Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Ancient Afro-Asiatic World


The following paper was written by one of my World Religions students and I thought it was an interesting overview of my research on the ancient Afro-Asiatics.  Mr. Lewis has kindly given me permission to publish it and I hope that others will find it interesting also.

As background, see A Scientific Timeline of Genesis.



Jeffrey L. Lewis

The Afro-Asiatic Dominion, a term coined by Alice C. Linsley, is used to describe the correspondence of religious concepts and practices diffused across a vast area which extends from west central Africa to the Indus River Valley as well as religious practices among the Sarki who live as ‘Haruwa’ in the Tarai region of Nepal.

The Afro-Asiatic Dominion concept in the Hebrew Scriptures is suggested by the correspondence of western (Afro) and eastern (Asiatic) traditions (Linsley, July, 2009). Many similarities exist between these 2 traditions. Among them are the 2 creation stories, the 2 flood stories, and a consistent binary framework of both traditions. The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), through the book of Genesis (in the beginning), is a Biblical explanation of how the world came into existence; however Linsley provides another view of the book of Genesis through an anthropological interpretation. Through research conducted over 32 years of study, she has identified a specific kinship pattern that shows Afro-Asiatic beliefs and practices widely spread through a lineage of ruler-priest who intermarried throughout the areas of Africa, Mesopotamia, and India to exercise control over the water systems at a time when these areas were wetter.

Linsley’s research unveils geological, biological, and linguistically equivalent evidence relevant to the spread of the Afro-Asiatic religion and its worldview. Through comparisons of the languages of Saharan Africa, Semitic languages, Sanskirt and Dravidian, evidence suggests a vast extension of Afro-Asiatic Dominion practices across the Atlantic coast of modern Nigeria to the Indus River as much as 20,000 and 10,000 years ago. Cultural diffusion [1] may explain why people across such a vast area share similar words and linguistic affinities between languages. In relation to the genealogy of the sons of Noah, who replenished the earth after the flood, Genesis 11:1 states that the ‘whole earth had one language and one speech’. According to scripture in Genesis chapter 11, the people attempted to unify and honor themselves rather than God by building a monument unto them. As a result the Lord confused their language and scattered them across the earth (vs. 7-8), and the unfinished monument became known as the Tower of Babel [2]. These descendants of Noah are "Afro-Asiatics", according to Linsley, and at one time spoke the same words, thus explaining common root systems supporting linguistic similarities.

In addition to geologic, biologic, and linguistic evidence of the Afro-Asiatic Dominion, Linsley has identified eight key features of the ancient religion’s worldview. This essay will discuss those key features shared in common with Christianity today. The eight key features of Afro-Asiatic religion include: Triune God; the Sun as an emblem of the Deity; concept of the Son of God; fixed order of creation; hereditary priesthood; blood sacrifice at altars; a common number symbolism; and prophets.

One religious feature shared between the Afro-Asiatic Dominion and the Christian Doctrine is the Triune God. Triune God is the concept that God exists in 3 persons; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is one of the most important doctrine beliefs within the Christian faith. Referred to as the Trinity, the concept of God existing in three persons can be founded in the Hebrew Scriptures. The Trinity teaches that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three persons in one Godhead and that each has the same attributes and power as the other. The first recorded indication to the Trinity actually comes from Genesis 1:26, when God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” This statement in itself can be used to support the doctrine of a Triune God. Another example may be seen in Genesis 18:1-2, where God appears to Abraham as three men standing by him as he sat under the shade of the terebinth tree, yet when Abraham speaks, he speaks only, “my Lord” (vs. 3).

When looking for commonality for the sharing of the Sun as Deity in the Christian faith, Luke 1: 76-79 may be considered. In these verses, Zacharias prophesies about the ministry of John the Baptist, who would be the forerunner or the one preparing the way for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Within these verses, verse 78 likens Christ’s coming to the sunrise. In the Holman Christian Standard Bible it reads: "Because of our God’s merciful compassion, the Dawn from on high will visit us." For Christians this was an accurate prediction of Jesus’ coming. Christ would be Sun in an otherwise dark world, bringing light and peace to a dying world.

The concept of Jesus Christ as The Son of God incarnated is also a key feature of Christian Doctrine. In Hebrew Scripture New Testament writings, John 3:16 is a foundational scripture for the plan of salvation to the Christian believer. John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This feature shared among one of the eight in the Afro-Asiatic Dominion religious life is indeed keen in modern day Christianity.

