Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Bible and the Question of Race

Alice C. Linsley

The word "race" does not appear in the Bible because that word represents a conception of human diversity which is untrue. All humans living today have ancestry that can be traced using molecular genetics back to Africa and from the beginning there was great diversity of appearance.

It is not so much that "our genes have been mixing since we evolved" as that all the genetic variables have existed in humans from the beginning. This is evident from studies of archaic human fossils and ancient mummies found in Africa, our common point of origin. Blue-eyes, red hair and red beards are as African as black skin and kinky hair.
There is variation in appearance even among people who are identified with Africa. The red and black Nubians are an example. They are one people.

Red and black Nubian cattle herders

The San Bushman are one of the oldest known people groups and they have a distinctive yellow skin tone.
San of Botswana

The "father" of genetic mapping, Luigi Cavalli-Sforza, believes, "The most important difference in the human gene pool is clearly that between Africans and non-Africans…" This is because the farther archaic peoples dispersed from their point of origin in Africa the less diverse their genetic makeup. This is also true for world languages.

The oldest phonemes and roots are found in the Afro-Asiatic language family shown below. Hebrew is in this family and many Hebrew words are of African origin.

Among archaic peoples of the Afro-Asiatic Dominion there was no concept of race. People were identified by their clan and caste. Castes were a major feature of archaic societies. The word "race" does not appear in the Bible because it is not a biblical concept.

In the New Testament, the Greek word ethnos is used for peoples or nations. The Hebrew goy or goyim is used to distinguish non-Jews from Jews. Both Goy and Ethnos refer to "peoples" or "nations" and not to races.

For both Y-chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA, a couple of hundred haplogroups have been identified. On the molecular level, human diversity is much greater than generally recognized. That diversity and the existence of humans on earth for more than 3 million years pose insurmountable problems for those who believe that three races come from Noah's sons, Shem, Japheth and Ham.

In this view, Japheth is the father of the Caucasian or white race; Shem of the Mongoloid or yellow race; and Ham of the Negroid or black race. This is contrary to what Genesis reveals.  Analysis of the King Lists in Genesis 4 and 5 makes it clear that the lines of Ham and Shem intermarried. Abraham was a descendant of both Ham and Shem.

Noah and his sons were Nilotic rulers whose lines intermarried. The idea that Noah cursed black people when he cursed Ham/Canaan is false and despicable. Since Ham and Shem's lines intermarried, Noah’s curse would have fallen upon all his descendants by Ham and Shem. There is no ground here for assuming that Noah's curse involves black people as was taught by those seeking to justify enslavement of Africans in the 19th Century.

Noah lived approximately 2490-2415 B and was not the only ruler on Earth. This is the period of the Old Kingdom, a time of great cultural and technological achievement in Egypt.

Ethnic and genetic diversity existed long before Noah's time. Human populations mined red ocher in the Lebombo Mountains more than 50,000 years before Noah. River peoples (Pengtoushan culture) thrived along the Yangtze River between B.C. 7500–6100, and the Yangshao culture flourished along the central Yellow River between B.C. 5000 and 3000. Yangshao nobles wore silk garments. During Noah's time, the Baodun culture was established in numerous settlements along the Min River in China. The Qafzeh population made tools about 125,000 years ago at Jebel Faya in the Arabian Peninsula.  There is no evidence that any of these peoples were wiped out by a worldwide flood.

Young Earth Creationists insist on imposing their simplistic view of race on Genesis despite the overwhelming evidence that Genesis is not so much about human origins and the age of the Earth as it is about the origins of Messianic expectation among Abraham's Nilotic ancestors.  In their Affirmation VI which appear at the back of their books, we read:  We affirm that the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 are chronological, enabling us to arrive at an approximate date of creation of the whole universe.

They clearly have no understanding of the nature of the King Lists because they never mention Genesis 4 which must be read with Genesis 5, as the lines of Cain and Seth intermarried. The intermarriage is evident in the cousin bride's naming prerogative as in the case of Lamech's daughter Namaah (Gen. 4: 22) who married her cousin Methusaleh and named their first-born son Lamech (Gen 5: 25) after her father, to whose throne Lamech the Younger ascended.

The fact that the Hamites and Semities cannot be separated linguistically or genetically in Genesis or in molecular genealogy underscores that the text is speaking of one people in different ruling houses, not of different races.

Young Earth Creationism promotes racism in Affirmation XII: We affirm that all people living and dead are descended from Adam and Eve...and that the various people groups (with their various languages, cultures, and distinctive physical characteristics, including skin color) arose as a result of God's supernatural judgment at the Tower of Babel..."

What astonishing ignorance about Genesis! All of the rulers named in Genesis are Afro-Asiatics and their skin color and other physical features varied greatly long before the Akkadian 7-tiered temples were built in Babylon. It is ignorant and racist to insist that genetic diversity or black skin color is the result of God's judgment.

Dr. Joshua Zorn, a former Young Earth Creationist, is right in saying, "The worst aspect of YECS teaching is that it creates a nearly insurmountable barrier between the educated world and the church."

