Africa and the Bible

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Christianity Today 2005 Book Award Winner

"An excellent attempt at putting the Afrocentric house in order by showing that Afrocentric scholars fail to consider a wide range of scholarship in their field. . . . This work will be enormously helpful as an introductory textbook. . . . [It] will also be enormously helpful to Afrocentric scholars themselves."--David Tonghou Ngong, Reviews in Religion and Theology

Two hundred years ago, the "curse of Ham" was used to legitimize slavery. Both Ethiopians and Arabians claim the queen of Sheba. Could Moses and Jesus have been black? Much has been said about the connection between Africa and the Bible. Unfortunately, despite numerous references to Africa and Africans in the Bible, most scholarly works exploring ancient Africa ignore biblical references. On the other hand, contemporary afrocentric biblical studies often ignore the wealth of archaeological discoveries and historical discussions bearing on the subject. With Africa and the Bible, well-respected scholar Edwin Yamauchi fills these voids, offering a scholarly interpretation that integrates biblical exegesis, archaeological evidence, and recent historical discussions.

Africa and the Bible explores the historical and archaeological background of biblical texts that deal with Africa and the Bible, examines the exegesis of these texts, and traces the ramifications of later interpretations and misinterpretations of these texts. Yamauchi deals with such topics as the curse of Ham's son Canaan, Moses' Cushite wife, the Ethiopian eunuch, Simon the Cyrene, and afrocentric biblical interpretation. Along the way he dispels myths, interacts with current theories, and provides sound judgments as to what the Bible does and does not say.

Students and scholars of the Bible, African studies, and global Christianity will appreciate the extra features Yamauchi employs. He includes photographs, maps, charts, an appendix critiquing Martin Bernal's Black Athena, and Scripture, author, and subject indexes. An extensive bibliography of more than 300 entries will guide readers to the diverse literature associated with the connections between Africa and the Bible. Lay readers interested in history and the Bible will enjoy the book's insightful comments and accessible style.


Endorsements

"In recent years, the academic world and the general public have become interested in the role played by Africa in biblical history. Edwin Yamauchi has provided a valuable service with his book Africa and the Bible. Too many unqualified people have produced popular works on this subject that lack academic credibility. Yamauchi has carefully and thoroughly investigated every possible reference to Africa and Africans in the Bible, deftly synthesizing a massive amount of information and scholarly literature to produce a very useful study."--James K. Hoffmeier, professor of Old Testament and Near Eastern history and archaeology, Trinity International University

"Sensitive both to Afrocentric interests and to data from ancient Egypt and elsewhere, this work reveals, as his works always do, Professor Yamauchi's brilliant multidisciplinary competence. He interacts respectfully with different views, and even those who disagree with some elements of his approach or would welcome an even fuller exploration of some issues will find the book a rich treasure of resources. Few readers of the Bible have had access to the information he provides about Nubia and the Nubian Pharaohs of Egypt."--Craig Keener, professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary

"In the midst of the confusion of postmodern political correctness, Yamauchi, with characteristic painstaking documentation, debunks both the arrogance of long-standing Eurocentrism and the mythology of more recent Afrocentrism. With irenic spirit and incisive penetration, he leaves no stones unturned in detailing the connections between the Bible and African civilizations. Both informative and challenging to deep-seated prejudices, this book is must reading for anyone who desires a fair and accurate understanding of the important issues it addresses."--Eugene H. Merrill, Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

"Yamauchi's new book on Africa and the Bible is a very welcome contribution. By focusing on ancient Africa, he explores a topic that seldom gets attention beyond a more programmatic rhetoric in the current boom of books addressing the relationship between Africa and the Bible. Yamauchi is able to combine an extraordinarily wide historical scholarship with a conscious and sensitive approach to contemporary concepts of 'Africa.' And his balanced interpretation of the ancient sources, fair assessment of previous scholarship, and vast bibliography make the book not only an important research contribution but also a most valuable handbook for students and scholars in the field."--Knut Holter, professor of Old Testament, School of Mission and Theology, Stavanger, Norway

"Africa and the Bible is the latest volume in Edwin Yamauchi's distinguished series of books surveying ancient civilizations treated in the Bible. This book comprehensively summarizes relevant scholarship on the civilizations of ancient north and northeast Africa. Particularly welcome is Yamauchi's convincing demonstration that the 'curse of Ham' is a myth without biblical foundations. Africa and the Bible is an invaluable overview of the biblical evidence regarding ancient Africa that will interest all students of ancient history and religion."--Stanley Burstein, department of history, California State University at Los Angeles; former president, Association of Ancient Historians

"Writing in a refreshing style that carefully abstains from scholarly obfuscation, Yamauchi has collated an extraordinary range of scholarly data on the historical and archaeological background of the biblical texts dealing with Africa. His efforts provide the reader with a primary source of information for everything from the Queen of Sheba to Black Athena."--Donald White, University of Pennsylvania

"I have long admired and closely followed Yamauchi's work. As an African, I feel greatly relieved that there is finally a solid treatment of Africa and the Bible. This book is neither condescending nor inaccessible. Yamauchi has brought together thorough historical research and easy reading. I have no doubt that this book will draw readership from academia as well as the streets."--Emmanuel Itapson, Jos Theological Seminary, Nigeria

"Drawing on a vast range of sources--ancient and modern, literary and archaeological--Yamauchi offers a superb discussion of the major questions concerning the relationship between the Bible and Africa. His final chapter presents an especially helpful response to contemporary Afrocentric approaches to the Scriptures. This fascinating study will be welcomed by those who need an introduction to the issues and those who are looking for a foundation for further study."--Daniel I. Block, Wheaton College