The next feature, Fixed Order of Creation, begins with the first statement in the first book in the Hebrew Scriptures. Genesis 1:1 reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God began creation alone, and the creation is His kingdom, and He alone is the ruler. Psalm 104:19 states, “The Lord has established His throne in heaven and His kingdom rules over all”. According to Hebrew Scriptures, God used an orderly fashion when creating the earth and creatures over six days and resting on the seventh. After His divine order of creation, He saw that all created ‘was good’. He also instructed each kind of creature to reproduce according to its own kind, representing order in multiplication. Violations of the order of creation represent rebellion against the Creator as was the case when Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. Other scriptures define the Fixed Order of Creation, such as Jeremiah 33:25, which speaks of God separating the day and night and fixing laws that govern heaven and earth and Jeremiah 31: 35-36 which details the ordinances of order and the consequences if those ordinances are not kept. (Linsley, May, 2009).

In the Afro-Asiatic tradition there is evidence of intermarriage of the priestly lines as far back as Kain and Seth, (sons of Adam and Eve) and Ham and Shem (sons of Noah and his wife). This is also noted through Aaron and his half-brother Korah, who was also a priest. This type of intermarriage was necessary to preserve the priestly bloodline leading to the birth of Jesus Christ, the Priest Messiah. Preserving this lineage of ruler-priest bloodline also influenced the spread of the Afro-Asiatic religion.

Blood Sacrifices at Altars and Common Number Symbolism will be discussed together as some aspects of each coincide at times. Blood sacrifices were preformed by priest in the Afro-Asiatic religion and throughout the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures as a priestly duty for the atonement of sin. The number seven symbolizes completion to Christians based upon the fact that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day from all His work having been complete. Seven has thus been significant in reference to perfection and or completion in these religions and some practices. According to priestly laws, the sacrificial blood of the animal sacrificed was to be sprinkled seven places on the altar. Christians believe that Jesus Christ was the ultimate sacrifice for the atonement of their sin as He died on the cross, therefore sacrificing of animals are no longer necessary for their sin. Jesus Christ bled from seven areas of His body and His blood offers believers ‘Eternal Life’ (John 6:54).

The final feature of the Afro-Asiatic Dominion identified by Linsley that shares commonality with the Christian faith are the belief of prophecy and prophets. A prophecy is a divinely inspired prediction, instruction, or exhortation spoken by a prophet who is one chosen to speak for God or a deity. Prophecy and prophets are often spoken of in Hebrew Biblical writings used as the foundation of Christianity. In the Afro-Asiatic civilizations prophets live near bodies of water or sacred springs and there we find prophecy to be attested at the shrines along the Nile, at Hama on the Orontes, and at Mari on the Euphrates (Linsley, July 2009).

For Christians the greatest prophecies were those that predicted the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. In the book of Isaiah chapter 6, we see Isaiah as he is called to be a prophet. He saw a great vision of the King of kings, whom we later learn in John 12:39-41 is the Lord Jesus Christ, ‘high and lifted up’ (Isaiah 6:1b). Many other prophecies point to the Messiah throughout chapters 7-12 of Isaiah. One of much significance is Isaiah 7:14 which reads, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”[3] Although some dispute this being a prophecy of the Messiah because of the Hebrew word ‘almah’, which could mean ‘virgin’ or ‘young woman’, the New Testament teaches that Christ was virgin-born and both Matthew 1:23 and Luke 1:27 use the Hebrew word ‘parthenos’ which can only mean virgin.

While this essay discusses several commonalities of the eight key features of the Afro-Asiatic Dominion with Christianity, there are surely are many more. Afro-Asiatic religious culture diffusion has resulted in the spread of this religion from west central Africa to the Indus river Valley and beyond. Both Afro-Asiatic Dominion and Christianity religions share these eight key features all of which are based on Biblical truths. All these truths point to a God with whom we can have eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ.


NOTES

[1] Cultural diffusion is the process by which different cultures initiate regular contact through migration, commerce, and alliances. It involves the spreading of knowledge, skills, and technology between cultures.

[2] Tower of Babel represents a symbol of divine judgment against self-pride and self-rule. It is a monument that began as an attempt to build a tower to heaven with the intention to glorify man-kind’s superiority as opposed to man’s dependence upon the one and only true God.

[3] The use of the name Immanuel, which means “God-With-Us”, tells us of the virgin-born human form of God in the birth of Jesus Christ the Messiah.


References

1) Linsley, A.C. (2009, July 22). One Worldview, Many Priests. Retrieved September 30,2010.

2) Linsley, A.C. (2009, March 14). The Afro-Asiatic Dominion. Retrieved September 28, 2010.

3) Linsley, A.C. (2009, July 7). Afro-Asiatic Religious Life. Retrieved October 4, 2010.

4) Linsley, A.C. (2009, May 9). Genesis and Genetics. Retrieved October 5, 2010.


Related reading:  African Religion Predates Hinduism; The Christ in Nilotic Mythology; Who Were the Horites?

1 comment:

Alice C. Linsley said...

Jeff, I've never had a student write on my research so I find this very interesting. Thanks!