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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621

Abstract

HOLTER, Knut. 'A negro, naturally a slave': An aspect of the portrayal of Africans in colonial Old Testament interpretation. Old testam. essays [online]. 2008, vol.21, n.2, pp. 373-382. ISSN 2312-3621.

The essay analyzes how Old Testament references to black people -the so-called 'Cushites' - are portrayed in colonial Old Testament interpretation. The point of departure is an Edinburgh commentary from 1899 on the Books of Samuel, where a Cushite officer in King David's army (cf. 2 Sam 18) is described as 'a negro (naturally, a slave)'. Based on a discussion of various hermeneutical approaches to the relationship between 'Africa' and the Old Testament, it is argued that the term 'naturally' reflects a late nineteenth century, colonial understanding of Africans.

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