"Africa and the Bible is an important and significant contribution to the growing literature on the place of the African continent and its people in the Old and New Testaments. Yamauchi offers a mature and balanced treatment of the many controversial issues involved in the discussion, in contrast to many other works that present extreme views or are clearly ideological in nature. All readers of the Bible will find in this book much enlightenment. This work is especially helpful as a supplemental text for introductory courses in the study of the Bible."--Tite Tienou, academic dean and professor of the theology of mission, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"At a time when Africans are forming an increasing proportion of the world's Christians and Africa is becoming one of the major theaters of Christian life and activity, the issue of Africa's place in the Bible takes on a new importance. How valuable it is, then, to have such a volume as this--thorough, sober, succinct, learned, and judicious."--Andrew F. Walls, Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World, University of Edinburgh


The Author

  1. Edwin M. Yamauchi

    Edwin M. Yamauchi

    Edwin M. Yamauchi (Ph.D., Brandeis University) is professor of history emeritus at Miami University, Ohio. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Africa and hte Bible, Persia and the Bible, Greece and Babylon, The Archaeology of New...

    Continue reading about Edwin M. Yamauchi

Reviews

Christianity Today 2005 Book Award Winner

"Yamauchi . . . has the scholarship and gravitas to walk the fine line between the historical racisms practiced by both blacks and whites. . . . There's a middle ground in history, a place where politics stops and scholarship walks alone. Yamauchi has contributed a fine work to the expansion of that common middle ground, particularly as it relates to the thorny and contentious issues of race and history."--James M. Abraham, ForeWord

"Yamauchi has carefully and thoroughly investigated what seems to be every possible reference to Africa and its people in the Bible, deftly synthesizing a massive amount of scholarly literature and information to produce this study. . . . This author, with commendable and painstaking documentation, debunks both the arrogance of long-standing Eurocentrism and the mythology of Afrocentrism. . . . The book has an exceptionally thorough bibliography of more than forty pages plus a Scripture and an author index."--Bible Editions and Versions

"A carefully researched study of the presence of black Africans and their culture in the Bible. . . . This thoughtful book embodies a view that needs to be heard, offering a well-nuanced call to examine the racial and cultural biases we impose on religious texts. Recommended for academic, seminary, and public library collections in biblical and African studies."--Carolyn M. Craft, Library Journal

"This volume was written for serious students and those who would teach them. . . . Africa and the Bible will reward readers who value a scholarly approach to an often touchy topic."--Alan Cochrum, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Yamauchi trains a critical eye on some of the biblical passages that refer to Africa or in which Africa plays an important role....Those interested in archaeology or African studies as well as biblical readers fascinated by history will find this book enlightening."--Sister Dianne Bergant, Bible Today

"Fresh, deep research that challenges many of the excesses of Afrocentrism in U.S. and African biblical interpretation."--Christianity Today

"This volume consists of eight essays and an appendix that are the results of fifteen years of research on the relationship of the Bible and Africa. The first four chapters, all of which are published here for the first time, will be of particular interest to Hebrew Bible scholars."--Old Testament Abstracts

"The title of Yamauchi's book is not a new one in Afrocentric scholarship but his depth of the treatment of the issues is. . . . This book is an excellent attempt at putting the Afrocentric house in order by showing that Afrocentric scholars fail to consider a wide range of scholarship in their field. . . . This work will be enormously helpful as an introductory textbook on Afrocentric Biblical studies. . . . Surveying the wide range of scholarship available in the field, as this book does, seems the scholarly thing to do. This book will also be enormously helpful to Afrocentric scholars themselves as it opens up new avenues for study as evidenced by its study of Meroe. Its bibliography is also very impressive."--David Tonghou Ngong, Reviews in Religion and Theology

"This book feeds well into the current interests in postcolonialism by providing a material basis for the more theoretical (or contextual-theological) explorations others may want to undertake. More generally it clearly demonstrates the broad African presence in the Bible from ancient to Roman times."--Jorunn Økland, Journal for the Study of the New Testament Booklist

"Africa and the Bible by Edwin Yamauchi makes an important contribution. Yamauchi is well known for his publications in the field of biblical archaeology, and he now applies his expertise to understanding the presence of Africa and Africans in the Bible. . . . Yamauchi attempts to walk a middle road. He rejects a Eurocentric approach that reads Africans out of the text or reads the text with racist intent. He also rejects certain Afrocentric readings that assume that all Africans were black or that everything of value has its origin in Africa. His contribution cannot be ignored by anyone who wants to take these texts seriously."--Grant LeMarquand, Anglican Theological Review

"Dr. Edwin Yamauchi is an outstanding scholar who has published extensively on Africa and the Near East, an interest that culminates in this landmark volume. . . . In chapter after chapter he has lined up an immense amount of information, 87 fascinating illustrations, with a wealth of citations to satisfy the most ardent student. . . . Readers looking for a 'quick read' will not find it here, but those seeking an illuminating and satisfying analysis of the topic from one of the most distinguished two-thirds world voices in contemporary Evangelicalism will find this a treasure trove. . . . This responsible analysis of Africa's presence in the Bible should be must reading for all thinking Christians who want to deepen their knowledge of the ethnic equality of Christians throughout the ages and in particular the true presence of Africans in our sacred Scripture."--William David Spencer, Priscilla Papers

"Most people know about the Biblical Egyptian connection with Joseph, Moses and Exodus, but there are other African connections, and not only for the Old Testament. Edwin Yamauchi presents an interesting examination of these other ties between Africa and the Bible. . . . Although this book is on the academic side, that should not hold back leisure readers who are interested in African topics. One can more thoroughly research Africa's connection with the Bible by using this book as a guide. . . . This book is recommended to readers studying the Bible and the African connection."--Benet Exton, OSB, www.curledup.com