Race: June 2008 Archives

A.W. Pink, Racist?

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In his section on the so-called curse of Ham (which is really the curse on Canaan, Ham's son), Daniel Hays [in From every People and Nation: A biblical theology of race] presents a little bit of information on biblical mmentators and scholars whose works are still available who present outdated and exegetically-unsound positions about that passage. He wants to make the point that it's easy to walk into a Christian bookstore and come out with a book that furthers ridiculous claims about the passage in question, and I'm glad to see someone complaining about that.

One author he picks on is A.W. Pink, whose Gleanings in Genesis offers one such outdated and exegetically-unsupportable interpretation. Pink assumes the traditional view and then tries to explain how the curse on Ham has indeed been fulfilled in some ways, thus defending the statement as a true prophecy:

The whole of Africa was peopled by the descendants of Ham, and for many centuries the greater part of that continent lay under the domination of the Romans, Saracens, and Turks. And, as is well known, the Negroes who were for so long the slaves of Europeans and Americans also claim Ham as their progenitor.[from 1950 Moody edition, p.126, as quoted in Hays, p.53]

He goes on to discuss C.F. Keil's comments (but attributes them to Keil and Delitzsch even though the Genesis commentary in the Keil-Delitzsch series was written just by Keil; Delitzsch did write a commentary on Genesis, but it's not included in that series):

In the sin of Ham there lies the great stain of the whole Hamitic race, whose chief characteristic is sexual sin; and the curse which Noah pronounced upon this sin still rests upon the race ... the remainder of the Hamitic tribes either shared the same fate, or sigh still, like the Negroes, for example, and other African tribes, beneath the yoke of the most crushing slavery.

Hays notes in a footnote that this statement is even worse, since it takes the peoples who most significantly dominated the ancient near east to have been slaves. I would have thought that the main reason it's worse is that it seems to attribute sexual sin as the chief characteristic of the whole Hamitic race. That is indeed racist in the extreme. Hays then cites a third, multi-author commentary that explains the curse as being fulfilled by the European trade in African slaves. He then says something that doesn't seem at all to be justified about Pink or the third commentary:

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