Adam's Ancestors: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human by David N. Livingstone

By David N. Livingstone

Although the concept that all humans are descended from Adam is a long-standing conviction within the West, one other model of this narrative exists: people inhabited the Earth earlier than, or along, Adam, and their descendants nonetheless occupy the planet.

In this enticing and provocative paintings, David N. Livingstone strains the background of the assumption of non-adamic humanity, and the debates surrounding it, from the center a long time to the current day. From a multidisciplinary point of view, Livingstone examines how this substitute concept has been used for cultural, non secular, and political reasons. He finds how what started as biblical feedback turned a theological apologetic to reconcile faith with science—evolution in particular—and used to be later used to help arguments for white supremacy and segregation.

From heresy to orthodoxy, from radicalism to conservatism, from humanitarianism to racism, Adam's Ancestors tells an exciting story of twists and turns within the cultural politics surrounding the age-old query, "Where did we come from?"

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7). ”56 At stake in the Valladolid dispute was the moral and judicial status of New World peoples, whether they were truly human, half-human and halfanimal, or creatures disguised as humans; whether they were descended from Adam or were the offspring of the devil. Although the tribunal failed to come to any formal verdict, the hearing nonetheless highlighted several things: the lingering influence of Aristotle, whose benediction was sought by interlocutors on both sides of the argument; the political, legal, and moral significance of questions about human origins; and the stresses and strains to which the conventional adamic narrative was progressively subjected.

26 Heresy: Isaac La Peyrère and the Pre-Adamite Scandal 33 By this neat piece of exegetical reshuffling—a “fresh if rather naïve excursion into biblical exegesis,” as Anthony Grafton puts it27—a range of irritating inconsistencies in the Genesis record could be conjured out of existence. Here was a ready-made explanation for Cain’s fear, after his banishment from the Garden of Eden, that he would encounter hostile individuals seeking to kill him; it delivered a population to inhabit the city he built; it provided a possible answer to the question about where his wife came from.

Raleigh’s theorizing in fact was always conducted within the confines of scriptural authority, but his computational strategy for coping with evidence of chronologies of greater antiquity than the biblical record was to seek for the greatest amount of time that the Hebrew text would allow. Indeed, in Historie of the World, of 1614, Raleigh presented as the frontispiece a globe displaying Adam and Eve in paradise and later tabulated the Noachian root of every conceivable nation and race. Yet he still admired Egyptian sources and from 1592 onward was often charged with irreligion.

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