to the Original African Heritage Study Bible
EDWARD WILMONT BLYDEN, Ph.D.
(1832-19 12) Contributor, Africa's Service to the World Philip &
Born in Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands Appointed Liberian Educational
Commissioner to Britain and the United States 1862.
Ordained Presbyterian Clergyman, Professor of Classics at Liberia
College. Published his rnaguum opus, Christianity, Islam and the
Negro Race, 1887.
FRANCIS FRANGIPANE Contributor, Racism and the Spirit of Death
Affiliate Pastor, Riverside Ministries
Editor, The Divine Life Newsletter Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52410
CAIN HOPE FELDER, B.A., M.Div., M.Phil., Ph.D.
Contributor, Introduction, Recovering Multiculturalism in Scripture,
The Ancient Edenic Background of the New Testament, General Editor
BA., Philosophy and Classics, Howard University
M.Div., Union Theological Seminary,
New York Diploma of Theology, Oxford University (Mansfield College),England
Ph.D., Columbia University, Biblical Language and Literature
Founder and Director, Biblical Institute for Social Change Editor,
Journal of Religious Thoughts
Author, Troubling Biblical Waters Author,
Lecturer, Linguist, Educator Professor of New Testament and Languages,
Howard University, Washington, D.C.
MARK HYMAN, A.B., M.A., Ph.D. Contributor, Early Martyrdom of
A.B., M.A., New York University
Ph.D., African American Studies, Temple University
Co-Founder, African American Cultural Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Author: Blacks Who Died for Jesus
WILLIAM H. MYERS, M.A., M.Div., Ph.D. Contributor, Jesus Christ
and the Poor (The Bible, the Poor, and the Black Church)
M.A., Biblical Studies; M.Div., Doctorate of Ministry, Ashland Theological
Ph.D., Religious Studies, University of Pittsburgh
Professor of New Testament and Black Church Studies, Ashland Theological
Seminary, Ashland, Ohio
Executive Director of the McCreary Center for African American Religious
Studies, Cleveland, Ohio
Author, The Irresistible Urge to Preach
MARTIN DE PORRES WALSH, O.P., B.S., M.Div., Ph.D. Contributor,
Ancient Black Christians
B.S., Univeristy of San Francisco Univeristy Guadalajara, Mexico
Saint Albert's College, Oakland, California
Ph.D., M.Div., Saint Albert's College of the Graduate Theological
Pastor, Saint Dominic Catholic Church, San Francisco, California
Author, Ancient Black Christians
MAGGIE S. PEEBLES, B.A., M.A. Contributor, 101 Favorite Bible
Verses in the African Diaspora, African Edenic Women and the Scriptures
Tennessee State University
Sacred and Spiritual Music Recording Artist
Teacher of Special Disciplines: Montreal, Canada, Torrejon, Spain,
Metropolitan Nashville Minister to the Incarcerated, Metropolitan
JAMES W. PEEBLES, A.B., B.Th., M.A., Ph.D. Contributor, Preface,
Africology of Church Music, Africa The Beginning, Color Photography,
Publisher, Associate Editor
Tennessee State University
MA. Univeristy of Maine
B.Th., American Theological Seminary
Ph.D., Philosophy and Letters, University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Professor of Romance Languages and Literature
Southshore Protestant School Board, Montreal, Canada; New York,
Nashville, Tennessee Publisher, The Original African Heritage Study
Publisher, President, and Chi ef Executive Officer of Winston-Derek
Publishers Group, Inc., James C. Winston Publishing Company, Scythe
Publications, Nashville, New York, Toronto
ALBERT SAMPSON, A.B., M.A., M.Div. Contributor, Theology Consultant
Religious Education and Social Science, Shaw University, Raleigh,
MA. Governor's State University
M.Div., McCormick Theological Seminary Chicago, Illinois
Ordained by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Pastor, Frenwood United Methodist Church, Chicago, Illinois
ARCHBISHOP YESCHAQ, B.D., M.R.E., Th.M. Contributor, Religion
in Ethiopia before Christianity (Solomon and Sheba)
B.D., Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary
M.R.E., New York Theological Seminary
Th.M., Princeton Theological Seminary
Administrator, Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the United States and
Author, The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church (An Integrally African Church)
Appointed archbishop of the Western Hemisphere Diocese, 1979
Special Contributions and Appreciations
The publisher extends a heartfelt thank-you to the
African Hebrew Israelite community now living in Israel (northeast
Africa) for the work of their research committee and Hebrew translators
under the directorship of Sgan Elyahshuv Ben Yehuda. Without their
scholarly input and the untiring and hospitable assis-tance of other
members of the community for lodging, travel, photography arrange-ments,
and the scheduling of interviews with the indigenous people still
living in the Bible land, it would have been difficult to validate
the authenticity of certain historical sites of ancient Palestine
and its original peoples.
