By David N. Livingstone
Although the concept all humans are descended from Adam is a long-standing conviction within the West, one other model of this narrative exists: humans inhabited the Earth prior to, or along, Adam, and their descendants nonetheless occupy the planet.
In this enticing and provocative paintings, David N. Livingstone lines the heritage of the assumption of non-adamic humanity, and the debates surrounding it, from the center a while to the current day. From a multidisciplinary point of view, Livingstone examines how this substitute inspiration 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 aid 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
35 In order to appreciate any proselytizing impetus in La Peyrère’s enterprise, the significance of the messianic vision he elaborated in Du rappel des Juifs (The Recall of the Jews) needs to be registered. 36 The theological fulcrum of sacred history was Judaism, and the pre-adamite theory was designed to cut a deep gorge between the Jews and the gentiles, namely, between the story of the adamites and the pre-adamites. In La Peyrère’s telling the Bible’s prevailing concern was with the Jewish nation, which was cast as principal in the theater of providential history.
Of course, the snippets that I have identified in this chapter could doubtlessly be supplemented by others. William Poole, culling the archival legacy of the early seventeenth century in England, for instance, has succeeded in gathering together a number of scattered comments indicating doubts about the literal truth of the Mosaic record’s presentation of the adamic universe. 67 In instances such as these, motivation sprang in large part from the biblical text itself, which gave indications that Adam’s family dwelled in a world inhabited by other people.
Bartolomé de Las Casas. into the New World from the northern wastes of Asia. 58 The combined effects of chronology, monstrosity, and global human geography spawned a frenzy of conjecture, including the heterodox possibility that the earth might be partly inhabited by non-adamic humans, peoples, and cultures who did not trace their ancestry to the Edenic couple of the Pentateuchal record. Thus, for all the heroic efforts to encompass the reality of America within the compass of biblical traditionalism, the New World’s anthropological and geographical threats to conventional history were sufficiently powerful to encourage some to modify the standard chronicles of creation and, in particular, to speculate that world history predated the adamic narrative.
Adam's Ancestors: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human Origins by David N. Livingstone