Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Africa and the Bible

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Africa and the Bible

Article excerpt

Africa and the Bible. By Edwin M. Yamauchi. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2004. 297 pp. $29.99 (cloth).

Several writers have explored the exegetical significance of Africa and Africans in the Bible. The subject has engaged African American scholars, especially Charles Copher, who has spent many years on this subject (Black Biblical Studies. Chicago: Black Light, 1993). Scholars from Africa have also focused attention on texts having to do with Africa, the most thorough being the Nigerian, David Adamo (Africa and Africans in the Old Testament. Bethesda: International Scholars Publications, 1998). These scholars demonstrate not only the importance of African places and persons within the biblical world and text, but they also unearth a disturbing pattern within Western scholarship of de-Africanizing the Bible in various ways. The "discovery" of Africa within the Bible is perceived by African and African American writers as an encouragement (since Africans are seen as an important part of God's story) and also as a challenge to Western interpretative hegemony.

Within this context the book 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. The chapters are self-contained units, distinct essays on particular topics. The first four are new; the others have appeared previously and have been revised for this book. Nevertheless, the book does have a sense of unity, for the themes that run through the work enable the separate chapters to work together in a coherent way.

Yamauchi's pui-pose is to examine texts that are either about Africa or that have been perceived to be about Africa in such a way as to provide the reader with a description of the cultural, geographical, and historical background of each particular text. So, for example, in order to understand Simon of Cyrene (and others in the New Testament who are said to be from Cyrene), Yamauchi provides a description of ancient Libya, its peoples, its history, and an account of archeological work carried out there. In this case, his conclusion is that Simon, although "African" because his home was a part of northern Africa, was probably not black: "in the case of Gyrene, the city was a Greek colony; Simon was no doubt a member of the Jewish community there" (p. …

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