‘From beyond the rivers of Cush’ : negotiating ethnic identity and Cushite-Israelite interrelations in the Hebrew Bible

Burrell, Kevin (2018-11)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: It is almost axiomatic that the impetus to study the past is occasioned by contemporary paradigms and circumstances. In recent years the steady flow of critical investigations of ethnic sentiments in the biblical literature can be directly correlated to the salience of ethnic dynamics in our modern, multicultural context. It is reasonable to assert then that the biblical scholar’s primary purpose for studying ethnic dynamics in Israel’s past is to inform, in one way or another, the contemporary struggle for identity in an ethnically and racially fractured social landscape. The primary objective of this work is to investigate representations of Cushites in the Hebrew Bible, and as such it is a study of the past. But relevant to the present, one of the main goals of this project is to provide a more balanced view of Cushite ethnographic representations in the biblical literature by consciously departing from accepted stereotypes of Africa and people of African descent which are largely a feature of the modern age. Varying degrees of racial stereotyping expressed in otherwise competent biblical interpretation tend to emphasize unfavourable portraits of the people the biblical writers called Cushites. Such views are revealed, for example, through a tacit assumption of the slave status of certain Cushites who appear in the pages of the Hebrew Bible. It is a working assumption of this study that modern notions of race and ethnicity were understood differently in the ancient and biblical contexts. Thus, in contrast to racial assumptions, this work seeks to comprehend the biblical view of Cushites first by undertaking a comprehensive examination of comparative representations of Cushites in ancient Egypt and the Mediterranean, and second by a critical examination of the theological outlook of the biblical authors who wrote about them. This study contributes to a clearer understanding of the theological, historical, and ethnic dynamics underpinning representations of Cushites in the Hebrew Bible.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Dit is byna vanselfsprekend dat die impuls om die verlede te bestudeer deur kontemporêre paradigmas en omstandighede bepaal word. In onlangse jare kan die bestendige vloei van kritiese ondersoeke na etniese sentimente in die Bybelse literatuur direk in verband gebring word met die prominensie van etniese dinamika in moderne, multikulturele kontekste. Dit is dus ook redelik om te beweer dat indien die Bybelwetenskaplike se primêre doelwit is om die etniese dinamika in Israel se verlede te bestudeer, dit op een of ander manier die hedendaagse stryd om identiteit in 'n etniese en rasse-gebroke sosiale landskap sal belig. Die primêre doel van hierdie werk is om die voorstellings van die Kusiete in die Hebreeuse Bybel te ondersoek, en as sodanig is dit 'n studie van die verlede. Maar, een van die hoofdoelwitte van hierdie projek is om dit ook van toepassing te maak op die hede ten einde 'n meer gebalanseerde siening van Kusitiese etnografiese voorstellings in die Bybelse literatuur te bied. Daarvoor word bewustelik afgewyk van aanvaarde stereotipes van Afrika en mense van Afrika-afkoms wat 'n prominente kenmerk van die moderne era is. Verskillende grade van rasse-stereotipering wat uitgedruk word in andersins goeie Bybelinterpretasies, dra daartoe by om ongunstige voorstellings te maak van die mense wat deur die Bybelskrywers die Kusiete genoem is. Sulke sienings word byvoorbeeld versterk deur die stilswyende aanname van die slawestatus van sekere Kusiete wat in die bladsye van die Hebreeuse Bybel voorkom. Dit is 'n aanname van hierdie studie dat moderne begrippe soos ras en etnisiteit verskillend verstaan is in die antieke en Bybelse kontekste. Die studie wil dus, in teenstelling met studies wat vooringenome standpunte oor ras het, probeer om die Bybelse sienings van die Kusiete te verstaan deur eerstens 'n omvattende ondersoek van vergelykende voorstellings van Kusiete in antieke Egipte en die Middellandse Seegebied te doen, en tweedens, deur 'n kritiese ondersoek te doen van die teologiese perspektiewe van die Bybelskrywers wat oor hulle geskryf het. Hierdie studie wil dus bydra tot 'n beter begrip van die teologiese, historiese en etniese dinamika wat die voorstelling van die Kusiete in die Hebreeuse Bybel ondersteun.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104881
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