By David N. Livingstone
Although the concept that all people are descended from Adam is a long-standing conviction within the West, one other model of this narrative exists: people inhabited the Earth sooner than, or along, Adam, and their descendants nonetheless occupy the planet.
In this attractive and provocative paintings, David N. Livingstone lines the historical past of the assumption of non-adamic humanity, and the debates surrounding it, from the center a while to the current day. From a multidisciplinary viewpoint, Livingstone examines how this substitute concept has been used for cultural, spiritual, and political reasons. He finds how what begun 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 interesting story of twists and turns within the cultural politics surrounding the age-old query, "Where did we come from?"
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Extra resources for Adam's Ancestors: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human Origins
So symbolic has this episode become, as a critical moment in the whole history of human rights and the moral economy of imperialism, that it was dramatized for French television in 1992 and staged to critical acclaim in New York’s Public Theater in 2005 under the title The Controversy of Valladolid. Sepúlveda’s proposal was that Aristotle’s notion of natural slaves provided the best strategy for dealing with the Indians. Because he considered that they were bereft of rationality, practiced human sacBeginnings: Questioning the Mosaic Record 19 rifice and other barbarous customs, and engaged in degraded idol worship, Sepúlveda felt entirely justified in resorting to the Aristotelian formula that such peoples were destined by nature to be the slaves of superior masters—a proposal that had already been advocated in 1510 by the Scottish professor in Paris John Major.
He was convinced, for example, that scripture’s documentary history disclosed evidence of fallible human transcription; that Moses was not the sole author of the Pentateuch; and that Noah’s flood was a local incident, not a universal event, and that many other cultures had their own flood legends. His reasoning behind the latter suggestions was, in part, a consequence of his conviction that Adam was only the father of the Jews and that it was on account of their forbidden intermarriage with gentiles that they were judged by flood.
Moreover, as Colin Kidd puts it, in “Voltaire’s deistic brand of antiSemitism . . ”70 If Voltaire’s interventions may be taken to symbolize the skeptical ends to which pre-adamic theorizing could be put, its association with esoterics is 42 adam’s ancestors nowhere more conspicuous than in the case of the Irish Parliamentarian and barrister-at-law Francis Dobbs (1750–1811). H. Lecky insisted that “existence of a race of men not descended from Adam was very strenuously maintained . .