Further, in their untenable scheme Young Earth Creationists make no mention of a red people, the oldest genetic group to which Abraham's Ainu father belonged. Abraham's ancestors originated in the Upper Nile. From the Nile his ancestors moved into Mesopotamia. They have been identified as Edomites (meaning red) and Horite Habiru (Hebrew devotees of Horus).

If Abraham's Ainu ancestors spread far and wide as Genesis 10 reports, we would expect them to be an early stock from which many other peoples come.  This has been confirmed by Luigi Cavalli-Sforza's genetic distance studies which places the Ainu at the center.

Cavalli-Sforza's Genetic Distance Chart

Molecular Genealogy Confirms Genesis

Molecular genealogy has forever changed our understanding of race. Classifications based on outward appearance are misleading. There is a range of physical characteristics within a single haplogroup. So Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza was correct when he wrote in 1994, "The classification into races has proved to be a futile exercise for reasons that were already clear to Darwin."

Darwin's discovery of the diversity, complexity and isolation of species in Galapagos has application for understanding human diversity, genetic complexity and the effects of isolation on populations. When it comes to the rulers listed in the "begats" the tools of kinship analysis enable us to discover the marriage and ascendancy structure.  This information helps us to understand how these early ancestors of Christ became the founders of the Afro-Asiatic Dominion. Analysis of the "begats" also reveals that these rulers were not the founders of the human race, but great kingdom builders of the archaic world.

Archaeological and anthropological research has demonstrated that there was a wide range of physical appearance among those Nilotic peoples. Some were light brown with blue eyes, other had a reddish skin tone and green eyes, and others were black with dark brown to amber-colored eyes.

Abraham means “burnt father” and refers to his reddish skin color. In Arabic, the word ham means burnt. The Nilotic peoples were referred to burnt because they had a reddish skin tone.  Abraham was a descendant of these ancestors, who the Bible designates as Kushites. Their skin color ranged from the black Nubians to the reddish brown Egyptians.

The Ainu originated in the Nile Valley by migrated as far as Japan and North America. They have a red skin tone.  David is described as having a reddish skin tone like that of Egyptians who work in the sun (I Sam. 16:12; 17:42). The Hebrew word for red or ruddy is edom. The Hebrew root is DM, as there are no vowels. Edom is equivalent to the Hamitic/Hausa odum, meaning red-brown and to the word Adam, the first man whom God formed from the red clay which washed down to the Upper Nile Valley from the Ethiopian highlands.

Recent DNA studies indicate that the lighter skin gene of Europeans is a relatively recent development. For images of how the Ainu probably looked before the lighter skin gene, go here.

Related reading:  The Edomites and the Color Red; Answers to High Schoolers' Questions About Noah's FloodWho Were the Kushites?; The Christ in Nilotic Mythology; A Kindling of Ancient Memory; Getting the Facts About Human Origins; The Annu/Ainu of On (Iunu)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Paul to Hebrew Christians: Persevere in Hope

Alice C. Linsley

In Hebrews 6, the Apostle Paul urges the Hebrew Christians to deepen in the doctrine of Christ by building on the foundation they received through their baptismal instruction, chrismation and apostolic teaching. They are sternly warned about and the consequences of going back on their baptismal promises, which Paul likens to “crucifying the Son of God all over again” (verse 6). The Apostle expresses frustration with some for remaining as babies in the faith, but commends others as examples of how a Christian should persevere.  His tone is both exhortative and compassionate.  He writes as one who is confident of God’s power to save and the certainty of God’s promises.

In speaking of the elementary teachings about Christ, Paul specifies repentance first, as this is necessarily the first act and attitude of every Christian.  He considers faith in God as fundamental, but alone it is insufficient for Christian maturity.  Here is a message for those who labor under the false notion that one only has to believe in God to be saved.

Baptismal instruction, chrismation, and belief in the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment are also “elementary” things. That is to say, they are the starting point rather than the terminus for those who would taste eternity.

Baptism, chrismation, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment would have formed a part of early Christian catechetical instruction. He notes that for many Jews of the first century the doctrines of the resurrection and the final judgment would have been new, which goes to show how far rabbinic Judaism had strayed from the beliefs of the Horim (ancestors).  It is clear that Abraham and his Horite people believed in the resurrection of the dead, which is the meaning of the so-called binding of Isaac, though Jews deny this even today.

It might seem that the Apostle is minimizing the importance of catechesis when, in reality, he is stressing such doctrinal instruction as essential.  His concern is that those who have received the instruction move on to a deeper acquaintance of Jesus Christ and the things of God that lead to heavenly recognition.  Therefore he is careful not to discredit those works of love shown to God and to God’s people (verse 10).

The Christian Defined

The Apostle provides an excellent definition of the Christian in this chapter. The Christian is one who has been enlightened, has tasted the heavenly gift, shared in the Holy Spirit, and has tasted the goodness of God’s word and the powers of the age to come. 

As light is the first evidence of God’s creative work in Scripture (Gen. 1:3), it is also the first gift of the new creature brought forth in baptism.

When the newly baptized receives the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion, he tastes the heavenly Gift.