Special thanks to Dr. Shdieak Ben Yehuda, Hermeneutic
scholar and Dean,
The Institute School of the Prophets, Jerusalem, Israel,
who always knew another ancient Bible site to be studied in the
MAJOR REFERENCE AUTHORS:
Molefi Kete Asante, Ph.D.
Paul C. Boyd
Cheikh Anta Diop, Ph.D.
James Dunston, Ph.D.
John L. Johnson
Yosef Ben Jochannan, Ph.D.
John S. Mbiti, Ph.D.
Ivan Van Sertima, Ph.D.
Rudolph A. Windsor
PUBLISHER'S SPECIAL COMMENDATION:
Amy W. Brack
Proofreading and Editing
Ancient Map Illustrations
Kimberly A. Wohlenhaus
Production and Art Director, Digital Layout and Design
Jill M. Zarend
Archiving and Chronicling
Mafa tribe of Cameroon, Africa-Oil painting reproductions
Cahtriellah Baht Elkanmon and Kadmiel Ben Israel-Photography assistance
to the Original African Heritage Study Bible
I. Text Introduction
Contributors and Special Acknowledgments xvii
How to Use the Original African Heritage Study Bible
Title Definitions of the
Books of the Bible
Books of the Bible
Old Testament Text
New Testament Text
Introduction to the Epistles
II. Articles related to African Presence in the Bible Racism
and the Spirit of Death
Recovering Multiculturalism in Scripture
Africa's Service to the World
Religion in Ethiopia Before Christianity (Solomon and Sheba)
The Ancient Edenic Background of the New Testament
Introduction to the Epistles
African Edenic Women and the Scriptures
The Ancient Black Christians
Early Martyrdom of African Christians
Philip and the Eunuch
The Africology of Church Music with
101 Favorite Bible Verses in the African Diaspora
III. Bible Study Helps Glossary of Scripture Proper Names
Major Subject Index
Africa, The Beginning
Index to Scripture Atlas and Maps
Bible Land Maps Follow Map Index
A FOUNDATION OF TRUTH
For too long in the history of Western civilization, persons of
African descent have been stereotyped in negative ways which have
caused them to question not only their own identity but also their
part in God's plan of salvation.
Afrocentricity, the idea that Africa and persons of African descent
must be understood as making significant contributions to world
civilization as proactive subjects within history, is the methodology
with which the Original African Heritage Study Bible endeavors to
reappraise ancient biblical traditions. The impressive number of
volumes which have appeared in the past few years attempting to
engage in corrective histori-ography" attest to the fact that it
is no longer enough to limit the discussion to "black theology"
or even African theology; instead, Africa, her people, nations,
and cultures, must be acknowledged as making primary, direct contributions
to the development of Christianity. The purpose of the Original
African Heritage Study Bible is to interpret, the Bible as it relates
specifically to persons of African descent and thereby to foster
an appreciation of the multiculturalism inherent in the Bible.
We believe it important to stress that our research is not presented
from a racist viewpoint, but rather from the viewpoint of racial
pluralism and inclusiveness, seeking to bring forth the truth from
a story which has had many dubious interpretations. We pray that
it might serve as an important stepping stone, indeed a cornerstone,
for establishing a founda-tion of truth. Fact, not speculation,
is the basis upon which this work has been founded. We offer the
simple facts as presented in the Bible, supported by other historical
evidence, and by sound logic and reasoning.
AN UNCLAIMED BLESSING
It is clear from studying the Scriptures that God has always separated
those to whom he gave special blessings from others to whom he did
not. Adam was created in the image of God and was put in a special
place (the garden). The blessing of Adam passed to his descendants,
who at that ancient time were reckoned only through the male line.
