Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Bible and the Question of Race

Women of East Africa

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 of human existence 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 heliotrichous hair.

There is great variation in physical attributes among peoples who are identified with Africa. One of the more intriguing discoveries at Nekhen on the Nile (4000 BC) was the discovery of an almost complete beard in association with the redheaded man in Burial no. 79. The Nekhen News (p. 7) reports, "The vast majority of hair samples discovered at Nekhen were cynotrichous (Caucasian) in type as opposed to heliotrichous (Negroid)."

The Nubians are one people, yet organized into two ritual groups (moiety): red Nubians and black Nubians. Both appear on many ancient monuments. They preserved their distinctive skin tones by marrying within their own group (endogamy).

A moiety refers to each of two social or ritual groups into which a people is divided, especially among Australian Aborigines, some American Indians, and the ancient Nubians.

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 or derived from ancient Akkadian which also has affinity to African words.

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 Genesis 10 EthnographyThe 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)


  1. Your approach to research is refreshing in that it challenges a lot of the pseudo-historical myths about the so-called races which arose due to White Supremacy.
    Truthfully it is rare, like Higgins in Anacalypsis but always refreshing. My only question is to what extent are you adding an additional layer of questions when you combine actual and well-researched "history," "genetics," with people/names/myth's that are not substantiated as even existing?
    Much of the "Bible," is allegorical, and has both esoteric and exoteric meaning. Most scholars agree that many of the names/peoples are not proven as fact outside of biblical sources.
    Colville talks about the issues with interpreting ancient books like the bible in his "Harmony of Opposites," and Massey and others say outright much of "Hebrew" genesis is taken outright from Egyptians and others?
    I don't see a lot with your arguments or research except a possible over utilization of commonly accepted/argued biblical mythology to support actual groups of people and historical events. Are "Hamite," and "Shemite" actual peoples or persons? The same with "Abraham?"
    I haven't read your entire site, so I apologize if I misread or misunderstood your arguments.

  2. As an anthropologist, I apply a scientific approach to the study of the Bible and draw on data, not allegory. Much in the Bible is historical rather than allegorical. Allegory is a way of interpreting what is often historically accurate, but not understood.

    You will find most of my research at Just Genesis. Topics are listed alphabetically in the INDEX.

  3. Race, today, is primarily a social construct. Many people choose the race with which they identify, particularly if they are bi- or multi-racial. And people who physically appear to be members of a certain race, but who do not share certain views "sacred" to that race, are actually rejected as not "whatever-race enough," i.e., as not actually being a member of that race, despite appearances.

    This is all a long way of saying it would be nice to ease the word "race" out of usage in these discussions. It's not only confusing, it's essentially meaningless as, to repeat myself, race in now popularly understood as a proxy for allegiance to a certain culture.

    I've only begun to read through your excellent site, but do gather that your conclusion is that there are people on the earth who are not descendants of Noah? What is the origin of the peoples we call the Jews today? Who are the gentiles - are they defined by ancestry or in spiritual terms or both?

    Just a few easy questions, right? :) I do appreciate your consideration and I look forward to studying your work more thoroughly.

  4. Race is really a meaningless word anthropologically and genetically.

    The term Jewish is an example. There were no Jews until after the Babylonian captivity. The word "Jew" is derived from Judah, which was their home. You will find this helpful:

    Modern Jews have Sub-Saharan DNA.

  5. I've learned so much from your blog, and I thank you for your unbiased and diligent research. My question is what are the implications of your research for African-Americans such as myself with little to no knowledge of there ancestry. Being of African descent, is it possible to use this information to help discover our origins, or are we a complelety different group of people from the biblical horites.

  6. Seekinglight,

    I have thought a great deal about your question. The implications are that Africa is the point of origin of the Biblical Faith and the practices/traditions found in the Bible, such as the priesthood, animal sacrifice, circumcision, the construction of pillared temples, belief in the resurrection of the body, and expectation of a Righteous Ruler who would defeat evil and destroy death by His rising from death.

    That said, the Horites were Nilo-Saharans who married only within their own ruler-priest caste. Their ruling lines are found in Genesis and usually termed "genealogies" but they are really king lists.

    Doubtless some African Americans have the priest or "Kohan" gene, but not all. Some Jews have it, but not all Jews. Converts do not. Some Arabs have it also, but not all Arabs. Genetic testing is helpful in tracing one's ancestry. Generally we all come from mixed ancestries and if we go back far enough, we all come from Africa, which is the point of origin of all modern humans.

  7. I wholeheartedly agree on your methodology on the study of the above subject. My only tool and guide is observation and I often question the validity of most Christian denominational teachings about Genesis especially on the origins of Adam.

    Do you support the idea of polygenesis?

  8. Marc, We do not have enough data yet to speak of monogenesis or polygenesis of humans. Archaic humans fossils (300,000 to 3.8 million years) show a range of physical features that are within the range of most modern humans. Genesis is telling us about a specific group that are likely all Y-DNA Haplogroup R1 populations.


Your comments are welcome. Please stay on topic and provide examples to support your point.