By David N. Livingstone

ISBN-10: 0801888131

ISBN-13: 9780801888137

Although the concept all humans are descended from Adam is a long-standing conviction within the West, one other model of this narrative exists: people inhabited the Earth ahead of, or along, Adam, and their descendants nonetheless occupy the planet.

In this enticing and provocative paintings, David N. Livingstone strains the background of the belief of non-adamic humanity, and the debates surrounding it, from the center a long time to the current day. From a multidisciplinary standpoint, Livingstone examines how this substitute notion has been used for cultural, spiritual, and political reasons. He unearths how what all started as biblical feedback turned a theological apologetic to reconcile faith with science—evolution in particular—and was once later used to help arguments for white supremacy and segregation.

From heresy to orthodoxy, from radicalism to conservatism, from humanitarianism to racism, Adam's Ancestors tells an exciting 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

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And yet, however central La Peyrère–style pre-adamism was to Lodwick’s philosophical linguistics, it remained for him a secret, heretical allegiance at best only hinted at in public discourse. Unlike Lodwick, whose proposals were in substantial measure grounded in La Peyrère’s speculations—he reportedly owned both Latin and English versions of Prae-Adamitae—the second, anonymous supporter seems to have cultivated his own version of the pre-adamite theory independently of the Continental source.

38 All in all La Peyrère’s political messianism was a basic ingredient in his pre-adamite formula, which provided a means not only of bridging the gap between Jerusalem and Christendom but also of holding in balance the Bible, scientific knowledge, concern for the Jews, and French national identity. Whatever its motivations, and whatever the aspirations of its author, La Peyrère’s pre-adamite heresy had a significance of epic proportions. That he himself had some inkling of its import may be gleaned from the fact that he compared it with Copernicanism.

30 Taken together, then, the evidence of old chronological records and new geographical findings, combined with internal biblical exegesis, played a significant role in the move toward bringing the apparatus of textual criticism to bear on the biblical documents. Extrabiblical data just had to be accorded their due role in scriptural hermeneutics, and such considerations led La Peyrère to a range of more or less radical conclusions about the nature of the biblical text. He was convinced, for example, that scripture’s documentary history disclosed evidence of fallible human transcription; that Moses was not the sole author of the Pentateuch; and that Noah’s flood was a local incident, not a universal event, and that many other cultures had their own flood legends.

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Adam's Ancestors: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human Origins by David N. Livingstone


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