The original blessing that God gave to Adam was also given to Abel,
not because he was a male, but because of his righteousness and
ability to do what was pleasing to God (Gen. 4:1-4). The same blessing
was accordingly received by Seth. Historians have suggested that
Seth's name intentionally contrasted the righteous biblical Seth
with the Egyptian Set, the lord of evil who killed his brother Osiris.
Both Osiris and Set were grandsons of the Egyptian. Sun God, Ra.
In the Hebrew Bible, Set is recast as righteous in the image of
his father, Noah, and as such God's blessing proceeds thenceforward
nine generations to Noah, who found favor with God and was separated
from the wickedness around him. These men were Sons of God, and
as such received special treatment from their Father. This special
blessing was passed on to the Afro-Asiatic Hebrew patriarch Abraham
because, again, he separated himself from the people around him
in order that he might be able to serve God in righteousness.
This blessing has yet to be fully manifested to the world because
the AfricanlEdenic man, through whom it was to come, has failed
to fulfill his commission. The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob- Africans/Edenites-the original people of God, have been chastised
time after time for disobedience to their God, and were driven out
of their land to the four corners of the earth.
The return of diverse races of people-including those of African
descent-to the Holy Land signals the manifestation of that special
bless-ing to the world. The Bible can therefore be viewed as a testament
to the cycle of chastisement and redemption and of the ultimate
purpose of the Holy One of Israel. The Bible is, in short, a drama
of the history of salva-tion in which black people play an important
Shaleak Ben Yehuda, keeper of the Temple of the Seal of Wisdom at
Jerusalem, states, "History must desperately backtrack in giant
steps to acknowledge facts before it can begin to attempt to fulfill
its prophetic destiny in a reconciliatory acknowledgment of truth
(salvation), or else it will plunge onward to sure destruction,
doom and disaster never before known to the inhabitants of the earth."
This sage of the African Israelite community has particular concern
for the reestablishment of the ancient black presence in the Bible
Black Religious Experience and the Bible
THE DIVERSITY OF THE BLACK RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE
In its broadest application, the black religious experience extends
well beyond the parameters of the African American religious experience.
The connotative sense of the black religious experience is simply
the reli-gion of those persons whose parentage, self-understanding,
and/or physi-cal features fall within the black (Negroid/African)
race. There is an aston-ishing diversity of religious beliefs and
practices in the history of the world's black people. This religious
experience includes the religions of ancient Africa (Cush, Punt,
and to a great extent ancient Egypt), as well as black adaptations
of Hebraic, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic beliefs and rituals.
We could also mention traditional African religions and numerous
derivatives found in the black diaspora: Candomble (Brazil), Garifuna
(Honduras), Shango (Trinidad), and Vodun (Haiti).
Despite this variety, the black religious experience also has denota-tive
coherence that distinguishes it from the religious experience of
other racial groups. On the one hand, the black religious experience
typi-cally considers the supernatural as a mere extension of the
natural order. It seeks harmony with (not dominance over) nature,
reveres ancestors, rejoices in rhythm, and takes both spirituality
and the afterlife seriously. On the other hand, the impact of slavery,
colonialism, and racism in the oppression of black people further
clarifies the black religious experience as a designation for African
Americans, especially those who represent the tradition of the black
church in the United States.
What is the Bible? The most published book in the world is an histor-ical
record of the relationship between a particular people and a "particu-lar
God," and how the specialness of that relationship has affected
the entire world. The origin of this people has been shrouded in
the mysteries of the various versions and translations of the Bible
(especially the King James Version) for many years. This was due,
in part, to the misinterpre-tations of those who rendered the original
translations from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, English, and other
languages. However, a large portion of the confusion stems from
deliberate Eurocentric attempts to conceal what today would be called
the racial and/or ethnic identity of the people of the Bible.
Today popular Christianity too easily assumes that modern ideas
about race are traceable to the Bible or that there is not a significant
Black presence in the Bible.... Centuries of European and Euro-American
scholarship along with a "save the heathen Blacks" missionary approach
to Africans have created these impressions.
Despite all of the evidence that indicates a manifest black biblical
presence, Eurocentric church officials and scholars have tended
to deny or minimize the fact that black people are in any way part
of the Bible itself, a tendency that has had grave consequences
for persons of African descent. Modern biblical scholarship is just
beginning to overcome cen-turies of tragic biases against Blacks
and their biblical heritage. As aston-ishing as it seems, most of
the prestigious academies and universities of Europe and America
have ridiculed the idea that Blacks have any substan-tive history.
