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For over two millennia artists have been depicting biblical characters in sculptures, paintings, and on film. While many of the images we’ve seen have shown God, and especially Jesus, as blonde-haired and blue-eyed, this image could not be further from the truth.

While the people in Bible hailed from Africa and the Middle East, they are often presented as decidedly pale. But photographer James C. Lewis hopes to change things.

Lewis, of Noire3000 | N3K Photo Studios in Atlanta, says he was sick of seeing biblical heroes “whitewashed.”

“I think it is very important to see one’s self in the Scripture so that it may become real in their eyes,” he told The Huffington Post. “The whitewashing of the Bible has always bothered me. However I’m happy to now have the opportunity to give a different point of view.”

Lewis’ latest series, dubbed Icons of the Bible, reimagines biblical greats using over 70 models who identify as Asian, Native American, Hispanic, African, Middle Eastern, Black American and West Indian.

“I wish to exhibit a splash of color onto the biblical pages of history with my creative embellishments,” Lewis explained. “By doing so I hope to open the minds and eyes of the ignorant and create open conversations of how we can learn to see the world through colorful lenses. After all, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is intended for everyone.”

Icons of the Bible will be on display in November 2014 to February 2015 in Atlanta, GA. Visit Lewis’ website for more details.

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