In this document we explore the origins of the Bible and its relation to African/Black culture. The Bible is a collection of writing that came into existence over a period of 1200 years. There is a relationship between Africa and biblical writings that are undeniable.
My goal is to provide a summary representing the information that is available relative to the presence of Black people and their religious culture, which is documented in biblical history.
As for religion, there is no generally agreed definition for what it is; it means and represents different things depending on who one is talking too. Here, religion is defined as a belief in God, something that was present among African civilizations before the age of the Bible, Christians and Christian beliefs. African religious expression and beliefs are present within the milieu of human evolution dating back to the first know human beings.
African Presence In The Bible
In the second chapter of Genesis; it says that in the garden where human beings were created, a river went out from Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four river-heads. “The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that encompasses the whole land of Cush, or Ethiopia” (Gen. 2:13). The Gihon is the White Nile River.
Not only was the Garden of Eden in Africa, but the origin Of the first human beings is Africa itself. Genesis 10:6 says the sons of Ham were Cush (Ethiopia), Mizraim (Egypt), Punt (Libya), or Punt (Somaliland), and Canaan (Palestine/Israel).
Noah’s grandchildren, who were the sons of Ham, inhabited north and northeast Africa making them the first human being to inhabit these regions. It’s also worth pointing out that Cush, Ham’s son, was the father of Nimrod who was know to be a might hunter and architect. Nimrod also tried to build a tower upward toward heaven call Babel, and as a man skilled at building, he is credited with being the builder of several ancient Babylonian cities. (Genesis 10:6-10)
Dr. Charles B. Coper in his book “Black Biblical Studies” says, “Africa and some of her peoples and places have a place within the biblical content, representing most periods of biblical history, and that the Bible has had a place in the lives of African people since its existence as a body of sacred writings to the present day.”
Before the Old Testament reached its final form; and before the New Testament books were compiled and put together with the Old Testament to form the Bible, i.e., as early as A.D. 100, Africans were using the Bible.
Acts 8:27 says, “And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.”
Reading through the eighth chapter of Acts, it becomes clear that the Ethiopian eunuch was reading from the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. This suggest that the eunuch was an Ethiopian Jew of the first century, or he could have been a gentile proselyte. Even so, Dr. Coper says that the version of Isaiah that he was reading was produced in the African City of Alexandria, Egypt.
Great portions of the Bible have to be attributed to Africans. There is Moses, who was born in Africa, raised in Africa and is, by some, believed to have written the first 5 books of the Bible (Pentateuch). Likewise, the Hebrew-Israelite-Judahite-Jewish, i.e., the people of Israel and Judah were all descendants of Africa.
Mark and Matthew, who’s names are on two of the Gospels both carried out ministries in Egypt and Ethiopia. Paul who wrote as many as thirteen books in the Bible was accused to being an Egyptian revolutionary: Acts 21:38 says, “Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago raised an insurrection and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness.” This question posed to Paul suggest that Egyptians and Jews had physical characteristics that were indistinguishable. Their is no reason to believe that Paul was not a Black Jew (are you not an Egyptian?).
In a similar way, Moses is identified as an Egyptian (Black man). Exodus 2:16-18 says, “ Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. And the shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flocks. And then they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that you are come so soon today?”
Exodus 2:19 says, “And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock.”
The Israelites ancestral ties began with Jacob Israel. Jacob’s entire family, 70 shepherds grouped in 12 patriarchal families, nomads without industry or culture migrated to Egypt and lived there for 430 years. At the time of Moses more than 99.9 percent of Israelites were born in Egypt, and their appearance was the same as the Egyptians.
What began as a migration of 70 people, and having lived in Egypt 430 years, they left Egypt with at minimum 600,000 and as many as 2.5 million people. This would have been impossible without intermixing with Egyptians. And even though they acknowledged their ethnic heritage as Israelites, they were Egyptian nationals.
James C. Anyone says, in his book “Historical Christianity, African Centered,” that after 430 years of living in the African climate and intermixing with Egyptians, any physical variance would be genetically eliminated.
And so, Midian was less than 150 miles from Egypt and the Midianites were the descendants of Abraham and Keturah. These Midian women at the well, Reuel’s daughters knew what an Egyptian looked like, and based on his appearance, they concluded that Moses was an Egyptian.
Dr. Coper writes, “Moses is not identified as a Hebrew, but as an Egyptian by the daughters of Reuel (Exodus 2:19), which identity Moses did not deny. Further, many names in the family of Moses, such as the name Moses itself, Aaron, Mirari, Miriam, Putiel, Hophni, and Phinehas are Egyptian names. The name of Phinehas, grandson of Aaron, means Nubian or Negro, depending on the translator. This is indicative, according to scholars of note, that the whole family of Moses was of African/Nubian/Negro origin.”