THE STRUGGLE TO BE RECOGNIZED
This discrimination has been long-lived. In the period between
the fourth century and the Enlightenment of the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries, Europe recast the entire Bible into a saga
of European people. And their interpretations have been accepted
as fact by the Western world. The result has been the creation of
a world in which too many Blacks themselves have become uncomfortable
with images of biblical characters as Blacks.
This effort to fully recognize the black presence in the Bible is
not new. For more than a century, despite their exclusion from centers
of the-ological education, leaders in the black church have rejected
the erro-neous view that they were the progeny of the "accursed"
Ham. A case in point is Daniel P. Seaton, D.D., M.D., a prominent
leader in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, who wrote in 1895
displaying considerable knowledge about the Bible, the location
of ancient religious sites, and the significance of many biblical
characters. In fact, he made several field trips to Palestine. In
his major work, a volume of 443 pages of text, notes, maps, and
illustrations, he provides extensive descriptions of tombs, vil-lages,
and other ancient sites which he visited. Regarding Ham and his
descendants, Seaton offers the following:
Because these Hamites were an important people, attempts have been
made to rob them of their proper place in the catalogue of the races.
The Bible tells us plainly that the Phoenicians were descendants
of Canaan, the son of Ham, and anyone who will take the time to
read the Bible account of their lineage must concede the fact.
It is noteworthy that Seaton's study displays a profound awareness
of racism among the "bona fide" Bible scholars of his day. Nevertheless,
as much as we may applaud Dr. Seaton's constructive intent, clearly
he could have benefited greatly from systematic historical critical
engagement with the biblical text in its original languages.
Recently, in America and in Africa, there has developed a proliferation
of books and pamphlets which represent a resurgence of what may
now be called Afrocentric approaches to the Bible. Caution, however,
is advised, for all students of the Bible must avoid the tendency
of taking the sons of Noah-Shem ("Mongoloid"), Ham ("Negroid"),
and Japheth ("Caucasian")-as representing three different "races."
However, this is the traditional approach of European missionaries
and others who seized the opportunity thereby to designate Ham as
the father of Blacks, who were allegedly cursed in Gen. 9:18-29.
Any reference book appearing on the subject of "Blacks in the Bible"
must be held suspect, if its author tries to argue that Blacks constitute
the "Hamitic" line only.
THE MYTHICAL CURSE OF HAM
The "curse of Ham" is a post-biblical myth. In fact, the sons of
Noah-Shem, Ham, and Japheth-do not represent three different races.
(It is an absurdity of no small order to claim that Noah and his
wife could produce offspring that would constitute three distinct
racial types!) In Gen. 9:18-29, Ham is not the recipient of a curse.
The text explicitly says, "Let Canaan be cursed." Furthermore, Ham
does not mean "black" in Hebrew; it translates literally as "hot"
or "heated." It does not make sense to say, logically or scientifically,
that within the ten generations from Adam to Noah (and without the
introduction of any outside factors), a genetic change took place
which allowed one man (Noah) and his one wife (of the same race
as himself) to produce children who were racially different! This
is the logic many would have the modern reader believe.
Africa, the Garden of Eden
The Original African Heritage Study Bible has been prepared to
bring order and clarity to the confusion, truth to the lie, and
light to the darkness about ancient biblical truths. Our first task
is to use biblical evi-dence, supportive academic references, and
common sense to show that the ancestral home of man (Adam), humanity's
common ancestor, was in Africa, the land associated with the beginnings
of Eden in the Bible. Readers today must understand that in biblical
times "Africa" included much of what European maps have come to
call the "Middle East." Remember, the name Africa is actually of
Latin origin and was imposed on that great continent by European
Three simple facts must be placed at the forefront of this discussion
First, we must consider the maps of ancient biblical lands. In the
Bible there is not one single mentioning of either England or Germany;
by contrast, however, countries in Africa are mentioned again and
again. The 0ld Testament alone cites Ethiopia over forty times and
Egypt over one hundred times. Many biblical and extra-biblical ancient
sources mention Egypt and Ethiopia together, almost interchangeably.
