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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  • This guy also did the Orishas…they were AMAZING!

  • Stacy L.

    Someone needs to reimagine them as real people. All those icons were not that fine. I’m just joking. I really like it. King David!

  • G

    I am simply overwhelmed by the beauty and power of these images . . .speechless.

  • ALM247


  • Melodrama

    Nice but let’s call it like it is. I know they did not look Nordic but given that area of the world, they all did not look like that either. Why are people afraid to accept the fact that thos epeople probably looked like Sephardic Jews? Olive skinned, curly hair, etc. More like Jeff Goldblum or someone from Afghanistan or something rather than Edris Alba. Let’s be real people. Are we that desperate to insert ourselves into history cause we have been robbed? I don’t care that they did not look like my dark skinned self causI know my people from like deep Africa were just as extraordinary.

    • ALM247

      Yes, let’s “call it like it is”. None of us were actually alive during those times, so in reality everyone is drawing their own conclusions about what the people in the bible looked like. Your assumption is no more valid than anyone else’s assumption.

    • BishPlease

      Well we do have first hand accounts. Tacitus and Herodotus… and they say that those people were what we would consider “black”.

    • Ivory

      Jeff goldblum? Naw more like Osama Ben laden. But I get your point. Those people above are of west African descent and not near easterners.

    • Irnise Fennell

      This is someones artistic interpretation. Not a direct, historical representation.

    • erzulidivine

      I am shocked by the level of historical inaccuracy spewed on this page. North Africa (where much of the Bible is set–remember Israel was part of Africa until the Suez canal separated it from the mainland of Africa) is in Africa–the current people you consider “Middle Eastern” are actually invaders and settlers from the 2nd and 3rd century. So if you do a quick Google search of folks indigenous to the area you will get images of the Berbers who are darker than most of us with very “Nubian” features. “Arab”/Hyksos invasion of India and North Africa is well known and can be found in any high school textbook. Much like America, if you look at us now, the folks here for the last 400 yrs do not reflect the native population.

    • Doris D

      So they all conveniently looked like Morris Chestnut! Come on now! Cleopatra was Greek, did you know that? She didn’t look like Liz Taylor but she sure as heck did not look like Cicely Tyson either! Why we trippin?

    • BishPlease

      Cleopatra’s mother was African, native darkskinned, woolly haired Egyptian. The Greeks themselves described them all, including hebrews as what we now consider sub-saharan African. Seriously, everyone do some research. Do not accept that things are as they have always been. Those people were 100% African, no admixture. Why are you tripping? Do some research and stop letting people steal your history and make one up for you! This is cray. Everyone should be aware that these populations today are markedly different.

    • Keri over the HILLson

      No she wasn’t. They found genetic info to hint that her sister was but no indication that Cleopatra was. Plus ain’t nobody tryin’ to claim that ugly woman. I’m all about Nefertiti. Cleopatra is overrated.

    • eve-audrey

      Was nefertiti black?

    • BishPlease

      Yes, it is kind of disturbing but hey, what do you expect? They teach this drivel in American schools.

    • BishPlease

      Hi, actually that’s not true The Greeks described Egyptians and Hebrews as wooly haired and dark skinned. Before the numerous invasions and admixtures, yes all of Africa was made up of what we now consider “sub-saharan” African. I encourage you to look into it. That’s the truth of it, That is what it is. Humans migrate, they conquer and they kill, this results in admixtures and other genetic consequences but yes those people were most likely what we consider “black”

    • Keri over the HILLson

      So how come NONE of them look like Don Cheadle now? NONE. Something fishy. How come all the dark black people are in Ghana?

    • BishPlease

      Migration and wars. DId you look up Herodotus or Tacitus? The historians that wrote about these people? Have you taken a look at the DNA studies. How can you even ask that question with a straight face? Do you have any idea how many times that area of landed has been invaded? How many times DNA has mixed? Stop asking asinine questions and disprove my comment or don’t bother to make one.

    • Keri over the HILLson

      So you are telling me that ALL of them looked liked Don Cheadle? Not like an Afghani, not like a Middle Esterner as we know but all like dark chocolate folk? So why did the Italians and Spaniards look Olive skinned at that time but conveniently not the people just a couple of hours boat ride away? This further proves how much self-hatred we black people have. We could spend all this time researching the great DARK tribes of the rest of Africa but we are stuck on some mixed race Middle Easterners and Northern Africans because they basically carry about they look a little closer to Massah. This is what this is about. Let me make it clear: my folks are from Georgia and ain’t nobody in either side of my family no descendant of no Egyptians or what we now know as Israel, ummkay? We are black. We might have some Irish cause Massah sure had himself some fun but we do not have Middle Eastern or Norther African blood. We came from deep Africa. Now you can go an fantasize about your lighter kin lineage but I won’t. Proud to be dark and black. Who cares about the Egyptians? I am the descendant of proud black warriors.

    • BishPlease

      Most of them yes. The fact that you are fighting so desperately not to accept this is disturbing because you truly are ignorant. Just uneducated on the subject all around. You are going off in the completely wrong direction and that is both sad and infuriating. I provided you with examples of research, told you were to find it. It’s not about your family in Georgia it is about WORLD MIGRATION HISTORY. Self hate? #laughable, you are the manifestation of self-ignorance. What happens when you mis-educate the negro. Those people WERE dark skinned and what we could consider sub-saharan African #1. #2. Africans have the most diverse genetic structure on the planet. We have lighter skin and looser curls, darker skin and tight curls all naturally with out any other genetic admixture, all occurring within miles of each other look it up. There is more genetic diversity between two African tribes than there is between a European man and a Chinese infant. TAKE A SEAT and educate yourself instead of spreading the lies people who hate you created for you. Seriously, I have given you FACTS you have given me nothing. You don’t know what you are descendant of and that’s obvious or you would not have ever made the comments you have here. You should be ashamed. Your ancestors are.

      In case your reading comprehension is just off let me break it down like a fraction for you

      AFRICA is a continent and on the continent of AFRICA there exists AFRICANS. A long time ago these populations were mostly homogenous with there being differences in skin color and hair texture the same way that white people have different hair and eye colors, it’s called GENETICS.

      There are 14 traced ancestral clusters for all of humanity and 9 of them are found in Africa. Go take a seat.


      Did you read that? Understand what it is saying?

      And that’s just the Armana period…you hit me up when you’re ready for study hall. There is no such thing as an unafricanized Egyptian as Egypt is in Africa and ancient Egypt was a society composed of “sub-saharan” Africans or for you, “black people”. There is evidence that ancient Egypt was a black civilization and there has been for years. Greek historians, black, white and asian archaeologists, paleontologists, linguists and sociologists, DNA evidence, melanin studies, they all support a black Egypt with science. I mentioned all of those authors before. At least do some research and stop spewing nonsense. Ridiculous.

      I’m a descendant of proud black warriors, you idiot they were proud black warriors. You are no warrior, warriors fight. You just swallow the lies whole.

    • Beezly

      The person you are responding to is not Black. I refuse to believe that. With the amount of research that has provided actual facts and data that have dispelled the myths of peoples of Africa, the Egyptians and so forth. No one ( well at least I’m not) is trying to tie themselves into some light skin long haired fantasy of Egypt. Some of these commenters are so sad I cannot….

    • Keri over the HILLson

      Migration and wars ONLY resulted in them being ONLY black? How come migration and wars did not result in many being light? How come you are only seeing the result of migration and war one way?

    • eve-audrey

      Actually many north africans have black blood they just won’t admit it. And why don’t you do your own research on arab invasions?