In worship and in the fellowship of the Church, the Christian shares in the Holy Spirit and continues to taste the goodness of God’s word (divine promises and reproofs).

The Christian lives beyond earthly and fleshly aspirations since her heart is set on Christ’s eternal kingdom.

St. Paul draws on an analogy made by our Lord in the Parable of the Sower when he likens the Christian to land that drinks the rain and brings forth good fruit. He warns against becoming like land that produces thorns and thistles. Clearly, he doesn’t believe that the Hebrew Christians are that far gone because he goes on to say (verse 9): “Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case.”

We are reminded of Paul’s great confidence in God’s power to preserve His inheritance, expressed throughout his writings.  To the Church at Philippi, he writes, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Also consider Romans 8:35-38:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God revealed to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Never Lose Hope

The Apostle is concerned that those experiencing trials and persecutions might grow discouraged and lose hope. He encourages them to endure to the end as Christ himself faced suffering and was faithful to the end.
Paul experienced tribulations and persecutions and would have recognized how perseverance gives hope to other suffering Christians.  He wants the Hebrew Christians to “imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what is promised.” (verse 12)

Hope is described as “an anchor of the soul” (verse 19), a symbol of hope and provision for both the Greeks and the Hebrews. It functions to stabilize a storm-tossed ship.  The anchor within a circlet or diadem was a Hellenistic symbol of kingship.

From archaeological discoveries, we know that the anchor was a symbol of deified rulers among the Egyptian rulers of Phoenicia.  It has been found with the Egyptian ankh symbol in excavations at ancient Tyre and Sidon.  The word anchor is related to the Egyptian word ankh, meaning life.

In his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul warns them not to be tossed to and from, and carried about with every wind of doctrine…” but instead to “grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (Eph. 4:14,15)

The hope that we have as “an anchor for the soul” is Jesus Christ whose death, resurrection and ascension establish us firmly and securely in the heavenly realms where He is seated at the Father’s right hand.

Resist Complacency and Sloth

Recognizing that complacency can come of persecution and exhaustion, Paul urges them to be diligent to the end in order to secure their hope.  He writes (verse 12), “We do not want you to become lazy/slothful.”  The Greek word is nōthroi, and can be translated “dull” as in dull of hearing or deaf.
As is often the case with Paul’s arguments, he uses Abraham as an example. He reminds his Jewish readers that “after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.”  Paul is thinking typologically here. Abraham received Isaac, the promised son, whose miraculous birth speaks of the miraculous birth of the Promised Son who Abraham and his Horite people expected to come into the world.  He is the “Seed of the Woman” and the focus of the first promise and prophecy of Scripture (Gen. 3:15).  So “waiting patiently” has a double meaning.  It refers both to Isaac’s birth and to Christ’s appearance, to the realized and to the yet-to-be fulfilled.  That Paul believed that Abraham expected the Seed to come into the world is made clear in Hebrews 4:2, which states, “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they (the Horim) did.”

The Certainty of God’s Promises

The Apostle connects the certainty of God’s promises to God’s divine nature and eternal power (cf. Rom. 1:20).  He reminds his readers that “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for Him to swear by, He swore by Himself…” (verse 13)  It is evident that God cannot lie, therefore “we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. (verse 18)
Paul reiterates the promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 22:17: “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” (verse 14)  The Hebrew Christians, who were well acquainted with the genealogies of their Horim, would have understood that this was fulfilled in Abraham’s lifetime, for he lived to a ripe old age and had nine sons* and an unknown number of daughters. 

Reflecting on this promise, St. Irenaeus wrote, “the promise of God, which He gave to Abraham, remains steadfast… they which are of faith are the children of Abraham” (Against Heresies, Book V, chap. 32, no. 2)  In Romans 11:17, Paul states that Gentile believers are grafted into the faith of Abraham.

The immutable nature of God’s promises is expressed with regard to Christ’s eternal and pre-existent priesthood.  As our great high priest, He goes before us into the Holy of Holies behind the curtain. Here Paul strikes a contrast between the Aaronic priesthood and Jesus’ messianic priesthood, which by its nature is superior in power and efficacy. Jesus is declared “high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

Melcizedek a Type of Christ

Melchizedek, the ruler-priest of Jerusalem (Salem), is one of the most fascinating figures of Genesis. His name - malkîtsedek - means righteous king. He is mentioned in Genesis 14, Psalm 110:4 and in Hebrews 7 and 8, where he is given much attention by the Apostle Paul.

It is clear from Genesis 14 that Melchizedek and Abraham were well acquainted. Both belonged to the Horite order of ruler-priests which practiced endogamy. In other words, they were kin. It is likely that Melchizedek was the brother-in-law of Joktan, Abraham's father-in-law.

Read more about Melchizedek's lineage here.

* Issac (Yitzak), son of sister wife Sarah; Joktan, Midian, Zimran, Midan, Ishbak (Yishbak) and Shuah, sons of cousin wife Keturah (Gen. 25); Ishmael (Yishmael), son of concubine Hagar, and Eliezar, son of concubine Masek (named in the Septuagint).