Second, the Bible provides extensive evidence that the earliest
people were located in Africa. The Garden of Eden account, found
in Gen. 2:8-1'~ indicates that the first two rivers of Eden were
in ancient Cush, the term that the Greeks would later transpose
as "Aithiops," or Ethiopia, meaning literally "burnt face people."
Gen. 2:11-12 connects the Pishon River wit Havilah, a direct descendant
of Cush (Gen. 10:7). The Gihon River is cite in Gen. 2:13 as the
second river in Eden surrounding the whole land ( Cush Ethiopia.
Clearly, wherever else "Eden" extended, its beginning was within
the continent of Africa.
Third, the ancient land of Canaan was but an extension of the Africa
land mass. In biblical times African peoples frequently migrated
from the continent proper through Canaan/Palestine to the east toward
what was then included as Asia, namely the "Fertile Crescent," or
the Tigris an Euphrates rivers of ancient Mesopotamia. This fact
helps us to appreciate the term Afro-Asiatic as correctly identifying
the mixed stock of people who populated the ancient Near East. Although
Europeans (Greeks an Romans) began to feature in the more recent
biblical narratives, the face remains that the earliest biblical
people, by modern Western standards ( racial types, would have to
be classified as Blacks; they were of Africa: descent and possessed
African physical features. THE RIVERS OF EDEN Gen. 2:10-14 clearly
identifies the location of four key rivers. The firs two rivers
are the Pishon and the Gihon (both closely associated with the ancient
land that Hebrews called Cush and the Greeks later called Ethiopia).
The Hiddikal (Tigris) and the Euphrates are the second pair c rivers.
(The latter two rivers originate in southeastern Turkey and flow
through present-day Syria and Iraq.) The Tigris and Euphrates run
parallel through ancient Mesopotamia; this area is known as the
Fertile Crescent Biblically, it is identified as "the garden planted
eastward in Eden." Th important thing to note here is that there
are two very distinct land area identified in the naming of these
rivers, namely what we know of today as Africa and the nearer Middle
East. However, a little over a century ago, these two land areas
were connected. The completion of the Suez Canal in 1869 introduced
a man-made separation that has affected not only the land but its
cultural and social fabric as well. World War II corre-spondents
introduced the new name, the Middle East, for the portion of land
separated from the main portion of the African continent. Prior
to these events, much of this area was known as northeast Africa.
We also see in Genesis that the garden was planted "eastward in
Eden," between the Nile and the Euphrates, meaning that the whole
region, of which this garden was only a part, was called Eden, which,
translated from Hebrew, means "pleasure" or "delight," in other
words, "paradise." It stands to reason that if the region from which
the biblical Garden of Eden extends was known then as northeast
Africa, then cartog-rapher and lay truth-seeker alike should have
no problem accepting Africa as the cradle of civilization. Eden-land
of pleasure and delight-was a place of special joy to its Creator.
In a portion of this delightful place God placed humankind, God's
ultimate creation, Adam, made in God's own image and likeness.
AFRICA, THE BEGINNING
It should be clear now why we prefer to use the name Eden for the
primeval, ancestral home for humanity. Because the, terms Africa
and African are in common usage, we will employ them in conjunction
with the terms Eden and Edenic. Many primeval groups migrated out
of Africa east of Eden. In fact, Africa/Eden was the source from
which all peoples flowed. Recent scientific evidence illustrates
that not only are the remains of the most ancient ancestors of man
to be found in Africa/Eden, but also the oldest remains of what
is called "modern man" have been discovered, not in Europe or China,
but in Africa. Here, science can be of great help, since human fossils,
as well as social and cultural implements, discovered in Africa
by archaeologists and anthropologists have been confirmed to be
from humans living there about one hundred thousand years ago. The
Bible does not claim to offer a scientific explanation of human
evolution. The ability to do so was far beyond ancient biblical
writers. At the same time, the Bible does not offer any precise
datings concerning the prehis-toric past; rather it was enough for
authors of the Bible to speak of the distant past in such terms
as "in the beginning" or "long, long ago." After all, the biblical
writers were primarily prophets, poets, and "historians" who were
inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Racial Identity of Biblical Characters
Throughout the world today, the view that almost all biblical characters
are Caucasian has become standard. Noah, Abraham, Moses, the Pharaohs,
the Queen of Sheba, Mary and Joseph-all are envisioned as typical
