Keith Augustus Burton, The Blessing of Africa: The Bible and African Christianity. Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 2007. Pp. 294. Paper $20.00.
The aim of the author is to dispel the view that Africa has merely been a recipient of the "civilizing" influences from outside, and to demonstrate that Africa has always played an active and leading role in the development of world civilization. Writing with passion, perhaps to mark the bicentennial of the abolition of British participation in the transatlantic slave trade, which the author notes in his acknowledgements, Keith Augustus Burton promises at the outset to seek to correct the "allegations of a cursed race ... used to subjugate the peoples of Africa and other dark-skinned people for over a millennia." He chose this topic because "Africa rarely comes to mind when most people think about the land of the Bible."
In The Blessing of Africa: The Bible and African Christianity, Burton contends that Africa has always been a place for God's "chosen people"; that Africa was included in the history of Abraham in the Old Testament; that the call of Abraham took place in biblical Africa; that Jesus Christ spent part of his life there; and that the promotion of the Christian religion took place in biblical Africa. The author examines the table of nations in Genesis 10 and notes that the name of "Ham," a descendant of Noah has "the same root as the Hebrew terms ... all of which denote warmth, heat, or tanned." He then traces the territories occupied by the descendants of Ham, including Egypt, Ethiopia, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa. He observes that this "biblical Africa was where the Garden of Eden was located," and that Cush "became the home to several clans with Semitic roots," including the descendants of Abraham's son, Ishmael, "who was born in Canaan to Hagar." He observes that Ishmael later went with his mother to live in the Arabian section of Cush to the east of the Red Sea. He notes that Abraham married another woman, Keturah, after the death of Sarah and that "it is generally accepted that these non-Saranic sons of Abraham were the progenitors of the Arab people." He describes Paul as a displaced son of Abraham, who "found solace after he encountered the Lord on the road to Damascus," and that although the Bible did not confirm it, "some believed that Paul spent three years in Arabia being initiated into Apostleship." He later draws attention to the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch, and some Moabites and Midianites who entered into a partnership with the chosen people of God. He notes that Keturah's descendants at one point assisted Moses in organizing the Israelites when Jethro visited him during the exodus.
The author notes that Rahab, a Canaanite woman, was married to an Israelite and that she later went to assist those who were about to attack her city. Another...