Sudan) with a darker skin color.
The interesting thing about this is that Egyptian women get portrayed with the same yellowish skin color as northerners.
Probably this was because women did not spend as much time out in the sun. Or maybe it was cultural and had something to do with an idea of beauty. Today, while white American women go to a lot of trouble to look tanned, Indonesian women use powders to lighten their skin.
But maybe for the ancient Egyptians skin color had more to do with climate than ethnicity. The further south you lived, the darker your skin. But also, the more you stayed inside, the lighter your skin.
Biblical writers and other ancient peoples seemed to view things like diet, ethics and worship as more important distinctions between peoples than skin color. The Egyptians also used hair styles and clothing as ways to depict different tribes and regions. Certainly ancient people were nationalists or tribalists and had deep prejudices. But in the Bronze and Iron Age Middle East this did not seem to have much to do with pigmentation.