Europeans. For example, pictorial representations of Mary, the mother
of Jesus, are invariably European, and this Christian art is per-ceived
by most people as an accurate image of the original Madonna. Such
presumptions are only now being challenged by the importance of
the Egyptian and Ethiopian civilizations in the shaping of the biblical
world. Thus, today, there is a critical need to examine not only
how this narrow and distorted view emerged in Western history, but
also how the Bible specifically treats Africa and Blacks. The Bible
is multiracial and multicultural with its purpose being a universalism
of the salvation story. Europeans are in the Bible. So are Asians
'and others. For example, in the New Testament the Apostle Paul
clearly intends to travel to Spain (Rom. 15:24, 28). Significantly
included also are Blacks and descriptions of Africa. The distinction
the Old Testament makes is not racial. Rather, the Hebrew Scripture
distinguishes groups on the basis of national 'identity and ethnic
tribes. All who do not meet the criteria for salvation as defined
by the ethnic or national "in-groups" are relegated to an inferior
status. It is therefore surprising to many that black people are
not only frequently mentioned in numerous Old Testament texts but
are mentioned in ways that acknowledge their actual and potential
role in the salvation history of Israel. By no means are black people
excluded from Israel's story, as long as they claim it (however
secondarily) and do not proclaim their own story apart from the
activity of Israel's God. Extensive lists of Old Testament passages
that make favorable refer-ence to black people are readily accessible.
There are many illustrations of such provocative texts. Isa. 37:9
and 2 Kings 19:9 refer to Tirhaka, king of the Ethiopians. This
ancient black Pharaoh was actually the fourth member of the Twenty-fifth
Egyptian Dynasty that ruled all of Egypt (730-653 B.C.). According
to the biblical texts, Tirhaka was the object of the desperate hopes
of Israel. In the days of Hezekiah, Israel hoped desperately that
Tirhaka's armies would intervene and stave off an impending Assyrian
assault by Sennacherib. More than a half-century later, another
text would refer to "men of Ethiopia and Put who handle the shield"
(Jer. 46:9). The Old Testament indicates that black people were
part of the Hebrew army (2 Sam. 18:21-32) and even part of the royal
court. Ebedmelech takes action to save Jeremiah's life (Jer. 38:7-13)
and thereby becomes the beneficiary of a singular divine blessing
(Jer. 39:15-18). The dominant portrait of the Ethiopians in the
Old Testament is that of a wealthy people (Job 28:19; Isa. 45:14)
who would soon experience conversion (Ps. 68:31; Isa. 11:11, 18:7;
Zeph. 3:10). The reference to "Zephaniah the son of Cushi" (Zeph.
1:1) may indicate that one of the books of the Old Testament was
authored by a black African. While Mary and Joseph fled with Jesus
to Africa, subsequent Western civilization has taken a different
path, one leading straight to Europe. Christian artists who sought
to please those in power have rendered an inaccurate picture of
biblical characters, and history has never been the same. In our
time Hollywood has continued to magically populate the entire region
of ancient Palestine with Europeans.
A BLACK OF EMPHASIS ON COLOR
The question then arises, if the early people in the Bible were
Blacks and Afro-Asiatics, why isn't the color of their skin emphasized
to a greater extent? The answer is simple. The authors of the Bible,
together with the Greeks and the Romans, had no notion of color
prejudice. In our society today, the idea of a world before racial
discrimination is startling. The wonderful result of the lack of
racial prejudice in the Bible is that the greatness of African people
and their civilizations has been preserved. Nimrod, son of Cush,
the "mighty warrior" (Gen. 10:8), is a prime exam-ple of the extensive
cast of important African characters. The Original African Heritage
Study Bible calls attention to each one, discussing each in depth.
OUT OF THE DUST OF AFRICA...
In the mythopoeic world of the earliest biblical authors, it was
believed that in the beginning man was formed "from the dust of
the earth." This very "dust" was envisioned as the soil of Africa.
Accordingly, generic man was African/Edenic; generic man in a word
was black by modern classifications of racial typologies. Whether
you interpret Adam to have been an individual or a nation of people,
it is clear that there was one Father (God) and one Mother (earth).
The earth was of Africa/Eden. From this point, we continue our study
of the biblical records in the sure knowledge that if the root of
the family tree of man was African/Edenic, then all subsequent branches
of that tree must give acknowledgment and respect to the source
from which they came. It will be abundantly clear, as we progress,
that the major characters, patriarchs, and heroes of this monumental
work were direct descendants of this first African/Edenic Adam.