Likewise, Moses’ married Zipporah, who was a Cushite/Ethiopian. Number 12:1 say, “Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman.”
When Moses gather the people to leave Egypt, the Bible says that a mixed multitude left the country. Exodus 12:38 says, “A missed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds — a great deal of livestock.”
This was a mixed multitude of Africans leaving Egypt. And as for the Hebrew people leaving Africa, who went on to be known at the Israelites-Judahites-Jewish people, they had lived in Africa/Egypt for centuries and were Africans by birth (black people).
Tacitus, a first century roman historian reported, “Many assure us that the Jews are descended from those Ethiopians who were driven by fear and hatred to emigrate from their home country when Cepheus was king.” (Before White Europeans began to systematically erase Black people from history, their historians report that the Jews were Black people)
When reading the Old Testment, note that God performed numerous acts/miracles in Egypt/Africa on behalf of the Hebrews. The word Egypt occurs 740 times in the Old Testament. The word Ethiopia occurs 39 times. Phut or Libya some 7 times, and in the New Testament there are approximately fifty references to Africa and African personalities.
And so, this is not meant to be an exhaustive analysis of African origins of the Bible, as it would take many volumes of books. Even so, as Black people study the Bible, they can be confident in knowing that the biblical experience is an African experience.
Memphis, Now Egypt
Egypt as it is know today, did not exist in historical times. What we know as Egypt was the northern region of Ethiopia. This region of Ethiopia garnered the attention of its neighbors because it was in the center of the crossroads from all directions leading into African from Asia and Europe.
Africa was an expanse of desert, which caused Africans to make their homes in large numbers in the Nile Delta and valley. Because of its location, Asiatic people (Arabs, Europeans, and other ethnic people) began to settle, occupy and control a fourth of Egypt (Lower Egypt).
Dr. Chancellor Williams in his book, “The Destruction Of Black Civilization,” says that the soil in the Nile Delta and valley was rich and that agricultural systems were built and became the source of wealth and prosperity that supported cultural advances.
There were gold mines below the First Cataract, that became a magnet that drew Caucasian people from many lands. And as they grew in numbers, the “undermining of black power was accelerated.”
As Asians grew in number the indigenous African population was pushed to the bottom of the social, economic and political ladder. This was exacerbated as Blacks, through conquest were made slaves, and their daughters slave concubines. In some cases Blacks gave their daughters in marriage to Asians.
Mulatto children were born free and equal to white people; allowing them all the privileges of free men. However, their black mothers usually remained a concubine slave. Thus, the darker skin became the means of exploitation and oppression.
The making of the Mulatto became the universal practice of whites, and is still a strategy used by whites to strip Black people of their social status, influence and power.
This was the picture from about 4000 B.C going forward. As Black people faced the Asian advance, some migrated south, others amalgamated and watched the transformation of their race. Others fought and for the most part were wiped out. The Africans held Upper Egypt and the Asians held Lower Egypt.
Africans never stopped fighting back; and by the late fourth century they had fought wars, been pushed southward or enslaved. But, then the African King Menes defeated the Asians and united all Egypt under African rule again. This began the First Dynasty.
After the Asian north was subdued, the African capital city was moved from Nekheb in the South to the North where Upper and Lower Egypt met (historically call, “The Two Lands”). It was here that the historical city of Memphis was built, named after it’s King.
Before Memphis was built, there was no Egypt. The county was called Chem or Chemi, another name indicating its black inhabitants.
It was the Greeks who renamed Memphis. They applied the name Aigyptos to the whole country, which heretofore was Memphis (Menes). Memphis was also called Hikuptah or the “Mansion of the Soul of Ptah,” the god protector of the city. From the Greek designation Aigyptos, Memphis became Egypt.
History is quite clear that the people who invaded/migrated to Africa were for the most part tent-dwelling nomads. They had no tradition of great cites with imposing temples, obelisks, pyramids or stone masonry at all.
Take note of the number of centuries that went by after Thebes and Memphis were built, before Asians founded their ancient cities.
Nowe (Thebes) Prehistory, Memphis 3100 B.C., Rome (Village) 1000 B.C., Rome (Town) 250 B.C., Athens (Village) 1200 B.C., Athens (City) 360 B.C., Antioch 400 B.C., Jerusalem 1400 B.C., Babylon 2100 B.C.
The people who invaded Africa did not come from places or countries with cities as great as Thebes or Memphis. Jerusalem was not even in existence. And when Jerusalem was built; much like Babylon, it was built by the black people who were descendants of Africa.
Egyptian Beliefs, Compared With Christian Beliefs
Imagine, still believing that the world and human beings have only been around five thousand years. We know today that this is a myth; it is a myth that has been totally debunked by modern theologians and scientist. Human beings once thought the world was flat, but this belief has also be debunked.
Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, in his book “The African Origin of Civilization,” says archeological finds and dating methods based on the dosage of potassium 40/Argon, allow us to establish that the first sign of humanity appeared 1,700,000 years ago.
Among scientist and archeologist there is much agreement that 2.5 million years ago the first lineage of human beings was the Homo Habilis, a species found in Africa.
Dr. Diop goes on to say that Homo sapiens, modern man, appeared about 40,000 years ago, during the Upper Paleolithic. And he says that they were probably related morphologically to the current Black type of humanity.
Biblical history begins about five thousand years ago with no reference to human beings existing before Adam. The problem here is that we know that human beings have occupied this planet far longer that 5 to 6 thousand years.
Therefore, one can reasonably ask, how was the Creator (God) viewed by humans more than 5000 years ago?
Saint Augustine wrote: “It must be confessed that before Moses there had already been, not indeed among the Greeks, but among the barbarous nations, as in Egypt, some doctrine which might be called their wisdom, else it would not have been written in the holy books that Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.”
So the book of Genesis, presumably written by Moses begins with God creating the heavens and the earth, making it without form, and void, composed of water. God then created light, separated the waters with a firmament, formed the earth land masses, created various life forms and then created man.
In the ancient Egyptian cosmogony, the eternal existence of primordial was not created. The matter was called Nun. Nun became self-aware and brought primordial matter into order, creating the world. Nun becomes Ra, the first God. These pairs were Shu and Tefnut or air and humidity; Geb and Nut or earth and heaven; Osiris and Isis, the fertile human couple to beget humanity; and Seth and Nephthys, the infertile couple that would bring evil to humanity.
John 1:1 says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then in John 1:3, it says, “Through him all things were made.”
In the Egyptian cosmogony Ra created the world through Ka (universal reason). Ka is equivalent to the use of logos, which in greek is translated “Word” in scripture.
Here we have the God of Egyptian cosmogony represented in three different forms. These forms are the Nun, Ra and Ka. The Egyptians interpreted these and other representations as distinct and different aspects of the one Supreme God.
Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said Let us make man.” The word “us” is plural, implying more than one. It could be compared to the many aspects of God, referred to by the Egyptians as the Netcherw collectively or Netcher individually. (James Anyike: Historical Christianity, African Centered)
The oldest story of immaculate conception and virgin birth is present in Egyptian cosmogony. Osiris was the fertile man created by Ra. His infertile brother, Seth, became jealous of him and plotted to kill him. Seth trapped Osiris inside a chest and threw him into the Nile River. The chest was later found by isis, the wife of Osiris. When Seth realized that the body of Osiris was fund, he was able to recapture it, cut in into 14 pieces, and scatter them across the land. Isis was able to recover 13 of the pieces.
Netcher Thoth gave Isis some word to speak. Thoth represents divine articulation of speech and truth. When Isis spoke these words to the dismembered body of Osiris, she received the seed of Osiris and became pregnant, giving birth to Horus.
Long before the Christian era, the Egyptians believed in one true and supreme God, the creation of humanity, resurrection of the body, life after physical death, the judging of the soul, the virgin birth, and the victory of good over evil.
Egyptians lived by laws called the Declarations of Innocence or Admonitions of Maat. The Declarations were composed of more than 147 negative confessions, which were learned by the Egyptians in preparation for their day of judgement before Osiris.
On judgement day, the deceased would declare, I have not stolen, I have not done no murder, I have not spoken lies, I have not committed fornication, I have not defiled the wife of any other man, and so on. These negative confessions pre-date the Ten Commandment by thousands of years.
Because the people of the Israelites were African/Egyptian/Hebrew/Israelites/Judahite/Black, it is likely that Egyptian beliefs had some influence in the development of the Christian religion. The similarities may be expressions of the same God and beliefs experienced by two different cultures. In any case, the beliefs represent a truth far greater than any religion.
As for me, I am insulted by the propagation that the Bible and Christianity were created by white people to exploit, control and oppress Black people. While there may be some truth to this, in their use of the Bible and Christianity, the scriptures themselves are the product of the revelation of God, as revealed to Black people, i.e., Africans and their descendants.
It is evident that for the last 2000 years Europeans have abused, and misused biblical writings in much the say the same way they have misused guns, bullets, rifles, and bombs. People and countries have suffered, and many people have died because of their misuse and abuse of biblical writings and military technology.
2 Timothy 3:15,16 says, “You have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correction and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Black people have an enormous task in front of them. Black people have a country (Africa), and African descendants scattered all over the world. We must never stop the work of making the life better for ourselves and others. God is our strength; He is the miracle manifesting in our lives, as we work and go forward in service for one another. God gave us his word to empower and enrich our lives. We just need to have faith and believe.
2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”