Dura Europos synagogue.

Today’s pastors like to describe Jesus and His disciples as being “olive-colored”. This is necessary if they want to maintain their tax-exempt status under federal rules. In order to prevent complaints, Jesus and His apostles become non-white persons of “middle eastern” origin and of no particular race.

Unfortunately for them, early Christian art is not cooperating. One of the most stunning archaeological finds of the last century was the accidental discovery in 1920 of the ruins of a city called Dura Europos. “Dura” is an Assyrian term for “fortified” and “Europos” means the city was ruled by Europeans.

The ruins of the city are located equal-distance from three churches mentioned in our Authorized King James Bible — Babylon (1 Peter 5:13, Acts 2:9), Antioch (Acts 11:26), and Damascus (Acts 9:19). In fact, if you drew a circle around these three churches, referred to in the Acts of the Apostles, Dura Europa would sit right smack in the middle, about 300 miles from each.

Sometime around 80-200 AD (estimates vary wildly) one of the numerous houses inside the city walls was converted into a church. There was an inner courtyard with church premises around it. The largest room was a room for gatherings. It was made by demolishing the wall between two smaller rooms. In the far end of the courtyard was one more space for teachings. And then there was one more room – a small baptistry: the most interesting room of all because it was adorned with frescoes.

In this fresco, we have a pale white and golden-haired Mary Magdalene (a Galilean probably from the town of Magdala on the west bank of the Sea of Galilee) approaching the empty tomb of Jesus. She is accompanied by four other white women. They carry large bowls, presumably for use in washing the body for burial, and they hold torches to illuminate the darkened tomb as they approach a huge sarcophagus, flanked by two large stars representing angels.

Jesus delivered Mary Magdalene from seven demons (Luke 8:2; Mark 16:9). She became a follower of Jesus (Matt. 27:57), a witness to the crucifixion and burial (Matt. 27:61; 28:1; Mark 15:40, 47; John 19:25), and was among the women who went to the tomb on Sunday (Mark 16:1; John 20:1). She was also the first person to see Jesus alive (Mark 16:9) and told the other disciples (Luke 24:10; John 20:18).

One of the structures uncovered by the excavation was a small synagogue with elaborately painted walls. Far from Judea, this synagogue may have been operated by Israelites not of the Edomite-Jew variety. In this three-panel mural an inconveniently white and auburn-haired Elijah reclines on a sofa whilst holding the revived widow’s child (1 Kings 17:21).

Here we see the showdown between Elijah and the false prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. We can see eight priests (in Roman attire!) next to the altar with the sacrifice. The fresco depicts a person standing under the alter which perhaps represents the evil Hiel who had dared to rebuild Jericho and had lost all his seven sons during the construction of the accursed city. He wanted to light the fire? (The Israelites who posed for the artist look like typical Anglo-Saxons to me.)

If your pastor teaches that Jesus and His sheep were “olive colored” it may be time to spend your money elsewhere– supporting some other ministry, not operated by money-grubbing liars.