It will also be clear that they belonged to one family, and therefore
were themselves African/EdenIc men and women. The facts will point
out in this context that the reference to people as being either
Hamitic or Semitic does not denote racially different peoples, but
rather people of a common racial heritage who developed different
cultural lifestyles. Not only is the black race not cursed; in fact
black men and women are fully a part of the salvation history within
the Bible itself. For example, Moses himself was an Afro-Asiatic
and he married an Ethiopian woman according to Num. 12:1-10. The
Queen of Sheba was a black African (1 Kings 10:1-10 and 2 Chron.
9:1-9). The New Testament mentions another black queen, Kandake,
queen of the Nubians in the ancient Ethiopian cap-ital of Meroe
(Acts 8:26-40). For years, persons of African descent have taken
heart upon reading that celebrated passage in Psalms 68:31, "Let
princes come out of Egypt and let Ethiopia hasten to stretch forth
her hand to God!" But today let us realize that there is a much
greater basis upon which Blacks may celebrate their rich, ancient
heritage in the sacred Scriptures, for the real black presence is
by no means to be limited to an isolated verse here and there!
WHAT COLOR WAS JESUS?
We can now return to the question of the race of Jesus of Nazareth.
His mother, Mary, was Afro-Asiatic and probably looked like a typical
Yemenite, Trinidadian, or African American of today. Consider a
few inescapable factors that challenge the traditional perception
of the Madonna and Child. In Matt. 2:15 and Hos. 11:1 we find the
words, "Out of Egypt, I have called my son." The passage is part
of the notorious flight into Egypt, which describes Mary and Joseph's
attempt to hide the one that King Herod feared would displace him.
Imagine the divine family as Europeans hiding in Africa! This is
quite doubtful. (Egypt has always been part of Africa, despite centuries
of European scholarship which has dili-gently sought to portray
Egypt as an extension of southern Europe.) Literally hundreds of
Shrines of the Black Madonna have existed in many parts of North
Africa, Europe, and Russia. These are not weather -beaten misrepresentations
of some original white Madonna, but uncanny reminders of the original
people who inhabited ancient Palestine at the time of Jesus of Nazareth
and earlier. The "Sweet Little Jesus Boy" of the Negro spiritual
was in fact quite black. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were neither Greek
nor Roman. With the mar-velous oils and watercolors of the painter's
brush, the world gradually wit-nessed the rebirth of Jesus, as medieval
and Renaissance artists made him suitable for the portrayal of Christianity
as a "European" religion. Thus there developed a brand new manger
scene, with the infant Jesus and his parents reimaged. Ancient darker,
and clearly more African, icons were dis-carded or destroyed. Many
in the 1990s who think of a black Jesus as an oddity or scan-dalous
distortion of historical facts insist that Jesus was Semitic, or
Middle Eastern. However, to call Jesus Semitic does not take us
very far, because this nineteenth-century term refers not to a racial
type, but to a family of languages including both Hebrew and Ethiopic.
About the same time that the European academy coined the term Semitic,
it also created the geographical designation called the Middle East-all
in an effort to avoid talking about Africa! This academic racism
sought to de-Africanize both the sacred story of the Bible and Western
civilization. A New Freedom There is no reason for anyone who loves
and respects the truth to take offense at the conclusions drawn
from our studies and annotations-that Africa/Eden was the stage
upon which the biblical stories were acted out, by actors who happened
to be black. It is a logical and inevitable conclusion. For the
world to continue to relegate the African Edenic man to little more
than an afterthought in the Euro-tainted historical record not only
contin-ues to deprive this particular people of their birthright,
but it simultane-ously perpetuates a deception of the magnitude
that, unless repented, will deny many people the chance to hear
the story of salvation. Understand from the onset of this endeavor
that our efforts to exca-vate the facts necessary to identify biblical
Africa, its people, and related cultural, social, and ecological
facts will cause many to reevaluate their traditional theories,
outlooks, and opinions. In the name of religion, grave injustices
have been perpetuated upon the entire world. These injustices have
caused insurmountable suffering and pain. It is the collective consensus
of the translators and interpreters of this version of the Bible
that this cycle of darkness must be broken, for the truth is the
light, and with the truth all captives shall be set free.